Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Norman Alfred William Lindsay (22 February 1879 – 21 November 1969) was a renowned Australian artist and writer.
Lindsay was born in Creswick, Victoria. He was a prolific artist, sculptor, writer, editorial cartoonist and scale modeler, as well as being a highly talented boxer.
Norman was the son of Anglo-Irish surgeon Robert Charles William Alexander Lindsay and Jane Elizabeth Lindsay from Creswick. Fifth of ten children, he was the brother of Percy Lindsay (1870–1952), Lionel Lindsay (1874–1961), Ruby Lindsay (1885–1919), and Daryl Lindsay (1889–1976).
He is widely regarded as one of Australia's greatest artists, producing a vast body of work in different media, including pen drawing, etching, watercolour, oil and sculptures in concrete and bronze.
A large body of his work is housed in his former home at Faulconbridge, New South Wales, now the Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum, and many works reside in private and corporate collections. His art continues to climb in value today. In 2002, a record price was attained by his oil painting, Spring's Innocence, which sold to the National Gallery of Victoria for A$333,900.
His frank and sumptuous nudes were highly controversial. In 1940, Rose took 16 crates of paintings, drawings and etchings to the U.S. to protect them from the nascent war. Unfortunately they were discovered when the train they travelled in caught fire, they were then impounded and burned as pornography by American officials. His older brother Lionel remembers Norman's reaction was, "'Don't worry, I'll do more.' And he did."
Lindsay's creative output was vast, his energy enormous. Several eyewitness accounts tell of his working practices in the 1920s. He would wake early and produce a watercolour before breakfast, then by mid-morning he would be in his etching studio where he would work until late afternoon. He would work on a concrete sculpture in the garden during the afternoon and in the evening write a new chapter for whatever novel he was working on at the time.
As a break, he would work on a model ship some days. He was highly inventive, melting down the lead casings of oil paint tubes to use for the figures on his model ships, made a large easel using a door, carved and decorated furniture, designed and built chairs, created garden planters, roman columns and built his own additions to the Faulconbridge property.
Norman Lindsay, The trumpet calls (Sydney: W.A. Gullick Govt. Printer, c.1918); col. lithograph; 91 x 67.2 cm. National Library of Australia. Lindsay produced a number of propaganda and recruiting posters and cartoons for the Australian Government during World War I.
Cartoons such as this one, by Lindsay, were used both for recruitment and to promote conscription during World War I.
In 1895, Lindsay moved to Melbourne to work on a local magazine with his older brother Lionel. His Melbourne experiences are described in Rooms and Houses.
In 1901, he and Lionel joined the staff of the Sydney Bulletin, a weekly newspaper, magazine and review. His association there would last fifty years.
Lindsay wrote the children's classic The Magic Pudding published in 1918 and created a scandal when his novel Redheap (supposedly based on his hometown, Creswick) was banned due to censorship laws. Many of his novels have a frankness and vitality that matches his art.
Lindsay also worked as an editorial cartoonist, notable for often illustrating the racist and right-wing political leanings that dominated The Bulletin at that time; the "Red Menace" and "Yellow Peril" were popular themes in his cartoons. These attitudes occasionally spilled over into his other work, and modern editions of The Magic Pudding often omit one couplet in which "you unmitigated Jew" is used as an insult.
Lindsay was associated with a number of poets, such as Kenneth Slessor, Francis Webb and Hugh McCrae, influencing them in part through a philosophical system outlined in his book Creative Effort. He also illustrated the cover for the seminal Henry Lawson book, While the Billy Boils. Lindsay's son, Jack Lindsay, emigrated to England, where he set up Fanfrolico Press, which issued works illustrated by Lindsay.
Lindsay influenced more than a few artists, notably the illustrators Roy Krenkel and Frank Frazetta; he was also good friends with Ernest Moffitt.