Drysdale, Russell (1912–1981) By Gray, Anne
Russell Drysdale was an Australian artist who created an original vision of the Australian landscape from the 1940s to the 1960s, portraying the emptiness and loneliness of the Australian outback and country townships in his paintings, drawings, and photographs. During World War II, he depicted everyday subjects, including groups of servicemen waiting at railway stations. He traveled numerous times to the interior of Australia, including a trip to record the drought devastation in South Western New South Wales in 1944, where he created images that convey the environmental degradation of the landscape. In 1947, he explored the Bathurst region with Donald Friend where he discovered Sofala and Hill End, an area that served as the subject matter for his art for a number of years. Drysdale painted many images of deserted country towns as well as brooding landscapes peopled with stockmen and station hands. In his paintings of Aborigines, Drysdale expressed a deep concern for the Indigenous people, often placing them within his paintings in a manner that conveys a sense of dispossession. His work was singled out by Kenneth Clark in 1949 as being among the most original in Australian art, and his exhibition at the Leicester Galleries, London, in 1950 convinced British critics that Australian artists had an original vision.