About Albert & Barbara Tucker
Albert Tucker is known as one of Australia’s foremost artists and as a key figure in the development of Australian modernism in Melbourne. Primarily a figurative painter, his works responded to the world around him and his own life experiences, and they often reflected critically on society. During his career he played an active role in art politics, particularly in the 1940s, writing influential articles about the direction of art in Australia. He also held prominent positions within the art community, including President of the Contemporary Art Society in the late 1940s and again in the 1960s.
Tucker grew up during the Depression and began his career as a young artist in the late 1930s, in the years leading up to the outbreak of World War II. At this time, his world was defined by financial insecurity, social inequality and war, and these concerns became the catalyst for much of his painting. Influenced by his peers as well as European modernism, he developed an expressive style through which he communicated his disillusionment about society during wartime. He believed the war contributed to decaying moral values in Melbourne.
His Images of Modern Evil series (1943–47) represented the city as a dangerous place and reflected a new spirit in Australian painting. Imagery in his work from the 1940s also derived from his first hand experiences of the horrors of war. In 1942 he was based at the Heidelberg Military Hospital as an illustrator for medical records, and there saw soldiers suffering from horrific injuries and psychological damage. Often dark, ominous and unsettling, his wartime paintings interwove his pessimistic thoughts about war, life and society.
In 1964, after returning from Europe and the United states, Albert met and married Barbara Bilcock.
Barbara Tucker was devoted to Bert for the 35 years of their marriage and, following Bert’s death in 1999, to his legacy and the management of his estate. Barbara was a founding member of the Redmond Barry Society at the State Library of Victoria. Recognising both the importance of the Library to Bert and his earlier gift of a Barrett Reid portrait, Barbara made a major donation to the Library in 2004, followed by many other significant donations, including paintings, papers, photographs and some of Bert’s memorabilia, including Ned Kelly’s rifle.
Barbara also gave generously to the National Gallery of Australia, National Portrait Gallery, Art Gallery of New South Wales, the National Gallery of Victoria, Monash Gallery of Art and Benalla Art Gallery. Then, of course, there were significant donations to Heide.
Barbara passed away in May 2015, leaving explicit instruction in her will, that the long cherished dream of both she and Bert be established. A charitable trust, to be known as the Albert and Barbara Tucker Foundation.
Their individual creative, humanitarian and environmental interests culminate to form the body of causes to be supported by the Trust.