Peter Booth

1940 - Present


Peter Booth grew up in the industrial town of Sheffield. With its towering, smoking steel mills dominating the skyline, it is not surprising that a young Booth found this to be a claustrophobic environment and preferred to spend his weekends with his father, bike-riding beyond the city out to the serenity of the moors.

He left school at 15 and from 1956 to 1957, attended evening drawing classes at Sheffield College of Art while working as a copyboy for a local newspaper. Drawing has been central to his practice ever since, and he constantly recorded images with whatever scrap of paper was at hand; he also began keeping a dream diary in 1973.

In 1957, the Booth family immigrated to Australia, settling in the then semi-rural town of Altona. He attended the National Gallery School in 1962; the same year that John Brack was appointed its head, and found in Brack an inspirational mentor.

Graduating in 1965, Booth went on to teach painting at Prahran Technical College from 1966-69, as well as teaching drawing part-time at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School in 1967. Booth gained widespread recognition through his inclusion in The Field exhibition in 1968, the inaugural exhibition for the National Gallery of Victoria new building in St Kilda Rd. These early works, known as the 'block' paintings were highly architectural and demonstrating an intuitive skill in harmonizing colour. Despite their precision, however, these large scale pieces 'hinted at necessity for feeling to be more overt in the painting - if not for the viewer, than necessarily for the artist'.

From 1969-75, Booth worked in the Prints and Drawing section of the National Gallery of Victoria where he saw the work of William Blake and Goya, who profoundly influenced him. Booth's inspiration was also fuelled by countless authors, including Tolstoy, Singer, Lessing, and Marquez, whose dark and moody overtones appealed to Booth's perception of society.

The 'Block' painting series was followed by the 'Doorway' series (1970-74), in striking contrast to the works produced by his contemporaries. 1975 saw a drastic change in his work from thick blocks of darkness to volatile, vivid abstractions, coincided with recording his dreams. These drawings demonstrated the development of Booth's monstrous humanoid hybrids, his circular motifs, and the warping of the pictorial space.

During the 1980s Booth depicted several of these mutants, as well as solitary men who, like extras in a play, became recurring characters in the crowds of other works. Around this time, Booth began to illustrate oversized flakes of snow drifting over his figures and landscapes alike, a theme which has since predominated in his work.


21st Century, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne.

Peter Booth, Rex Irwin Art Dealer, Sydney.

Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne.

The Winter of Man, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne.

Peter Booth: Human/Nature, Retrospective, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

Peter Booth, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne.

Peter Booth: Small Paintings 1992-1995, Deutscher Fine Art, Melbourne.

Peter Booth: Paintings and Works on Paper 1992-1994, Deutscher Fine Art, Melbourne.

Peter Booth, Rex Irwin Art Dealer (8 solo exhibitions).

Peter Booth: Recent Works on Paper, Deutscher Fine Art, Melbourne.

Peter Booth: Recent Paintings, Deutscher Brunswick Street, Melbourne.

Peter Booth: Works on Paper, Albermarle Gallery, London.

Peter Booth: Works on Paper, Powell Street Gallery, Melbourne.

Monash University Gallery, Melbourne.

C.D.S. Gallery, New York.

Peter Booth: Works on Paper 1963-1985, The University Gallery, University of Melbourne.

Project 12: Peter Booth, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.

Chapman/Powell Gallery, Melbourne.

Regular exhibitions at Pinacotheca, Melbourne.

Strines Gallery, Melbourne.


In The Black, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne.

Blue Chip X: The Collectors' Exhibition, Niagara Galleries, Richmond.

Voiceless: I feel therefore I am, Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation - SCAF, Sydney.

2006 - 2007
Five Decades, TarraWarra Museum of Art, Healesville, Victoria.

White mantle - the winter landscape in Australian art, Geelong Art Gallery.

Drawing Centre, Newcastle Regional Art Gallery, Newcastle.

NGV Collection Recent Acquisitions, Ian Potter Centre, Melbourne.

It's a Beautiful Day, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne.
Nocturne: images of night and darkness from colonial to contemporary, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery.
Fieldwork: Australian Art 1968-2002, The Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia, Melbourne.
Memo, The City of Port Phillip, St Kilda.
Nick Cave: The Good Son, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, curator: Rodney James.

Darkness & Light, McClelland Gallery, Melbourne; Auckland Gallery, NZ.

Three-way Abstraction: Works from the Monash University Collection, Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne.

The Loti & Victor Smorgon gift of Contemporary Australian Art, MCA, Sydney.

Death, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney.

Getting to Know Mr Booth, Riddoch Art Gallery, Mount Gambier (touring).

The Philip Morris Arts Grant: Australian Art of the Last Ten Years, Australian National Gallery, Canberra.

The ANZ Bicentennial Art Commission, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
Field to Figuration: Australian Art 1960-1986, Works from the National Gallery of Victoria, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

An International Survey of Recent Paintings and Sculpture, Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Australian Visions: 1984 Exxon International Exhibition, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
Fifth Sydney Biennale, Private Symbol: Social Metaphor, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.

Creating Australia: 200 Years of Art 1788 - 1988, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.
Vox Pop: Into the Eighties, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
Project 40: Australian Artists at Venice and Kassel, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
Recent Australian Paintings: A Survey 1970-1983, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.
From Another Continent: Australia, the Dream and the Real, ARC, Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris.

Eureka! Artists from Australia, Serpentine Gallery, London (Arts Council of Great Britain).
Venice Biennale: Visual Arts 82, Australian Pavilion with Rosalie Gascoigne, Venice.

Australian Perspecta 1981, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
Spectres of our Time, Royal Australian Society of Arts Gallery.
Some Australian Drawings 1880-1980, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.

Third Biennale of Sydney: European Dialogue, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.

Minimal Art, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
Drawing: Some Definitions, Ewing and George Paton Gallery, University of Melbourne.

Recent Australian Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.

The Field, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.

Achievements, Collections & Commissions

Joint winner of Bernard Hall Prize for Figure Painting, National Gallery School, Melbourne.

Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery of Western Australia
Art Gallery of South Australia
Ballarat Fine Art Gallery
Bendigo Art Gallery
Centro Cultural-Arte Contemporaneo, MexicoMuseum of Modern Art , New York Geelong Art Gallery
Metropolitan Museum of Art , New York
Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
Monash University Gallery Melbourne
Mornington Peninsula Art Gallery
Museum of Modern Art at Heide, Melbourne
National Gallery of Australia
National Gallery of Victoria
Newcastle Region Art Gallery
Queensland Art Gallery
Queen Victoria Museum And Art Gallery , Launceston
Riddoch Art Gallery , Mount Gambier
Solomon R Guggenheim Museum , New York
Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery
Wollongong City Art Gallery
The University of Melbourne Museum of Art
University of NSW Collection


Alan, Christopher, Art in Australia: from Colonization to Postmodernism, Thames & Hudson, London, 1997

Allen, Traudi, Roar, and Quieter Moments from a Group of Melbourne Artists 1980-1993, Craftsman House, Sydney, 1995

Davidson, Christina, Peter Booth, in Art Network, Winter, 1985, p.54

Foundation: The First Decade of Collecting, in Gallery, National Gallery of Victoria, December 1988 - January 1989, p.13

Kraus-Hale, Robyn, Peter Booth Towards the 1990s, in Gallery, National Gallery of Victoria, October 1986

Lindsay, Frances, Peter Booth, in Art and Australia, vol.16, no.1, 1978, pp.47-54

McDonald, Helen, Madness and Landscape: The Art of Peter Booth in the Age of Unreason, in Art and Australia, vol.33, no.1, Spring 1995, pp.52-61

McLachlan, Tim, The New Dark Age of Peter Booth, in National Times, 22-28 November 1981, p.35

Smith, Jason, Peter Booth: Human/Nature, National Gallery of Victoria, 2003