50’s 1979


Synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 203.6 x 78.6

signed, dated and titled [on reverse, in black fibre-tipped pen: ‘50’s H.Arkley 79’]

Coll.: unknown (last auctioned Nov.2017)


This painting was exhibited in both Arkley’s solo ‘door’ shows in 1979 and 1980 – and then at Australian Perspecta 1981, as one of the components of Untitled [installation] (1981) [3/M]. Subsequently, it was widely exhibited and reproduced during the 1980s, when it was in the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Brisbane (along with Arabesque 1979 [aka Curvilinear], Bodgie 1979 and Deco 1979). It then appeared at the Sotheby’s 1992 auction of works from the MCA collection, and again at auction in 1997 and 2017.

The patterning is generally reminiscent of 1950s laminex and fabric designs, but the precise source, as noted in Spray, was a beach bag Arkley apparently found in an opportunity shop (a sample is preserved in the artist’s archive).


  • Coll. Museum of Contemporary Art, Brisbane
  • auctioned by Sotheby’s, Melb., 21/6/92 (MCA sale), lot 115 (ill.; est.$2-3,000; sold for $3,600 & buyer’s premium)
  • P/C Melb.
  • auctioned by Sotheby’s, Melb., 10 Nov.1997, lot 293 (est.$5-7,000; not sold)
  • auctioned by Deutscher & Hackett, Melbourne, 29 Nov.2017, lot 36 (as 50s; ill., details as shown here; est.$40-60,000; sold for $45,000)


  • HA Tolarno 5/79, cat.14
  • HA Coventry 3/80, cat.3
  • AGNSW 1981 (Australian Perspecta), as part of Untitled [installation] (1981) [3/M]
  • HA Quentin, Perth, 2/85, cat.12
  • George Paton Gallery, Univ.of Melb., 8/88 (‘Suburbanism’), cat.4
  • Roslyn Oxley9, Sydney, 1/88 (‘1968-1988 Selected Works’), cat.56 (ill.)
  • Queensland Art Gallery 1990 (‘Art of the 1970s’)
  • HA Monash 1991, cat.19 (details as above)


  • Taylor, Art + Text #1, 1981, p.28 (inc.B&W ill.: as 1980)
  • Engberg, ‘Suburbanism’ 1988 (exh.cat.), 3-4 (inc. B&W ill.)
  • Spray 30 (ill.) and 31 (cited above)
  • Carnival 55 and Fig.2.2