Soft Nouveau 1978


Synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 204 x 78.5

signed, dated and titled [on reverse: ‘Soft Nouveau / Howard Arkley / 78’: according to Sotheby’s]

Private collection, Melbourne


This work marks a clear formal transition from Arkley’s ‘white’ phase to his door-format works. Discussed in Spray in relation to Arkley’s experience of Art Nouveau in Paris in 1977 – and the title also seems to evoke Pop Art associations.

Included in Arkley’s second ‘door’ show at the Coventry Gallery, Sydney, and purchased at the time by Chandler Coventry for his personal collection. Archive slides include one taken at the Coventry exhibition in March 1980.


  • Coll. Chandler Coventry, c.1980-96?
  • auctioned by Sotheby’s, Melb., 28 Nov.1995, lot 644 (ill.; details as above; est.$4-6,000; not sold)
  • auctioned by Sotheby’s, Melb., 17 June 1996, lot 47 (est.$2-4,000; not sold)
  • auctioned by Christie’s, Melb., 27-28 Nov.2000, lot 82 (ill.): est.$25-30,000; sold for $21,150 inc. buyer’s premium
  • listed in P/C Melb. 4/03


  • HA Coventry 3/80, cat.9
  • HA Gould 8/01, cat.1


  • Spray 26 (cited in comments above) and 27 (ill.: as 1979)