Archibald Prize 2020

Angus McDonald, Behrouz Boochani, oil on canvas, 160 x 230 cm
© the artist, Photo: AGNSW, Mim Stirling, Sitter: Behrouz Boochani – author, journalist, artist, academic

Golem On Excursion at the NSW Art Gallery
Archibald Prize

The 99th Archibald Prize of 2020 is just around the corner at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and there’s a record of portraitists in attendance, brandishing their paint brushes.

It’s no easy feat asking someone to sit still while you paint their portrait – like it’s the 1800s or something. And yet, people choose to have their portrait painted, forgetting the invention of photography or even the mobile phone. Then there are some people who would straight-up refuse to sit for hours to have their portrait painted. Big mistake. They don’t realise all the attention surrounding the Archibald Prize.

The Archibald celebrates two classical elements of art: paint and portraiture.

Technology hasn’t hurt the interest in this seemingly dated form of portraiture. Instead, the Archibald is the Venice Biennale of the Australian art world. Many nationally famous faces have been shepherded through its doors – those of sportsmen, politicians, humanitarians, scientists, actors.

The Art Gallery of NSW hosts the champagne-popping, diamond-sparkling, chandelier-shining event annually, with the ‘Bald first taking off in 1921. This year’s entries broke the submission record with 1,068 paintings. It’s an invitation for every budding artist to try their hand out in portraiture.

A selection from this year’s Archibald finalists appears below.


Yoshio Honjo, Adam with bream, japanese kozo paper, sumi ink and suihi-enogu (japanese pigment), 124.5 x 92 cm, © the artist, Photo: AGNSW, Mim Stirling Sitter: Adam Liaw – chef, TV personality

Jonathan Dalton, Angela, oil on linen, 170.5 x 135 cm, © the artist, Photo: AGNSW, Mim Stirling, Sitter: Angela Tiatia – artist
Claus Stangl, L-Fresh the Lion, acrylic on canvas, 200 x 150 cm, © the artist, Photo: AGNSW, Felicity Jenkins, Sitter: L-Fresh the Lion – musician

Paid Entry
26 September 2020 – 10 January 2021
The Art Gallery of NSW
Art Gallery Road, Sydney