Born: Established: 21 Nov 1915 Hornsby ; Died: 20 Oct 2008 Northbridge
Painter, lecturer, critic, curator and poet James Gleeson is primarily known as Australia's first surrealist. He served as art critic for the Sydney Sun newspaper from 1949 until 1976 and was the Director of the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation in 1971. Gleeson also served on the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board and was the visiting curator of Australian art at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, 1976-78. In the 1970s Gleeson interviewed 98 Australian artists whose work had been acquired by the National Gallery of Australia. This oral history project was included in the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register in 2008. Gleeson wrote several works on Australian art and artists, including William Dobell (1964), Masterpieces of Australian Painting (1969) and Colonial Painters 1788-1880 (1971). In 2006 Gleeson and his partner Frank O'Keefe (d. 2007) bequeathed their estate to the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Gleeson continued to paint into his 90s working in his studio from 8am to 1pm each day. An exhibition of new paintings was held in July 2007.
Source; Patricia Maunder, 'Late Start for Surrealism's Disciple' Sydney Morning Herald, 21 Otober, 2008:12