Self portrait of artist stunting

Born Pangam, Wales 1920, arrived Australia 1923, died Melbourne 1980


Edwin Tanner’s diagrammatic paintings and technical graphic style have led to him being described as a ‘mathematical expressionist’. The line work of his images, often made with the aid of a ruler, is employed in an expression of the artist’s diverse interests and training.

A child prodigy, at sixteen years of age Tanner completed, by correspondence, a four year higher mathematics course at the University of London in only four months. Subsequently he studied structural and civil engineering at the British Institute of Engineering Technology and also trained in carpentry and as a civil pilot.

Tanner was deeply interested in literature, poetry, philosophy, and the arts, and obtained his diploma in Fine Arts at the Hobart Technical College (1955). As a sign of his artistic promise, Daryl Lindsay (then director of the National Gallery of Victoria) purchased one of his paintings in 1954.

Self portrait of artist stunting (1958) was painted the year after Tanner moved to Melbourne to work as an engineer, and was included in a retrospective exhibition at the Monash University Gallery in 1990.

Tanner exhibited with the Contemporary Art Society in Sydney and Melbourne, and in 1959 held his first solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne. His work is held in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, most major state galleries and many regional and university galleries.