Born Melbourne, Australia 1927, died Melbourne 1982
After studying in Melbourne at the National Gallery and George Bell schools (1944–49), Fred Williams moved to London in 1952 where he studied at the Chelsea School of Art. He visited many galleries, experiencing first hand the work of Francisco de Goya, Paul Cézanne and Henri Matisse. With his broadened knowledge of the world and artistic techniques, Williams returned to Australia in 1957, and saw with fresh eyes the unique landscape of his home to which he would dedicate his career.
In 1959, Williams went on an excursion with Arthur Boyd, stopping to sketch at Echuca and Sherbrooke Forest, the inspiration for his groundbreaking Forest Series (1961–62). Characteristic of Williams’ works at this time, Echuca landscape (1960–62) conjures the bush with minimal gestures; the impressionistic red and gold ground punctuated by vertical lines representing a stand of trees.
Williams experienced great success within his lifetime. In 1961 he was included in Recent Australian Painting, Whitechapel Gallery, London; in 1970 the National Gallery of Victoria presented Heroic Landscape: Streeton – Williams; and in 1977, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, held Fred Williams: Landscape of a Continent.
His work is represented in the National Gallery of Australia, all state and many regional galleries, as well as university and public collections, and in the collections of the Tate Gallery and British Museum, London and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.