Faces (from The lovers series)

Born Melbourne, Australia 1920, died Melbourne 1960


Trained at the National Gallery School, Melbourne, (1937–38), Joy Hester was a founding member of Melbourne’s Contemporary Art Society and is associated with the Angry Penguins group of artists and writers, centred at Heide, home of patrons John and Sunday Reed. Her contemporaries included Arthur Boyd, Sidney Nolan, John Perceval, Mirka Mora and Charles Blackman and her first husband Albert Tucker (1941–47).

Preferring to work with inks on paper, Hester produced many images evocatively rendered with simple and fluid lines. During the 1940s she became drawn to the work of Pablo Picasso, surrealism and German expressionism. Her images of faces influenced by footage of Nazi concentration camps were powerful evidence of her ability to represent extreme psychological states.

Images of lovers became a focus in her work in the late 1940s, reflecting something of her own sentiments. It was at this time that she underwent chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s disease, which temporarily went into remission. Confidently and fluidly drawn, Hester’s lovers are often a synthesis of two parts.

Hester’s importance has been recognised in the exhibitions: Joy Hester, Retrospective, National Gallery of Victoria (1981), Leave No Space for Yearning, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne (2001) and Joy Hester and Friends, National Gallery of Australia (2001). Her work is held in the collections of the National Galleries of Australia and Victoria, the Art Galleries of New South Wales and Western Australia, the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery and the University of Queensland Art Museum.