Sunday, June 06, 2021

Peter Wegner wins $100,000 Archibald Prize 2021

In its 100th year, Peter Wegner has won the $100,000 Archibald Prize 2021 - for his portrait of fellow painter Guy Warren, who turned 100 in April.

That's a lot of 100s. I guess if people had thought about this in advance, the answer to who would win this prestigious Australian portrait prize was pretty obvious! I'm inclined to pat Peter Wegner on the back for maybe thinking that painting a 100 year old artist who has previously won the Archibald Prize himself (in 1985 with Flugelman with Wingman) would do him no harm in the selection stakes.

Guy Warren with Peter Wegner's award-winning portrait of Guy Warren!
'Peter Wegner’s tender portrait of Guy Warren provides a moving insight into the artist’s state of mind as he navigates his 101st year with characteristic grace and good humour. The fact that Warren was himself an Archibald Prize winner in 1985 adds a wonderful layer of history to the poignancy of the portrait. Who wouldn’t want to look this content at the age of 100?’ Art Gallery of NSW director Michael Brand

I feel really sorry for Peter Wegner - who was stuck in Melbourne due to a recent lockdown there. So his participation was by video link only.... 

[Note His surname is spelt everywhere but in the subtitles as Wegner!]

This is a video about the announcement of who won and includes commentary from both Peter Wegner and Guy Warren.


About Peter Wegner

About the artist - Peter Wegner

The artist must have resident in Australia or New Zealand for the whole of the previous year.
  • Age: b.1953 in New Zealand; his career has spanned 40+ years
  • Nationality: Australian
  • Occupation: Artist
  • Current home: Melbourne
  • Art education:no art training initially. two-year AME Bale residential painting scholarship under Sir William Dargie followed by graduated in fine arts from the Phillip Institute of Technology, from which he later also gained a postgraduate diploma
  • Previous appearances in this award: an Archibald Prize finalist in 2020, 2016, 2011, 2004 and 2000 and was also a finalist in the Archibald's ‘Sporting Portrait Prize’ in 2000.
  • Website:
  • Facebook: n/a
  • Previous Awards
    • a four-time finalist in the Dobell Prize for Drawing 
    • 2006: awarded the Doug Moran Prize in 2006
    • 2012: exhibited in BP Portrait inLondon & Edinburgh
    • 2013: awarded the $20,000 Gallipoli Art Prize
  • Artwork in Collections: His works are held in the collections of
  • the Art Gallery of NSW, 
  • National Library of Australia, 
  • National Portrait Gallery, 
  • State Library of Victoria, 
  • Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne. 
  • and several regional galleries. 

His portrait is part of his Centerarian Project

The Centenarian Project started in 2013 with the first drawing of my Aunty Rita who reached the age of 104. It occurred to me while drawing Rita that there must be other Centenarians who were still living lives with mobility, curiosity and purpose. The nucleus of this series began to form.

Over the last 8 years l have drawn 100 Centenarians within Victoria and New South Wales, about half of whom are living in their own homes with outside support, the other half live in low-care residential accommodation. Each drawing was completed from life in an afternoon or morning with little alteration to that first impression, they are moments captured within a time allowed.

The exploration of ageing and how well we age is central to this project. Maintaining human dignity and independent living are important issues as we age, alongside the question of what it means to have a productive and meaningful life.


About the sitter - Guy Warren

Guy Warren won the 1985 Archibald Prize with a portrait of artist Bert Flugelman, which is included in the Archie 100: A Century of the Archibald Prize exhibition at the Art Gallery. 
This is the seventh time he has been an Archibald subject, including a self-portrait in 1996. 
Warren started his working life at The Bulletin magazine, which was founded by JF Archibald, whose bequest established the Archibald Prize in 1921. 

The Archibald Prize

The Archibald Prize is awarded to the best portrait of a person ‘distinguished in art, letters, science or politics’ painted by an Australian resident. 

 The Archibald Prize winner is decided by the Art Gallery’s Board of Trustees.  

The Packing Room Prize ($3,000)

For the 30th annual Archibald Packing Room Prize the Prize goes to Kathrin Longhurst for her portrait of the celebrated Australian singer and songwriter Kate Ceberano. 

Packing Room Prize 2021 winner Kathrin Longhurst Kate © the artist

The Packing Room Prize is a cash prize awarded to the best entry as selected by the staff of the Art Gallery of New South Wales who have to handle, receive, unpack and hang the Archibald Prize entries. This year, the prize money has doubled, increasing from $1,500 to $3,000 for the winning artist. 

Their Head 'Packer', Brett Cuthbertson, gets 52% of the vote i.e. he gets to choose the winner whatever!

‘Kathrin’s work fits my criteria. It’s a portrait of a well-known celebrity and it looks like her! I met Kate Ceberano many years ago and Kathrin has really captured her likeness. As soon as I saw the work, I thought “that’s it”. This is also the first time in my tenure as head packer that I have awarded the Packing Room Prize to both a female artist and female sitter. I have been on the lookout, but this is the first time it stood out to me as a clear winner.’ Brett Cuthbertson

The German-born, Sydney-based artist is mostly self-taught and was previously a finalist in the Archibald Prize 2018 and Sulman Prize 2012.  

The ANZ People’s Choice Award ($3,500)

This is voted for by those visiting the exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney. The winner will be announced on Later in the summer.

The 100th Archibald Prize Exhibition 2021

For the first time the Archibald Prize Exhibition - at the  Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia - features more women artists than men.  

  • For the first time, there is gender parity for artists selected as Archibald finalists: 26 women and 26 men. 
  • Female sitters outnumber the men (although that is not a first).

(Note to self - maybe start counting the ratio of male to female artists in future exhibitions?)

They had the second highest number of entries. 938 paintings were entered and 52 were elected.

Part of the exhibition


Selected artists

[will be added in tomorrow)

You can see all the paintings on this page - click the painting and it takes you to a page about the artist and the sitter.

What you don't get a sense of is their relative size.

Articles about the Archibald Prize 2021

More about past posts about The Archibald Prize


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