This exhibition surveys the work of Robert Hunter (1947–2014), an artist with whom the National Gallery of Victoria had a long association. In 1968, at twenty-one, Hunter was the youngest artist to participate in The Field exhibition, which announced the arrival of an international-style, late-modernist abstraction in Australia. In the same year, the NGV acquired Hunter’s hard-edge abstract painting Untitled, 1968, from his first solo exhibition. Hunter is one of very few Australian artists to participate at the centre of an international art movement, exhibiting in Eight Contemporary Artists at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1974, and presenting solo exhibitions at Galerie Konrad Fischer in Düsseldorf in 1974, and Lisson Gallery in London in 1975. Hunter continued to be involved in significant exhibitions in Australia and internationally, including the survey exhibition Minimal Art at the NGV in 1976, the 11th Biennale of Paris in 1980 and a series of two-person exhibitions with Carl Andre in Australia in 1978 in Melbourne, Newcastle and Brisbane.
In a career spanning almost five decades, Hunter developed an idiosyncratic visual language that drew upon the logic of minimalism. Using a basic geometric lexicon and everyday materials such as house paint and masking tape, he endlessly reinvented the modernist grid. From his earliest near-white square canvases, the wall paintings that dominated much of his output in the 1970s, and the finely nuanced white-on-white compositions of the mature works for which he is now best known, he produced a remarkably consistent body of work that tests the very limits of visual perception. Robert Hunter’s uncompromising vision and commitment to a singular aesthetic position is unique in Australian art.