Collection Online

Image of Modern Evil: Nightmare no.28

oil on cardboard
60.8 × 50.9 cm
Place/s of Execution
Melbourne, Victoria
Accession Number
Australian Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased through The Art Foundation of Victoria with the assistance of Henry Krongold CBE and Dinah Krongold, Founder Benefactors, 1982
© Courtesy of Barbara Tucker
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of The Vizard Foundation
Gallery location
Not on display
About the work

Albert Tucker’s work first attracted attention in Melbourne in the 1930s during the Depression when he earned a precarious living as a freelance illustrator, painter and writer.

In the 1940s, Tucker was living in the bayside suburb of St Kilda where he began his Images of Modern Evil series. Image of Modern Evil 1945 depicts a tram looming out of the darkness, a naked, fleshy form lying directly in its path. Tucker was shocked at what he perceived to be the immoral behaviour of young women on St Kilda’s streets during the Second World War. The darkness and symbolic forms used here are a metaphor to explore darker aspects of the human psyche.

In Tucker's words, ‘[The images] came directly out of wartime Melbourne ... I was still the Outraged Edwardian puritan and the crescent [shown in this work in place of the prone figure’s lips] seemed to embody the virulent and primal sexuality that had been released in the blackout.’

The blackness of the images from this series goes beyond the blackness of the wartime blackout. For Tucker, the blackness is symbolic, a symbol of evil (as in the title) and of the other side – the unconscious and the irrational.