Bill HENSON<br/>
Australian born 1955<br/>
<em>Untitled</em> 2008–09<br/>
inkjet print<br/>
127.0 x 180.0 cm <br/>
© Bill Henson<br/>
Copyright (C) reserved
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Australian born 1955
Media Release • 22 Dec 16

Bill Henson

NGV Festival of Photography

Bill Henson

NGV International | 10 March – 27 August 2017 | FREE

The solo survey exhibition, Bill Henson, will showcase recent works by the Australian photographer, who is celebrated for his powerful images that sensitively explore the complexities of the human condition.

The exhibition brings together twenty-three photographs selected by the artist, traversing the key themes in the artist’s oeuvre, including sublime landscapes, portraiture, as well as classical sculpture captured in museum settings.

Inviting contemplation, Henson’s works present open-ended narratives and capture an intriguing sense of the transitory. Henson’s portraits show his subjects as introspective, focused on internal thoughts and dreams; his landscapes are photographed during the transitional moment of twilight; and the images shot on location inside museums juxtapose graceful marble statues against the transfixed visitors observing them.

Henson’s work is renowned for creating a powerful sense of mystery and ambiguity through the use of velvet-like blackness in the shadows. This is achieved through the striking use of chiaroscuro, an effect of contrasting light and shadow, which is used to selectively obscure and reveal the form of the human body, sculptures and the landscape itself.

‘Henson’s photographs have a palpable sense of the cinematic and together they form a powerful and enigmatic visual statement,’ said Tony Ellwood, Director, NGV.

‘The NGV mounted Bill Henson’s first solo exhibition in 1975 when Henson was only 19. Over forty years later, audiences to the NGV will be captivated by the beauty of Henson’s images once more,’ said Ellwood.

On display at the National Gallery of Victoria as part of the ingugural NGV Festival of Photography, the exhibition has been made possible by the extraordinary generosity of Bill Bowness, whose gift of twenty-one photographs by Henson makes the NGV’s collection of his work the most significant of any public institution.

Bill Henson will be on display at NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, Australia from 10 March to 27 August as part of the inaugural NGV Festival of Photography. Further information is available from the NGV website NGV.MELBOURNE. Entry is FREE. Bill Henson will tour to the Art Gallery of Western Australia in September 2017.

Donated through the Australian Governments Cultural Gifts Program by William Donald Bowness, 2016.


The inaugural NGV Festival of Photography in 2017 will be the largest display of photography in the NGV’s history. Presented across multiple galleries at both NGV International and NGV Australia, the festival will feature solo exhibitions by William Eggleston, Bill Henson, Patrick Pound, Zoë Croggon and Ross Coulter, alongside dedicated displays, events and programs.

The NGV Festival of Photography will highlight new acquisitions of international and Australian photographers’ works, which have been actively collected by the NGV in recent years, including the work of Elad Lassry, Sophie Calle, Polly Borland, Pieter Hugo and Thomas Demand amongst others. The festival will provide audiences an opportunity to be truly immersed in new works encompassing digitally produced prints as well as film based projects by both established and emerging artists.

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