Inner-city cafes and regional galleries around the country are abuzz this week, as the Art Gallery Of NSW announced the finalists of $100,000 Archibald prize – which will be announced on 25 September.

In its 99th year, the Archibald Prize is touted as one of the most prestigious art prizes in the country, and has gone ahead against all odds with the back drop of the global coronavirus pandemic.

In years past, the award has been whittled down from approximately 800 entries of portraits-of-iPhone-photographs of Australian soap opera actors, other artists, and moderate Liberal Party politicians.

However, this year marks a refreshing change in the institution, with the number of submissions doubling due to the amount of latent artists discovering their craft in lockdown.

Not only is participation up amongst first-timers and non-Sydney artists, but records have also been broken in the way of gender and racial parity – which has been a topic of interest in the past.

Among this year’s finalists is the first Indigenous prize winner in the history of the AGNSW, with actor Meyne Wyatt taking out the coveted Packing Room prize with a self-portrait.

Glass ceilings have also been broken the shape of female finalists, as well as female subjects, with 52 of the remaining 55 finalists choosing to paint the portrait of prominent podcaster and TV journalist Annabel Crabb.

Gallery director, Michael Brand says this year’s batch of finalists is just what the art world needed in a trying year for public events.

“This is a great moment for our gallery and for the future of this prize” he said.

“All entries of Annabel Crabb were submitted by women, except for one, which was submitted by Christopher Pyne, who I am led to believe is a die-hard chatter”

“We have worked for many years to boost the participation numbers when it comes to Annabel Crabb portraits, and I think we should pat ourself on the back. 52 finalists! Wow!”

Annabel Crabb is also listed amongst the 52 artists who entered a portrait of Annabel Crabb, after she too submitted a self-portrait titled ‘Crabbzy, 2020’.

The other three portraits were submitted by an assortment of boomer artists from Sydney’s North Shore, all of whom had painted radio broadcaster Alan Jones, alongside artist statements that tackled the issue of how political correctness is ruining their understanding of art.


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