Zurich/Sydney: Scalo/Art Gallery NSW, 2005. First Edition. Pictorial cover. Quarto (30.2 x 25.7 cm), (text in English), 504 pages, pictorial dust jacket, massive catalogue to the first major Retrospective Exhibition; Forewords by Edmund Capon and the curator Judy Annear (pp. 8-12); works in nine groups, 1974-2004, with brief authoritative texts; Lenders to the Exhibition; Exhibition Concordance Tables; Contributors Notes; List of Works; Selected Exhibition History-Collections-Bibliography. Weight: 3.7 kg. As new / as new. Item #557
Few photographers’ Retrospectives, however colossal such as represented in the present catalogue, could justify the title Mnemosyne, which refers to the Greek goddess of memory and remembrance and mother of the Muses. The title is derived from the same source as the word mnemonic. The name entered early modern English in the 16th century. The book Mnemosyne places the controversial Melbourne photographer Bill Henson on an international level, to be considered with such legendary photographers as Robert Frank, Diane Arbus and Nan Goldin. As well as Forewords by Edmund Capon and the curator Judy Annear, there are essays in this book by David Malouf, Jennie Boddington, Dennis Cooper, Peter Craven, Isobel Crombie, John Forbes, Michael Heyward, Alwynne Mackie, Bernice Murphy, Peter Schjeldahl, and an interview with Bill Henson by Sebastian Smee.
Henson’s photographs have been widely recognised as powerful, elegant, formal, provocative, edgy, gritty, technically commanding, confronting, full of decadence, opulence, suspense and mysterious darkness. Judy Annear worked with Henson selecting works on major themes from a dozen series: early ballet pictures; body and nude portraits; street crowds; Baroque triptychs; Australian suburbs, Egypt, Los Angeles and New York nightscapes; cut-out collages shown in Venice; portraits of adolescents; colour compositions for the Paris Opera; and a haunting selection of images of children adrift in the wilderness of night, many of these appearing for the first time. Specific groupings suggest the processes of the imagination itself.
Bill Henson was born in 1955 in Melbourne, where he has mostly lived. His first solo exhibition was at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1975, and he has since exhibited extensively in Australia and overseas, representing Australia at the Venice Biennale in 1995. His work is held in all major Australian public art Collections, and in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Houston, Louisville, Montreal, Paris, Frankfurt and Vienna.