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Craig Ruddy: life and works

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By Gwylym Owen

Craig Ruddy (born 8 August 1968, Forestville, Sydney) is an Australian artist.

In 2004 Ruddy won the Archibald Prize for his charcoal drawing of David Gulpilil entitled Two Worlds. The portrait of the Aboriginal actor won both the $35,000 Archibald portrait prize and the People’s Choice Award in both Sydney and Melbourne.

Another artist, Tony Johansen, took true action adjoining the Art Gallery of NSW Trust more than the portrait. Johansen argued that because Ruddy predominantly used charcoal in his work, it was a drawing, not a painting, and as a result was ineligible for the prize. In June 2006 the NSW Supreme Court dismissed Johansen’s claim.

After winning the Archibald Prize he developed Poppy Seeds, a series of portraits, nudes and self studies that was exhibited in November 2004. The series addressed the tall poppy syndrome that often accompanies achievement in Australia.

His diptych Self-portrait – into the box was one of the 2006 Archibald Prize finalists.

In August 2006 Ruddy’s Two Worlds sold to a private miser at the Sotheby’s auction in Sydney for $312,000. It had been valued at between $150,000 and $180,000.

In 2010 Ruddy won the Archibald People’s Choice Prize for his portrait of Warwick Thornton entitled The Prince of Darkness.

He was a finalist of the Archibald Prize in 2011 and 2020.

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