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Keith Looby, Packaged Landscape

Keith Looby, Packaged Landscape

Keith Looby

The Artist

An artist of renown, Keith Looby was born in Sydney, in 1940 and attended the National Art School, Sydney between 1955 and 1959. From 1960, Looby spent seven years travelling around Europe visiting Naples, Italy, Rome, Turin and London, painting and studying different art collections at galleries and museums. His first exhibition was held at the Carpini Gallery, Rome  in 1964 and this was followed by another at the Viotto Gallery, Turin. Returning home to Australia, Looby went onto exhibit in most of the major cities. He also went onto represent Australia at the fourth Indian Triennial. As well as being a prolific painter, Looby is also known for many works of art created in pen and ink. One such work is his large tapestry like composition 'Our Many Happy Returns to God, entered for the Transfield Prize in 1978 and featured in its first section, the History of the World.

During his career, Keith Looby won the Blake Prize for religious art in 1973,  the Archibald Prize in 1984 and was named Canberra Artist of the Year in 1992 among many other accolades.

Packaged Landscape

The Work of Art

To me, this is one of the most important works of art in the University of Canberra Art Collection. The work of art was created in 1973, synthetic polymar paint on canvas, at an extraordinary time in the art scene. According to Christopher Allen, contemporaries had declared prematurely that painting was 'dead' in an age where other forms of visual arts began to take over partly in response to world events such as the Vietnam war. Looby was very much concerned with one of the ways the art scene was moving in, namely the nature of society and the futility of ambition. Packaged landscape to me is a reaction to modern society and our manipulation of the environment. What makes a striking comparison is comparing Packaged landscape with other artist works based on the environment. Such a comparison underlines Looby's concerns.

Although Looby's Packaged Landscape is the only example of his work in the Art Collection, Looby's work can be found in many other collections including the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of South Australia, Queensland Art Gallery,  Art Gallery of New South Wales and many others. Internationally, Keith's work is  represented in the Museum of Modern Art, MOMA, New York.

History of the World by Keith Looby


Christopher Allen, Art in Australia, 1997, Thames and Hudson, London.

Keith Looby Biography:

Alan & Susan McCulloch, The Encyclopedia of Australian Art, 1994, Allen and Unwin, Sydney.

The Art Sales Digest: