John Coburn (1925 – 2006)

Welcome to the website of John Coburn

Here we hope to inspire you to know more about this great Australian artist and give you an insight into his life and career.

Coburn is a significant figure in Australian art, he was active from 1959 to 2003. He was widely acknowledged for his paintings and prints, however Coburn is also regarded as an important tapestry designer. His major works include the Curtain of the Sun and Curtain of the Moon designed for the Sydney Opera House. Also the Seven Days of Creation, which hang in the J.F. Kennedy Centre for Performing Arts in Washington DC. His work has been widely exhibited internationally and hangs in the Vatican Museum Rome and in all the state and national galleries in Australia.

Coburn was a committed educator and activist, progressing first from student to teacher, then to Head of School at the National Art School Darlinghurst, Sydney. He first studied art there as an ex-servicemen, home from the war and was where he met his future wife Barbara Woodward. They both graduated in 1952.

In 1980 he was awarded the Order of Australia for his resonant practice and contributions to Australian Art. His work sings with rich colour, using flat-patterned shapes to evoke spirituality and emotion. His bio-morphic and iconic shapes draw on cultural influences and the Australian Landscape, especially his childhood home in tropical North Queensland.

Full Biography