Cover image of the review
Edwin Tanner, not titled (Study for The Public Servant - office interior with milk bottles), c.1963, oil on canvas, 66.0 x 61.0 cm. Courtesy Charles Nodrum Gallery.

Edwin Tanner: A Selection of Paintings and Prints from the Estate

23 Sep 2023
Charles Nodrum Gallery 16 Sep - 7 Oct 2023

Edwin Tanner was the most insider of outsider artists. Which is to say that the art world immediately saw that he was more interesting than them—guided by more powerful passions—and they welcomed him into the fold, hoping to glean some vitality from his presence. Trained at evening classes in Hobart from the age of thirty and working as a full-time artist by the age of forty-five, Tanner was an outsider artist only in that, when other artists spoke about him, they found it necessary to refer to him as “an engineer.”

There are some artists whose profession you need to know before you understand them, and art history has decided that you need to know that Tanner was an engineer. Not to refute, but rather to intensify this, Charles Nodrum Gallery also wants you to know that he occupied himself not only with “engineering (his dual profession),” but also,

“mathematics (it’s said that, at sixteen, he completed a four-year London University course in higher mathematics in four months), philosophy (which he read and studied extensively), poetry (he was a published poet and also wrote short stories), cycling (as a teenager, he was a competitive cyclist and designed and built his own bicycle), flying (he was involved with aircraft design during the Second World War and was later an amateur pilot)—and more.”

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