Cathy Freeman, 1994 (printed 2010) by Bill McAuley. Type C photograph (sheet: 35.5 cm x 49.1 cm, image: 27.5 cm x 41.0 cm)

The National Portrait Gallery opened their a new exhibition titled The Look on the 14th of September 2019. Featuring 68 contemporary photographs of extraordinary Australians, each image reveals a certain… something.

From the skeptical look of Bryan Brown, the doubtful gaze of Rose Byrne, or a look of nonchalant heat from Heath Ledger, the exhibition offers the gamut of human expression, emotion and attitude.

The Look’s portraits have been chosen to highlight the diversity of the Australian experience and achievement, of course, but also a more arresting, if intangible quality.  It is a bearing, a manner, a presence; something we perceive and are drawn to; something that transcends the aesthetic conventions of beauty and style,” said National Portrait Gallery Director, Karen Quinlan. 

Top left to bottom right: Nick Cave (by Ingvar Kenne, 2001),Nicole Kidman (by Irving Penn, 2003), Bryan Brown (by Adam Knott, 2008), Rose Byrne (by Karin Catt, 2001), and Heath Ledger (by Bruce Weber, 2000).

Those featured include well known Australians from politics, the arts, science, business and sport, including Ian Thorpe, Michael Hutchence, Tim Jarvis, Noni Hazlehurst, Layne Beachley, Marcia Langton, Nick Cave, and Ruby Hunter.

“The look has as much to do with how you carry yourself, as to what your face looks like or what you’re wearing.  Everyone here is operating the same equipment – two eyebrows, two eyes, a nose and a mouth.  But how thrilling it is to look closely at how,” Curator Sarah Engledow says. 

Featuring striking photographic portraits of contemporary figures the National Portrait Gallery collection, The Look is an aesthetic treat with a lashing of je ne sais quoi. This exhibition will be followed by a national tour.

See a show that shows you some unique Australians in a new light, catch The Look, now on til February 2020!


Dates: Sat 14 September 2019 - Sun 9 February 2020 Location: The National Portrait Gallery - King Edward Terrace, Parkes ACT 2600

Times: 10am - 5pm daily National Portrait Gallery Website