Salon des Refusés (Archibald)

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Salon des Refusés, a popular Australian art exhibition which shows some of the rejected works to the Archibald Prize, Australia's most prestigious art prize for portraiture, and also the Wynne Prize entries for landscape & figure sculpture. The Salon des Refusés exhibition was initiated in 1992 by the S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney in response to the large number of works entered into the Archibald Prize not selected for hanging in the official exhibition. The Archibald Prize is one of Australia’s most high profile and respected awards which attracts hundreds of entries each year and the S.H. Ervin Gallery’s ‘alternative’ selection has become a much anticipated feature of the Sydney art scene. But where did the exhibition derive its name?

The original Salon des Refusés – Salon of the Rejected – started in Paris in 1863, following protests by many artists that the hanging committee of the French Academy had been too restrictive in its selection of work for the annual Salon. In that year the Academy rejected 2800 paintings submitted for the exhibition. Artists including Manet, Pissarro, Courbet and Whistler were rejected from the ‘official’ exhibition because their works were considered by the committee too subversive and some even thought that these artists posed a danger to society.

In those days exhibiting in the Salon was one of the only means artists had of marketing their work therefore exclusion from its annual selling exhibition threatened their reputation and livelihood. Works rejected by the Academy in 1863 included Manet's Déjeuner sur l'Herbe, a painting now considered a masterpiece. Eventually to quell the furore the emperor Napoleon III came to view the rejected works and then asked the committee to reconsider its selection. When they refused, he decreed that the public be given the opportunity to view them in a rival exhibition and a tradition was born.

Ironically those artists included in the officially sanctioned 1863 Salon have completely disappeared and their work remains in obscurity. It is from these origins that the Salon des Refuses came into being as popularity for the Archibald Prize increased and the non-selected artists and public expressed a desire to view the non-selected works.

Each year the S.H. Ervin Gallery’s selectors are invited to go behind the scenes at the Art Gallery of New South Wales following the official judging and view all of the remaining works in order to choose an exhibition representative of the work not selected. The Salon des Refusés often is the first opportunity that many artists have of broader public attention. The criteria for selection are quality, diversity, experimentation and wit.

The Holding Redlich People’s Choice Award commenced in 1999 which is currently valued at $2000.

Past winners of People's Choice Award[edit]

  • 1999 Zhou Xiaoping Jimmy Pike & Zhou Xiaoping
  • 2000 Evert Ploeg Richard Roxburgh
  • 2001 Guy Maestri Silent Assembly
  • 2002 David Naseby Richard Hall
  • 2003 Jiawei Shen Edmund Capon
  • 2004 Juan Ford Allan & Goliath
  • 2005 Margaret Woodward The hobby-horse rider (Self portrait))
  • 2006 Gillian Dunlop Portrait of John Gaden
  • 2007 Jiawei Shen Tri-selves
  • 2008 Peter Smeeth Philip Adams – The Rematch
  • 2009 Zhong Chen Charles Blackman
  • 2010 Ann Cape Kevin in his studio (Portrait of Kevin Connor)


Let's Face It: The History of the Archibald Prize, AGNSW 2009 ISBN 978-1-74174-051-6, pages 98, 105, 110, 157.

External links[edit]