Dale Frank

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Dale Frank (born 1959 in Singleton, New South Wales) is a contemporary Australian artist best known for his biomorphic abstract paintings. His practice has included found object-sculptures, performance installations, drawings and most recently paintings with sculptural elements. Frank lives and works in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia.

Early life[edit]

Frank was born in Singleton, in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia. At the age of 19 he moved overseas to pursue a career as an artist in Europe and the United States. In 1998 he returned to live in Australia permanently.


Frank’s artistic explorations in the mid 70s consisted of abstracted landscapes and assemblages that contained materials such as hardwoods and furniture. Later his performance based sculptures included: staging an elaborate lighting and sound disco together with a DJ at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney, and the Canberra Contemporary Art Centre; and installing eight large professional pool tables and associated paraphernalia of a Pool Hall, at the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane. At the Hotel Art Fair in 1996 Frank was given a luxury suite, where he installed hired four transgender "hostess’s" to serve Swiss Chocolates and Champagne throughout the Fair with the room sculpture becoming the focal point of the Fair. Other sculptures include having himself hypnotised before attending an empty exhibition opening with certain code words prompting certain responses from the artist.

Sculpture installations include in 1994, at the Australian National Gallery, in Canberra, installing high performance miniature speakers, that played out across the entry forecourt a continuous repeat of 5 David Bowie albums, Diamond Dogs, Pin Ups, Aladin Sain, Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, creating the feeling of a daytime disco for those approaching. Another sculpture, at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, 1996, consisted of the gallery strewn with filled ash trays and all the detritus of a wild party, as if it had been held the night before.

From 1981 - 1994 Frank created surreal large-scale drawings. Composed of intense tightly held lines they were up to 320 x 720 cm in size. They were exhibited worldwide, including New York (Willard Gallery), Amsterdam (Museum Stedelijk Fodor) and the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney Biennale 1982).

Around 1995 Frank employed varnish as the sole material of his paintings and developed signature his 'monochromes'. Although not the main development of his work at the time, this practice by 2002 saw the introduction of colour and the rapid experimentation of chemical, time and motion studies within the paintings. This distinct technique of layering thick varnish to create abstract hypnotic paintings, resulted in compositions that hint at the psychedelic, and are notable for their vibrant and distinctive use of colour. Although the foundation of this process is not unique to Frank, he has developed and refined his technique over his 35-year career to create a personal sensibility and aesthetic.[1] Australian curator and writer Stuart Koop wrote: 'Since 2001 I'd suggest, Frank's paintings don't depict, or represent anything. Rather in a scientific sense they illustrate the behaviour of different painting materials, in isolation or in combination with others'.[2]

The titles of his paintings are phrases invented or overheard that ‘read like short stories’[1] such as To Cool To Matter, and His Common Law ex wife moved to Port Fairy and Went on the Game, adding ambiguity and psychology to the works. Koop writes: 'The works' titles remind us of Frank's creative intercession in these chemical exchanges: snippets from life conversations, things read, influences at large, big and little ideas that might suggest a subject, but perhaps better reflect the life of the artist in parallel - forming a montage whose doubtful inherent logic might still truly reflect the chaotic complexity of influence.' [3]

Australian art critic Andrew Frost stated: ‘Dale Frank's work is out there, all on its own, largely untroubled by recent theory or passing fashion. It stands alone, majestic and strange.’[4] However, his current works in particular ascribe to the ‘expanded notion’ theory of painting: sculpture, and performance could be considered in as part of the painting medium.[5] Frank’s 2015 exhibition at Neon Parc, Melbourne demonstrated this. The show included found objects turned sculpture such as Bust, a white chocolate fountain, whose abject nature and painterly chocolate flow correlated with the accompanying paintings

Dale has shifted from working on canvas to Perspex in his current practice, which he states has added a new dimension to the work both 'spatially and conceptually'.[6] The reflective nature of Perspex alters the paint quality, and in addition the work becomes a 'performance' activated and completed when the viewer stands before it.[7]

In 2014 Dale Frank donated 85 works valued at $4 million AUD to the National Gallery of Canberra, which they stated was the most significant gift by a living artist since Arthur Boyd Gift in 1975.[8] Gallery director Ron Radford described Franks as ‘one of Australia’s most important painters’.[9]


Frank’s exhibition history comprises Australian and international exhibitions. It includes inclusion in the Venice Biennale, in the Aperto section in 1984 and in the collateral exhibition Personal Structures in 2013. In 2010 he participated in the 17th Biennale of Sydney: The Beauty of Distance, Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age.

Solo museum exhibitions include a survey show in 2000 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney, Dale Frank: Ecstasy – 20 Years of Painting. He has held numerous exhibitions at commercial galleries including Roslyn Oxley9, Anna Schwartz, Gow Langsford and Neon Parc.

A monograph So Far: the Art of Dale Frank 2005-1980 (Schwartz Publishing) was published in 2007 and follows the publication of his earlier monograph Dale Frank (Craftsman House, 1992).

Solo Gallery Exhibitions include:

PS 1, New York, USA, 1981

Roslyn Oxley Gallery, Sydney, since 1982

Willard Gallery, New York, USA, 1982

Studio d’Arte Cannaviello, Milan, Italy, 1984, 1985

Massimo Audiello Gallery, New York, USA, 1986

Studio Marconi, Milan, Italy, 1987

Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, USA, 1988, 1994

Galerie Albert Baronian, Brussels, Belgium, 1986, 1993

Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne, 1997 to 2013

Neon Parc Gallery, Melbourne, since 2014

Pearl Lam Galleries, Hong Kong since 2015

Solo Public Exhibitions include:

Dale Frank Paintings, Musee de Arte Modern di Ville Liege, Liege, Belgium, 1987

Dale Frank Drawing Retrospective, Monash University Gallery, Melbourne, Australia, 1993

Dale Frank, Art Gallery of New South Wales Project Space, Sydney, Australia, 1994

Dale Frank, Ecstasy, 20 Years of Painting, Museum of Contemporary Art, MCA, Sydney, Australia, 2000

Public Group Exhibitions include:

4th Biennale of Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, curated by William Wright, 1982

Panorama della Post-Critica, Musei Palazzo Lanfranchi, Pisa, Italy, with Thomas Lawson and Anselm Kiefer selected by Helena Kontova and curated by Achille Bonito Oliva, 1983

Aperto 84, Arte e Arti: Attualita e Storia’, Biennale of Venice; Venice, curated by Flavio Caroli, 1984

Recent Australian Art - An American Perspective, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, curated by Diane Waldman, 1984

Nuove Trame dell’Arte, Castello Genazzano, Rome, curated by Achille Bonito Oliva, 1985

Anniottanta, Museum of Modern Art, Bologna; curated by Renato Barilli, Flavio Caroli, 1985

Nature Re-defined, Galerie Segal-Steinberg, Montreal, 1987

Documentation, Danial Newburg Gallery, New York, 1987

8th Biennale of Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, curated by Rene Bloc, 1990

Wit's End, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 1993

Virtual Reality, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, curated by Mary Eagle, 1994

Adelaide Biennale of Australian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, curated by Christopher Chapman, 1996

Australia: Familiar and Strange, Seoul Arts Centre, Seoul, Korea, curated by Tim Morrell, 1996

Moral Hallucinations, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 1999

‘Sublime’, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, curated by Jennifer Duncan, 2002

Optimism, Gallery of Modern Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 2008

17th Biennale of Sydney, Sydney Cockatoo Island, Sydney, curated by David Elliot, 2010

Inner Worlds; Portraits and Psychology, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, curated by Christopher Chapman, 2011

New Psychedelia, University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane, 2011

Personal Structures, Palazzo Bembo, Venice Biennale, Venice, 2013

Luminous World, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, 2013

Adelaide Biennale of Australian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, curated by Nick Mitzevich, 2014

Lurid Beauty, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, curated by Simon Maidment, 2015


Frank’s works are held in museums and private and corporate collections in Australia, Asia Pacific, Europe and the United States. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Museum of Fine Art, Boston, USA
  • Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA
  • Zurich Kunsthaus, Zurich, Switzerland
  • Exxon Corp. Collection, New York, USA
  • Ball State University Collection, Indiana, USA
  • Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA
  • Musee de ViIIe de Leige, Leige, France
  • Trans-Art Collection, Milan, Italy
  • First National Bank of Chicago Collection, Chicago, USA
  • Westpac Collection, New York, USA
  • National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
  • National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
  • Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
  • Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
  • Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
  • Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, Auckland


Frank was awarded the 2005 Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize from the Bendigo Art Gallery, worth $50,000.


For a complete bibliography refer to Roslyn Oxley9

2017 Edward Colless, "Dale Frank: A New Sorcery", Art Collector Issue 81, July - Sept 2017, pp156 -167

Nicholas Forrest, "The Fluid Dynamic of Conceptual Painter Dale Frank at Roslyn Oxley9", Blouin ArtInfo, September 26, 2014

Sally Pryor," Artist Dale Frank 4 million donation is National Gallery of Australia's 'most significant gift'", Canberra Times, August 15, 2014


Andrew Frost, ‘Dale Frank, Nobody's Sweetie - review', The Guardian.com, August 21, 2013


Sue Cramer, "Dale Frank Artist Profile", MCA Collection Volume One, (Sydney; MCA, 2012) pp257


Christopher Chapman, Inner Worlds: Portraits and Psychology, National Portrait Gallery: Canberra, 2011

2010 David Elliott, ,The Beauty of Distance: Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age, 17th Biennale of Sydney catalogue, published by the Biennale of Sydney Ltd in association with Thames & Hudson, Australia Pty Ltd.


Sebastien Smee, `Forget Me Not', The Weekend Australian, April 5–6, 2008, pp. 18–19


So Far: The Art of Dale Frank, 1980-2005, Schwartz Publishing, Melbourne (440 pages)

Sebastian Smee, `Into the twilight zone,' The Australian, 31 March - April 1, 2007, pp. 18–19


Richard Kalina, `Report from Downunder: Down Under no more', Art in America, April 2005, pg.77


Jane Rankin-Reid, `Dale Frank's conceptual abstraction,' Art & Australia, vol.42 no.2, Summer, p. 211-214

Ashley Crawford, `Dale Frank' (feature), Art & Australia, Vol.42 No.2, Summer, p. 207


Ewen McDonald, `The ever-expanding field,' Monash University Collection: Four Decades of Collecting, ed. Jenepher Duncan and Linda Michael, Monash University and Monash University Museum of Art, Victoria, p. 32 - 36


Charles Green, `Into the 1990s: the decay of postmodernism,'Fieldwork: Australian Art 1968 - 2002, exh. cat., National Gallery of Victoria, Federation Square, Melbourne (November 2002 to February 2003), p. 100 - 111


Christopher Chapman, `DFX4,' (article), Dale Frank. Ecstasy Twenty Years of Painting, exh. cat., Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, pp. 20– 25.

Andrew Frost, `Australia's 50 Most Collectable Artists,' Australian Art Collector, Issue 7, Jan-Mar, pp. 27–64, 35


William McAloon, home and away: contemporary Australian and New Zealand art from the Chartwell Collection, Auckland Art Gallery, 1999, p. 118-9, 135


Linda Michael, Bernice Murphy, Ben Curnow, The MCA Collection: The Loti and Victor Smorgan Gift of Contemporary Australian Art, (publication), Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, pp. 32, 60-61,104

Jeff Gibson, `Dale Frank,' (review), Flash Art (international), Milan, March–April, no. 223


Rex Butler, `Eyes Closed in Dale's Disco', Like, No 2, March, pp. 14–17

Christopher Allen, Art in Australia From Colonization to Postmodernism, Thames & Hudson, London, p. 212


Christopher Chapman, Adelaide Biennale of Australian Art, ex cat., Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, March, pp. 14, 60-61, 102-103, 136

`Dale Frank,' Art + Text, Sydney, No. 53, January, pp. 44–45

Charles Green, Peripheral Vision - Contemporary Australian Art, Craftman House Publishers, Sydney, pp. 36–37

Robert Lindsay, The Shell Collection of Contemporary Australian Art, exh. cat., Melbourne, pp. 36–37


Nick Waterlow, 25 Years of Performance Art in Australia, exh. cat., Ivan Doherty Gallery, Sydney, June, pp. 6, 27, 62, 64

Christopher Chapman, `Carnivorous Plants: Cultured Nature in Contemporary Art', Art & Australia, Spring, Vol.32, No.1, Sydney, p. 92-97

Mary Eagle, `Introduction,' Virtual Reality, exh. cat., National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, December, p. 5

Christopher Chapman, `Dale Frank and the Diamond Dogs', exh. cat., National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, December, pp. 46–47


Paul Foss, `The Painters Dildo (Portrait of Dale Frank)', Wit's End (catalogue), Museum of Contemporary Art, publisher, Sydney, January, pp. 143–167

Ashley Crawford, `The Orgasmic Alienation', Where Angels Fear to Tread, Drawings 1980-1992 exh. cat., Monash University Gallery, Melbourne, April, pp. 3–7

Jeff Gibson, `Avant-Grunge', Art + Text, Sydney, No.45, May, pp. 23–25

Elwyn Lynn, `Various Aspects of Genius', The Weekend Australian, July 23–24, p. 13


Jane Magon, Dale Frank, Craftsman House, Roseville East, NSW, 1992 (204 pages)


Bernard Smith and Terry Smith, Australian Painting 1788-1990, Oxford University Press, pp. 531, 534, 539

Graham Forsyth, `Dale Frank', Art + Text, Sydney, no 40, September, pp. 86–87

Bernard Smith/Terry Smith, `Post Modern Plurality 1980-1990,’Australian Painting 1788-1990, Oxford University Press, Chapter 16, pp. 531, 534


Rene Block, The Readymade Boomerang: Certain Relations in 20th Centurv Art, exh. cat., Sydney, 8th Biennale of Sydney, April, pp. 458–459, 475

Louise Neri, `Block's Buster: Eros, C'est Ia vie, Cumulus From Australia', Parkett, Zurich, no 25, September, pp. 143–49

Paul Groot, `Sydney Biennale,' Flash Art, Milan, no 154, October


Paul Groot, `De kunstgeschiedenis is dood. Leve de kunstgesch-denis!: Pittoresk II', Museumiournal, Amsterdam, vol 34, no 2 & 3, pp. 97–103

 William Wright and Robert Lindsay, ICI Contemporarv Art Collection, exh. cat., Melbourne


Dan Cameron, `Showdown at Southern Cross', - Notes on the 1988 Australian Biennale, Artlink, Adelaide, vol 8, no 3, pp. 10–14

15 Years Galene Albert Baronian in I.C.C., exh. cat., Antwerp/Brussels, Galerie Albert Baronian, November, pp. 34–35

Arthur McIntyre, Australian Contemporary Drawing, Boolarong Publishers, Sydney


Daniela Salvioni, `Combustible Demarcations: The Art of Dale Frank', in Tony Bond (ed), The Australian Bicentennial Perspecta, exh. cat., Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, October, pp. 28–35

Gian Petro Vincenzo, `Neo Geo,' Per Lui Vogue, Milan, 16 January

Arturo Carlo Quintavalle, `Dale Frank: Quadri come apparizioni,'Panorama, March, p. 26

Giancinto di Pietrantonio, `Dale Frank/Alfredo Pirri', Flash Art, (Italia), Milan, March, pp. 50–51


Gregorio Magnani, `Dale Frank', Flash Art, (International), no 126, Milano, February, pp. 60–61

Gregorio Magnani, `Dale Frank', Westuff, no 3, Florence, March, pp. 16–17

Pier Luigi Tazzi, `Dale Frank', Artforum, vol 24, no 8, New York, April, pp. 118

Paul Groot, `Die Malerei im Dienste eines anatomischen Projects, Einige Bermerkungen zum junger europaischer Maler', Europe-America: 1940 to the Present, exh. cat., Cologne, Museum Ludwig, September, pp. 407–418


Helena Kontova `Dale Frank,' Flash Art (International), no 120, Milan, January, p. 70-71

Michael Kohn, `Dale Frank,' Flash Art (International), no 120 January, p. 43-44

Gerrit Henry, `Dale Frank,' Art in America, 1985, no 2, New York, February, p. 140-141

Paul Groot, De Surrealistiche Varieties van Dale Frank,Museumjournal, no 1, Amsterdam, March, p. 49

Donald B. Kuspit, `Australian Visions at the Guggenheim,' Art in America, no 3, New York, March, p. 153-154

Angela Vettasi, `Europe and America: Two Aspects of the New Surreal', Flash Art (International), no 122, Milan, May, pp. 20–2 1

Achille Bonito Oliva, Nuove Trame Dell'Arte, exh. cat., Castello Gennazzano, Italy, July, pp. 68–69

Lucia Spadano and Achille Bonito Oliva, `Nuove Trame Dell'Arte',Segno, no 47, Rome, June, p. 8-15

Silvia Zangheri, `Espressione, Spirito Selvaggio e neoprimitivo', exh. cat., Anniottanta, (Flavio Caroli and Renalto Barilli), Bologna, July, pp. 163–169, 195-196, 223

Gregorio Magnani, `Dale Frank,' Flash Art (Italia), no 130, Milano, Dec, p. 46

Francesca Alfano Miglietti, `Provisioni de Tempo', Flash Art (Italia), no 130, Milano, Dec, pp. 662–64


Diane Waldman, Australian Visions: 1984 Exxon International Exhibition, exh. cat., New York, Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, September, pp. 19–20, 32-40

Flavio Caroli, Aperto 84: XLI La Biennale di Venezia 1984, exh. cat., Venice, June, pp. 201,207

Helena Kontova, `Dale Frank', Flash Art (Italiana), no 122, Milan, July, (Estate), p.22-23

Flavio Caroli, `La Biennale di Venezia', Flash Art (Italiana), no 122, Milan, July, (Estate), p.67

Paul Groot, `Closed Quotes', Artforum, vol XXIII, no 1, New York, September, p.107

Stuart Morgan, `Dale Frank', Artforum, vol XXIII, no 2, New York, October, p.101

Paul Groot, `Dale Frank', Artists, no 22-23, Paris, October, p.116-119

Elio Graziolo, `Dale Frank', Flash Art (International), no 11, Milan, November, p.49


Bernice Murphy, Australian Perspecta 1983, exh. cat., Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, May, p.44

Helen Kontova, `Anselm Kiefer, Thomas Lawson, Dale Frank' in Achille Bonito Oliva (ed), Critica ad Arte: Panorama della Post - Critica, exh. cat., Musei Palazzo Lanfranchi, Pisa, Italy, March, p.138-142

Paul Taylor, Tall Poppies, exh. cat., Melbourne University Gallery, Melbourne, April

Helen Kontova, `La Peinture issue de Ia performance', Flash Art (ed. Francaise), no 1, Milan, Autumn, p.12-17


Bernice Murphy, `Some Recent Painting in Australia', in Achille Bonito Oliva (ed), Transavantaarde International, Milan, Giarncarlo Politi, p.275

Roberto Daolio, `Dale Frank, Artista', Lapis Arte, Salerno, June pp.8-10

Helena Kontova `From Performance to Painting', Flash Art, no 106, Milan, Feb, p.16-21

William Wright, Vision in Disbelief, 4th Biennale of Sydney, exh. cat., Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

Marcia Tucker `An Iconography of Recent Figurative Painting: Sex, Death, Violence and the Apocalypse’, Artforum, Vol X, no 10, New York, June


  1. ^ Frost, Andrew (21 August 2013). "Dale Frank, Nobody's Sweetie – review". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  2. ^ "Dale Frank". crackle... & splat!. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  3. ^ "Dale Frank". crackle... & splat!. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  4. ^ Frost, Andrew (21 August 2013). "Dale Frank, Nobody's Sweetie – review". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  5. ^ Frost, Andrew (21 August 2013). "Dale Frank, Nobody's Sweetie – review". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  6. ^ "Dale Frank at Art Los Angeles Contemporary | Ocula". ocula.com. 13 February 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  7. ^ Magon, Jane (1992). Dale Frank. NSW, Australia: Craftsmen House.
  8. ^ "Artist Dale Frank $4 million donation is National Gallery of Australia's 'most significant gift'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  9. ^ "Artist Dale Frank $4 million donation is National Gallery of Australia's 'most significant gift'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 19 January 2016.

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