Pro Hart is arguably the most known and one of the most successful Australian artists across all sectors of the Australian art world. He was controversial, accepted by some and shunned by others, however there is no doubting his significant imprint on the Australian art landscape.
Perhaps most enduring for me is the encouragement first time art buyers gained after the initial purchase of a Pro Hart painting; for many it inspired them to develop the confidence to go on to build an art collection or for further collecting. For this deflowering and fact alone his place in the art scene between the 1960-1990’s was huge. Perhaps we could see his art as a catalyst for further forays into art. Cautious art buyers became empowered to buy more art, time and time again!
He shared the controversial label with many and challenged the label ‘What is art’. He certainly commercialised art where his imagery turned up as seen on carpets, TV dinner trays, air conditioners, table mats and so on. Undoubtedly this marketing extended his reach thus securing more followers and collectors of his work. He also gave his artwork and time for much charity work across all Australian states. Providing paintings for fund raising initiatives via auction, raffles and for compassionate grounds, gaining him much praise from many needy quarters. This attitude in itself illustrated the concerns he had for all people and their problems; there was a compassion with this man.
Pro Hart’s work was not accepted by the art academia, being brushed aside for what was considered more serious work. On the other hand he was an artist for the populous. His style had wide appeal amongst the general public and was eagerly collected. The diversity of subject matter in his paintings was another means of attracting an audience or following. He painted themes/subjects art buyers could relate to, incorporating strong colour, often figurative and many bush stories attractive to broad Australian understanding. He delved into history as a means of inspiration, further endearing his style to many. His style was most recognisable. One of my clients of Greek background; “prided his son at the age of 5 years recognising a Pro Hart painting at 50 metres”! Of course he frequented art galleries with his family, it was one interest the whole family enjoyed!
No matter what you think of this artist he was a pioneer, a leader and initiator, giving confidence to others to paint, collect art or was the entrée to many a first-time art purchase!
We have proudly had his art on the gallery walls for over 30 years. His paintings are like the tide! They come into the gallery, sell and go out!! One thing to note is the scale of artworks sold in that time, it’s been extreme; the smallest being approximately 2 x 3 cms up to 120 x 180 cms, mainly oil paintings!
I’m proud to have the book release of “Pro Hart – Life and Legacy” at Cooks Hill Galleries with author Gavin Fry, a local, being available to autograph copies when purchased. In fact CHG is the book’s first launch venue, following is a road show around Australia. The publication will be available for sale thereafter at the gallery.
Yours in art,