Published  05/12/2002

Bryan Robertson

Bryan Robertson has died - the greatest Tate Gallery Director we never had. Still active at 72, Robertson transformed the Whitechapel Gallery from 1952. Director at the early age of 27, he also transformed the public awareness worldwide, of Australian art. Iconoclastic and eclectic, he was first kicked into touch by historian Lawrence Gowing, who was miffed by fellow aspirant for the directorship which led to his own exclusion from the superb book Private Review (see earlier coverage here) by John Russell and Bryan Robertson, following a photo opportunity too far proposed of himself on the steps of the Tate. There was, in turn, a major muddle, where even resorting to politicians could not settle matters appropriately in Robertson's favour. Which is how Norman Reid got the job, as the compromise outsider. But Robertson's career had been evilly and permanently sabotaged.

Studio International will publish a considered Obituary shortly of Bryan Robertson. Ironically his first work experience ever was at this Studio journal on leaving school. Robertson, like David Sylvester, will be sorely missed.

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