More than 50 photographs by news photographer Bruce Postle capture key moments in Australia’s history
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In 1986 a group called The Australian Cultural Terrorists stole the NGV’s most prized acquisition: Picasso’s Weeping Woman. They demanded an increase of funds for the arts, and the launch of five prizes for emerging artists. If the Government didn’t cough up, the painting would be lit up in flames and destroyed. A historic photo captures NGV’s director at the time Patrick McCaughey standing in the gallery, right where the Picasso painting should have been hanging, wearing a look of utter devastation. News photographer Bruce Postle took this image.
This photo is Monash Gallery of Art’s director Shaune Lakin’s favourite in the MGA exhibition Bruce Postle: Image Maker. The photo also shows a security guard quizzically peering behind another painting, just in case it was there. “I like this picture because it tells us a lot about Bruce’s wit and also captures an important moment in Melbourne’s history,” Lakin says. Luckily the Weeping Woman was found undamaged in a locker at Spencer Street Station, yet we still don’t know who the Australian Cultural Terrorists were.
“Bruce was a real newsman, and knew how to get to the heart of the subject in a story,” Lakin says. Postle photographed milestone events for The Age for 32 years, snapping moments including Malcolm Fraser in bed reading the paper after his re-election in 1977; Muhammed Ali planting a kiss on Bert Newton’s cheek at the 1979 Logies, and Sammy Davis Jnr in concert in 1974. “His best pictures always invoke an emotional response, and he worked hard to build this into his work,” Lakin says, when asked what makes Postle’s images so powerful. “They often make you feel funny, sad, pathetic or sometimes angry.”