Brett Whiteley was born in 1939. He is a reknowned Australian avant-garde artist. He began creating art as a teenage painting and studied drawing at the National Art School in East Sydney. Soon he met the director of the Whitechapel Gallery and got his work included in an exhibition of new Austrailian painting. The Tate gallery purchased a piece from that show.
In the early 1960s, Brett Whiteley moved to London. The work from this time period reflects the influence of Modernist British abstract art. This work propelled his career forward and he began earning recognition. In 1967, Whiteley won a Harkness Fellowship Scholarship to study and work in New York. He lived at the Chelsea Hotel along with other artists. He traded paintings with the hotel for rent. One of those traded painting recently sold for just over a million US dollars. Brett Whiteley had become political and also began drinking and taking drugs, which would plague him for the rest of his life.
By the time he returned to Sydney in the early 70s, he was well known and admired. Brett Whiteley continues painting and collaborating with other artists on projects throughout the 70s and 80s. His work receives several awards including the Archibald Prize and Wynne Prize. Unfortunately, his drug and alcohol abuse would catch up with him and he dies in 1992 from a heroin overdose. He was 53 years old.