A great loss for Australia art world as Judy Cassab dies

AUSTRALIAN artist Judy Cassab has passed away in Sydney, aged 95.

Newspaper article about Judy Cassab and her son John. Photo Contributed Wikimedia Commons
Newspaper article about Judy Cassab and her son John. Photo Contributed Wikimedia Commons Contributed Wikimedia commons

The artist had strong family ties with the Northern Rivers, as her son, ecologist John Seed, and her grandson, musician Bodhi Seed, live in the area.

Judy Cassab was one of Australia's most important painters.  

She won the Archibald Prize twice in the 1960s and was the first female painter to receive such accolade.  

She is one of the most important portrait painters Australia has ever produced, but her other styles of art are not less important in her body of work.  

Back in April, the Lismore Regional Gallery exhibited Dear Bodhi, a collection of letters beautifully illustrated by the artist to her grandson.  

The exhibition  included portraits of the family and paintings Cassab has made of some of the region's well known beauty spots.  

The show also included some diary excerpts by the artist, providing a rare record of the counter-culture movement in the Northern Rivers, and life at Tuntable Falls Community and then Bodhi Farm.   

Judy Cassab, Dear Bodhi, when I asked you on the telephone 1986, watercolour and ink on paper, 44.5 x 28cm, Judy Cassab. Licensed by Viscopy, 2015.jpg
Judy Cassab, Dear Bodhi, when I asked you on the telephone 1986, watercolour and ink on paper, 44.5 x 28cm, Judy Cassab. Licensed by Viscopy, 2015.jpg Contributed


Lismore Regional Gallery director Brett Adlington said Judy Cassab's passing is "a big loss" for the Australian artistic world.

"The Letters to Bodhi exhibition gave us a very personal insight into the life of one of a very important Australia artist and her connection to this area," he said.

"That link to the Northern Rivers was not well known until her family collaborated with us to put that show together."

The Lismore Regional Gallery owns a small number of artwork that Judy Cassab donated to the gallery over the years.

Mr Adlington said an exhibition of those painting may be a possibility in the upcoming months.

The Lighthouse, Byron Bay (1999) by Judy Cassab. Photo Contributed
The Lighthouse, Byron Bay (1999) by Judy Cassab. Photo Contributed Contributed


Judy Cassab also loved travelling to Byron Bay to paint and four of her paintings were donated for display in the Byron Bay Library building in 2014.

The artist's funeral will be held at Temple Emanuel, Woollahra, tomorrow at 12.30pm.


Click here to see a virtual exhibition of Judy Cassab's paintings throughout her life. 


Archibald Winner and Holocaust survivor

  • Judit Kaszab AO CBE, better known as Judy Cassab, was an Australian painter.
  • Judy Cassab was born in Vienna, Austria in 1920 to Hungarian parents.
  • Her husband was put in a forced labour camp by the Nazis in World War II, and returned to Hungary in 1944. She moved to Australia in 1950 and settled in Sydney.
  • Cassab was the first woman to win the Archibald Prize twice: in 1960 for a portrait of Slovenian artist Stan Rapotec and in 1967 for a portrait of artist Margo Lewers.
  • She held more than fifty solo exhibitions in Australia, as well as others in Paris and London.
  • On 14 June 1969 she was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in "recognition of service to the visual arts".
  • On 26 January 1988, she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia again in "recognition of service to the visual arts".
  • On 3 March 1995, she was awarded a Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) from the University of Sydney.
  • Cassab passed away on Tuesday, November 3, at the age of 95 in Sydney.

Topics:  artist

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