Ray Austin Crooke (1922-2015) Australia

Biographical Information

Painter and printmaker, Ray Austin Crooke was born in Melbourne, Victoria in 1922.

He studied at Swinburne Technical College, under Roger James and Allan Jordan, from 1946-48. His preliminary studies at Swinburne were interrupted by army service in 1939 and he started painting during his service in Borneo and the islands north of Australia.

After the war he worked at various occupations which included two years on Thursday Island working for the Diocese of Carpentaria, an experience that was crucial to his subsequent development as a painter.

The cool, Gaugin-like portrayal of island life that emerged soon won him wide popularity.

Over the years his paintings, inspired by his time in the South West Pacific area, have been widely shown at Australian Galleries, Melbourne; also in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and also in London at the 'Australian Art' Exhibition, Tate Gallery 1963 and solo show at Leicester Galleries 1974.

He lived in Melbourne with his wife and family between 1955 and 1958 and taught art but moved back to North Queensland and full-time painting.

For the next eight years he travelled constantly in the north, Western Australia, Fiji, Tahiti and New Guinea. He served as an official war artist in Vietnam from 1966 and returned to live in Sydney in 1969.

Ray Crooke is also known as a printmaker and has proved to be one of Australia's most popular and best loved artists. He lives in North Queensland and had a joint show with his daughter Diana at the Upstairs Gallery, Cairns in 1982.

In 1969 he won Archibald Prize for his portrait of George Johnston.

He is represented in the National Collection, Canberra, all State Galleries, and many regional galleries and widely in Australian and overseas collections.

Ray Crooke died in Palm Cove, North Queensland in December 2015. Edit or add to this biography

Market Information

Thursday Island 1958
Highest Price:
Thursday Island 1958
Oil tempera and resin on composition board, 82.8 x 66.5 cm
The David Newby Collection of Australian Art; Important Australian Art, Sotheby's, Sydney.
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 Total number soldNumber with imagesHighest priceRecent average price*
Paintings2,4831,285A$170,800 A$10,143
Works on Paper312127A$28,800 A$1,100
Prints & Graphics19790A$2,436 A$383

* Calculated on sales over the last three years, where there are a sufficient number of sales over that period.

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