- Catalogue Number
- Title and Date
- The Bureau 1995
- Description of Featured Image
- In an urban space, overlooked by tall nineteenth- and twentieth-century buildings, are two small figures: a man who points towards the left, as though giving directions, and a woman who approaches him from the right. At the far right of the composition, on a large, rusticated pedestal, is the sculpture of a giant foetus, sucking its thumb.
- Where Made
- Alphington, Melbourne
- Medium Category and Technique
- Intaglio Print: Etching and burnishing on copper
- Wove paper. Identified papers: No papers identified.
Image size: 195 x 300 mm
Matrix size: 198 x 300 mm
- Artist’s Record Number
- Printer(s) and Workshop(s)
- All impressions were printed by Rick Amor in his Alphington studio.
- Summary Edition Information
- Three states. Edition of ten numbered impressions, 1995.
- Niagara Galleries 1996: Niagara Galleries, Richmond (Melbourne), Rick Amor, 4–29 June 1996, no. 34.
- Niagara Galleries at IWOP 1997: Niagara Galleries at the International Works on Paper Fair, Mitchell Galleries, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, 17–20 July 1997, no. 24.
- For an illustration of the painting The Bureau, 1994, see Niagara Galleries, Rick Amor (exh. cat.), Niagara Galleries, Richmond, Victoria, 1995, cat. no. 14.
- For an illustration of the charcoal drawing Study for ‘The Bureau’, 1995, see Niagara Galleries, Rick Amor Drawings (exh. cat.), Niagara Galleries, Richmond, Victoria, 1997, unpaginated.
- For an illustration and discussion of the bronze sculpture The Bureau, 1997, see Simon Klose, Rick Amor & Sculpture (exh. cat.), Benalla Art Gallery, Benalla, Victoria, 2002, cat. no. 2, pp. 3–4.
- State Library of Victoria, Melbourne: six state impressions, numbered 1 through 6; bon à tirer impression; ed. 8/10.
- National Gallery of Australia, Canberra: ed. 7/10, with plate tone (2007.708).
- National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne: ed. 10/10 (2012.409).
This etching followed on from a commission for a watercolour from a Sydney gynaecologist, who had asked Amor to create a visual response to Aldous Huxley’s futuristic novel Brave New World (1932). The novel describes a world in which natural reproduction is abolished and children are created in Hatcheries and raised in Conditioning Centres according to their predetermined positions in society. Foetuses can be chemically interfered with, so that beings designed to fulfil the particular needs of society can be created.
All the essential details of the subject of the etching are present from the first state, with its vast, empty space and small, furtive figures, its threatening architecture, and its giant sculpture of a foetus. What remained to Amor to do was to achieve an appropriate calibration of mood through greater tonal definition. He did this not only by making changes to the matrix, but also by experimenting with inking and wiping. The most significant change made to the plate through its three states was the establishment of tonal balance between the two halves of the composition. In the early states, the left half of the image was darker than the right, and the sculpture of the foetus appeared light and almost ethereal. Amor’s experimentation with dark ink tone led him eventually to undertake considerable re-etching in the final state: the sculpture was rendered more monumental, dominating and sinister, and the entire atmosphere more oppressive.
Amor made several other versions of this subject, including an etching, The telephones, 1995 (cat. no. E.100), which he reworked in 2002 as Small square (cat. no. E.100.1); a painting, The Bureau, 1994 (Niagara Galleries 1995); a charcoal drawing, Study for ‘The Bureau’, 1995 (Niagara Galleries 1997); and a bronze, The Bureau, 1997 (Klose 2002).
- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, Statue
Record last updated 15/02/2021