Archibald darling Vincent Fantauzzo receives $150,000 for his painting of the film director.

The world’s richest portraiture prize has selected a wall-sized painting of Australian filmmaker Baz Luhrmann as this year’s winner, the Moran Arts Foundation announced yesterday at the State Library of New South Wales where the finalists are now on show.

Melbourne artist Vincent Fantauzzo is fast becoming a favourite on the competition circuit, honoured last month with the Archibald’s high-profile Packing Room Prize selected by the storeman and staff of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. His Archibald submission depicts Australian chef and restauranteur Matt Moran in a meat-locker posing with knives and a carcass.

His large-scale winning work for the Doug Moran Portrait Prize, entitled Baz Luhrmann “Off Screen”, is somewhat more palatable. As with the Packing Room prizewinner, this painting captures a celebrity figure behind the scenes. Luhrmann, a larger-than-life personality and director of opera (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and film (Australia, Moulin Rouge), is portrayed in a spontaneous, angled snapshot style, head in his hands with a bandaid on his forehead. The sheer size of the painting and the extreme close-up on the subject’s partially hidden face gives a sense intimacy and hyper-reality – we could have caught Luhrmann doubled over in laughter, or at the end of his tether on a film shoot.

The 33-year-old artist says he feels an affinity with his line of work and that of his subject. “Baz is one of my really close mates. He’s so dedicated and focused on what he does.

“People that are really passionate about what they’re doing have a similar mindset and committment”.

Luhrmann, too, can relate, said the director in a statement to the Moran Arts Foundation. “One knows a little bit about what it means to put yourself out there creatively, to be in the cut of the thrust of creative critique and comment, but in the end the work speaks for itself.”

The judges of this year’s portrait prize were  Louise Doyle, director of the National Portrait Gallery and Michael Zavros, contemporary Australian artist and last year’s winner. “There’s no way I thought I could have won”, grinned Fantauzzo.

Jack Atley has been awarded $100,000 in the photographic component of the prize for his work titled World Rare Disease Day – Steve Waugh and Sarah Walker. Finalists and prizes for both portraiture and photography were selected from a staggering 122,910 entries.

The Doug Moran National Portrait Prize was established in 1988 to mark Australia’s Bicentenary, with the Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize being introduced in 2007.


The Dough Moran exhibition for portraiture and photography is free to the public and runs until June 25 at the State Library of New South Wales, before touring nationally. View the event details here.