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Born in Sydney in 1937, Owen studied sculpture under Lyndon Dadswell at the National Art School, Sydney, graduating with honours in 1962. He lived in Greece (1963-66) and London until 1975, when he returned to Sydney. In 1988, he moved to Melbourne, where he held the position of Associate Professor and Head of Sculpture at RMIT University until 2001.

Owen’s practice includes sculpture, installation, painting, photography and major public commissions. His work is characterised by diverse interests, linked through a poetic and intuitive sensitivity to the expressive potential of materials, space, light, colour and context.

Robert Owen has had over 44 solo and 111 group exhibitions in Australia and internationally. He was awarded a John Moore’s Liverpool Exhibition 7 UK prize (1969) and represented Australia at the 38th Biennale of Venice (1978). He was exhibited in 'Spirit and Place: Art in Australia 1861-1996’, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, and 'Geometric Abstraction in Australia 1941-1997’, University Art Museum, University of Queensland. Recent survey exhibitions include 'Between Shadow and Light: London Works 1966-1975’, Monash University Gallery, Melbourne (1999), and The 2nd Balnaves Foundation Sculpture Project, 'Robert Owen: Different Lights Cast Different Shadows’, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2004).

Owen’s many public commissions include Melbourne’s Northern Gateway, Craigieburn Bypass , with architects Taylor Cullity Lethlean and Tonkin Zulaikha Greer for VIC Roads Hume Freeway Development (2004); Webb Bridge , in collaboration with architects Denton Corker Marshall for the Docklands Authority, Melbourne (2003); Memory Pond , fountain, light and text installation for Grattan Gardens Plaza, Prahran, Melbourne (2001); Discobolus , Hellenic Tribute, Sydney 2000 Olympics, sculpture installation, Olympic Park, Homebush Bay, Sydney; Axiom , a sculpture installation for the New Commonwealth Law Courts, Melbourne (1998); and Vessel , a public sculpture for the Nippon Exhibition Centre, Chiba, Japan (1989).

Robert Owen is represented in public and private collections worldwide, including the British Museum, London; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Olympic Sculpture Park, Seoul, Korea, and the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, Japan. In 2003, he received the Australia Council for the Arts Emeritus Award for lifelong service to the visual arts.

Robert Owen is represented by Arc One Gallery and is a member of Artery Co-operative Ltd, Melbourne, Australia.

Writers:
Murray-Cree, Laura
Robert Owen
Date written:
2006
Last updated:
2016