Sir William Dobell Art Foundation

Portrait of william dobell by Max Dupain


Max Dupain -William Dobell, 1942

The Sir William Dobell Art Foundation was formed in 1971 in memory of the Archibald prize-winning Australian artist Sir William Dobell (1899-1970), who was known for his landscapes and portrait paintings. The Foundation established the Sir William Dobell Chair of Art History at ANU, which it has continued to support for 30 years. This position has helped the College of Arts and Social Sciences support a teacher and researcher and strengthened the university's position as a leader in art history and curatorial studies. The Chair has been held by Professor Michael Greenhalgh and Professor Sasha Grishin, and in 2014 Professor Helen Ennis from the School of Art & Design was appointed to the position.

The current Chair is Professor Chris McAuliffe (Director Centre for Art History & Art Theory, ANU School of Art & Design)

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Current Chair 

Professor Chris McAuliffe

Chris McAuliffe joined the School of Art & Design at ANU in 2015. From 2000–2013 he was Director of the Ian Potter Museum of Art, the University of Melbourne. He taught art history and theory at the University of Melbourne (1988-2000). In 2011-12, he was the Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser Visiting Professor of Australian Studies at Harvard University. Chris has curated exhibitions in university and public art museums, including 'Robert Smithson: Time Crystals', University of Queensland Art Museum/Monash University Museum of Art (2018); 'America: Painting a Nation,' Art Gallery of NSW (2013); 'The Shilo Project,' Ian Potter Museum of Art, the University of Melbourne (2010). He devised the biannual Basil Sellers Art Prize (awarded for contemporary art on the theme of sport) which commenced in 2008. He has served on gallery and museum boards, including the Council of the National Gallery of Victoria. Chris has served on granting and acquisition committees for state and local government and has advised major corporations on art collection development. He has published extensively on Australian art, including monographs on Linda Marrinon (2007) and Jon Cattapan (2008).

Chris McAuliffe’s research interests include nineteenth and twentieth century art (Australia and America) with a focus on earthworks (Robert Smithson), abstract expressionism (Jackson Pollock), art and sport, art and rock music. He is currently a partner in the ARC-funded research project ‘Fringe to Famous’ which examines the crossover between ‘alternative’ and ‘mainstream’ Australian cultural production since the 1980s.



Previous Chairs of the Sir William Dobell Chair of Art History​

Emeritus Professor Helen Ennis

Emeritus Professor Helen Ennis FAHA specialises in Australian photographic history and is concerned with finding new ways of thinking, curating and writing about photographs. She joined ANU School of Art & Design in 1995 and was Director of the Centre for Art History and Art Theory from  2014-2018. She was formerly Curator of Photography at the National Gallery of Australia. Helen has written extensively on photography. Her most recent publication, Olive Cotton: A life in photography (2019) was supported by a Peter Blazey Fellowship, funding from the Australia Council Literature Board, and the inaugural Australian Book Review George Hicks Foundation Fellowship. Her earlier biography, Margaret Michaelis: Love, loss and photography won the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Non-Fiction. As an independent curator Helen works closely with national cultural institutions and has curated eight major exhibitions since 2000. They include In a New Light: Photography and Australia 1850s-2000 (2003-04), Margaret Michaelis: Love, loss and photography (2005) and Reveries: Photography and Mortality (2007). Her book Photography and Australia was published by Reaktion, London in 2007 and Wolfgang Sievers was published in 2011. She received a Distinguished Alumni Award from Monash University in 2017. Helen is currently working on a creative non-fiction project on Australia photographer Charles Bayliss. She also researchs in the area of death studies, museology and curatorship.



Emeritus Professor Sasha Grishin

Sasha Grishin


Emeritus Professor Sasha Grishin

ANU Emeritus Professor Sasha Grishin studied art history at the Universities of Melbourne, Moscow, London and Oxford before establishing the Fine Art Program at The Australian National University in 1977.  He has been a visiting scholar at Harvard University for several terms.  A leading expert in Byzantine, Russian and Australian art, Professor Grishin was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities in 2004. In 2005 he was awarded an Order of Australia for his ongoing service to the visual arts, to contemporary Australian artists, and for his leading roles in art education, arts criticism, writing, and in art history, art theory and curatorship.

In 2006, Professor Grishin was appointed to the Sir William Dobell Chair of Art History in recognition of his pre-eminent research, publication and teaching record, and the Australian Learning and Teaching Council recognised his outstanding contribution to student learning in 2008.

Professor Grishin has published over 25 books and thousands of articles and reviews and is a keynote speaker at conferences and scholarly presenter in Australia and abroad.  His most recent books are The Art of Inge King, Macmillan Art Publishing, Melbourne (2014), and Australian Art: a history, Miegunyah Press, Melbourne University Publishing, Melbourne (2013).  Also a prominent curator, Professor Grishin has developed the exhibition S T Gill and his audiences at the State Library of Victoria in 2015, which will travel to the National Library of Australia, Canberra.





Emeritus Professor Michael Greenhalgh

Michael Greenhalgh


Emeritus Professor Michael Greenhalgh

Emeritus Professor Michael Greenhalgh gained his PhD from the University of Manchester in Renaissance art and culture and lectured in the History of Art at the University of Leicester, becoming Head of the Art History Department there in 1980.  In 1987, he was appointed as the Sir William Dobell Foundation Chair of Art History at The Australian National University, from which he retired in 2005.

Professor Greenhalgh was appointed a Co-Director or UniServe  Australia – the Network for Electronic Teaching & Learning Materials for the Australian University System – in 1994 and was a leading advocate in developing computer applications in the Humanities, especially in relation to images and international art museum collections for art historical research in education.

Gaining international recognition for his contribution to the discipline of Art History,  Professor Greenhalgh’s  publications include many books and articles on the Italian Quattrocento, Italian Renaissance art, Classicism, Roman Antiquity and Middle Eastern art and architecture. Professor Greenhalgh’s recent publications include The Military and Colonial Destruction of the Roman Landscape of North Africa 1830-1900, Koninklijke Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands (2014), From the Romans to the Railways: The Fate of Antiquities in Asia Minor, Koninklijke Brill, The Netherlands, (2013) and  Constantinople to Carthage: Dismantling ancient architecture in the East, North Africa and Islamic Spain, Leiden & Boston (2012).

Sir William Dobel Annual Lecture Series


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