Rick Amor (Australian, b.1948) - Artist
The refashioning of themes and images has been a constant feature of Amor’s art since the 1960s, an approach that was explored in a survey exhibition of his work at Heide Museum of Modern Art in 2008.² Arguably his signature motif, the running man has undergone many permutations across different media in Amor’s oeuvre. Like many of his subjects, the image is tied to his memories of growing up in the seaside suburb of Frankston. The fleeing figure first materialised in 1983 in a series of improvisatory brush and ink drawings of the Frankston Pier, representing the personal anxieties associated with the artist’s recollections of the sea. Amor expanded the expressive possibilities of the image in two subsequent paintings and a print,³ in which the anonymous runner operates as a powerful ‘everyman’ symbol.
Amor’s desire to realise this form in three dimensions led to his first ever sculpture in 1989, a small-scale bronze of the running man motif now in the National Gallery of Victoria Collection. Running Man reinterprets this earlier version through a lively handling of materials and a surrealist abstraction of the figure. Conceived for a landscape setting, Amor’s treatment of the form intentionally references the transmutable elements of nature; its angularity and rough- hewn texture creates an animated surface that the artist hoped would evoke the appearance of a moving rock.⁴
Originally Running Man was installed in the Sculpture Park at ground level, however in 2005 Amor elevated the sculpture onto its current base to accentuate the sense of movement and, in his words, ‘give it more presence and a bit more drama―to take it a little bit out of our world.’⁵ Frozen, but paradoxically never still, the anonymous runner cannot escape his perpetual fate.
1 Maquette for Running Man (1995), bronze, artist’s proof, 14.5 x 21 x 7 cm.
2 ‘A Single Mind: Rick Amor’, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, 22 March – 13 July 2008.
3 The oil paintings Runner (1983–84) and The Runner (1988), both in private collections, and the woodcut print, Runner (1984).
4 Conversation with the artist, December 2007.
5 Rick Amor, quoted in Megan Backhouse, ‘Time to Reflect, But Not to Dwell’, The Age, 24 May 2005, p. 7. In 2003 Amor decided to refine the form of the Running Man figure and recast the lower half of the sculpture. Heide's sculpture was modified to include the remodelled section when the base was added in 2005.
The Heide Collection - Heide Museum of Modern Art; Linda Michael; Nov 2011
Sunday's Garden: growing Heide; Lesley Harding, Kendrah Morgan; 2012
The Heide Collection (revised edition 2022); Linda Michael, Lesley Harding, Brooke Babington, Kendrah Morgan, Sue Cramer, Melissa Keys; 2022