David Rankin The New York YearsThis gorgeous book about New York-based Australian painter David Rankin will be launched over the next week at three events in Melbourne, Brisbane, and Sydney. An accompanying exhibition of selected artworks will be held at the Mossgreen Gallery, Melbourne, from 9-17 July.

I have known David Rankin for a long time. The first time I met him was in New York in 1997. He welcomed me into his home and made me a cup of coffee as I waited for his wife Lily Brett to emerge from somewhere in the apartment in which they were then living. At the time I was working as the Picador Editor at Pan Macmillan and had just finished editing Lily’s book of essays In Full View. I was nervous as hell. There’s a much longer version of that story. Lily and I laugh when we reflect on that meeting and how unlikely it was for us to still be working together 16 years later.

Back to David. A couple of years ago he asked me to help him edit a book about the art he has made since relocating from Melbourne to New York in the early 1980s. The art critic Dore Ashton has long been an admirer of David’s work, but her extensive writings about him were scattered among several exhibition catalogs and essays. One of my editorial tasks was to bring those essays into a coherent whole. Another way to conduct a series of long conversations with the artist, leading to a lot of first-person quotations that are now scattered through this sumptuously illustrated volume, David Rankin: The New York Years. I will have to update this post with details of its availability “as they come to hand,” as the saying goes.

One additional detail worth mentioning is that the book features a wonderful introduction by David’s friend and fellow expatriate, novelist Peter Carey.

Congratulations, David, and everyone involved in producing the book. I wish I could be at one or more of those launch parties.

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