Prize-winning artist mourned

Judy Cassab with her portrait of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. Photo: Joshua Levi

TRIBUTES are flowing for acclaimed artist Judy Cassab, who died this week in Sydney aged 95.

Cassab won the prestigious Archibald Prize for portraiture twice -– in 1961 and 1968 – and has held more than 70 solo exhibitions throughout Australia, as well as in London and Paris.

Born Judit Kaszab in 1920 in Vienna to Hungarian parents, Cassab was raised by her mother and grandmother in Beregszász, Hungary. Between 1939 and 1949, Cassab studied art in Prague and at the Budapest Academy, but in 1944 her studies were interrupted by the Nazi occupation. She survived the war with documents supplied by her non-Jewish former maid.

Cassab migrated to Australia in 1951 with her husband, Jansci Kampfner, and two young sons and quickly gained recognition for her landscape and portrait art. Her first exhibition was held in 1953 at Macquarie Galleries in Sydney.

In 1969 she was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in recognition of service to the visual arts, followed by being made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1988.

In 1995, Cassab was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Sydney University. In 2011, the Hungarian government presented her with the Gold Cross of Merit.

A major exhibition featuring her life’s work, titled Judy Cassab, A Celebration, opened at Eva Breuer Art Dealer in Sydney in November 2013 and also in Melbourne at Mossgreen Gallery in March 2014.