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Georges Mora

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Name  Georges Mora
Role  Entrepreneur
Died  1992

Georges Mora static1squarespacecomstatic527db5d1e4b05ebb58c
Children  Philippe Mora, Tiriel Mora, Sam Mora, William Mora
Ex-spouse  Mirka Mora, Caroline Williams
Similar People  Mirka Mora, Philippe Mora, Tiriel Mora

Mirka Mora's impact on our culture on The SHTICK S57-03 Seg.2

Georges Mora (1913–1992) was a German-born Australian entrepreneur, art dealer, patron, connoisseur and restaurateur.


Georges Mora Georges Mora Fellowship State Library Victoria

Early life

Mora was born Gunter Morawski on June 26 1913 in Leipzig, Germany, of Jewish Polish heritage. As a young medical student Mora became a member of a communist cell and fled Germany to Paris in 1930. When the Spanish Civil War broke out, Georges left Paris to join the cause. After a plane crash, he was a prisoner of war for a short time. He was active in the French Resistance in World War II, using the alias Georges Morand. After the War, Georges worked as a patent dealer and became the director of a Jewish rehabilitation home for children run by Œuvre de secours aux enfants (OSE) in Paris. Later In 1947 he married Parisian artist and fellow Jewish refugee Mirka Zelik, becoming a French citizen.

New York and Melbourne

In 1949, after the birth of Georges' and Mirka's first son Philippe Mora (a filmmaker) they joined his family in New York, then in July 1951 moved on to McKinnon, Melbourne where he adopted the name Georges Mora. With characteristic adaptability he took up management of a matzo factory. Seeking more romantic quarters Georges and Mirka moved into Grosvenor Chambers (Ola Cohn's former studio) at 9 Collins Street Melbourne (the so called 'Paris End'). Recognising that their hospitality and cuisine were marketable, the Moras opened a coffee lounge. In 1954, 'Mirka Café' was the first in Melbourne where patrons could eat at tables on the pavement in the Parisian style and the café became the watering-hole of Melbourne's avant-garde. Patrons ate from Expressionist crockery by Arthur Boyd and John Perceval, were seated on surrealist furniture, and surrounded by murals and sculptures by Clifford Last, Ian Sime and Julius Kane. In 1956, Georges Mora was elected President of the Contemporary Art Society. Artists donated paintings towards an inaugural fundraising exhibition in 1957. In 1958 he established Café Balzac in East Melbourne gaining a reputation as a restaurateur serving classic French cuisine to an eager clientele, which included a gathering of the most significant contemporary Australian artists, to whom he proffered the walls of his establishment. Georges and Mirka relocated their business, opening in 1965 the Tolarno Restaurant and Galleries in Melbourne's bohemian St Kilda. The rear of the building became a venue for exhibitions of avant-garde art and was soon surrounded by other galleries.


The Moras' modernist house at bayside Aspendale was regularly visited by artists Charles Blackman, Albert Tucker, John Perceval, Sidney Nolan, Joy Hester, John Olsen, Colin Lanceley, Gareth Sansom, Mike Brown, Martin Sharp, Asher Bilu and Ivan Durrant. They were joined by prominent journalists and writers Barrett Reid, Brian McArdle and Philip Jones, who found company amongst the likes of French mime Marcel Marceau, Barry Humphries, photographers such as Robert Whitaker and Mark Strizic, and filmmaker Nigel Buesst. Built by architect Peter Burns, the house opened onto a common courtyard shared by the Moras' close friends Sunday and John Reed art patrons and founders of the Heide Circle.

Sons William Mora, born in 1953, and Tiriel Mora (1958), are respectively an art dealer and an actor.

Tolarno Galleries

In 1969, to avoid bankruptcy, Mora sold the Tolarno hotel and leased out the restaurant and gallery. In the early 1970s he separated from Mirka. In 1979, Georges sold the restaurant to Leon Massoni and relocated the Tolarno Galleries to River Street, South Yarra. The opening show there included lithographs by Renoir secured through his work as a dealer for Daniel Wildenstein. Georges travelled to the USA and Europe promoting the international reputation of Australian art, and selling European, American and Australian art into his adopted country's national, state, regional and corporate collections, lending work for a very significant Bonnard exhibition touring Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth state museums in 1971. Exhibitions in the first years (1967–69) of the new gallery also presented radical hard-edge abstractions by Dale Hickey and Robert Hunter and sculpture by Ti Parks. William Mora joined his father in running the gallery before setting up his own in the city. Jan Minchin, who came from a position at the National Gallery of Victoria, was Georges co-director from 1989. Throughout its career, Tolarno Galleries supported challenging contemporary art, including eight shows of highly-charged politico-sexual imagery by Juan Davila.

In 1985 Georges married artist Caroline Williams when their son, Sam, was born. Georges was made a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 1989 and he was a strong supporter of the move toward multiculturalism in his adopted country.


On June 7 1992, at the age of 78 and still energetically running the Tolarno Gallery he died of a brain tumour. He was buried at Cheltenham New Cemetery, where his grave bears the quip 'Out to Lunch'.

Tolarno continues under the directorship of Jan Minchin in new premises at Level 4, 104 Exhibition Street, Melbourne. George and Mirka's son William Mora continues the family tradition as the director of William Mora Galleries at 60 Tanner St.Richmond.

The Georges Mora Foundation

In Georges' memory The Georges Mora Foundation was established in 2006. It is a not-for-profit cultural foundation dedicated to the promotion of contemporary art and artists in Melbourne and Australia. In May 2006, the foundation was officially launched by Baillieu Myer with inaugural Patron, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch. The foundation awards a fellowship each year to a contemporary artist whose work conveys a sense of gravitas. Georges Mora Foundation Fellowships have been awarded to Inez de Vega, Brook Andrew & Trent Walter, Linda Tegg, Ross Coulter, Philip Brophy, Cyrus Tang & Trinh Vu.


Georges Mora Wikipedia