Art Gallery of South Australia
|Location||North Terrace, Adelaide, Australia|
The Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA), established as the National Gallery of South Australia in 1881, is located in Adelaide. It is the most significant visual arts museum in the Australian state of South Australia. It has a collection of almost 45,000 works of art, making it the second largest state art collection in Australia (after the National Gallery of Victoria). As part of North Terrace cultural precinct, the Gallery is flanked by the South Australian Museum to the west and the University of Adelaide to the east.
As well as its permanent collection, which is especially renowned for its collection of Australian art, AGSA hosts the annual Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art known as Tarnanthi, displays a number of visiting exhibitions each year and also contributes travelling exhibitions to regional galleries. European (including British), Asian and North American art are also well represented in its collections.
The South Australian Society of Arts, established in 1856 and oldest fine arts society still in existence, held Annual exhibitions in South Australian Institute rooms and advocated for a public art collection. In 1880 Parliament gave £2,000 to the Institute to start acquiring a collection and the National Gallery of South Australia was established in June 1881. It was opened in two rooms of the public library (now the Mortlock Wing of the State Library), by Prince Albert Victor and Prince George. Most works on display were acquired through a government grant. In 1897, Sir Thomas Elder bequeathed £25,000 to the art gallery for the purchase of artworks.
In 1889 the gallery moved further east to the Jubilee Exhibition Building, and then to its present site in 1900, in a specially designed building (now the Elder Wing) designed by architect Owen Smythe and built in Classical Revival style by Messrs Tudgeon. Originally built with an enclosed portico, a 1936 refurbishment and enlargement included a new facade with an open Doric portico.
Major extensions in 1962 (including a three-storey air-conditioned addition on the northern side), 1979 (general refurbishment, in time for its centenary in 1981) and 1996 (large expansion) increased the gallery’s display, administrative and ancillary facilities further.
As of 2019[update], the building houses 64kWh worth of battery storage as part of the Government of South Australia Storage Demonstration project, powered by three 7.5kW Selectronic inverters. This reduces the consumption of power from the state grid.
AGSA has about 780,000 visitors each year.
The Gallery is renowned for its collections of Australian art, including Indigenous Australian and colonial art, from about 1800 onwards. The collection is strong in nineteenth-century works (including silverware and furniture) and in particular Australian Impressionist (often referred to as Heidelberg School) paintings. Its twentieth-century Modernist art collection includes the work of many female artists, and there is a large collection of South Australian art, which includes 2,000 drawings by Hans Heysen and a large collection of photographs.
Heidelberg school works include Tom Roberts' A break away!, Charles Conder's A holiday at Mentone, and Arthur Streeton's Road to Templestowe. The mid-twentieth century is represented by works by Russell Drysdale, Arthur Boyd, Margaret Preston, Bessie Davidson, and Sidney Nolan, and South Australian art includes works by James Ashton and Jeffrey Smart.
The Gallery became the first Australian gallery to acquire a work by an Indigenous artist in 1939, although systematic acquisition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art was not realised until the mid-1950s. The Gallery and now holds a large and diverse collection of older and contemporary works, including the Kulata Tjuta collaboration created by Aṉangu artists working in the north of SA.
European landscape paintings include works by Jacob Isaakszoon van Ruisdael, Salomon van Ruysdael, Joseph Wright of Derby, and Camille Pissarro. Other European works include paintings by Goya, Francesco Guardi, Pompeo Batoni and Camille Corot.
There is a large collection of British art, including many Pre-Raphaelite works, by artists Edward Burne-Jones, William Holman Hunt, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Morris & Co.. Other works include John William Waterhouse's Circe Invidiosa (1892) and The Favourites of the Emperor Honorius (c.1883); William Holman Hunt's Christ and the Two Marys (1847) and The Risen Christ with the Two Marys in the Garden Of Joseph of Aramathea (1897); and John Collier's Priestess of Delphi (1891). Works by British portrait painters include Robert Peake, Anthony van Dyck, Peter Lely and Thomas Gainsborough.
The Asian art collection, begun in 1904, includes work from the whole region, with focuses on the pre-modern Japanese art, art of Southeast Asia, India and the Middle East. The Gallery holds Australia’s only permanent display of Islamic art.
Exhibitions and collaborations
1906: The Light of the World
In 2016, the gallery participated in the large "Biennial 2016" art festival with its "Magic Object" exhibitions.
Since 2015, AGSA has hosted and supported events connected with Tarnanthi (pronounced tar-nan-dee), the Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art. The 2015 exhibition was said to be the "most ambitious exhibition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art in its 134-year history". In association with the Government of South Australia and BHP, an expansive city-wide festival is staged biennially (in odd-numbered years), alternating with a focus exhibition at the gallery in the years in between.
Selected Australian works
John Glover, A view of the artist's house and garden, in Mills Plains, Van Diemen's Land, 1835
John Russell, A clearing in the forest, 1891
Selected international works
Hans Holbein the Younger (after), King Henry VIII, c. 1540
Joseph Wright of Derby, A view of Vesuvius from Posillipo, Naples, c. 1788
J. M. W. Turner, Alnwick Castle, 1829
- South Australian Living Artists Festival (SALA)
- South Australian Museum
- State Library of South Australia
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- AGSA Touring Exhibitions 2011 Archived 3 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- Van der Walt, Annie (10 May 2016). "Biennial 2016: A Thread Runs Through It"". Adelaide Review. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
- "About the Festival". 2015 Tarnanthi. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
- "TARNANTHI: Our annual national celebration of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art". Art Gallery of South Australia. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
- Thomas, Daniel (2011). "Art museums in Australia: a personal account". Understanding Museums. - Includes link to PDF of the article "Art museums in Australia: a personal retrospect" (originally published in Journal of Art Historiography, No 4, June 2011).
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