User:Mozzy66/Australian Art

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Australian art refers to the visual arts made in Australia or about Australia, from prehistoric times to the present. It can largely be understood as accommodating, or rejecting, influences from Western art movements, and adapting them to the needs of the Australian natural environment and society. The visual arts have a long history in Australia, with evidence of Aboriginal art dating back at least 30,000 years. Australia has produced many notable artists of both Western and Indigenous Australian schools, including the late-19th-century Heidelberg School plein air impressionist painters, the Central Australian Hermannsburg School watercolourists, the Western Desert Art Movement and coeval examples of well-known High modernism and Postmodern art.

Indigenous Australian art[edit]

The first ancestors of Aboriginal Australians are believed to have arrived in Australia as early as 60,000 years ago, and evidence of Aboriginal art in Australia can be traced back at least 30,000 years.[1] Examples of ancient Aboriginal rock artworks can be found throughout the continent. Notable examples can be found in national parks, such as those of the UNESCO listed sites at Uluru and Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, and the Bradshaw rock paintings in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Rock art can also be found within protected parks in urban areas such as Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park in Sydney.[2][3][4] The Sydney rock engravings are approximately 5000 to 200 years old. Murujuga in Western Australia has the Friends of Australian Rock Art advocating its preservation, and the numerous engravings there were heritage listed in 2007.[5][6]

In terms of age and abundance, cave art in Australia is comparable to that of Lascaux and Altamira in Europe,[7] and Aboriginal art is believed to be the oldest continuing tradition of art in the world.[8] There are three major regional styles: the geometric style found in Central Australia, Tasmania, the Kimberley and Victoria known for its concentric circles, arcs and dots; the simple figurative style found in Queensland; the complex figurative style found in Arnhem Land which includes X-Ray art.[9] These designs generally carry significance linked to the spirituality of the Dreamtime.[10]

William Barak (c.1824-1903) was one of the last traditionally educated of the Wurundjeri-willam, people who come from the district now incorporating the city of Melbourne. He remains notable for his artworks which recorded traditional Aboriginal ways for the education of Westerners (which remain on permanent exhibition at the Ian Potter Centre of the National Gallery of Victoria and at the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery). Margaret Preston (1875–1963) was among the early non-indigenous painters to incorporate Aboriginal influences in her works. Albert Namatjira (1902–1959) is a famous Australian artist and an Arrernte man. His landscapes inspired the Hermannsburg School of art.[11] The works of Elizabeth Durack are notable for their fusion of Western and indigenous influences. Since the 1970s, indigenous artists have employed the use of acrylic paints - with styles such as the Western Desert Art Movement becoming globally renowned 20th-century art movements.

The National Gallery of Australia exhibits a great many indigenous art works, including those of the Torres Strait Islands who are known for their traditional sculpture and headgear.[12] The Art Gallery of New South Wales has an extensive collection of indigenous Australian art. [6] In May 2011, the Director of the Place, Evolution, and Rock Art Heritage Unit (PERAHU) at Griffith University, Paul Taçon, called for the creation of a national database for rock art.[13] Paul Taçon launched the "Protect Australia’s Spirit" campaign in May 2011 with the highly regarded Australian actor Jack Thompson.[14] This campaign aims to create the very first fully resourced national archive to bring together information about rock art sites, as well as planning for future rock art management and conservation. The National Rock Art Institute would bring together existing rock art expertise from Griffith University, Australian National University, and the University of Western Australia if they were funded by philanthropists, big business and government. Rock Art Research is published twice a year and also covers international scholarship of rock art.

Colonial art (1770–1900)[edit]

Early Western art in Australia, from 1788 onwards, is often narrated as the gradual shift from a European sense of light to an Australian one. The lighting in Australia is notably different to that of Europe, and early attempts at landscapes attempted to reflect this. It has also been one of transformation, where artistic ideas originating from beyond (primarily Europe) gained new meaning and purpose when transplanted into the new continent and the emerging society.[15]

Early Colonial Art (1770–1850)[edit]

Sydney Parkinson, Two of the Natives of New Holland Advancing, To Combat, 1770

The first artistic representations of the Australia scene by European artists were mainly natural history illustrations, depicting the distinctive flora and fauna of the land for scientific purposes, and the topography of the coast. Sydney Parkinson, the Botanical illustrator on James Cook's 1770 voyage that first charted the eastern coastline of Australia, made a large number of such drawings under the direction of naturalist Joseph Banks. Many of these drawings were met with skepticism when taken back to Europe, for example claims that the platypus was a hoax.

Despite Banks' suggestions, no professional natural-history artist sailed on the First Fleet in 1788. Until the turn of the century all drawings made in the colony were crafted by soldiers, including British naval officers George Raper and John Hunter, and convict artists, including Thomas Watling.[16] However, many of these drawings are by unknown artists, most notably the Port Jackson Painter. Most are in the style of naval draughtsmanship, and cover natural history topics, specifically birds, and a few depict the infant colony itself.

John Lewin, Platypus, 1808, State Library of New South Wales

Several professional natural-history illustrators accompanied expeditions in the early 19th century, including Ferdinand Bauer, who travelled with Matthew Flinders, and Charles-Alexandre Lesueur, who travelled with a French expedition led by Nicolas Baudin. The first resident professional artist was John Lewin,[16] who arrived in 1800 and published two volumes of natural history art. Ornithologist John Gould was renowned for his illustration's of the country's birds.[16] In the late 19th Century Harriet and Helena Scott were highly respected natural history illustrators[17] Lewin's Platypus (1808) represents the fine detail and scientific observation displayed by many of these early painters.

As well as inspiration in natural history, there were some ethnographic portraiture of Aboriginal Australians, particularly in the 1830s. Artists included Augustus Earle in New South Wales[16] and Benjamin Duterrau, Robert Dowling and the sculptor Benjamin Law , recording the last Tasmanian Aborigines.

John Glover, My Harvest Home, 1835

The most significant landscape artist of this era[15] was John Glover. Heavily influenced by 18th Century European landscape painters, such as Claude Lorraine and Salvator Rosa, his works captured the distinctive Australian features of open country, fallen logs, and blue hills.[18]

Conrad Martens (1801–1878) worked from 1835 to 1878 as a professional artist, painting many landscapes and was commercially successful. His work, has been regarded as softening the landscape to fit European sensibilities[16]. His watercolour studies of Sydney Harbour are well regarded, and seen as introducing Romantic ideals to his paintings.[18] Martens is also remembered for accompanying scientist Charles Darwin on the HMS Beagle (as had Augustus Earle).

Later Colonial Art (1850–1885)[edit]

From 1851, the Victorian Gold Rush resulted in a huge influx of settlers and new wealth. S. T. Gill (1818–1880) documented life on the Australian gold fields,[16], however the colonial art market primarily desired landscape paintings, which were commissioned by wealthy landowners or merchants wanting to record their material success.[19]

John Skinner Prout, Fairlight Glen on the Warragambra (sic), c.1843

William Piguenit's (1836–1914) "Flood in the Darling" was acquired by the National Gallery of New South Wales in 1895.[20]

Eugene von Guerard, North-east View from the Northern Top of Mount Kosciuszko, 1863, National Gallery of Australia

Some of the artists of note included Eugene von Guerard, Nicholas Chevalier, William Strutt, John Skinner Prout and Knut Bull.

Louis Buvelot was a key figure in landscape painting in the later period. He was influenced by the Barbizon school painters, and so using a plein air technique, and a more domesticated and settled view of the land, in contrast to the emphasis on strangeness or danger prevalent in earlier painters. This approach, together with his extensive teaching influence, have led his to dubbed the "Father of Landscape Painting in Australia".[18]

A few attempts at art exhibitions were made in the 1840s, which attracted a number of artists but were commercial failures. By the 1850s, however, regular exhibitions became popular, with a variety of art types represented. The first of these exhibitions was in 1854 in Melbourne. An art museum, which eventually became the National Gallery of Victoria, was founded in 1861, and it began to collect Australian works as well as gathering a collection of European masters. Crucially, it also opened an Art School, important for the following generations of Australian-born and raised artists.

Heidelberg School (1885–1900)[edit]

Shearing the Rams (1890, National Gallery of Victoria) by Tom Roberts, leading figure of the Heidelberg School

The origins of a distinctly Australian painting tradition is often associated with the Heidelberg School of the 1880s-1890s. Named after a camp Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton had set up at a property near Heidelberg (then on the rural outskirts of Melbourne), these painters, together with Frederick McCubbin, Charles Conder[21] and others, began an impressionistic plein air approach to the Australian landscape that remains embedded in Australia's popular consciousness, both in and outside the art world.

Arthur Streeton ‘The Purple Noon's Transparent Might’ (1896, National Gallery of Victoria)

Their most recognised paintings involve scenes of pastoral and outback Australia. Central themes of their art are considered those of work, conquering the land,[15] and an idealisation of the rural pioneer.[18] By 1890's most Australian's were city-dwellers, as were the artists themselves, and a romantic view of pioneer life gave great power and popularity to images such as Shearing the Rams[18]. In this work Roberts uses formal composition and strong realism to dignify the rural workers[18] whilst the relative anonymity of the men and their subdued expressions, elevate their manual labour as the real subject, rather that the specific individuals portrayed.[15]

In their portrayal of the nobility of rural life, the Heidelberg artists reveal their debt to Millet, Bastien-Lepage and Courbet, but the techniques and aims of the French Impressionists provide more direct inspiration and influenced their actual practise. In their early and extremely influential Exhibition of 9 by 5 Impressions of small sketches, their impressionistic programme was clear, as evidenced from their catalogue: "An effect is only momentary: so an impressionist tries to find his place... it has been the object of artists to render faithfully, and thus obtain first records of effects widely differing, and often of very fleeting character."[18]

Streeton's The Purple Noon's Transparent Might (1896) shows the impressionistic approach applied on a large (1.23m x 1.23m) canvas. It depicts the wide Hawkesbury valley under full sunlight, with atmospheric capturing of colour throughout.[18] It illustrates their ability to capture the distinctive colours, pale and glowing shadows, and heat-haze of Australia's brilliant sun. The unusual square format puts the viewer on the spot, despite the panoramic view. [22] The title - a quote from Shelley[23] - hint at the literary and symbolist associations that the Heidelberg painters moved towards latter in their careers, and most especially in the work of Conder.

Other significant painters associated with the Heidelberg painters were Walter Withers (1854–1914), who won the inaugural Wynne Prize in 1896.[21], and Jane Sutherland (1853–1928), a student of McCubbin.

Twentieth century[edit]

The early twentieth century saw some Australian artists making their careers in Europe. These include impressionist John Peter Russell, bohemian painters like Hugh Ramsay, Rupert Bunny (known for his sensual and allegorical portraits) Agnes Goodsir, printmaker Hall Thorpe, a religious man who intended to make spiritually uplifting work, and sculptor Bertram Mackennal, who is particularly well known for his rendition of Circe the Greek magic goddess. Mortimer Menpes was a protégé of James Abbott McNeill Whistler and is today noted for his memoir Whistler As I Knew Him.

Arthur Streeton was a plein air painter who continued to be highly successful in the first part of the twentieth century. The romanticist view of Australian rural scenes was shared with Hans Heysen (1877–1968), an artist famous for his luminous watercolour paintings of River Red Gums, won the Wynne Prize nine times from 1904 to 1932.[21]

Leading up to World War I, the decorative arts, including miniature, watercolour painting, and functional objects such as vases, became more prominent in the Australian arts scene. Norman Lindsay's (1879–1969) watercolours of bacchanalian nudes caused considerable scandal around the turn of the century.[24] One famous drawing, Pollice Verso (1904), caused his first scandal, as it depicted Romans giving the thumbs down to Christ on the Cross.

George Washington Lambert was a prominent painter and sculptor of early-twentieth-century Australia who moved between decorative arts and portraiture, and is a notable war artist (World War I).[20]

Art deco made its mark in advertising posters, architecture and consumer goods, as well as fine art. In 1934 the ANZAC Memorial in Sydney's Hyde Park was built and featured the sculpture "The Sacrifice" by Rayner Hoff (1894–1937). The decorative art deco arches of the Sydney Harbour Bridge embody Australian fondness for the fashionable modernist style. Australian Beach Pattern, Australia's most iconic art deco painting, was completed by Charles Meere in 1940.[20] Modernism in the fine arts, however, continued to be a fledgling movement in the 1930s.

Olive Cotton and Max Dupain went onto successful photography careers after studying with the early modernist photographer Harold Cazneaux. George Caddy documented "beachobatics" and other aspects of Sydney beach culture.

Australian art pottery makers of the thirties were Newtone Pottery, McHugh Brothers, John Campbell and Sons, L.J. Harvey and his students, Braemore Pottery of Waitara, Marguerite Mahood, John Castle Harris, Bendigo pottery, Gwen Watson, Una Deerbon, Klytie Pate, and Reg Preston.

After World War I, early proponents of modernist art in Australia were cubist influenced Grosvenor School of Modern Art print maker Ethel Spowers (1890-1947), Roy de Maistre (1894–1968).[20] and Margaret Preston, and the post-impressionist Grace Cossington Smith. European Modernist art had fierce critics such as Norman Lindsay, who wrote for the nationalist publication The Bulletin, and the idiosyncratic teacher Max Meldrum. Ironically the Max Meldrum-led Australian Tonalism movement, which rejected modernist art and promoted a unique form of painting in accordance with Meldrum's theories of art, has since been recognized as a precursor to Modernist forms of art, including Minimalism, and art historian Bernard William Smith noted that Meldrum is perhaps the only Australian artist to develop and practice his own fully formulated theory of painting.[25] Meldrum's student Clarice Beckett was rediscovered in the 2000s.

Popular illustrators of children's books were May Gibbs, Ida Rentoul Outhwaite, Peg Maltby (1899-1984), and Dorothy Wall (1894–1942) (the creator of Blinky Bill the Koala).[26]

The "Angry Decade" (1937–1947)[edit]

The term "Angry Decade" was coined by art critic Robert Hughes to characterize the tumultuous period from 1937 to 1947, when mostly Melbourne-based artists responded to the horrors of war and "laid a common ground of myth, attitude, and symbolic technique".

Sidney Nolan, a prolific painter who emerged during this period, became Australia's most internationally successful painter of the immediate post-war period. He is famous for his images of the 19th century bush ranger Ned Kelly, however his subject matter varied throughout his career allowing him to revisit earlier themes as mature painter. His reputation as a major twentieth century painter has survived.

Lesser talents were Social realist painters Noel Counihan, Victor O'Connor, and Polish refugee Yosl Bergner portrayed Melbourne's working class and the plight of urban Aborigines. Expressionists Arthur Boyd and Albert Tucker were prominent members of the modernist Heide Circle, centred at the Heide property owned by art patrons John and Sunday Reed.[27] Tucker is remembered for the Images of Modern Evil series of paintings depicting local women prostituting themselves to American servicemen. Other artists who spent time there were Joy Hester, John Perceval, Laurence Hope.

Hester is known for her intense, evocative Love series of works on paper. Equally intense is Perceval's Boy With Cat 2, a painting of a cat scratching a child's face.


Notable artists of the forties (other than those surrounding John and Sunday Reed) were expressionists William Dobell, Russell Drysdale, painter and stage designer Loudon Sainthill and cubist Godfrey Miller.

The inner Sydney creative type was lampooned in Kylie Tennant's novel Time Enough Later.

An art centre was established at Ernabella in 1948.[28] Art centres are an important factor in the story of the development of contemporary aboriginal art.


The Australian cultural scene of the 1950s is best remembered for the Dadaesque Dame Edna Everage's satire of "nice" postwar suburban Melbourne. Prominent Australian artists were the Archibald winning traditionalist painter William Dargie and landscape painter Albert Namatjira. Iconic oil paintings of the decade include John Brack's bleak urban visions Collins Street, 5pm and The Bar.

Wolfgang Sievers (1913–2007) had arrived in Australia in August 1938. He specialised in architectural and industrial photography. In 1946, Helmut Newton (1920–2004) established himself as a fashion photographer in Melbourne. Mark Strizic,[29] (born 1928, Berlin), migrated to Melbourne from Zagreb, Croatia 1950, was another major portrait and architectural photographer from the late 1950s to the present day, noted for his documentation of many buildings that have now been demolished. David Moore (1927–2003) was a photojournalist.[20] His 1966 photo Migrants Arriving in Sydney, originating from a commission by National Geographic, is one of the most famous works of modern Australian photography.[30]

Russell Drysdale (1912–1981), a painter of outback scenes, represented Australia at the Venice Biennale in 1954. Drysdale, William Dobell (1899–1970), Eric Thake (1904–1982) and the cartoonist Paul Rigby (1924–2006) helped to shape the visual archetype of the plain, hearty Australian.

Mid-Century Abstract Painting and Sculpture in Australia

In the 1950s Scottish expatriate Ian Fairweather (1891–1974) settled on Bribie Island, South-East Queensland, and produced semi- abstract calligraphic paintings of village scenes and the human figure influenced by the arts of China and Indonesia.[31]

European abstract art and the American Abstract expressionism were influential in artworks by Erwin Fabian, landscape painter Fred Williams, Sam Atyeo (1910-1990), Ralph Balson (1890–1964), Stacha Halpern, John Passmore, Desiderius Orban, Carl Plate (1907–1977), Margo Lewers, Frank Hinder, Kenneth Rowell, Inge King, Nancy Borlase (1914–2006), William Rose, Tony Tuckson (1921–1973) Tom Gleghorn, Ann Thomson, Stan Rapotec, Clement Meadmore (1929–2005), Norma Redpath (1928-2013), Ian Sime, John Olsen, Peter Upward, Yvonne Audette (1930-), Howard Taylor. Meadmore became a well-known artist in New York. Tuckson's work is featured on the cover of the 2006 edition of the prestigious McCulloch's Encyclopedia of Australian Art. Dutch abstract painter Jan Riske emigrated to Australia in 1952. Erica McGilchrist had studied in Europe and developed an abstract style and became a nationally prominent artist, although in an interview with the Woman's Weekly magazine she noted she received more moral support than financial support, as Abstract Expressionism had quickly gone out of fashion.

To date, the best book about the Australian abstract art of this era is Gary Catalano's The Years of Hope, (1981).


In 1964, art critic Robert Hughes called Robert Klippel "one of the few Australian sculptors worthy of international attention". The statement cemented his international reputation, but he struggled to win acceptance in his own country.[32] Invigorated by the rise of abstract expressionism and the New York School, Klippel moved away increasingly from traditional sculpture and produced his first junk assemblages in 1960. He began incorporating machine parts, pieces of wood and industrial piping into his works.

Lyrical Figuration

Abstract Expressionism and Pop art arrived but were not as commercially successful in Australia as in the United States where there was the lost generation of figurative painters and scene painters. In a protest against abstract expressionism, the Antipodeans group exhibition of 1959 postured that Australian figurative artists were being marginalized by the imported American style. The artists were Charles Blackman, Arthur Boyd, David Boyd, John Brack, Robert Dickerson, John Perceval and Clifton Pugh. Other figurative artists of the 1960s were Margaret Olley, Justin O'Brien, James Gleeson, Ainslie Roberts (1911–1993), Jeffrey Smart,[33] Donald Friend (1915–1989),[16] Lawrence Daws, Jacqueline Hick (1919-2004), Anne Hall (b. 1945).

Notable commercial galleries and gallerists of the sixties were Macquarie Galleries, Kym Bonython, Frank Clune, Australian Galleries, Watters Gallery, Rudy Komon, Chandler Coventry, David Jones Gallery. Anne Von Bertouch (1915-2003) established the Von Bertouch Galleries in the New South Wales city of Newcastle in 1963, believed to be the first commercial gallery outside a capital city in Australia.

Richard Larter arrived in Australia in 1962 and started a long career in pop painting,[20] with the female nude being the subject of many of his works. Larter is one of the most innovative of all Australian painters and is known for his social comment and Pointillism. Peter Powditch and Mike Brown (1938–1997) were early Australian pop artists.[20]

Psychedelia in 1960s Australian art was not common. A famous example is the cover of the Cream album Disraeli Gears (1967), created by Martin Sharp. Vernon Treweeke was briefly a star of psychedelic painting.[34] Psychedelic drawer Vali Myers was another noted bohemian artist.

Vivienne Binns exhibition of paintings at Watters Gallery in 1967 was notoriously genre defying and established her position as a contemporary of the Feminist art movement.

Definitive events in the late 1960s included the exhibition of Hard Edged Abstraction The Field at the National Gallery of Victoria, featuring several prominent painters who would later switch to figuration, Gunter Christmann, Janet Dawson, Peter Booth and the celebrated Los Angeles muralist James Doolin (1932-2002). Indigenous painting art was still considered an area of anthropological interest, rather than as contemporary art. Charlie Numbulmoore was painting his famous Wandjina spirit figures, The Power Institute of Fine Arts was established in 1968 with Elwyn Lynn developing the collection, eventually leading to the establishment of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, and John Kaldor facilitated Christo and Jean-Claude's wrapping of Little Bay in Sydney.

Fusion of Surrealism with Abstract painting

The fusion of abstract painting and surrealism was originally a Melbourne phenomenon in the 1940s and 1950s, in the paintings of Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker, Ian Sime, Erica McGilchrist and Ken Whisson.

The 1960s rise of trendy hard edge painting touted as intellectually advanced art was unsatisfactory to many. Painters like Brett Whiteley, Gareth Sansom, Asher Bilu, Judy Cassab, Jan Senbergs, James Clifford (1936–1987),[35] Donald Laycock, Shay Docking (1928-1998), John Montefiore (1936-2011) concentrated on developing idiosyncratic styles. Experimental filmmakers took visual arts beyond the confines of painting in the 1960s, they included Arthur and Corinne Cantrill, Albie Thoms, Paul Wikler and Ubu Films. Prominent artist filmmakers of this era were Garry Shead, George Gittoes and Daryl Hill. In the gallery scene an eclectic anything goes approach emerged by 1970 with the establishment of Gallery A. Newcastle's Rona Scott-Abbott (1934-2006), whose retrospective was at Maitland Regional Art Gallery in 1978, was coeval of pop surrealism. She also practiced theosophy themed abstract painting.

Increasing Popularity of Surf Art

John Witzig is recognized for his surf photography from the sixties onwards.


In a literary depiction of a great Australian artist, Hurtle Duffield in Patrick White's novel The Vivisector (1970) was a painter in the mold of the godlike genius modern artist, and to some artists the central character of The Vivisector did not realistically describe the life of the contemporary artist. White's interest in art collecting covered Early Australian Moderns such as Clarice Beckett and Roy De Maistre, through to a few Australian Abstract Expressionists to the contemporary artists Reg Mombassa, Brett Whiteley, the spiritual James Clifford, environmental artist John Davis and Max Watters. White was a fierce critic of the Sydney establishment and his taste in art clashed with theirs, in keeping with Robert Hughes's dismissive assessment of prominent Australian painters in the mid-sixties, however White donated much Australian art to the Art Gallery of New South Wales and is seen as one of the gallery's most important benefactors.

Critics of the canon of Australian art such as Charles Green and Susan Rothnie have viewed the seventies as an ignored decade of some change and seminal art that deserves reinterpretation.

Performance artists and Video artists of the 1970s included Ken Unsworth, Mike Parr, Peter Kennedy, Mike Kitching, Philippa Cullen (1950–1975), Ivan Durrant, Pat Larter (1936–1996) and Jill Orr.

Installation artists of this decade included Jutta Feddersen, Kevin Mortensen, Rosalie Gascoigne (1917–1999), Ti Parks and Tony Trembath.

Tapestry revivalists include John Coburn, Sidney Nolan, Margo Lewers, Mary Beeston, Jutta Feddersen. The Australian Tapestry Workshop was established in 1976.

Magic realism in photography

Notable photographers of the seventies are Peter Dombrovskis, Ingeborg Tyssen (1945-2002), Rennie Ellis (1940-2003), Carol Jerrems (1949-1980), Paul Cox, William Yang, Fiona Margaret Hall, Philip Quirk, Nicholas Nedelkopoulos and Grant Mudford.


Building on the innovations of photomontage, photorealists and artists such as Robert Rauschenberg (1925–2008), Man Ray (1890–1976), Gerhard Richter and Richard Hamilton, urban Australian artists were fascinated by the creative nexus of photography and painting. Painters combined painterliness with the look of photography (Annette Bezor, Ken Searle, Carl Plate, Richard Larter, Ivan Durrant, Robert Boynes,[35] Patricia Moylan, James Clifford.)

Early Environmental art

John Davis was noted for his arte povera sculptures that evoked the land around the Murray River.

Feminist Perspectives

Artists founded alternate practices apart from commercial galleries and art museums. Performance art and interactive art in communities throughout Australia saw the development of public art and community projects. Vivienne Binns project "Mothers' Memories Others' Memories" at UNSW and Blacktown was a ground breaking participatory project. Other artists around Australia, such as Anne Newmarch in Adelaide were involved in these kinds of practices.[36]

The Australian Women's Art Register was established in 1975. The painter of interiors Margaret Olley, whose style of painting had previously gone out of fashion, was rediscovered in the seventies.

Introduction of Acrylic Paints in Aboriginal traditional painting

In 1971-2 art teacher Geoffrey Bardon encouraged the Aboriginal people of Papunya to paint their Dreamtime stories on canvas, leading to the development of the Papunya Tula school, or 'dot art' is a recognizable style of art worldwide. Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri (1932–2002), Long Jack Phillipus Tjakamarra and William Sandy are some of the best known Papunya artists.[20]


Practitioners of brightly colored naive painting were Virginia Geyl, Douglas Stubbs (1927-2008), Max Watters. Upon seeeing some of Erica McGilchrist's work in this style artist-critic Robert Rooney referred to it as "cosmic corn". Donald Laycock's paintings of multicolored constellations would anthropomorphise into a female nude. Max Watters' scene paintings of the Hunter valley consisted of textured brushwork in psychedelic colors, giving his paintings a feeling of otherworldliness. Other psychedelic artists of the seventies include Harold Thornton (1915-2004) and Vernon Treweeke who sometimes used flying saucer imagery.

Science fiction art

In 1979 science fiction and fantasy illustrator Mark Salwowski (b. Britain, 1953) opened TimeWinds Art Gallery and Studio in the Sydney suburb of Bondi Junction.[37]

Collage and bricolage

James Gleeson, Colin Lanceley, Arthur McIntyre, Carl Plate, Mike Brown, Richard Larter, Pat Larter, Mary MacQueen, John Wolseley, Elwyn Lynn, Kenneth Rowell reinvigorated collage in the 1970s.


The Dictionary of Australian Artists had been the outcome of a project begun in the 1970s at the University of Sydney under the leadership of Bernard Smith and funded by the Australian Research Council. Its development continued after his retirement in 1981 by Joan Kerr (1938–2004),[38] who brought a new standard of inclusiveness to a work that had concentrated on mainstream figures.[39]

Ken Done's work has featured on the cover of the weekly Japanese magazine Hanako for over ten years. In 1999, Done was asked to create a series of works for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies programs of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Done and similarly Pro Hart became role models for artists who aspired to commercial success. Done's success is primarily as a designer of mass market goods, but he has gone on to be a painter, mainly of scenes of Sydney Harbour.

Markets like the Paddington Markets in Sydney's eastern suburbs was a place for artists to get a foothold in the market for affordable art.

In 1981 the Art Clothes exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales featured the designs of Jenny Kee.

Communication and Visual Semiotics

One commercially successful artist of the eighties was Reg Mombassa (Chris O'Doherty), whose surreal, darkly comic cartoons were featured on one of the country's most popular brand of surf wear. Mombassa's Australiana themed drawings typified a concern with accessibilty and social engagement.

Similar to the work of Mombassa, the socially concerned Redback Graphix produced some striking didactic poster art in the 1980s and 1990s, raising awareness of drink driving, sexually transmitted diseases, racism and workplace harassment.

Public galleries wanted to be taken seriously internationally and new art was exhibited at the Australian Perspecta at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and the Biennale of Sydney which were a combination of genuine star artists and products of the ivory tower.

The most famous performance piece of 1988 was Burnum Burnum's planting of an Aboriginal flag on the white cliffs of Dover in the United Kingdom. Burnum Burnum (1936–1997) was an Aboriginal rights activist protesting the lack of legal recognition of Aboriginal ownership of Terra Australis prior to British settlement.

The proliferation of Australia's big things developed an ironic cult following, and Maria Kozic took the joke a step further with her schlock billboard "Maria Kozic is BITCH" (1989).[40] On the serious side, cultural historians in Australia joined the global vogue for writing about Car culture[41] and roadside memorials.[42] In public art there was the introduction of sculptural features on concrete noise barriers along freeways.

Notable expressionist painters included Davida Allen, Joe Furlonger, William Robinson, Jenny Watson. Peter Booth's expressionist paintings tended to be dystopian,[43] Punk subculture-inspired Steve Cox's paintings of youths and men displayed an interest in True crime and Criminology.[43]

Other figurative painters were Fred Cress (1938–2009) and the filmic Nigel Thomson[44] (1945–1999) and Stewart MacFarlane[41][45][46] explored the seamy side of urban Australian life. Their styles were akin to cinematic Black comedy.

David McDiarmid (1952–1995), Peter Tully (1947–1992) and society photographer William Yang used their art to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic.[47][48] (Epidemic levels within Australia).

Australian Network for Art and Technology

1988 saw the establishment of the Australian Network for Art and Technology.


Heavy Metal Aesthetics and Political Correctness

The 1990s proved to be another decade where Youth subculture proved the most innovative. It was shaped by a decade noted for post cold war uncertainty, florid conspiracy theories, deconstructionist chic and the New Economy, also noted for debates about racism, nationalism, sexism and victimology.

A grunge art movement occurred, mainly in Sydney in the 1990s. It produced an array of aesthetic practices included Destiny Deacon,[34] Nike Savvas, Hany Armanious, Adam Cullen, amongst others. Cullen's sad clown aesthetic evolved out of an unfortunate place he calls "Loserville".

Aboriginal artists using western media—such as Emily Kngwarreye (c.1910-1996), Rover Thomas (c.1926–1998) and Freddy Timms—have become known internationally. Emily Kngwarreye is regarded as a "genius" by curator Akira Tatehata.[49]

Leigh Bowery (1961–1994) was a performance artist working in London, famously called "modern art on legs" by Boy George. Ron Mueck became known for his oversize lifelike sculptures. Marc Newson is a successful industrial designer.

Howard Arkley (1951–1999),[50] rediscovered culture in suburbia. Juan Dávila specialized in sensationalized statements about social hypocrisy.

Tracey Moffatt was arguably the most celebrated Australian contemporary artist of the 1990s, her work involved the slickness of advertising and accurately diverse artistic representations of women.

Stelarc is one of the country's most prominent performance artists and was known for his technology inspired trans-human pieces in the 1990s.

Sculptor Rosalie Gascoigne[40] is well known for her assemblages of cut up wood, most distinctively cut up road signs.

21st Century[edit]

Significant contemporary Indigenous Australian artists include Angelina George, Helicopter Tjungurrayi, Polly Ngal, Lofty Bardayal Nadjamerrek, Bronwyn Bancroft, Barbara Weir, Naata Nungurrayi, Kathleen Ngale, Danie Mellor, Shorty Jangala Robertson, Jimmy Baker, Tommy Watson, Kathleen Petyarre, Gloria Petyarre, Paddy Bedford (aka Goowoomji) (circa 1922 - 2007), John Mawurndjul, Minnie Pwerle (c.1915-2006), Makinti Napanangka, Ningura Napurrula, Nurapayai Nampitjinpa (Mrs Bennett), Dorothy Napangardi Robinson, Bill Whiskey Tjapaltjarri (circa 1920-2008), Regina Wilson, Angelina Ngal, Abie Loy Kemarre, Sarrita King, Ian Abdulla, Helen McCarthy Tyalmuty, Wintjiya Napaltjarri, Josepha Petrick Kemarre, Tommy Mitchell, Willy Tjungurrayi, Richard Bell, Cowboy Lou Pwerle, Brook Andrew,[20] Ken Thaiday. Anna Price Petyarre is one of the more dynamic mid-career painters.

Leading ceramicists and glass artists include Nick Mount, Mitsuo Shoji, Greg Daly, Avital Sheffer, Jenny Orchard, Gwyn Hanssen Pigott,[20] Merran Esson, Thancoupie (1937–2011),[51] Marea Gazzard, Peter Rushforth, Noel Hart, Klaus Moje, Pippin Drysdale, and Cedar Prest. Janet Mansfield (1934-2013) was an internationally recognized publisher specializing in ceramics.

New Media art

(For new media, see article: New media)

Developments in new media left artists with the task of making meaning in the wake of new technology.

A phrase evoking Transdisciplinarity, new media art in the 2000s was frequently associated with media arts, video art, game art, modding, interactive pieces and scientific visualization. In 2008, the website stated Australian organisations ANAT (Australian Network for Art and Technology) and SymbioticA are both part of an international network of artists' programs in science and industry research lab, the Artsactive network, which promotes integration of artists into science contexts and scientists into art contexts.

In May 2013, Sydney's Powerhouse Museum organized the exhibit Eat The Collection, offering the public a chance to

"explore the evolving world of digital fabrication technologies as ten creative industry professionals – ranging from architects, industrial and graphic designers to artists and sculptors – design a new 3-D object, drawing inspiration from the Powerhouse Museum’s extensive collection.

But there’s a catch; the designs will be printed in chocolate using a 3-D printer."

As most prominent writers, curators and art critics like Murray Bail, Barry Pearce and Sebastian Smee have chosen to ruminate over the impact of modern art and its legacy in contemporary Australian painting and sculpture, audiences for media arts have similarly paid attention to little known local early adopters. 2013's Vivid Sydney festival revisited the international cutting edge of the 1960s and 1970s with a focus on Light art and a performance by Kraftwerk.

Contemporary landscape painting

William Delafield Cook, Janet Dawson, Max Watters, Elisabeth Cummings, William Robinson, Philip Wolfhagen, Louise Hearman, Guy Maestri, Peter Simpson, Ross Laurie, Jason Benjamin, Patricia Moylan, Mandy Martin, Angelina George, Joe Furlonger, Richard Wastell, Jason Cordero, Lucy Culliton, Tim Burns are just a few of the many contemporary painters concentrating on the Australian landscape.

Contemporary narrative realism

Narrative realism has been a constant in contemporary art throughout its many changing trends. Like the landscape genre, there are many artists working in this style, contesting a genre rather than capitalizing on the mystique of singular outsider status. Examples are concept artist Gerhard Mozsi, illustrator Shaun Tan, painters Wendy Sharpe, Stewart MacFarlane, Stephen Smith (dubbed the Bruegel of Bondi by art critic Bruce James), Rod Moss, Steve Lopes, Aris Prabawa, Graeme Drendel, Julie Dowling and the photographer Bill Henson.

In popular culture[edit]



Australian novels about artists

Novels with an artist as a main character


  • Death of a Painter, Georgio Morandi, The Wasps (to Edwin Tanner) Gwen Harwood

List of artists[edit]

Art museums and galleries in Australia[edit]

Picture of Albert Namatjira at the Albert Namatjira Gallery, Alice Springs Cultural Precinct, in 2007.


Australia has major art museums and galleries subsidized by the national and state governments, as well as private art museums and small university and municipal galleries. The National Gallery of Australia, the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art and the Art Gallery of New South Wales have major strengths in collecting the art of the Asia Pacific Region. Others include the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, which has the best Australian collection of Western art. The Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and the privately owned Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart, Tasmania and White Rabbit Gallery in Sydney are widely regarded as autonomously discerning collections of international contemporary art.

Other institutions include the Art Gallery of South Australia in Adelaide, Newcastle Art Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery of Australia, the National Museum of Australia, the Canberra Museum and Gallery, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in Hobart, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory in Darwin, and the Art Gallery of Western Australia in Perth. A significant amount of colonial artwork is held by the National and State libraries.

Art market[edit]

The culture of the Australian art market is a primary market where a few artists at various career stages become "hot", meaning their work is in in high demand. Usually this lasts no more than a few years, as art becomes stale, and in rare cases contemporary artists find market longevity if there is lasting interest in their work in the secondary market. The Australian art market has evolved from the 1960s tiny world of speculative investment to today's much wider luxury goods market where investment appeal is not important. The boom and bust cycle in contemporary art is evident in the 1980s art boom ending at the time of the 1987 stock market crash and the exit of many artists and dealers, followed by the 2000s boom in Aboriginal dot painting and iconic Australian modernist painting, which ended at the time of the global financial crisis and growing collector and public interest in international contemporary art. The art market can include buyers of art in primary and secondary markets as well as products and services such as education, arty brands and industry information marketed to creative individuals. Public perceptions of art marketing range from the shonky to the sophisticated, much of this has to do with the credibility of advertising and fashion. Some within the Australian tourism industry hope to attract wealthy tourists to Australia using the quality end of the art market.

Information can be found through:

  • Social Media
  • Websites
  • Print media
  • Broadcast media
  • Trade fairs

Australian visual arts in other countries[edit]

The museum for Australian Aboriginal art "La grange"[53] (Neuchâtel, Switzerland) is one of the few museums in Europe that dedicates itself entirely to Aboriginal art.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Indigenous art". Australian Culture and Recreation Portal. Australia Government. Retrieved 26 September 2010.
  2. ^ Kakadu National Park - Home
  3. ^ Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Archived 17 January 2010 at WebCite
  4. ^ Ku Ring Gai Chase National Park, Sydney, Australia. Information and Map
  5. ^ * ABC Online 10.02.09 Pilbara Rock Art not Affected by Mining Emissions: Study
  6. ^ Phillips, Yasmine: World protection urged for Burrup art. 13.01.09 [1][dead link]
  7. ^ The spread of people to Australia - Australian Museum
  8. ^ "The Indigenous Collection". The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia. National Gallery of Victoria. Archived from the original on 2010-12-05. Retrieved 6 December 2010.
  9. ^ [2] Arnhem Land Rock Art on Archaeology TV
  10. ^ Australian Indigenous art -
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ [3] Protect Australia's Spirit Interview with Prof. Paul Tacon and Jack Thompson
  15. ^ a b c d Art in Australia: From Colonization to Postmodernism. Christopher Allen (1997). Thames and Hudson, World of Art series.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g James Gleeson, Australian Painting. Edited by John Henshaw. 1971.
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h Australian Painting: 1788-2000. Bernard Smith with Terry Smith and Christopher Heathcote (2001). Oxford University Press.
  19. ^
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j McCulloch, Alan McCulloch, Susan McCulloch & Emily McCulloch Childs: McCulloch’s Encyclopedia of Australian Art Melbourne University Press, 2006
  21. ^ a b c Alan McCulloch, Golden Age of Australian Painting: Impressionism and the Heidelberg School
  22. ^ Australian Impressionism: Significant Sites, National Gallery of Victoria.
  23. ^ From Stanzas Written in Dejection, near Naples
  24. ^ Smith, Bernard: Lindsay, Norman Alfred William (1879–1969) Australian Dictionary of Biography Lindsay, Norman Alfred Williams (1879–1969) Biographical Entry - Australian Dictionary of Biography Online
  25. ^ Joyce McGrath, Bernard Smith. Meldrum, Duncan Max (1875–1955), Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved on 5 December 2010.
  26. ^ Australian Dictionary of Biography, Online Edition
  27. ^ Edward Lucie-Smith, Art Today. Phaidon Press Limited. 1995
  28. ^ "Cosmopolitan life".
  29. ^ Researchers: Emma Watts/Jenny O’Meara Producer: Tony Wyzenbeek. Mark Strizic. Sunday Arts. ABC Television. Sunday Arts - Mark Strizic screened 26.04.2009
  30. ^ "Unguarded moments" by Christopher Allen, The Australian (17 July 2010); colour image at the National Gallery of Australia. Moore made a black-and-white negative from the transparency for an exhibition in 1970; see "Public Works: Migrants Arriving ..." by Bronwyn Watson, The Australian (24 October 2009); black-and-white image
  31. ^ James Gleeson, Australian Painting. Edited by John Henshaw. Landsdowne Press 1977.
  32. ^ The Blurb
  33. ^ Smart, Jeffrey: Not quite straight: a memoir. Random House 2000. ISBN 978-0-09-184198-0
  34. ^ a b Loxley, Anne: Mixed Media in Frame, Sydney Morning Herald, 31 December 2004. Mixed media in frame -
  35. ^ a b Catalano, Gary: The Years of Hope - Australian art and art criticism 1959-1968. Melbourne, Oxford University Press, 1981
  36. ^ National Foundation for Australian Women: Women's Art Movement (1976 - ) Women's Art Movement - Organisation - The Australian Women's Register
  37. ^ [4] Science Fiction Encyclopedia article on Mark Salwowski
  38. ^ Bruce, Dr., Candice (4 March 2004). "Sparkling mind lit up the art world". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 June 2010.
  39. ^ Wells, Andrew The Dictionary of Australian Artists Online: an introduction (paper presented at VALA2006 conference) Retrieved 27 June 2010
  40. ^ a b The readymade boomerang : certain relations in 20th-century art : Art Gallery of New South Wales, Bond Stores 3/4, Millers Point, 11 April-3 June 1990.
  41. ^ a b Pickett, Charles (ed): Cars and culture: our driving passions. Powerhouse Publishing with Harper Collins. 1998. ISBN 978-0-7322-6617-2
  42. ^ Ang, Ien, et al.: Planet Diana - cultural studies & global mourning. University of Western Sydney Institute for Cultural Research. 1997 ISBN 978-1-86341-506-4
  43. ^ a b Drury, Nevill. New Art Series Roseville, New South Wales: Craftsman House 1987-1993
  44. ^ Mendelssohn, Joanna: Nigel Thomson and the World of Unease Art and Australia, Vol 35 No 3 Autumn 1998 p. 352
  45. ^ Nelson, Robert: Vigilance of the machine, The Age December 2008
  46. ^ Morrell, Timothy: Compulsion: Stewart MacFarlane, Artlink, vol 21 no 4, 2001. Compulsion: Stewart MacFarlane - Best Practice: Export Quality - Artlink Magazine
  47. ^ *Ted Gott, et al., Don't Leave Me This Way : Art In The Age Of AIDS National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 1994
  48. ^ Feneley, Stephen: William Yang and the Art of Society, The Space, ABC Online 2003 [5][dead link]
  49. ^ Aboriginal Art Directory: Emily Kame Kngwarreye in Osaka, 18.03.08
  50. ^ Farrelly, Elizabeth: South of the border, pomo rules. Sydney Morning Herald 9 May 2007 South of the border, pomo rules - Opinion -
  51. ^ Adrian Newstead, 'James, Thancoupie Gloria Fletcher (1937–2011)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, accessed 16 February 2013
  52. ^ Mousoulis, Bill: Melbourne independent filmmakers: a web resource
  53. ^

Further reading[edit]

  • ABC Online, 3 June 2013 Aboriginal artist Dorothy Napangardi killed in car crash [7]
  • ABC Online, 4 June 2013 Prominent Indigenous artist Kumana Mitchell dies [8]
  • Art Market Monitor, September 2012: Abstract Expressionism is the New Pop. [9]
  • Australia Council report. Don't Give Up Your Day Job: An Economic Study of Professional Artists in Australia. 2003 Don't give up your day job: an economic study of professional artists in Australia
  • Bail, Murray. Anecdotes - Remembering Australian Painters, The Monthly, October 2012 [10]
  • Bangkok Post, 7 June 2013 Australia challenged to match France on indigenous art[11]
  • Corso, John: Contemporary Art from the Land Down Under [12] Huffington Post, 24 May 2013.
  • Cooke, Dewi: Raided art given R rating [13] The Age Entertainment June 15, 2013
  • Frost, Andrew: In art, it's a long way to the beret. Sydney Morning Herald 18.09.08 In art, it's a long way to the beret - Opinion -
  • Heathcote, Christopher (1995). A Quiet Revolution: The Rise of Australian Art, 1946-1968. Melbourne, Vic: Text Publishing. pp. 267p. ISBN 978-1-875847-32-7.
  • Hewitt, Helen Verity: Patrick White, Painter Manque. Carlton, Vic. : Miegunyah Press, 2002. ISBN 978-0-522-85032-1
  • Isabel Hogan and Shirley Kennard: Auntie's artist who gave us that squiggle (orig. in Sydney Morning Herald, 27 September 2001) Milesago - Obituaries- Bill Kennard [14]
  • Katz, Jonathan : Modest Proposals: Paul Donald's Subversion of the Grand Gesture [15]
  • Living Treasures: Masters of Australian Craft at the Craft Australia website [16]
  • Murray-Cree, Laura and Drury, Nevill (eds): Australian Painting Now. Thames & Hudson, 2000. ISBN 978-0-500-23773-1, ISBN 978-0-500-23773-1.
  • Payes, Sonia (2007). Untitled. Portraits of Australian Artists. Melbourne, Vic: Macmillan Art Publishing. ISBN.
  • Robert Baines, Nicole Polentas & Melissa Miller (eds): Australian Jewellery Topos; Talking About Place: Eighteen Contemporary Australian Jewellers. Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2010. ISBN 9781921875052
  • Rothwell, Nicholas: Creativity feels the crunch. The Australian, 16.01.09 The Arts | All the latest Arts news | The Australian
  • Smith, Bernard (2001). Australian Painting 1788-2000. Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press. pp. 630p. ISBN 978-1-875847-10-5. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  • Marsh, Anne: Unmapped: The Political Dialogue of an Artist [17] Peter Kennedy (early Video art)
  • Ponnekanti, Rosemary, The News Tribune, 23 May 2013: Museum of Glass show pays tribute to ties between Australian, Northwest artists [18]
  • Sydney Morning Herald with Erin O'Dwyer, 2.4.2009 : Treasures Looted and Sold Online Treasures looted and sold online - Arts - Entertainment -
  • Steggall, Susan. A most generous scholar : Joan Kerr : art and architectural historian. 2012 ISBN 9780646593050
  • Sumner, John. The Age They still call Australia *?#X! 4 March 2006 [19]
  • Szulakowska, Ursula. Alchemy in Contemporary Art. 2011 Ashgate Publishing, Farnham, UK ISBN 978-0-7546-6736-0 [20]
  • Westbury, Marcus: Not Quite Art, Series 1 (television series) 2007

External links[edit]

DEFAULTSORT:Visual Arts Of Australia Category:Australian art Category:Australian artists Australia