In the 1990s, Aboriginal art gained for the first time a substantial audience as contemporary art. Ten years earlier it had been the preserve of anthropologists and marketed as ‘primitive fine art’ to collectors of tribal art. In 1980, Andrew Crocker, the newly-appointed manager of Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd—the Western Desert artist-run company formed in 1972—sought to change this by marketing the art on purely aesthetic grounds without reference to its Aboriginality. This coincided with a growing interest in the art by an emerging generation of contemporary artists. When abstract paintings from Papunya Tula began appearing in contemporary art venues, Australian critics wondered if they were pieces of Post-modernist or conceptual art. By the end of the decade, such questions were being asked at an international level, with Western Desert art playing a significant role in the emerging post-colonial debate. While this international interest by critics quickly waned, from this time onwards, Aboriginal art became well and truly framed in the Australia art world by the discourses of Post-modernism, post-colonialism and contemporary art....
Australian group of artists formed in Melbourne in February 1959 and active until January 1960. The founder-members were the art historian Bernard Smith (b 1916), who was elected chairman, and the painters Charles Blackman, Arthur Boyd, David Boyd (b 1924), John Brack, John Perceval and Clifton Pugh. They were joined subsequently by the Sydney-based painter Bob Dickerson (b 1924). Smith chose the name of the group and compiled the Antipodean Manifesto, the appearance of which coincided with the inaugural exhibition, The Antipodeans, held in the Victorian Artists’ Society rooms in Melbourne in August 1959. The group’s main concern was to promote figurative painting at a time when non-figurative painting and sculpture were becoming established as the predominant trend in Australia, as in the USA and Europe. To gain a more prestigious venue to show their work, the group asked Smith to enlist the support of Kenneth Clark, who responded by suggesting the Whitechapel Gallery in London. The Gallery’s director, ...
Within a half-century of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi between the British Crown and Maori chiefs in 1840—the event from which the beginning of New Zealand (Aotearoa) is generally dated (and leaving aside from the present discussion the tribal art of the indigenous Maori and the early art created by European navigators, explorers, surveyors, itinerant artists, soldiers, and the like)—a rudimentary infrastructure of public art galleries, art societies, and some art schools had arisen in the main cities—Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin—and the beginnings of a discourse concerning the character and purpose of the visual arts in the new nation emerged. The central question was whether or not such a phenomenon as ‘New Zealand art’ existed or should exist and what characteristics it should aspire to. These matters were vigorously debated for a decade or so either side of 1890 when the infant nation marked its 50th anniversary with a jubilee. The discourse about national identity then largely disappeared for a generation only to emerge again a decade or so either side of ...
The collecting cycles and art market trends in Australia from 1995 to 2010 clearly reflected the developments in art markets all around the world. The market for all periods in Australian art peaked in 2007, decreasing by a third before forming a plateau. Primarily, the building of Australian art collections dominated art sales, with only a small percentage of collectors involved in collecting international art. Although the latter was a growing trend, accessibility to the international art market limited this area of collecting.
During this period the collecting base in Australia broadened enormously in all areas of collecting, with Australian modern art (1940–70), contemporary art (1970–to present) and indigenous art being most sought after, exhibited and documented. Generally the market followed the same peaks and troughs seen elsewhere, without experiencing the same meteoric rises from the speculative and hedge fund-based money that were visible in other major centres. Although ...
From the 1990s onwards, Australian contemporary art experienced significant growth in exhibition venues, both quantitatively, in terms of the number and scale of available spaces, and qualitatively, in terms of their scope, ambition and critical impact. The boom in physical exhibition spaces including museums, artist spaces, and commercial and non-profit galleries on the one hand and, on the other, the boom in such event-based institutions as biennales, triennials and festivals is consistent with global trends but also sits within the more general process of increasing confidence and internationalization of Australian art and its institutions that has been under way since the late 1960s. As such, these changes were a response to the country’s specific geographical and cultural conditions, and to shifts within art practice itself. It is important to note, however, that they have been neither constant nor consistent, and have involved significant challenges at the level of sustainability.
Australia was a relative latecomer to dedicated institutional support for contemporary art, with the country’s first and only public contemporary art museum opening in Sydney in ...
As late as the early 1990s, it seemed to many Australian art critics that a multicultural, appropriation-based Post-modernism would constitute a distinctively Australian contribution to art (see Tillers, Imants). However, by the mid-1990s, for reasons at the same time political, economic and simply artistic, it was no longer possible to reduce the art made at the so-called periphery (in Australia) and art created at the so-called centre (at the traditional North Atlantic hubs of art production and consumption) to relationships between Post-modern (even post-colonial) copies and North Atlantic originals. Post-modernism as a coherent framework for explaining either Australian or international art was finished.
Post-modernism as a period style or broad, umbrella movement was now periodized in revisionist texts (such as Rex Butler’s book, What is Appropriation, 1996, and Charles Green’s book, Peripheral Visions, 1995) and by a resurgent political conservatism after 1996 that was prosecuted in fierce ‘Culture Wars’ already familiar from the US. Post-modernism in art was replaced—so an emerging art critical consensus began to hold—with a new term that attained a currency so ubiquitous it became self-evident: contemporary art. The usage of the word ‘contemporary’ was definite and different (as argued in T. Smith’s book, ...
From Anatomical studies to landscape painting to the Biomorphism of Surrealism, the biological realm historically provided a significant resource for numerous artists. More recently, Bio Art became a term referring to intersecting domains that comprise advances in the biological sciences and their incorporation into the plastic arts. Of particular importance in works of Bio Art is to summon awareness of the ways in which the accelerating biomedical sciences alter social, ethical and cultural values in society.
Coming to the fore in the early 1990s Bio Art is neither media specific nor locally bounded. It is an international movement with practitioners in such regions as Europe, the US, Russia, Australia and the Americas. Several subgenres of Bio Art exist within this overarching term:
(i) Artists who employ the iconography of the 20th and 21st century sciences, including molecular and cellular genetics, transgenically altered living matter and reproductive technologies as well as the diverse fields of neuroscience. All traditional media such as painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking and drawing are employed to convey novel ways of representing life forms. Images of chromosomes, the double helix, magnetic resonance imaging body scans and neuroanatomy comprise this iconography. The molecular underpinnings of the living world have also become visible through high technological instrumentation when artists incorporate such pictorialisations as part of their practice. Representations span both genotypic variations and phenotypic ones. Artists include Suzanne Anker (...
Betsy L. Chunko
(b Le Mans, Nov 1, 1908; d Brisbane, Australia, July 7, 1995).
French architectural historian, active also in America. Bony was educated at the Sorbonne, receiving his agregation in geography and history in 1933. In 1935, converted to art history by Henri(-Joseph) Focillon, he travelled to England under a research grant from the Sorbonne, after which time he became Assistant Master in French at Eton College (1937–9 and 1945–6). He returned to France in 1939 as an infantry lieutenant in World War II in the French Army, was taken as a prisoner of war and spent the years 1940–43 in an internment camp in Germany. After the war he returned to England, first to Eton, then as Lecturer in the History of Art at the French Institute in London (1946–61), Visiting Lecturer at the Courtauld Institute of Art (1948–58), and Slade Professor of Fine Art at St John’s College, Cambridge (1958–61). From 1961 to 1962...
(b Sydney, Nov 21, 1915).
Australian painter, writer, critic and administrator. He studied at the East Sydney Technical College from 1934 to 1936 and was represented in the first Contemporary Art Society exhibition in 1938. Gleeson is widely regarded as Australia’s leading Surrealist, often compared in style to Dalí. His work is frequently described as macabre, threatening and erotic, and his forms range from the recognizable to indeterminate imagery from the darker depths of the mind, as in the ...
Roslyn F. Coleman
(b London, Feb 25, 1866; d Melbourne, May 16, 1929).
Australian architect, theorist and writer of English birth. He trained as an architect in London from 1881 and then worked in various architectural offices there. He emigrated to Australia in 1889 and worked in various states before settling in Melbourne in 1899. He designed a number of offices, residences, churches and other public buildings, often for other architects. Through this work and his teachings and writings, he influenced many Australian architects by his strong principles of originality and simplicity in design, harmony and balance in composition, and national sentiment. These principles were closely allied with those of English architects working in the Arts and Crafts Movement; however, his use of nature for inspiration and his relaxation of past rules of composition and decoration also place him within the Art Nouveau movement. Haddon’s designs were characterized by plain façades, the careful use of simple ornament and the positioning of elements to produce a distinctive and often delicately balanced composition. Examples of this work include his residence, Anselm (...
The market for ‘tribal art’ emerged in the first decades of the 20th century. By way of avant-garde artists and pioneering dealers, African and Oceanic art slowly became accepted as ‘art’—with its inclusion in the Musée du Louvre in Paris in 2000 as a decisive endorsement. Initially, it was referred to as ‘primitive art’—alluding to an early ‘primitive’ stage in human development; later replaced by the equally biased ‘tribal art’. While still used widely among dealers and collectors (for want of a better word and being conveniently short), the term ‘tribe’, or its derivative ‘tribal’, is frowned upon by the scholarly community.
The foundations of the tribal art market were laid at the turn of the 20th century. European powers colonized large overseas territories in both Africa and Oceania and, along with other commodities, there arrived ethnographic artefacts. Europeans had conducted coastal trade with many African regions over centuries, but systematic explorations of the continental hinterland did sometimes not take place until the first decades of the 20th century. These resulted in the discovery of previously unknown cultures whose ritual objects, such as masks, were displayed during world’s fairs and colonial exhibitions. Many of these objects ended up in newly established museums, such as the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, outside Brussels. Vigorous competitors in the collection of ethnographic objects in both Africa and Oceania, these museums became the leading players in the early phases of the tribal art market’s development. Next to these large-scale official collecting activities, colonial, military, or missionary personnel also brought home exotic objects....
Noémie Goldman and Kim Oosterlinck
Term for the return of lost or looted cultural objects to their country of origin, former owners, or their heirs. The loss of the object may happen in a variety of contexts (armed conflicts, war, colonialism, imperialism, or genocide), and the nature of the looted cultural objects may also vary, ranging from artworks, such as paintings and sculptures, to human remains, books, manuscripts, and religious artefacts. An essential part of the process of restitution is the seemingly unavoidable conflict around the transfer of the objects in question from the current to the former owners. Ownership disputes of this nature raise legal, ethical, and diplomatic issues. The heightened tensions in the process arise because the looting of cultural objects challenges, if not breaks down, relationships between peoples, territories, cultures, and heritages.
The history of plundering and art imperialism may be traced back to ancient times. Looting has been documented in many instances from the sack by the Romans of the Etruscan city of Veii in ...
Jean Robertson and Craig McDaniel
The final decades of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century witnessed an increasing propensity for artists to incorporate aspects of science in their own art. In many fields of scientific research—including the cloning of mammals, the genetic modification of crops, the creation of bioengineered organs and tissues, advances in nanotechnology and robotics, experimental research in how the human mind works and the study of artificial intelligence—the frontiers of knowledge pushed outward at an accelerated pace. In the spirit of creative inquiry, or in order to critique the goals and outcomes of scientific experimentation and application, artists regularly borrowed subjects, tools and approaches from science as a means to the production of art ( see fig. ).
In documenting and assessing the achievements of visual artists engaged with science, there was no broad consensus on the categorisation of artists’ work across the full range of activities, methods, motivations and use of materials. Assessments of artistic practice focused on artists’ work categorised by the traditional fields of science (e.g. artists who explore biology, artists who explore physical sciences). Other analyses of artistic practice focused on categories of art media (e.g. artists who use traditional means such as carving and casting to represent scientific discoveries, artists who explore and employ biological materials and scientific instruments)....
(b Berlin, Sept 18, 1913; d Melbourne, Aug 7, 2007).
Australian photographer of German birth. His father, Dr Johannes Sievers, was an architectural historian. Sievers trained at the Contempora private art academy in Berlin in 1933. Due to his leftwing sympathies and Jewish descent, Sievers left Germany in 1934 and lived and worked in Portugal. He returned to Berlin in 1936 where he began teaching at the Contempora academy. Sievers developed his interest in architectural photography through his father, who was an expert on the German architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, and through contact with influential modernist architect Erich Mendelsohn. Sievers applied to migrate to Australia in 1938—one of his sponsors was photographer Axel Poignant (1906–86), then living in Western Australia—but after being called up to the Luftwaffe he fled to England in 1938. He arrived in Australia in August that year and settled in Melbourne. He married Finnish émigré Brita Klarich in 1939 (divorced in 1972), and had two children, Karin (...
The aesthetic concept of Sublime, the had been extensively discussed and developed in Europe throughout the 18th century, in particular by Edmund Burke in his work A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful (1756). Burke identified both the Sublime and the Beautiful as emotional responses to the landscape, but whereas the Beautiful was smooth, even, small and regular, the Sublime was vast, awe-inspiring and created a sense of ‘delightful horror’ in the viewer (Burke, Book I, §III; Book II, §VIII), that is a delight in horror that does not threaten the viewer. Obscurity, terror, eternity and infinity are also themes in Burke’s work, all of which can be read as substitutes for the fear of God. The Sublime in Nature is the first essay in The Australian Sketchbook (1838) by James Martin (1820–86) is one of the earliest references to the Sublime in Australia. Although Martin does not seem to have read Burke’s work, he too describes the notion of the ‘sublimity and power of the Creator’ seen everywhere in His works....
(b London, Aug 29, 1849; d Australia, Aug 18, 1934).
English architect, urban planner, writer and teacher. He studied architecture at the Royal Academy, London, where he was a friend of William Morris. Following an apprenticeship to Harry Robert Newton (d 1889), he set up in private practice in 1870 as a partner in Sulman Rhodes, designing several churches, including Congregational churches in Caterham and Croydon, Surrey, and Bromley, Kent, as well as schools and country houses. He also became Vice-President of the Architectural Association, London. In 1885 Sulman moved to Australia, where he became interested in the regulation of Australia’s rapidly growing cities. He continued to practise as an architect in Sydney with J. P Power, important buildings including the Bank of New South Wales (1889) and Mutual Life Association Building (1891; later New Zealand Chambers), both in Sydney, and the AMP Buildings in Melbourne and Brisbane, in which he used a variety of classical styles. However his most important work was in the development of urban planning theories and legislation, and he became an influential writer and government consultant in this field. In his early book ...
(b Richmond, Surrey, ?Oct 4, 1794; d Hobart, Tasmania, Aug 17, 1847).
Australian painter and writer of English birth. He first achieved notice as an art critic and essayist for the London Magazine (1820–23) under a variety of pseudonyms. His circle of acquaintances included Charles Lamb, William Hazlitt and Thomas De Quincey. Between 1821 and 1825 he exhibited six paintings on literary subjects at the Royal Academy, London (and probably drawings, since he preferred to work on paper). A wash drawing of amorous couples in a landscape (early 1820s; London, BM) is reminiscent of Fuseli, whom he described as ‘the God of his worship’.
In his writings and manner, Wainewright affected the style of the dilettante; he was reputed to be a poisoner and embezzler. In 1837 he was tried for forgery and transported to Hobart in Tasmania (then Van Diemen’s Land) where in the next ten years, despite his convict status and poor health, he made an important contribution to the early art of Australia. He was, with ...