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Australian art Social Comment & Hard Edged Abstraction

Brett Whiteley made an impact during this period with his bold figurative works that drew upon the social context of the day. Works by Richard Larter, Gareth Sansom and Vivienne Binns offer dynamic, colourful, witty and satirical insights into the era. Their works are energetic and challenging, often combining figuration and abstraction, along with references to popular culture, politics, history and sexuality.  A lively engagement with the art of assemblage and of non-Western cultures is exemplified in the irreverent works by Mike Brown, Colin Lanceley and Ross Crothall, known collectively as the Annandale Imitation Realists. Vivienne Binns has engaged with rural communities and feminism throughout her career, blurring the boundaries and challenging notions of so-called ‘high-art’. 

Some of the key exponents of hard-edge abstraction and colour field painting included: Sydney Ball, Robert Rooney, David Aspden, Gunter Christmann and Robert Jacks. Broadly speaking, these artists extended the boundaries of painting by reducing and abstracting colour, shape and line.  Sculptors such as Ron Robertson-Swann, Clement Meadmore and Bert Flugelman also explored ideas of hard-edge abstraction through bold statements in sculpture.  Many of these artists were first acknowledged as major abstract painters by their inclusion in the groundbreaking 1968 exhibition The Field,held at the National Gallery of Victoria. They were significantly influenced by their contemporaries in the United States of America, particularly in New York, and the direct experience of viewing these popular international works of art in Australia.