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Collection Introduction

European & American Art

The National Gallery of Australia’s display of international art spans the years from 1850 to the present day. On show are paintings, sculpture, prints, decorative arts and photographs by European and American artists, as well as a selection of Australian works. These integrated displays demonstrate both the wealth of the Gallery’s collection and the impact of artistic styles across a variety of disciplines. Not all works are always in the galleries, as some are required for exhibition elsewhere.

Gallery 1 is divided into rooms of Impressionism, Fauvism and the School of Paris, Ballets Russes, Dada and Surrealism, Cubism and Expressionism. The French realist artists Honoré Daumier and Gustave Courbet are joined by Claude Monet (Haystacks, middayand Waterlilies), an early work by Paul Cézanne and a small study by Georges Seurat. Changing displays of prints and posters by such masters as Edgar Degas, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Pierre Bonnard can be seen, as well as examples of Arts and Crafts design, and Art Nouveau objects. Other treasures include Amedeo Modigliani’s limestone sculpture, Standing nude, and Kasimir Malevich’s House under construction. Alongside paintings by Giorgio de Chirico, René Magritte and Joan Miró, the Dada and Surrealist room includes the work of Australian Surrealists and indigenous American, Pacific and African sculpture from Max Ernst’s collection of ‘tribal’ art.

Gallery 2 ranges from Abstraction and Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art, Minimalism and Conceptual Art. One of the Gallery's best-known paintings, Jackson Pollock's Blue poles, is usually displayed with Willem de Kooning's Woman V and paintings by Mark Rothko, Arshile Gorky and others. Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg are represented by key works, and the Gallery’s outstanding holdings of American prints and posters complement these Pop masters and their contemporaries. American art of the 1970s is another strength and regular changeovers ensure visitors see works made of neon or incorporating photography, or using organic elements such as ochres, branches or earth core samples, as well as more traditional paint and canvas.

Gallery 3 is normally dedicated to contemporary art from the 1970s to today. The major works often seen in this space are Francis Bacon’s magnificent triptych, Chuck Close’s photo-realist portrait Bob, and Colin McCahon’s Victory over death 2. Neo-Expressionist paintings from Europe are included, as well as contemporary sculpture and works using new media.

The National Australia Bank Sculpture Gallery is graced by Constantin Brancusi’s black and white marble Birds in space. On sandstone bases in a calm pool, the birds oversee the only gallery in an Australian museum dedicated to sculpture. Donald Judd’s brass boxes, Louise Bourgeois’ pink wooden C.O.Y.O.T.E. and Anselm Kiefer’s magisterial Abendlandare joined by works from the great Australian sculptors Rosalie Gascoigne, Robert Klippel and Ken Unsworth.

New acquisitions

Special focus

Related exhibitions

Select publications

  • Building the collection Pauline Green, editor, 2003
  • Douglas Annand: the art of life Anne McDonald, 2001
  • French paintings from the Musée Fabre, Montpellier Michel Hilaire, Jörg Zutter and Olivier Zeder, editors, 2003
  • Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican modernism: the Jacques and Natasha Gelman collection, Anthony White editor, 2001
  • Lucian Freud: after Cézanne, 2001
  • Pierre Bonnard: observing nature Jörg Zutter, editor, 2003
  • Rodin: sculpture and drawings 2001
  • Sean Scully: body of light, 2004
  • Secession: modern art and design in Austria and Germany 1890s–1920s Christine Dixon, 2000
  • An artist abroad: the prints of James McNeill Whistler Jane Kinsman, 2005
  • Building the collection Pauline Green, editor, 2003
  • Monet and Japan, 2001
  • The big Americans: the art of collaboration, Jane Kinsman, 2002

Enquiries

  1. Impressionism & Post-Impressionism

  2. Fauvism & School of Paris

  3. Dada & Surrealism

  4. Cubism, Expressionism & Suprematism

  5. Abstraction

  6. Abstract Expressionism

  7. Pop Art

  8. Minimalism & Conceptual art

  9. Contemporary

  10. Sculpture Gallery

  11. Prints, drawings &
    illustrated books