One of the most prominent figures in the middle decades of the 20th century is the concerned photographer. A belief in photojournalism’s role in shaping history was promoted by people like Edward Steichen whose exhibition The family of man traversed the globe and was seen by millions. Heroes such as W. Eugene Smith were still working in the 1970s – in 1971 he was in Minamata, Japan documenting mercury poisoning – earning him a beating by thugs hired by the company responsible.
Carol Jerrems was very clear, right from her art school days at Prahran, that she would make what she termed ‘pure photography’ and that she would never work commercially. Like many others of her generation she turned away from photographing external news-worthy events. And yet a strong moral imperative to do good in the world underpinned her whole practice and is reflected over and over in the statements she made about her work. Each of us is given a choice to drop out or help change society: ‘My main interest in photographic art, as in living, she wrote, ‘is giving (learning and sharing) This society is sick and I must help to change it’. She championed the cause of the underdog and wanted to push the boundaries – her own and those of society.
Driven and dedicated to her craft, Jerrems’ thought intuitively but deeply about it. The photographs do not always lend themselves to simple analysis. And yet what makes viewers connect with them is this great sense of empathy and this great desire that Jerrems had to connect: ‘I don’t want to exploit people. I care about them. I’d like to help them if I could, through my photographs’. In many of the great portraits there is an intense relationship that occurs between Jerrems and her subjects, with the result that the sitters become almost mythic, more than themselves.
Writing for the Canberra Times, Sasha Grishin described the Sydney Long exhibition as 'compulsory viewing' and as 'a once in a lifetime exhibition: the definitive Sydney Long experience!' Well-received by audiences, this is the first major survey of Long’s work in over 30 years and is accompanied by a scholarly catalogue written by the exhibition’s curator, Dr Anna Gray.
Tickets can still be purchased through Ticketek or at the NGA front desk.
Rajasthan, India 'Festival of the Cattle [Gopashtami] shrine hanging [pichhavai]' 19th century National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Acquired with the assistance of the Masterpieces for the Nation Fund 2007
Sydney Long 'By tranquil waters' 1894 Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, purchased 1894
Divine worlds features masterpieces of Indian painting from the national collection and showcases many works that have never been on display before. A highlight of the public events has been the conservation talk series, which gave listeners insight into the painstaking work performed by our conservators to prepare fragile works for display.
For remaining events associated with the exhibitions please see our online calendar.
Don’t miss the opportunity to experience these two unique exhibitions.
Our upcoming summer exhibition Toulouse-Lautrec: Paris & the Moulin Rouge is already proving extremely popular with our Members opening party on 14 December already booked out. If you didn’t manage to get tickets for the opening we still have places available for our Curator’s dinner to be held on 22 February 2013.
Members Acquisition Fund
We recently launched the annual Members Acquisition Fund for 2012-13. This year’s selection is Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s stunning lithograph Divan Japonais 1893, which was featured in the spring edition of Artonview.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 'Divan Japonais' 1893 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Purchased with the assistance of the Members Acquisition Fund 2012
This poster, with its radical design and featuring one of Toulouse-Lautrec’s favourite models, will be an important addition to the national art collection and will also feature in the Gallery’s forthcoming summer exhibition, Toulouse-Lautrec: Paris & the Moulin Rouge, on display from 14 December 2012 to 2 April 2013.
As a NGA Member, you would have received a letter from the Director, Ron Radford together with a brochure and donation form for Divan Japonais inviting you to help us acquire this significant work. If you would like to support this campaign you can also donate online.
The exhibition will have timed half hour sessions. To ensure your preferred day and time to visit, book tickets now through Ticketek or phone 132 849.
A full list of events accompanying Toulouse-Lautrec will be released in the summer calendar on 1 December. Here is a peak at one of the highlights:
Promenade of lights
Free community event
Friday 8 March 6.00 pm until late
Take an evening stroll along a lamp-lined boulevard at the National Gallery of
Australia and be transported to the lively Parisian street life of the Belle Epoque. See your own lamp creations light as you enjoy live music and performance,
art-making activities, French-inspired refreshments and a late‑night opening of
the exhibition, as well as a screening of the romantic Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris at 9.30 pm.
Free | Gallery forecourt, street Café, main foyer and James O Fairfax Theatre
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 'Jane Avril' 1899 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, The Poynton Bequest 2011
On 12 October 1982 the Queen opened the National Gallery of Australia (then named the Australian National Gallery). In a National Press Club Address coinciding with the Gallery’s 30th anniversary, Director Ron Radford reflected on our beginnings and revealed his vision for the future.
The Gallery’s founding document–the Lindsay Report of 1966–outlined a collecting policy that would 'complement, not compete with, the long-established State galleries,' with a focus on contemporary international art, 20th century European and American art, and art of the Asia–Pacific region. Dr. Radford noted that while the NGA is 'the youngest national gallery in the world,' today it has the largest and most valuable art collection in Australia, comprised of over 165,000 works and valued at $4.7 billion.
Turning towards the future, Dr. Radford revealed the Gallery’s aspirations to increase public access to the collections through digital initiatives and greatly expanded display areas. At the heart of the new strategic vision is Stage Two: The Centre for Australian Art, which will feature spacious galleries on the main floor dedicated to the art of non-Indigenous Australia, display storage, 'state-of-the-art education facilities including new lecture rooms, activity rooms and viewing rooms,an expanded children’s gallery, and the Gallery’s relocated Research Library and artists’ archive.'
Concluding his address, the Director asserted that The Centre for Australian Art is 'a definitive statement by a proud nation celebrating its sophisticated culture.'
A big thank you to everyone who has made the last 30 years so memorable. In celebration of this milestone, we’ve dug up some archival photos of the Gallery in its early days. Enjoy!
Architectural impression of Stage 2 Modern Australian galleries
National Press Club President Laurie Wilson and NGA Director Ron Radford at the National Press Club Address
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with Chairman of Council, Gordon Darling greets guests on opening night, 12 October 1982
Fireworks over Lake Burley Griffin opening night, 12 October 1982. L-R: National Gallery, High Court of Australia
The Hon. E. Gough Whitlam views Jackson Pollock's Blue Poles 1952
View of the Sculpture Garden, 1982
Installation of Henry Moore's Hill arches 1973 at the eastern side of the Marsh Pond, 1982
(banner image) The Gallery building photographed following landscaping of the Sculpture Garden and installation of sculptures in 1982
At present Albert Tucker's powerful series Images of modern evil, painted in the 1940s, is shown in the space usually occupied by the Ned Kelly series. Claire Capel-Stanley, Intern, Australian Painting and Sculpture post-1920 takes the opportunity to explore how sketching informed Tucker's painting practice.
Cinema is an important theme in Albert Tucker’s Images of modern evil series. For Tucker, the cinema was not only popular entertainment in wartime Melbourne, but a place where external and internal realities merged. In cinema, time was frozen into an endless present. Image of modern evil 9 1944 shows the film screen as a stage for an unfolding theatre of the mind. A small pencil and ink study Study for painting "Image of modern evil 9" [recto] 1944 gives us an insight into the development of the painting.
Tucker used sketches to guide the construction of his paintings. In this sketch, he not only worked out the composition, but described colours to be used. In the painting process these colour ideas were transformed and simplified. Where the sketch suggests that the mouth of one figure should be green, in the painting both are rendered a bright, visceral red. The ‘crimson carpet’, becomes a swirling molten lake, lit, as noted in the sketch, with orange lights.
The cinema carpet was an indelible image for Tucker. He remembered the impression in an interview with James Gleeson in 1979, remarking ‘I got this light effect going on in the carpet and all of a sudden I had this double reality.' Tucker used sketches to distil visual ideas, which were further concentrated in the painting process.
The sketch also reveals background details which are absent from the painting. A clock and a door marked ‘exit’ appear as powerful reminders of mortality. Interestingly, Tucker added hands to the clock pointing at several minutes to midnight as he worked on the painting. In the final state, these elements are completely subsumed in darkness, perhaps not so much removed as covered by thick blue shadow. The poetic empty screen is allowed to become the focus, centring our attention on a fearful drama we are yet to watch unfold.
Painters continued to work in an Abstract Expressionist style into the 1960s and 1970s, long after new tendencies such as Pop and Minimalism became dominant modes. The artists associated with Colour-field painting and the second-generation Abstract Expressionists increasingly exploited the qualities of paint. Their canvases are emphatically flat, or are made to achieve an ‘overall’ effect.
Abstract Expressionism was more than an American phenomenon, and the impact of influential painters was felt beyond the United States. Works by Australians such as Tony Tuckson and Peter Upward reveal how these artists developed in related ways. In his evocative and beautiful Watery c.1960, Tuckson spreads layers of pale paint and then ‘writes’ across the surface. Upward’s large, expressive gestures — his paint thickened with medium — seem to defy materiality and speak instead of calligraphy, jazz and poetry. By using enamel, artists such as Ralph Balson and Michael Taylor develop layer upon layer of thread-like paint.
The drawings, lithographs and collages on display here emphasise how artists exploit gesture and mark-making across a range of mediums. Willem de Kooning continued to refer to the human body throughout his long career. Glimpses of the figure remain, even in the 1980s, when he adopted a white ground for his marks, which seem to glide over the surface.
Abstract Expressionism is on display in the Orde Poynton Gallery until 20 January 2013 and the International galleries until 24 February 2013. Tours of the exhibition run daily at 2pm (meet in the Main Foyer).
Masterpieces for the Nation Fund
The National Gallery of Australia Foundation’s Masterpieces for the Nation Fund 2012 was celebrated in September with a special event hosted by Director Ron Radford. Donors were invited to view the magnificent and important bark painting by renowned Arnhem Land artist Yirawala, Kundaagi – Red plains kangaroo 1962 which was acquired with their support.
If you would like to make a donation to the fund please click here or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 02 6240 6408 for more information about giving.
Donors to the Masterpieces for the Nation Fund 2012 Von Harrington, Em.Prof. Ian Falconer AO and Mrs Elinor Swan with Kelli Cole, Curator, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art (second from right) and Jacqueline Chlanda, Curatorial Assistant, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art (second from left).
Donors David and Pamela Jupp, Rosemary Dupont and Art Groothuiswith Kundaagi – red plains kangaroo 1962
Novotel Canberra is the accommodation partner and proud supporter of the National Gallery of Australia’s Toulouse-Lautrec: Paris & the Moulin Rouge exhibition.
Novotel Canberra is offering a special overnight accommodation package* for Toulouse-Lautrec which includes one night’s accommodation, buffet breakfast and untimed tickets to the exhibition for two people. Package from $189 per room per night. Click here for more information or to make a booking.
*Valid for stays at Novotel Canberra only between 14 December 2012 and 2 April 2013 inclusive. Click here for full terms and conditions.
Members Christmas shopping night
Join us for our annual Christmas shopping night exclusive to NGA members.
Get your Christmas shopping done early with a glass of champagne and enjoy a 20% discount on all purchases (excluding already reduced items).
The Gallery recently created a Pinterest page and we invite you to join us in this new social media adventure.
What is Pinterest?
Pinterest is a social network that functions as a virtual pinboard, allowing you to organise and share your favourite things on the web. Users can create theme-based image collections such as events, interests and hobbies. You can also browse pinboards created by other people, a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.
Why follow us?
The Gallery’s Pinterest page allows us to present virtual, shareable versions of exhibitions and collections, as well as photos from events and behind-the-scenes, so you can see what really goes on at your national gallery.
Pinterest allows users to preview pieces of art or events online and share your favourite pieces by re-pinning them onto your own boards. We also encourage audience engagement by posting your comments on pinned items, allowing you to critique the Gallery's collections and exhibitions, for example.