Stars of the Tokyo stage: Natori Shunsen's kabuki actor prints

On show 19 July – 12 October 2014

Stars of the Tokyo stage is a window into the glamorous world of Japan's kabuki theatre during the 1920s and 30s. The exhibition focuses on the arresting actor prints created by Tokyo artist Natori Shunsen (1886–1960) during a modern revival in Japanese theatre and printmaking.

Shunsen's portraits reveal a deep engagement with kabuki. Made for fans, they depict leading actors as characters from kabuki's repertoire of historical dramas, domestic plays, comedies, tragedies, crime thrillers and supernatural epics. The images capture the exaggerated expressions, flamboyant costumes, makeup and dramatic poses of the theatrical form.


(image): Natori Shunsen Okochi Denjiro as Tange Sazen 1931, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Pauline and John Gandel Fund 2011

Lavish costumes, film footage and kabuki scenes by master printmakers such as Toyohara Kunichika and Utagawa Kunisada further animate Stars of the Tokyo stage.

In 2011 the Gallery acquired a set of kabuki robes from Tokyo's famous Shochiku Theatre Company, becoming one of few collections worldwide to include this material.

The costumes represent the styles and showy fabrics popularised in early twentieth century Tokyo theatres. A feature of the exhibition is a magnificent ensemble for Benkei in The subscription list, shown with a 1935 Shunsen print and 1943 film footage of megastar Matsumoto Koshiro VII in the same role.

Stars of the Tokyo stage is the first exhibition in Australia to explore the art of Natori Shunsen, and his role in the twentieth century resurgence in Japanese printmaking. The show, which has been touring regional centres around Australia, brings together superb prints and sumptuous costumes to celebrate the magic of kabuki, its extraordinary stories, colourful actors and visual spectacle.

See events relating to the exhibition.


(cover + banner image): Natori Shunsen Matsumoto Koshiro VII as Benkei in 'The subscription list' 1935, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Pauline and John Gandel Fund 2011

Be part of
the NGA

Experience the big picture – close up

Members regularly engage with curators, see exhibitions exclusively afterhours, go behind the scenes and are the first to know about upcoming events and exhibitions.

Not only do our members have the opportunity to experience the national art collection on an intimate level, they are our greatest ambassadors. We are grateful to all our members who regularly promote the Gallery by bringing guests, attending events and exhibitions and donating to the Members Acquisition Fund.

For those of you who are not members, here are 5 reasons to consider joining today:

  1. Support a cultural movement Pledge your support and become a member of Australia's dynamic and vibrant visual arts culture.
  2. Beyond your own backyard Your NGA Membership will entitle you to reciprocal benefits at many leading art institutions across Australia. Travelling beyond your backyard as an NGA Member ensures you can always access art the best way possible.


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  1. Be in the know Be the first to know about pioneering exhibitions, events and Gallery programs. Use this knowledge to be first in line to enjoy all the Gallery has to offer - before the general public.
  2. Indulge your senses Take time out to reflect and relax in the exclusive NGA Members lounge. Indulge in the wonderful selection of house baked cakes and meals whilst enjoying the spectacular views of the Gallery's Sculpture Garden.
  3. Expand your boundaries NGA Members have exclusive access to senior curators, behind the scene events, and afterhours exhibition viewings. Mingle with and learn from the best Australian arts professionals.

So many reasons to .....




Robert Motherwell: At five in the afternoon

Opens Saturday 12 July 2014

American born Motherwell (1915–1991) was a key figure in the development of Abstract Expressionism. While other artists associated with this style, like Jackson Pollock, considered the creation of 'painterly prints' impossible, Motherwell considered printmaking his 'mistress': a liberating activity characterised by spontaneous gestures and freshness of expression. He was able to embrace etching and later lithography, harnessing these techniques for his own creativity.

Print-making is my hobby, my mistress … When the edition is finally o.k., and goes to press and you see the first fresh print, it is with ecstasy. All struggle has vanished. There is a virgin birth, fresh and perfect, like Venus arising from the sea. Good prints, properly taken care of, never lose this virgin beauty, no more than medieval stained glass.

(image): Robert Motherwell, Bastos 1975, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Purchased 1975 © Dedalus Foundation, Inc./VAGA. Licensed by Viscopy


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While Motherwell was first and foremost an Abstract Expressionist, the emerging styles of Pop and Minimalism also informed his work. Like many Pop artists, Motherwell incorporated elements from everyday life, such as cigarette packets, into his compositions, as seen in the America-La France variations series.

Collage – a Surrealist inspired art practice adopted by Motherwell – became a 'joy' for the artist and he was one of the very few American artists to pursue this practice consistently during his lifetime.

Presenting 60 works spanning almost three decades, Robert Motherwell: At five in the afternoon is a unique opportunity for audiences to discover the artist's development as a printmaker.

View archival photography of Motherwell at work.


(banner image): Robert Motherwell, Burning sun 1985, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Purchased with the assistance of the Orde Poynton Fund, 2002 © Dedalus Foundation, Inc./VAGA. Licensed by Viscopy

Members news
+ events

Your membership, your say

We would like to thank all those Members who recently took the time to participate in our survey. The results are in and we are proud to say that we continue to deliver Australia's leading membership program with 82% of participants responding as satisfied members.

We have listened to your feedback and are activating your suggestions. Keep an eye out for new events popping up over the next few months that will take place on Friday evenings and Saturday's so that our valued interstate members have the opportunity to engage on more regular basis.

For those of you who are curious, we will shortly be posting on the NGA Members website an overview of the survey results.

Members Lounge
We would like to let our valued members know that the Members Lounge opening hours are now 10am – 2.30pm daily. For members visiting after 2.30pm please remember that the NGA café located on the lower ground is open until 4.30pm. A 10% discount on all food purchases is available to members in the café.

Members Book Club
Did you know that as a member you are invited to participate in the Members Book Club?
Facilitated by Claudia Hyles, Member's Book Club provides an opportunity to engage with current exhibitions, the gallery's collection and general themes around art and culture.

This season's book is Gertrude by Hassan Najmi. A special discount of 20% is available on this title at the National Gallery Shop.




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Masterpieces for the national collection

The National Gallery of Australia Foundation's 100 Works for 100 Years campaign has now come to a close. This fundraising initiative, launched in 2011 to celebrate Canberra in its centenary year, raised funds for the acquisition of 100 works of art, one for each year of Canberra's existence. The campaign was a great success and the Foundation was overwhelmed by the exceptional generosity and visionary benefaction displayed by donors from across Australia. The body of work acquired through the campaign is truly remarkable and will be a lasting tribute to the nation's capital.

When next visiting the Gallery keep an eye out for the 100 Works for 100 Years gold labels that indicate a work of art from this campaign.

The ongoing assistance of generous donors is essential to ensure the Gallery continues to develop a dynamic and comprehensive visual record of the art of Australia, our region and the world.


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Please support the future of the national art collection by donating towards our current campaign, the Masterpieces for the Nation Fund 2014 and the acquisition of Benjamin Duterrau's An infant of Van Diemen's Land1840.

For more information about the National Gallery of Australia Foundation, please contact Liz Wilson on +61 2 6240 6691 or at liz.wilson@nga.gov.au.


(image): Inge King, Celestial Rings IV,2012 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra proposed gift of The Ferris Family Foundation, 2014


ANG Flashback

In 1981, the then Australian National Gallery (ANG) announced it wanted to place "Australian art in the context of a world culture" and include "representative examples of works from the island and indigenous cultures of the Southern Hemisphere". Maori artworks acquired during this time illustrate a shift in collection policy in the first issue of the ANG News (now known as Artonview).

Some of the first works of art to enter our Polynesian collection were several beautiful and intricate carvings from Aotearoa, New Zealand. Thirty years later, these fine objects are part of the exhibition Atua: Sacred Gods from Polynesia, alongside works of art from museums all over the world.

One figure in particular, representing the Maori warrior chief Te Rauparaha, plays a central role in welcoming these beautiful Polynesian artworks to the National Gallery of Australia.

A few weeks before the exhibition was launched, Te Rauparaha was introduced to the Indigenous Australian spirit world, settling him within the gallery and giving him authority over the Polynesian newcomers. Te Rauparaha is now sitting by himself on a central and pivotal wall of the exhibition space, watching and welcoming each and every visitor to the Atua: Sacred Gods from Polynesia exhibition.
On show until 3 August 2014.

– Séverine Toyon-Pope
Intern Pacific Arts


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(image): Te Rauparaha, Maori warrior chief, a welcoming figure in the Atua exhibition space and a flashback to the first issue of the Gallery's ANG news featuring an article on Te Rauparaha and other Maori artworks

Ballets Russes
in Japan

Ballets Russes costumes travel to Japan for the first time

The Gallery's spectacular collection of Ballets Russes costumes is currently on show at the National Art Center, Tokyo.

This is the largest and most complex exhibition of the Gallery's famed Ballets Russes collection—one of the three biggest in the world—to ever leave Australia, and the first time these precious costumes have been seen in Japan.

A key part of the Gallery's 2014 international program, Ballets Russes: the art of costume is drawing large audiences in Tokyo, where it is one of the major events of the summer season.

First presented at the Gallery in 2010, the exhibition has been reassembled and tailored for a Japanese audience at the National Art Center, Tokyo, where the costumes are displayed with the drama and panache for which they are well known. Featured in the exhibition are 144 costumes and accessories—entirely from the Gallery's collection—from 33 productions of the Ballets Russes de Serge Diaghilev and its successor, Colonel de Basil's Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo.


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The display of costumes and original costume and set design drawings is supplemented with a number of related works selected from Japanese collections by the National Art Center, Tokyo.

Ballets Russes: the art of costume is on show in Tokyo until 1 September 2014.

– Dr Robert Bell, Senior Curator, Decorative Arts and Design


(image): Alexandre Benois and Léon Bakst (designers) Overdress from costume for Aurora c.1922, from the Ballets Russes' production of Le Mariage d'Aurore [Aurora's Wedding] National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 1973, © Alexandre Benois/ADAGP. Licensed by Viscopy

Around the country

Northern Territory
The Elaine and Jim Wolfensohn Gift: Blue Case: Technology | Alice Springs Library, Alice Springs NT,
7 July – 19 August 2014

Carol Jerems Photographic artist | QUT Art Museum, Brisbane QLD,
5 July – 7 September 2014

(image): Carol Jerrems Lyn and the Buick 1976 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Gift of Mrs Joy Jerrems 1981 © Ken Jerrems and the Estate of Lance Jerrems (on display in Carol Jerrems: Photographic artist)


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The Elaine and Jim Wolfensohn gift: The 1888 Melbourne Cup |
Mildura Art Gallery, Mildura VIC,
4 July – 2 September 2014

Western Australia
The Elaine and Jim Wolfensohn Gift: Red Case: Myths and rituals and Yellow Case: Form, Space and Design | DADAAA WA (Disability Arts), Fremantle WA, 17 July – 29 July 2014

Wanneroo Cultural Centre (TBC), Wanneroo WA, 30 July – 1 September 2014


Staycation package

Hotel Realm is currently inviting Canberra locals to have a 'staycation' at Hotel Realm. Hotel Realm is a 5 Star hotel on National Circuit Barton, located next to the Parliamentary Triangle in Canberra and is located within walking distance to the Gallery.



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The staycation package consists of overnight accommodation in a Realm Room, Parking, Wifi, Access to the Evo Health Club, pop up local food and wine tasting, a collection highlights tour at the National Gallery of Australia and a $100 Realm Precinct credit.

The staycation offer is valid on:
11–13 July and 18–20 July 2014.

Win movie
tickets to

Lunch Box

Thanks to Madman Entertainment, we have 15 double passes to give away to see The Lunchbox.

Ila, a neglected housewife, attempts to spice up her marriage by preparing a special lunch for her husband. When it is accidentally delivered to Saajan, a lonely widower on the brink of retirement, they exchange notes to each other to get to the bottom of the mistaken delivery.

Mumbai's famously efficient lunchbox delivery system transports thousands of meals every day from kitchens to offices. A Harvard University study found that just one in a million lunchboxes is ever delivered to the wrong address. This is the story of that one lunchbox.

In selected cinemas 10 July 2014.

For your chance to win a double pass to see this movie, tell us:

What's cooking in your kitchen - what culinary delight would you create for your loved one?


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Remember to include your name and postal address and email by Sunday 6 July 2014.

We will pick the tastiest ideas. Good luck!

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