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Grace Crowley
being modern

23 December 2006 – 6 May 2007

Introduction | Conservation | Crowley works in the National Gallery collection

Essay 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

 

Grace Crowley 'Painting' 1951, oil on composition board, Collection of the National Gallery of Australia, Purchased 1969 Grace Crowley 'Painting' 1951, oil on composition board, Collection of the National Gallery of Australia, Purchased 1969 enlarge

Progression and collaboration
abstraction

In retrospect, the semi-figurative work shown in Exhibition 1 marked the end of a period for Crowley rather than announcing a new one.By the following year Crowley and Balson, working together, had made the radical leap into total abstraction.Their paintings are among the first purely non-objective works painted in Australia and were some of the most avant-garde works of their time.Crowley’s geometric abstracts, painted between 1947 and 1953, are undoubtedly her greatest achievement, the climax of a long journey towards realising an ideal art based on the harmonious relationships of form and colour.Crowley emerges as one of Australia’s most sophisticated colourists, her paintings exploring adventurous combinations of pure colour held together in a dynamic equilibrium.While geometric abstraction was often accused of being cold and impersonal, Crowley’s works are brilliant gems of colour, pulsating with an inner energy and life.Painted with a directness and spontaneity, her late abstracts are highly individualistic expressions of Crowley’s search for a universal art based on irreducible principles.

In 1941 Balson held the first exhibition of abstract works in Australia at Anthony Hordern’s Gallery in Sydney, and Balson has been given the distinction of being the ‘father of abstraction’ in Australia.However, this does not properly consider Crowley’s key role in the origins of abstract art in Australia or acknowledge the parallel development of Crowley’s and Balson’s work.This omission is almost entirely due Crowley’s rewriting of history late in life.When asked by Thomas about her influence on Balson, she replied, ‘I did no more for him than provide a quiet corner where he could work out his own salvation … Balson owed me NOTHING! … Please keep me out of the picture as much as possible’1 and, when asked, would always insist that she owed ‘a tremendous lot to Ralph Balson for leading me into abstract painting’.2Crowley was sincere in her admiration of Balson as one of Australia’s greatest painters, and her consistent underplaying of herself in favour of Balson has at its root complex factors including the dynamics of their personal relationship.

The reality of the move by Crowley and Balson into abstraction is better understood as a collaborative process of exchange and mutually supportive effort.This was also Mary Alice Evatt’s assessment.She considered that Balson ‘developed his work largely under the guidance of Grace Crowley.However, it is only fair to say that as she influenced him, he influenced her work just as strongly’.3Frank Hinder, who worked closely alongside Crowley and Balson at this time, later considered that ‘Balson owes a great deal to her influence’.4

Crowley stated that her first abstract works were done around 1940.Her earliestrecorded abstract painting isConstruction c.19425,exhibited in the 1942 Society of Artists annual exhibition alongside two abstract paintings by Balson.A more definitive statement of her new direction was her participation in the 1944 Constructive paintings exhibition at Macquarie Galleries with Balson, Frank Hinder and Gerald Ryan in which she exhibited six works titled Linear rhythms 1–6 c.1944. Unfortunately none of Crowley’s early abstract paintings are known to have survived – the earliest dated works are from 1947 – and it is likely that she destroyed many.6

The recently discovered Composition study, most likely painted between 1940 and 1941, is an opportunity to bridge the gap between Crowley’s last semi-figurative works of 1939 and her fully realised abstracts from 1947.7 In response to questions about the main factors that prompted her move into total abstraction, Crowley listed her studies with Lhote, the cubist work of Gleizes, and Balson, ‘who finally was by far the strongest influence and help to me in the problem of abstract painting’.8 She also mentions a final series of correspondence lessons by Gleizes in 1940.In Exhibition 1 Crowley had pushed figuration as far as it could go towards abstraction and it was possibly to find a way out of this impasse that soon after the exhibition in late 1939 or early 1940, she wrote to Dangar for help.In response, Gleizes, through Dangar, made a ‘most generous offer to conduct a sort of correspondence school: we were to send our works to him he would criticize and advise and post them back’.9 Unfortunately, the German occupation of France brought an end to this plan and there were only a few such exchanges, Crowley recalling that ‘all communication between France and Australia ceased.Our dream collapsed’.10

These last exercises may have been the catalyst that provided Crowley with a way into creating a purely abstract painting.Composition study is strongly based on Gleizes’s compositional precepts and may even have been painted in direct response to his exercises.The three overlapping rectangles in the upper right are an example of Gleizes’s translation of planes, while the grey vertical rectangle underneath them is rotated to the left.Crowley was, of course, familiar with the principles of translation and rotation from her lessons with Gleizes in 1929, her diagram of overlapping planes – Cubist composition, study for a religious mural c.1929 (NGA) foreshadowing her abstract paintings of a decade later.

As art historian Bruce Adams has observed, a number of Balson’s earliest abstract paintings relate closely to the vertical formats and centralised compositions of his cubist portraiture as though he ‘atomized the former figurative elements into autonomous colour shapes’.11 There is a similar correspondence between Composition study and Crowley’s earlier Portrait of Gwen Ridley – both works share the device of an arch and are composed of a series of circles and rectangles.

Grace Crowley 'Painting' 1951, oil on composition board, Collection of the National Gallery of Australia, Purchased 1969 Grace Crowley 'Abstract painting' 1947, oil on composition board, 60.0 x 83.3 cm, Collection of the National Gallery of Australia enlarge

Composition study is significant in that it marks a new approach by Crowley to the problem of creating an abstract picture.In contrast to Crowley’s semi-abstract portraits of the late 1930s, such as Woman (Annunciation), in which the anatomical figure was simplified and abstracted into geometric shapes, Composition study represents her first known attempt to construct an abstract painting from geometric and entirely non-representational elements, although the disposition of elements may have been loosely based on an earlier composition.

It is also instructive to compare her Composition study with one of Balson’s earliest abstract paintings, Constructive painting1941.The two works share the same palette of yellows, greys, blues, reds and black; the same flatness and opacity of colour; and the same geometric elements of circles and rotated and translated rectangular planes.Comparison shows how closely the two artists were working at this very early stage of abstraction.Balson’s painting, along with many other of his early works, was signed by Crowley on his behalf – Crowley’s elegant script being considered superior to Balson’s for this purpose.12

As much as Gleizes’s direct example provided a path into abstraction for Crowley and Balson, certainly other important influences came to them through books and periodicals.Crowley recalled, ‘Balson and I became more and more interested in abstract art and we would read books together and talk about them, and gradually we began to do them’.13
By the early 1940s Crowley and Balson had access to a number of books and journals that included reproductions and discussion of abstract art – almost certainly a 1934 edition of Herbert Read’s Art now, a gift from Crowley to Balson, a 1936 edition of Cubism and abstract art by Alfred Barr and a 1939 edition of The new vision by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy.14 According to Adams, by 1938 Balson (and by extension Crowley) had access to Frank Hinder’s copy of Hilla Rebay’s 1937 catalogue to the Solomon R Guggenheim collection of non-objective paintings and the 1937 anthology Circle: International survey of constructive art, which included Piet Mondrian’s essay ‘Plastic art and pure plastic art’ in which he argued for an art based on neutral constructive elements.15 Crowley was clearly looking to many sources in her early experiments in abstraction, and in Composition study the motif of the red semicircle with black rectangle has been borrowed directly from the fundamental geometric grammar of the Russian suprematist movement.

There is a great leap from the clumsy Composition study to Crowley’s elegant abstracts from 1947 that mark the beginning of her mature abstract phase.Abstract drawing 1947 is one of Crowley’s most minimal works.Unlike her earlier tightly controlled compositions, the black and white lines have a decidedly haphazard quality and the nebulous and softly speckled shapes float unanchored on the unpainted background.It is a work completely without an underlying geometric structure and, as such, is a virtual anomaly in Crowley’s oeuvre, as is her exploration of texture in the spattering of the gouache.The linear elements in Abstractpainting 1947 (private collection) and Abstractpainting 1947 (NGA) are more considered, unifying and bringing circular movement to the composition.In Abstractpainting (private collection) Crowley experiments with the illusion of transparency through changes in tone and colour, creating an impression of two-dimensional shapes in front of and behind each other, rotating around a central axis.

These early abstracts were composed in a completely different manner to her previous works, which were carefully constructed through a series of preliminary drawings.Instead, Crowley experimented with coloured papers and pieces of ribbon or string to work out the composition, creating a kind of temporary collage as the basis of the painting.At the painting stage Crowley would make only minor changes, correcting a contour or occasionally changing colours.Mary Alice Evatt recalled: ‘For many years [Crowley and Balson] planned their paintings helped by pieces of coloured paper and even slivers of string on paper.But when the design was planned the picture was painted with passion and inspiration that rarely faltered.’16 Whether Crowley was also allowing an element of chance to enter into these works is unclear.In 1975 she claimed that Abstract painting c.1950(Cruthers Collection) was an early experiment in dropping objects such as leaves, books and ribbons onto the floor and painting them from above.17  Of all Crowley’s abstracts, Composition – movement 1951 most closely resembles collage: the flat red, black, grey and yellow forms resembling loosely torn strips of coloured paper laid on a green field.The intensity of the vibrating colours is reminiscent of Matisse’s late gouache papiers-découpés and similarly Crowley used gouache painted on green paper to give the work a flat and even surface.Composition – movement is one of the liveliest of Crowley’s abstracts, the brightly coloured shapes dancing across the surface of the painting yet held in a dynamic balance.

From around 1950 Crowley returned to more structured compositions and the use of geometric and ‘hard-edge’ elements.Painting 1950 (NGV) is her most severely geometrical painting, employing a vocabulary of circles and triangles indicated both by areas of colour and contour.The shift in tonality between the large green circle on the left and the surrounding area is extraordinary, as though this one area of the composition has been illuminated by a strong light source that allows us to see through the layers of the work.Crowley considered this to be one of her most mature abstracts and was among her favourite works.

In both Abstractpainting 1950 (private collection, Sydney) and Abstract 1953 (AGNSW) Crowley uses an overlay of jagged lines to generate movement across the composition.In Abstract painting 1950(private collection, Sydney) this is counterpointed by the inclusion of brightly coloured rectangular shapes punctuating the composition and emphasising the picture plane.Abstract painting 1952 (NGV) is one of Crowley’s most minimal compositions, consisting of a fractured grid of rectangular planes.The apparent simplicity of this work masks Crowley’s subtle achievement of animating her composition, as each element appears to be continually in motion, restlessly jostling up against the others or slipping in front of or behind the next.In these works, based on a loose grid, her abstract work converges most closely with that of Balson.In Abstract painting 1952 (NGV) and Abstract painting1953 (AGSA) Crowley fully explores the qualities of transparency and luminosity of the coloured planes to suggest space, movement and light.

Abstract painting 1953 (AGSA) is one of Crowley’s most dynamic compositions, with two dramatic black diagonals dissecting the work.Underneath lies a sombre black rectangle in stark contrast with the delicate luminosity of the transparent green and orange planes that lie over it.It is a remarkable achievement in the balancing of opposing forces and has an intensity and tension unmatched in her earlier works.

Grace Crowley 'Composition – movement' 1951, stencilled and hand-painted gouache on green paper, Collection of the National Gallery of Australia, Purchased 1993 Grace Crowley 'Composition – movement' 1951, stencilled and hand-painted gouache on green paper, Collection of the National Gallery of Australia, Purchased 1993 enlarge

The 1940s and early 1950s were the most productive period in Crowley’s life.Although she did not hold a solo exhibition, between 1944 and 1954 she exhibited regularly with the Society of Artists and the Contemporary Art Society, which she joined in 1947.She participated in important group exhibitions of abstract art, including six paintings in the Abstract paintings drawings sculpture constructionsexhibitionat the David Jones’ Art Gallery in 1948, three paintings in the Contemporary Art Society – eleventh annual interstate exhibition in 1949 and three works in Abstract compositions / Paintings / Sculpture at the Macquarie Galleries in 1951.

Yet Crowley’s (and Balson’s) abstract paintings were poorly received in an environment that remained unreceptive and even antagonistic to abstraction throughout the 1940s and into the 1950s.Crowley recalled that she and Balson worked in almost complete obscurity: ‘Balson would laugh when in group exhibitions we were hung over or almost behind a door, and say we are the most ‘Extinguished Artists’ in Australia!’18  The overwhelming reaction to their style of geometric abstraction was that it was formulaic and sterile in contrast to the representational romantic style associated with such artists as William Dobell and Jean Bellete.Art historian and critic Bernard Smith was among the most prominent critics of abstraction, writing as early as 1944 that:

The failure of Constructivism and Abstract art is not surprising.The endeavour to create an impersonal and disinterested art has led the Constructivists into the same technical cul-de-sac as the Neo impressionists who reduced painting to an analysis of the colour spectrum.To reduce a matter of art completely to the terms of a science is to rob it of the creative power upon which genuine art is based.19

Crowley’s and Balson’s response was to remain detached from the Sydney art world and maintain a close circle of friends, including the Hinders, who shared their artistic aims.In 1948 Crowley briefly returned to teaching, taking a new weekly class in abstract art at the East Sydney Technical College before resigning after several months (Balson was appointed in her place).Among her students was Tony Tuckson, who considered that Crowley and Balson were his most influential teachers.20

 In 1951 they befriended the much younger sculptor Robert Klippel on his return from England and France, and Balson invited Klippel to share with him his 1952 solo exhibition at Macquarie Galleries.Klippel acknowledged the importance of their support, later writing that they ‘both gave me the confidence to push more deeply into my work – and that serious art was truly significant’.21 There are strong correspondences between the brightly coloured curved and elliptical forms of Klippel’s No.59 of 1952 and Crowley’s Composition – movement of 1951, which Klippel had seen in the Abstract compositions /  Paintings / Sculpture exhibition.22

The year 1951 marked the death of Dangar.After the liberation of France in 1944 Crowley and Dangar resumed their correspondence – Crowley also sent food, clothes and money.However, once Crowley had made the move into abstraction, she no longer looked to Gleizes’s example.She certainly did not share the deepening religious convictions of Gleizes and Dangar or their quest for the renewal of religious painting, and Dangar did not share Crowley’s enthusiasm for Mondrian.Yet Dangar continued to keep Crowley connected to what was happening in Paris, writing to her in 1946 of the newly formed Salon des Réalités Nouvelles for non-representational art and asking whether Crowley wanted to be nominated as a member and exhibit with them.23

In late 1952 Crowley began to correspond with Mary Webb, an Australian artist in Paris.Webb had been living in Paris since 1949 and was exhibiting abstract works in important Parisian galleries.To some extent, Webb was to take the place of Dangar as Crowley’s conduit to the latest developments in art in France, writing to Crowley in 1955, ‘There is a big wave of expressionist abstract work going on here lately, usually the kind they call ‘informel’ no geometry, no form in line, no definite forms, no construction.’24 Like Dangar, she urged Crowley and Balson to send work to Paris to be to be exhibited in the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles.25 Through Webb, Crowley’s work (together with Balson’s and Hinder’s) became known to the influential writer and art critic Michel Seuphor, co-founder of the abstract group Cercle et Carréin the 1930sand friend and biographer of Mondrian.26 All four painters were subsequently included in Seuphor’s Dictionary of abstract painting, published in 1957, and were invited to participate in the major survey exhibition 50 ans d´art abstrait at the Galerie Creuzein Paris, timed to coincide with the launch of the dictionary.Crowley and Balson sent over one painting each; however, due to a problem with customs their works were held up at the docks in France and never made it to the exhibition.It is ironic that at a time when Crowley’s work was barely known in Australia, in Seuphor’s influential dictionaryshe was accorded a place among her peers within the international context of postwar abstraction.

Grace Crowley 'Composition – movement' 1951, stencilled and hand-painted gouache on green paper, Collection of the National Gallery of Australia, Purchased 1993 Grace Crowley 'Abstract painting' 1952, oil on composition board, National Gallery of Victoria, Bequest of Grace Crowley 1979 enlarge

In 1954, at the age of sixty-four, Crowley reorganised her life in anticipation of Balson’s impending retirement.She purchased a house, High Hill, at Mittagong, although she kept her studio in George Street as a convenient base in the city.The following year a garage in the garden was converted into a studio for Balson and he subsequently divided his time between Mittagong and Sydney.The move to Mittagong brought about a dramatic decline in Crowley’s output as she committed her time to maintaining the house and garden, and to Balson: ‘I wanted to paint but the garden and the care of the whole place seemed to take up my time but it was wonderful to have this complete isolation from the world as it were and be surrounded by [Balson’s] wonderful paintings.’27 In contrast, this was to be the beginning of Balson’s most productive phase.Balson had retired from his work as a house-painter in 1955 and for the first time in his life was able to devote himself entirely to his painting.During the 1950s Balson and Crowley became aware of the new gestural directions in abstraction and, in response, Balson began work on his series of Non-Objective Paintings in 1955 in which dabs of paint were applied evenly across the entire painting, resulting in a dense mesh of stippled colour.

Although in her letters Webb urged Crowley to consider her own work and continue painting, Crowley painted very little during these years and rarely exhibited new work after 1954.However, the works that she did after her move to Mittagong indicate that Crowley had followed Balson’s direction into a looser, more gestural style of abstraction.In the only two known paintings of this 1955–59 period, Crowley had completely abandoned geometric forms, instead creating an all-over field of gestural brushwork.28 For the first time, Crowley experimented with such a dramatic application of paint, and the emphasis of these works is no longer colour but texture, the paint having its own materiality and presence.

In 1960 Crowley and Balson travelled overseas for a year, visiting galleries in England, France and America.At the age of seventy, Balson was making his first trip overseas since his arrival in Australia as a young man in 1913, and it was Crowley’s first since 1929.They sought out some of the recent forms of contemporary painting and saw exhibitions of minimal and hard-edged painting, as well as the work of the European tachists.29 In Paris they briefly met Seuphor and arranged an exhibition of Balson’s work at the Galerie Creuze for later in the year.For three months from June 1960 Crowley and Balson lived in the small village of Crediton in Devon, where Balson began painting for his exhibition in Paris.

During this short stay in Devon Crowley began her last series of paintings.In her notes Crowley recorded that at Crediton ‘Balson began his series of poured paintings in the manner of Pollock’ and, in the same way that their art had moved in tandem for nearly twenty-five years, Crowley also began to pour paint.By the end of their time there Crowley recalled that ‘Balson had 27 framed paintings; Crowley 3 and additional 5 unframed’.30 Only one of these paintings is known to have survived.31 Painting1960 is a radical progression from her geometric abstracts of the mid 1950s and shows that Crowley was determined to continue to push her work in new directions to the very end.In PaintingCrowley experimented with pouring or trailing paint onto a board on the floor, allowing a new fluidity and linearity in her work.However, unlike the exuberance and rhythmic energy of Pollock’s works, Paintingis essentially static, the dense web of red, yellow and blue paint concentrated at the centre of the composition over a darker mass that was painted with a brush.On her return to Australia in 1961, Crowley exhibited two of these ‘pour’ paintings at Farmers Gallery in Sydney in her last exhibition of new work.

One of Crowley’s last works is her enigmatic drawing Self portrait with garden rake 1962.After two decades of total abstraction, Crowley returned to the world of appearances.Drawn in her fractured cubist style of the 1930s, Crowley presents herself front on firmly holding an upright rake.There is something in the formality of Crowley’s pose that recalls Grant Wood’s famous double-portrait American Gothic 1930.Yet this is a clue that there is perhaps something missing in the work and in the position of the rake next to Crowley, and in the mirroring of her head with the head of the rake, is a suggestion of a second figure.Is it possible that Balson, the great abstractionist and Crowley’s painting partner of the previous twenty-five years, was himself abstracted into the geometry of the radiating tines of the rake? Is it also possible that in the title of the work there is a sly pun on the meaning of rake?

In August 1964 Crowley and Balson were making plans for a second overseas trip when Balson died unexpectedly.
His death marked the end of Crowley’s life as a practising artist.While Crowley was seventy-four years old, and her advancing years would have been a factor in her retirement from painting, Balson’s death affected her deeply and brought to an end a significant part of her creative life – an intimate and collaborative relationship with another artist.Crowley’s friendships with Dangar, Fizelle and most significantly Balson were the pattern of her life, and her art was created through the exchange of ideas and support within these relationships.As she recalled in a 1964 interview about Balson, ‘we built on each other’.32

 

Epilogue

Grace Crowley 'Painting' 1960, synthetic polymer on hardboard, Private collection Grace Crowley 'Painting' 1960, synthetic polymer on hardboard, Private collection enlarge

Thomas considers that in her later years Crowley regarded her support of Balson as the most important thing she could have done.33 In 1964 Crowley suggested to the Art Gallery of New South Wales that they mount a retrospective exhibition of his work – a suggestion that was not taken up but instead resulted in the group exhibition Balson Crowley Fizelle Hinder1966.This exhibition was the first major showing in a public gallery of Crowley’s work and included seventeen works from her French period to her most recent gestural abstracts.It also brought her work to wider attention for the first time.

In December 1971 Crowley was forced by the Rocks Redevelopment Authority to leave her studio at 227 George Street.In 1967 Crowley had purchased an apartment in a block of flats overlooking Manly Cove.Unfortunately, moving from the studio into a small apartment prompted a final round of destruction of her paintings, Crowley believing that ‘you want to be known by your best work’.34

During the 1970s, already well into her eighties, Crowley found herself approached by art historians and curators eager for information about herself and the artists she had known: ‘The last two years have (for me) been very active with unexpected (for me) publicity which somehow seems to have been thrust upon one – extremely pleasant of course.’35 She was persuaded by Janine Burke to record her student years for inclusion in the catalogue accompanying the pioneering exhibition Australian women artists and assisted Adams with his research on Balson.She also maintained an active interest in art, visiting the 1975 Modern masters exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales four times and wryly noting of the queues ‘it just goes to show how public opinion alters – if you wait long enough’.36

In 1975 Thomas organised the first retrospective exhibition of her work for the Art Gallery of New South Wales.Project 4: Grace Crowley opened on 10 May 1975, only a few days before Crowley’seighty-fifth birthday.According to Thomas, Crowley was ‘appalled, and thrilled’37, writing that ‘to me that little exhibition seemed just a beginning and to see it hurt as much as the pleasure it gave’.38

On 21 April 1979, after a short illness, Crowley died at her home in Manly.Crowley was never a prolific painter and destroyed many of her own works; her remaining paintings probably number no more than fifty.Her place in Australian art is, however, much greater than the smallness of her oeuvre.

 

1 Grace Crowley, draft letter to Daniel Thomas, 18 December 1965, Grace Crowley Papers, AGNSW Research Library and Archive, MS 1980.1.

2 Grace Crowley, Grace Crowley, Archival art series, Smart St Films, Melbourne: Australian Film Institute, 1975.

3 Evatt, p.315.

4 Frank Hinder, annotated diary of 1938, Frank Hinder papers, AGNSW Library and Research Archive.I am grateful to ADS Donaldson for bringing this statement to my attention.

5 The present whereabouts of this painting is unknown.

6 An undated early abstract with stylistic similarities to the 1947 abstracts in which Crowley used metallic paints (as had Balson’s early abstracts) is in a private collection.Several other early works are known through photographs in the Grace Crowley Papers, AGNSW Research Library and Archive, MS 1980.1.

7 In preparation for the Grace Crowley: being modern exhibition, Composition study c.1947 was discovered underneath a layer of paint on the back of a later work, Abstract painting 1947 (NGA).For further discussion of this work, see Kim Brunoro, ‘Discovering a Grace Crowley painting’, Artonview, summer, 2006, pp.28–9.

8 Grace Crowley, undated draft letter to Peter Pinson, 1979, Grace Crowley Papers, AGNSW Research Library and Archive, MS 1980.1.

9 Grace Crowley, undated draft letter to Peter Pinson, 1979, Grace Crowley Papers, AGNSW Research Library and Archive, MS 1980.1.

10 Grace Crowley, undated draft letter to Peter Pinson, 1979, Grace Crowley Papers, AGNSW Research Library and Archive, MS 1980.1.

11 Bruce Adams, Ralph Balson: a retrospective, exhibition catalogue, Melbourne: Heide Park and Art Gallery, 1989, p.24.

12 Elena Taylor, conversation with William Balson, the artist’s son, 21 April 2006.

13 Grace Crowley, Grace Crowley, Archival art series, Smart St Films, Melbourne: Australian Film Institute, 1975.

14 The copy of Read’s book from the Crowley estate is in the AGNSW Research Library and Archive, inscribed ‘To Mr Balson / Compliments from / Grace Crowley’ (inside front cover) and ‘April 7 1939’ (inside rear cover).Barr’s book is inscribed with the monogram ‘G.A.C’.Moholy-Nagy’s book is inscribed ‘Crowley – Balson 1941’.

15 Adams, 1989, p.50.

16 Evatt, p.315.

17 Scheding Berry Fine Art catalogue, Sydney, December 1985.

18 Grace Crowley Papers, handwritten biographical notes, Grace Crowley Papers, c.1975, AGNSW Research Library and Archive, MS 1980.1.

19 Bernard Smith, Place, taste and tradition: a study of Australian art since 1788, 2nd edn, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1979, p.202.

20 I am grateful to ADS Donaldson for bringing this to my attention.

21 Robert Klippel, letter to Grace Crowley, 29 October 1975, Grace Crowley Papers, AGNSW Research Library and Archive, MS 1980.1.

22 Crowley, Balson and Klippel first met at this exhibition in which they all participated.Deborah Edwards, Robert Klippel, AGNSW, 2003, p.242.

23 Dangar, 12 August 1946, in Topliss, p.267.

24 Mary Webb, letter to Grace Crowley, 6 December 1955, Grace Crowley Papers, AGNSW Research Library and Archive, MS 1980.1.

25 Mary Webb, letter to Grace Crowley, 23 June 1955, Grace Crowley Papers, AGNSW Research Library and Archive, MS 1980.1.

26 ADS Donaldson in Linda Michael, 21st century modern: 2006 Adelaide biennial of Australian art, AGSA, Adelaide, 2006, p.28.I am indebted to Donaldson for access to his Chronology of Australian abstract painting and for sharing his research on Mary Webb.

27 Grace Crowley, Grace Crowley, Archival art series, Smart St Films, Melbourne: Australian Film Institute, 1975.

28 Painting 1958 and (Painting) c.1958 are in a private collection, Melbourne.

29 Adams, 1989, p.35.

30 Grace Crowley, handwritten biographical notes, Grace Crowley Papers, c.1975, AGNSW Research Library and Archive, MS 1980.1.

31 Unfortunately, in 1971, prompted by having to vacate her George Street studio, Crowley destroyed many of her works and none of these late works were included in the Art Gallery of New South Wales retrospective in 1975.

32 Grace Crowley, interview by Hazel de Berg, 1966, Hazel de Berg tapes and transcripts, Canberra: National Library of Australia.

33 Elena Taylor, conversation with Daniel Thomas, 3 April 2006.

34 Lenore Nicklin, ‘Grace Crowley looks back at a lifetime of art’, Sydney Morning Herald, 10 May 1975, p.11.

35 Grace Crowley, draft letter to Ron Radford, 1974, Grace Crowley Papers, AGNSW Research Library and Archive, MS 1980.1.

36 Grace Crowley, draft letter to Candace Bruce, 19 March 1978, Grace Crowley Papers, AGNSW Research Library and Archive, MS 1980.1.

37 Daniel Thomas, ‘Crowley, Grace Adela Williams (1890–1979)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol.13, Melbourne University Press, 1993, pp.539–40.

38 Grace Crowley, draft letter to Daniel Thomas, 23 August 1975, Grace Crowley Papers, AGNSW Research Library and Archive, MS 1980.1.