Australian art

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Robert Dowling: Tasmanian son of Empire

Robert Dowling (1827–1886) holds a special place in the history of Australian art. He was the first locally produced artist in Australia. He specialised in portraiture, but also painted popular genre subjects, literary and religious themes, the most substantial Orientalist images by any Australian artist of the time, as well as images of the Australian Aborigines. He was Australia’s major portrait and figure painter from the late colonial period 1850–85.

image: Robert Dowling after Thomas Bock Jack, of Cape Grim, Van Diemen's Land 1853–54 or 1854–56 Robert Dowling after Thomas Bock Jack, of Cape Grim, Van Diemen's Land   1853–54 or 1854–56 The British Museum, London, gift of Admiral Sir Leopold McClintock's family 1924

Misty moderns: Australian Tonalists 1910–1950

Misty moderns travels to the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, from the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.

It is the first major exhibition to tell the story of Australian Tonalism, a movement championed by the influential and often controversial painter Max Meldrum in the first half of the twentieth century. The exhibition is brought together from collections around Australia and includes approximately 80 works of art by Meldrum and his followers.

Picture my world

Picture my world is a collaborative project involving the National Gallery of Australia and early childhood educational centres in the Canberra region. Schools have responded to the topic of home or sense of place in a variety of ways. Each teacher was given a set of four quality photographic reproductions of works of art from the Home at last exhibition to use as a stimulus for discussion and creative responses in the classroom.

Home at last

Designed especially for children, Home at last encourages children to think about ideas of the home through artworks about home life and house objects from different times, places and cultures

Douglas Annand: the art of life

Douglas Annand was a graphic desiger, watercolourist, textile designer, muralist and sculptor of enormous ability and great style who was quite appropriatly described as 'the most brilliant and versatile eclectic in this country'. The exhibition Douglas Annand: the art of life is the first to recognise his enormous contribution to the development of modernism in Australia.

Australian Surrealism: The Agapitos/Wilson collection

While Surrealism was not conceived as an artistic movement, its influence was to be felt most strongly in the visual arts, including painting, sculpture, photography and film. Surrealism was officially born in Paris in 1924 with the publication of French poet and intellectual André Breton’s Manifesto of Surrealism.

Painting forever: Tony Tuckson

The art of Tony Tuckson is one of Australia’s great treasures. A private artist for both personal and ethical reasons, he produced some of the best expressionist art ever made here. He was also an innovative and committed senior arts administrator for over 20 years, responsible for presenting to the Australian public some of the earliest and most comprehensive exhibitions of Australian Aboriginal art and Melanesian art.

Ocean to Outback: Australian landscape painting 1850 – 1950

To mark the 25th anniversary of the National Gallery of Australia, an exhibition of treasured works from the National Collection. Ocean to Outback: Australian Landscape Painting 1850–1950 has been curated by National Gallery Director, Ron Radford AM and celebrates the rich history of landscape painting in Australia.

Place made: Australian print workshop

Established in 1981 as the Victorian Print Workshop, the Australian Print Workshop (APW) has attracted many of Australia’s leading artists on the basis of its reputation for collaborating with artists to produce printed images and its excellent professional support facilities. The Gallery has recently acquired the APW’s Archive 2 of workshop proofs. A hundred prints from some fifty major artists who have worked with the APW since its inception have been selected from this major archive for Place made: Australian Print Workshop.

Grace Cossington Smith: a retrospective exhibition

This exhibition is a tribute to Grace Cossington Smith, one of Australia's most important and paradoxical artists; an artist who lived a relatively quiet, circumscribed life who was also the creator of iconic images and one of the most brilliant pioneering modernists of her generation.

Home sweet home: works from the Peter Fay collection

Dr Deborah Hart, Senior Curator of Australian Paintings and Sculpture at the National Gallery of Australia, interviewed Peter Fay about a selection of works from his collection represented in Home sweet home. Images of the works, along with audio excerpts from the interview and transcriptions are all available.

Imants Tillers: one world many visions

The first major survey of Imants Tillers’ paintings in Australia that includes his most recent and significant large-scale works. Tillers has been identified as a quintessential postmodern artist in his use of appropriation and quotation and the works in this exhibition convey the range, scope, audacity and technical accomplishment of the artist’s enterprise that has emerged in his remarkable canvasboard system.

Making pictures

Making pictures recreates an artist’s studio from 100 years ago – complete with paintings, drawings, an original easel, smock and paintbox and several artists’ sketchbooks. In this exhibition you can see works of art by Australian artists George Lambert , Hugh Ramsay , Thea Proctor and Rupert Bunny . These artists left Australia to live, study and work in Europe during the Edwardian era, around 1900-1914. They all had a traditional artistic training, learning drawing skills as a foundation for making pictures. Like many artists they found inspiration in the works of their peers and in the great works of art shown in museums of London and Paris. They also found inspiration in the excitement of modern life, in the theatre and fashion of the day.

New worlds from old: 19th Century Australian and American landscapes

Examining two great traditions of landscape painting of the 19th century, those of Australia and America, the exhibition will explore how artists steeped in 'old world' traditions reacted when confronted by landscapes of the 'new world'

George W Lambert Retrospective: heroes & icons

George Lambert (1873–1930) was one of Australia’s most brilliant, witty and influential artists. The exhibition George Lambert retrospective: heroes and icons is the most comprehensive showing of Lambert’s work for over fifty years. It will present the diverse range of Lambert’s work from his Australian bush subjects to his Edwardian portraits and figure groups, from his sparkling oil sketches to his major battle paintings and large sculpture. It will show the full breadth of Lambert’s approaches to image making and the variety of his handling of pencil, pen and paint. It will demonstrate his sure draughtsmanship and the seductive glamour and sensual appeal of his paint surfaces.

Richard Later: a retrospective

In 2008, the National Gallery of Australia recognises and celebrates the work of Richard Larter, one of Australia’s most engaging and lively artists. The exhibition, which covers his artistic practice from the late 1950s through to the present, gives viewers the opportunity to engage with a spectrum of works that are at times provocative and dazzling, and at other times evocative and lyrical – but never dull.

Federation: Australian art & society

This website provides access to information relating to more than 260 works exhibited in Federation. As is the case for the exhibition, works can be viewed within 7 themes. These themes offer a convenient format for browsing, however the website also provides a search tool for exploring the works in a more focused manner.


Grace Crowley: being modern

Grace Crowley: being modern is a retrospective exhibition of paintings and drawings by one of Australia’s most influential modern artists. It traces her remarkable artistic journey from traditional landscapes to avant-garde experimentation and pure abstraction.

Landscapes in sets and series

This exhibition focuses on prints produced by Australian artists from 1960 to the present. As well as presenting prints of the Australian landscape it represents the work of two artists who have often found their subject matter in foreign landscapes. Janet Dawson produced poetic lithographs of the Italian landscape, where she worked in the late 1950s. For the 'new Australian' migrant Salvatore Zofrea, the Italian landscape is the source of formative memories.

the language of craft

This exhibition is a celebration of the recent work of eighty-five Australian and international artists working in the area of studio craft. All are forging new expressions within the fields of glass, ceramics, textiles, wood and metalwork, and through a variety of materials in furniture, jewellery and sculpture.

The Elaine and
Jim Wolfensohn gift

The Elaine and Jim Wolfensohn gift enables people from all around Australia to discover and handle treasured objects. Made possible by Jim Wolfensohn, the Australian-born former president of the World Bank, the gift comprises three art-filled suitcases and The 1888 Melbourne Cup, touring to schools, libraries, community centres, regional galleries and nursing homes. The idea of the suitcase kits is to give to people a chance to handle and appreciate original works of art by contemporary artists as well as works from other cultures and times.

The good, the great & the gifted: camera portraits by Yousuf Karsh and Athol Shmith

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as the middle-classes expanded in size and affluence, the mass circulation of portrait photographs of public figures and celebrities became an industry. Photographers with talent, technical aptitude, business sense and charming manners found they could become not only specially appointed Court photographers but also the darlings of High Society. Photography defined and created the very notion of celebrity by catering to the public fascination with images of the stars of the stage, and later, the cinema. Though separated across the globe and in their relative international fame, both Yousuf Karsh (1908–2002) of Ottawa and Athol Shmith (1914–1990) of Melbourne are 20th-century examples of portrait photographers who continued and excelled in the field of providing the public with glorified and glamorised portraits of public figures.

Sculpture garden

Illustrating the development of sculpture during the modern period in Australia and overseas, the Gallery's Sculpture garden holds over 25 works ranging from the human scale to the monumental.

National Sculpture Prize and exhibition 2005 and 2003

nga.gov.au/SculpturePrize05 |  nga.gov.au/SculpturePrize03
The three Prizes – held in 2001, 2003 and 2005 – have included an extra-ordinary range of works by a total of 83 artists from around Australia. The Prize has introduced emerging artists to a national audience and has exhibited their works alongside those of Australia’s leading sculptors.


spatial is the National Gallery of Australia’s online environment for networked art.

Colin McCahon: A National Gallery of Australia focus exhibition

As part of its 25th-anniversary year, the National Gallery of Australia is proud to be touring a focus exhibition that celebrates the work of one of the most widely acclaimed Aotearoa New Zealand artists, Colin McCahon.
The exhibition brings together paintings and works on paper that reflect key concerns in McCahon’s art from 1950 through to the early 1980s. While drawn predominantly from the National Gallery of Australia’s collection, it features one of McCahon’s last paintings, I applied my mind 1980–82, which has been generously lent to the exhibition.

Lost in space

The children's exhibition Lost in Space is a world of cosmic shapes, flying cars, martians, twinkling stars, astronauts, space monsters, sparkling comets, lunar landscapes and the infinite blackness of space. Artists take up their paint, pencils, paper, prints, film, camera, metal and clay to give shape to their vision of space.