DETAIL : Jeffrey SMART  born 1921 'Wallaroo' 1951  oil on plywood NGA 1959.17  � Jeffrey Smart
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The Second World War and beyond 1940–50

The 1940s were a dynamic and creative decade for Australian art, including landscape painting. The real threat of war and the isolation forced upon Australia caused tensions that were compatible with the new languages of modernism, especially Surrealism, Expressionism and reductive abstraction. The situation galvanised the mainly younger painters to express themselves with a new force. After more than one-and-a-half centuries of European settlement, artists were seeing beyond landscape’s superficial surface. They used the lessons of modernism to express deeper feelings about the land and its people during a time of national trauma.