‘Art is a cultural expression; a history of a people; a statement through a series of life experiences of self-definition; a recounting of an untold story; the bringing to light of a truth of history — a statement possibly unable to be made in any other way.’
This major display, drawn from the collection, is inspired by the National Gallery’s founding history. The Gallery’s vision was to be a ‘centre of art for the whole world’. Our collection reflects this ambition, drawing together some of the greatest achievements of artists from Australia, Asia, the Pacific, the Americas and Europe.
Worldwide is structured around pivotal works in the collection, at the heart of which is The Aboriginal Memorial of 200 dupun (hollow log coffins) from 1987–1988. One of the most significant installations in Australian art history, together these dupun stand as a memorial to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives lost to colonial and ongoing conflict and trauma in Australia from 1788–1988.
Working across time, place and media, the display charts aspects of modern art, the cultural traditions of Australia, Asia and the Pacific, the centrality of First Nations art to understanding place, and the radical experimentation of each era. It celebrates the diversity of art and cultures across the globe and shows how fundamental ideas such as landscape, abstraction, memory, the body and the power of art itself continue to resonate, demonstrating the interconnectedness of culture and our experience of the world.