The environment was major contributing factor to the evolution of Australian art in the 20th century. The elemental landscape; isolation and distance, the imposition of the mythical and the visionary on the landscape, national identity (the universal and the regional) and the demise of Arcadia and romantic idealism interweave magnificently to present the impact of surroundings on the artwork of such a then delicate nation. In retrospect it was the surroundings/climate/atmosphere/feeling and people of our unique nation that undoubtedly shape what we know as “Australian art” sure there are direct influences from other cultures, but while knowing this we have to understand that a perfect combination of outside cultures is the main ingredient in the recipe of our own culture.
Our flirting with the idea of rural Australia as a sun-drenched pastoral arcadia (a Heidelberg school vision) was extremely deviated from with Russel Drysdale’s compelling early painting Sunday evening (pictured below).
Completed in 1941, this work is of decisive significance in the growth of Drysdale’s sole vision. With an inland theme imagery had come to represent for Australians the fundamental uniqueness of our land and people.
In its place, in a work of art that exposed a promising individual manner, and signalled the upcoming meaning of the body to his interpretation of Australia, Drysdale affianced in an evocation of outlandish human endurance amidst the remoteness and destitution of the interior. Sunday evening, with other paintings of 1941 on similar themes, indicated Drysdale’s future function in determining a different national identity based on the uniqueness of Australian inland life.
Response Essay “Art, Culture, & Cuisine”Although another tough piece to digest, “Art, Culture, & Cuisine,” by Phyllis Pray Bober; emitted intermittent flashbacks of Professor McAndrew - as she revealed to us her reasoning to base this class upon food.It had not occurred to me that there is an infinite number ways to use and observe food, in relation to art and literature. Personally I have ...
This was without a doubt one of the works that helped change the way Australians viewed themselves and their country. The barren background to show despair and isolation complements the gaunt, elongated figures.
To many artists the search for national identity has been a stimulating force, for others it has represented a blunt parochialism, betraying the municipal, logical complexity of Australia as a Westernised civilization. The apparent remoteness of Australia as a Western society in the southern hemisphere, actually outlying and detached from the main currents of Western intellectual thought in United States or Europe, certainly belongs more to the realm of myth than fact. Even in the 19th century, when the onset of the mail on arriving ships was enthusiastically expected by Australia’s white population, the flood of books, art reproductions, journals, and so on kept the local intelligentsia remarkably well informed of current developments abroad.
The landscape tradition dominated the art of the period as the landscape itself came to represent the ideals of freedom and egalitarianism that Australians had struggled for in the war. An ahead of its time modernism with increased legitimacy surfaced in the late 1930s and 1940s in premeditated insubordination of the narrow-mindedness of
Australian society. Drawing on the joint resources of Surrealism and Expressionism, Albert Tucker, Arthur Boyd, John Perceval, and Sidney Nolan called attention to the up to date metropolitan scene and the ethical deprivation of Melbourne’s wartime society. Regardless of the growing internationalism of post-war Australian society, the Australian landscape has been persistent to preoccupy artists and to excite the in style thoughts. In the 1940s and 1950s Russell Drysdale and Sidney Nolan endeavoured further than the established rural districts to illustrate the ruthless and bleak situation in the Australian outback; and yet, in spite of its hostile traits, the landscape is offered as the inner heart and soul of the country. Two significant landscape artists of the 1960s, John Olsen and Fred Williams, reinvigorated the landscape custom by infusing it with some of the official characteristics of worldwide abstraction. Issues of physical distance and isolation become more relevant when one considers Australia’s environmental diversity, and this is why these artists ventured further than others.
"This Year has seen the greatest celebration of Monarchy throughout the English speaking World. The Golden Jubilee of the reign of The Queen has been a tremendous success and indeed a worthy tribute to Her Majesty's immense popularity. Centred upon the United Kingdom but also observed in many Commonwealth countries, people around the Globe have united in recognition of fifty years and more of ...
The imposition of the mythical and the visionary on the landscape is epitomised by the works of Arthur Boyd. Boyd’s paintings, drawings, lithographs and ceramics changed the cruel reality of urban and bush Australia into a mythical place, a country occupied by an diverse gathering of characters and events drawn from ancient Greece, the Old Testament, and Australian history. While Boyd was reliant on the Australian scenery for visual stimulation, his work rose over its environmental origins to observe widespread shared and personal themes—love and affection; jealousy, deceit and vanity; racism, poverty and war.
Reflected bride 1 (1958, seen below) came in the middle of Boyd’s Love, Marriage and Death of a Half-caste series. The surroundings, as opposed to being the barren stage set of earlier paintings in the series is a ditch where Boyd’s dark bridegroom firmly holds his spirit bride is made essential to their marriage: the bride merges with the watercourse; the groom’s foot is curved around a stem in the knotted grove. This an archetypal Boydian landscape. Boyd’s half-caste groom, has lost all hope, his blue hands and feet set him apart, half deity, half derelict. Boyd’s leading theme here is hopelessness.
The environment was made a vast input to what is known today as Australian art. Without it the immense majority of influences and imprint on culture would not exist. Leaving Australia as culturally barren as the outback.
The centres in 20th century Australian art included Melbourne (in the 1940s); the avante garde and intellectuals, the Australian Academy of Art, the contemporary art Society (CAS) and Herald Exhibition; the Angry Penguins; the rise of figurative expressionism and a national school. The emergence of Sydney in the 1950s and the rise of modern abstraction were major events; Australia began looking outwards to the world. These were all chief contributing factors and were all instrumental in the progression of art in Australia.
To what extent do audiences need art galleries to view art works? Art galleries are essential to the art world, however, is not the only source for audiences to view art. To begin with, art and artwork is defined as the application of human skill, creativity and imagination. Taking this into consideration, individuals need to examine the nature and purpose of art galleries as a facility to ...
Avant-garde was originally a French military term used to describe a small group who explores new territory ahead of the main army. In the visual arts it is applied to the innovative artists who, in any given period, are working in a way that is new and different from their contemporaries. Brett Whiteley was at the forefront of the avant-garde movement. His well-known work Alchemy (pictured below as would be in an exhibit) summarized Whiteley’s state of mind at the time in all its myriad accumulation of influences in his own history as an artist; it was painted over one year. It is a self-portrait on a gigantic scale this had been seen before in his work The American Dream, without the intense political agenda in its impression. Seeing as it is spread over 18 panels it may be read right to left as a vision of earth, ocean, sky through transmutations of flesh, genitalia, fornication and landscape, ending with a white sun and serpentine tentacles put in front of a gold background. The final two panels were from a ruined portrait Whiteley had produced in 1972 of Yukio Mishima, a Japanese writer who committed seppuku (suicide) in 1970, supposing that the space distancing art and action could be closed efficiently through ceremonial death. Literary mythology states that “Mishima’s final vision as the knife cut into his flesh, was of an exploding sun which lit the sky for an instant of so-called spiritual illumination.” This hallucination became the official instigation of Alchemy. The work can be read either way (from left or right), or even from the centre, where the word ‘IT’ holds the swivel concerning competing ideas.
Then Attorney General and later Prime Minister Robert Menzies established the Australian Academy of Art in 1937. It was set up as an Australian parallel to the British Royal Academy. They (conservatives) aspired to provide a forum for Australian art, and promote art appreciation and art education. Resistance to modern art became hostile to the extent where the director of the National Gallery of Victoria did not allow contemporary art in ‘his’ gallery.
2. How does contemporary art reflect our society? Is it an adequate reflection of our lives and our culture? Art began when civilization started. With each civilization we form of society, a group of people with individual characteristics, philosophies and cultures within which all sorts of ideas, thoughts and opinions are always brought to challenge and evaluation. Right from where culture ...
Modern painters feared that an academy would strengthen the oppression of contemporary art, basically empower conservatives, and they knew something had to be done. The Contemporary Art Society (CAS) set up to arouse public interest and awareness of present-day art. This occurred on 13 July 1938; growing from a scheme devised by George Bell of robust opposition to Menzies Academy. Bell was the President and it was well known that the society was accommodating to modernist artists. The Society’s philosophy was based on the ideal that art always progresses, and therefore if there was a lack of a new thought or feeling in any given exhibition,
the Society would not be keeping to it’s name. Contemporary Art Society’s sprang up over the east coast of Australia and proved to be a valuable forum for artists to show and seel work. The Society did as was intended and after a mere several years the Australian Academy of Art disbanded.
The Herald exhibition was named so due to sponsorship from the Melbourne Herald, it was an exhibition of modern art beginning in 1939; it graced Australia with a superb collection of modern European art. The Herald exhibition showed works from many famous artists including Matisse, Van Gogh and Dali. It had a vital influence on contemporary Australian Painting, instituting toned down versions of Cubism, Constructivism and Abstraction.
The Angry Penguins were a loose affiliation of Melbourne artists, writers and intellectuals determined to break with the mythological ties of their past in favour of mythology linked to open association and individual expression. They sought after a fresh tolerance in the arts stimulated by events such as the expansion of fascism in Europe and its corrective mental and visual expression, Surrealism. The name came from the journal, Angry Penguin, first published in 1940 by author Max Harris and philanthropist John Reed, became a leftist political magazine stating the attitudes of Boyd and artists such as Albert Tucker, Sidney Nolan, John Perceval and Joy Hester.
Divisions formed even within the ranks of the Angry Penguins. The Social Realists, declaring artists Noel Counihan and Danila Vasilieff, began to apply force on their Penguin equivalents, announcing the significance of merging art and politics and particularly with the communal principles of Communism. This was juxtaposition to the Surrealist enthused liberalism that had encouraged the Angry Penguins. A communist antagonism shaped within the Angry Penguins including Tucker, Reed, Boyd and Harris.
The meaning of “art” has changed since the industrial revolution and a clarification has to come if we should be able to handle the problem from our own angle. First of all, the esotery of art must disappear; its limitation to specialists; the mysticism around it; the looking out for geniuses only. It is good to believe that in the future art may be explained in intellectual terms with ...
Grace Crowley and Rah Fizelle set up a national school for art in Sydney, first and foremost to institute and explain the ideas of Cubism and Constructivism. Meetings were regularly hosted at the school where groups met frequently to talk about the character of these new styles. They believed that art should be use a figurative image (shape or symbol) since an image was a form of acceptance and involvement in life. Figurative Sydney painting continued in the 1950s, despite the trend of abstraction, Dickerson, Dobell, Hester and Blackman all persisted with the technique, although shapes remained figurative elements of abstract where evident. Trailing World War II worldwide progressive art continuously inspired Australian artists and throughout the 1950s and early 1960s the influence of abstract art from the United States on Sydney artists was exceptionally important. As artists the people of Sydney were looking out on the world and made a name for them with the rise of modern abstraction with inspiration from Europe also. However this was strongly opposed with Antipodean Manifesto that warned abstraction reduced art to merely a decorative state and ultimately be the death of art.
The centres of art in Australia during this critical period of contemporary implementation made an avenue for artist to go and exhibit their work, and discuss where they intended their work to go. This was something that was very important in the maturing of contemporary art, and most certainly had a great influence on the direction which art took, without which Australian art would have differed immensely from what we know today.
The artists, of course, were who decided upon the direction of art in Australia. Obviously there were influences gathered from various places, however it was Russell Drysdale that used the real Australia, making use of the people in the landscape. Sidney Nolan and Arthur Boyd utilized narrative history, myths and legends and religious subjects, examining humans in folklore. The urban response; consisting of John Brack, Clifton Pugh, and Robert Dickerson were very influential. Equally as significant were the abstractionists, John Olsen, John Passmore and Ian Fairweather.
Pioneered in U. S. , and international, mid-1960 s Site-specific or Environmental art refers to an artist's intervention in a specific locale, creating a work that is integrated with its surroundings and that explores its relationship to the topography of its locale, whether indoors or out, urban, desert, marine, or otherwise. In its largest sense it applies to a work made by an artist in the ...
The culmination of modern art was William Dobell winning the Archibald Prize, wit his portrait that was labelled ‘a caricature.’ The surfacing of important women artists became very apparent and they played a major role in the direction of art in Australia.
Women artists bean to come out in the 1920s, they came as a noteworthy influence for a couple of reasons. The first being mainly to do with the tapering of the male population, as a result of WWI, the second reason was to do with a lasting knowledge of the feminist movement of the 1880s-1890s. Women were hitherto foreign to the Australian art scene, this being due to the status they once held in Victorian and Edwardian societies. There were many women eager to follow an artistic pastime, if these women chose not to marry, and instead decided to make a career out of art they were viewed by the public eye as non-conformist and sometimes odd.
Grace Cossington Smith, Margaret Preston, Mary Cassatt, Joy Hester, Norah Simpson, Berthe Morisot and Grace Crowley are some major names of women artists at the time. Perhaps the most innovative of them was Crowley who (with Rah Fizelle) set up an art school in Sydney to teach the concepts of Cubism and Constructivism.
William Dobell concentrated on character, not features. He believed how one lived was an important aspect if he was to paint them. Going beyond seeing the human face in proportion he used his style to convey the person and the distortion came via expressionism. Modern art’s direction was seen clearly through the Joshua Smith (a fellow artist) portrait, which won him the Archibald prize. This he was awarded in 1944, traditionalist critics claimed the painting to be a caricature, not a portrait. A committee of the reactionary Sydney Art Society contested the award with court action. Sparking the Dobell case (23-26 Oct. 1944) citizens that were concerned with art each put in 40 pounds in order to help pay the court costs. The outcome was a verdict in favour of Dobell and a loss for the conservative art establishment. The whole affair harmed Dobell’s health, and put an end to his friendship with Joshua Smith. The case gave Dobell and his colleagues the respect and acceptance that they deserved, but did not have prior to the case.
The abstractionists consisted mainly of Olsen, Passmore and Fairweather. Fairweather’s work through contact with Chinese, Indonesian and aboriginal art was based upon arabesques. Though built on figure there was a lean toward abstraction, like Modigliani than Cézanne. In Sydney the shift in the direction of casual abstraction increased in force centred upon affiliates of the Contemporary Art Society (John Passmore and his pupils).
One of which was John Olsen, during 1955 he held his initial exhibition, the works were semi-abstract, level surfaces and lots of chunky colours like that expected of Cézanne. This turned into abstract expressionism. He journeyed out of the country put on displays in Paris, and living in Spain. Olsen seeks to come across ‘form and image’ in the authentic procedure of painting. He inherited the ‘harbour theme’ from Passmore. Olsen blends an interest in form and in the process of painting with a strong and non-traditional leaning towards landscape; landscape for Olsen is a course in itself.
The urban response consisted of Robert Dickerson, Clifton Pugh and John Brack. Brack’s dry, acerbic view of the world stands in marketed contrast to the dreamy melancholy of Charles Blackman. Brack’s satirical view of everyday Australian life finds a parallel in the biting humour of Barry Humphries. As both of their Australia’s are middle-class urban, small-minded and riddled with absurdities. The classic subjects of the bush and the outback are not for them; equally the artists rely on the known, on every day actions. In 1959 a collection of artists that went by the name the Antipodeans shaped in Melbourne (Dickerson, Pugh and Brack were members of this), the assembly argued against abstract art. They released a manifesto warning that “abstraction reduced art to merely a decorative state and this would lead to the death of art.” Stating that “Australian artists need to convey the unique Australian experience in their work and they rejected what they saw as young Australian artists obsession with overseas styles.” The proposal was a pointer displaying the extensive array of persuasions on Australian painting in the latter half 50s. The art of 1960s reflected the deviation and contrary movements mirrored this clash.
Sidney Nolan and Arthur Boyd made use of a narrative of history, myths and legends and religious subjects. The place of humans in the landscape and folklore was evident in both their works. Taught by his family, Boyd exemplified the actualities of western Melbourne in his work. In 1943/44 he demonstrated the individual imagery of living in the depression. Numerous subjects show life and death, death and regeneration. Lovers and beasts triumphed. The bible pictures in his works were subjective from his grandmother’s Old Testament bible that contained pictures. Boyd revisited the old masters like Rembrandt and Breughel. His biblical scenes were set in landscape in a Breughel manner.
Sidney Nolan did an audacious narration of a part of Australian history with his Ned Kelly series. Nolan’s work exposes a curiosity in poetry (eg Rimbaud, Blake and French symbolists) and ease of form, which is influenced by Duly, Rousseau and Picasso. Throughout the 1940s Nolan spent time with John and Sunday Reed, who aided his intellectual growth as an artist. His early landscapes still showed the influence of plein-air tradition. Tucker’s article Art, Myths and Society encouraged a concern in “the authentic national vision” pushing him toward folklore, with which he chose a folk hero, Ned Kelly. During the 1950s Nolan became one of the best-known painters at work in England.
Russel Drysdale helped change the way Australian people viewed themselves and their country. He gained inspiration when he studied in France and London. WWII presented his work with a slightly surreal overturns in slightly real paintings, it intensified his disposition and concerned him in the people’s response to the unfriendly surroundings. He would produce paintings of gaunt, elongated figures, in front of a vast, barren outback landscape. He reflected the landscape in a different way, going further than the Heidelberg school. One of the worst droughts of the century affected his personal style; he started revealing facets of the Australian outback intimidating to man, suggesting solitude. Presenting the ‘truth’ and gradually destroying the over glamorised icon of the idealistic Australian bush, showing sheets of iron distorted by fire, warped by wind they became signs of ineffectuality of human achievement. Thinking that the Aborigines had a noble dignity about them, he later made use of an exceedingly practical way of dealing with facade and appearance in depicting the Aboriginals set in abstracted landscapes.
In 1945 the neo-romantics formed “the Sydney Group” which soon incorporated Drysdale, Nolan, Boyd and Passmore, it represented an increasing strength of abstract and non-figurative art. The artists were the most vital part of art in Australia in this delicate time; they shaped Australian art, as it is known today.
Australian Aboriginal art refers to art done by Australian Aborigines, covering art that pre-dates European colonisation as well as contemporary art by Aborigines based on traditional culture. It is not restricted to merely paintings, but includes a wide variety of mediums including woodcarving, sculpture and ceremonial clothing. To an extent, Aboriginal art also includes artistic embellishments found on weaponry and tools. Art was one of the key elements of Aboriginal culture. Artwork was used to mark territory, record history, and tell stories. Rare ochres for paints were traded throughout northern Australia. There are a wide variety of styles of Aboriginal art. Three common types are X-ray art, in which the skeletons and viscera of the animals and humans portrayed are drawn inside the outline, as if by cross-section; dot painting where intricate patterns, totems and/or stories are created using dots; and stencil art, particular using the motif of a handprint.
Margaret Preston got her name in 1919 married the wealthy businessman William Preston, and settled in the Sydney Harbour-side suburb of Mosman.
In the late 1920s her prints became barren and arithmetic, travel to Japan and South East Asia amplified the facets of unbalanced design and close surveillance of nature in her work. Her transfer from Sydney to the minute society at Berowra on the Hawkesbury River (1932-39) also proved to be an important force on her later work. She became involved in Aboriginal issues and design. Preston thought that Aboriginal art offered the answer to creating a nationwide art that mirrored the proper life of Australia.
In her work Flying over the Shoalhaven river (1942) (seen below) Preston takes in Australian aboriginal art into her own contemporary logic of flying which allows her to interpret the smooth togetherness of scenery. She explores nature in eggs, dead onions and rabbits and demonstrates a careful wisdom of draughtsmanship. She used primitive, innate forms and declared “Aboriginal art represents but never duplicates.” The majority put in the picture their own tale with no point of view. Flying over the river is seen with the same straightforwardness as Aboriginal art. The pointed uniformity is seen as unyielding light, getting rid of distracting elements. Biblical themes show compassion for Aboriginal way of life. Her sensitivity for the Aborigines coalesces with the present European aesthetics in her paintings.
Aboriginal art came to be used as an aesthetic force, the artists that played, as vehicles for this progression in Australian art were Arthur Boyd, Sidney Nolan and Russel Drysdale. All were (at some stage) affiliated with the Angry Penguins; therefore they were all accustomed to one another’s painting styles and as a result of this could draw inspiration from each other. Accompanied by others during the early stages of the war they helped to increase the magnitude of the lean towards expressionism, this was influential in the acceptance of abstract expressionism in Australia, and shows they were all on the same wave length when it came to their work. When the neo-romantics (in 1945) formed ‘the Sydney Group’ they were all included and functioned with significant roles.
Russel Drysdale was one of the more prominent painters of the time, he was the first Australian artist of his generation (which included Nolan and Boyd) to receive international attention and acclaim. In his work he strived to show that desolation and loneliness is a part of outback life. He did this by adopting a highly realistic treatment of pose and expression in rendering the Aboriginals set in abstracted landscapes. After travelling to the Cape York Peninsula (returning to Australia in 1951) he spawned a passionate curiosity in Aboriginal people, as a subject for painting. This appeal (for him) was his belief that they represented a more complete integration between humans and the environment, which he had always respected and depicted in his art. Drysdale came from a wealthy land-owning family, felt great sympathy for the Aboriginal natives he met on his travels. Shopping day depicts the Aboriginal people of a north Queensland town in a totally deadening way. They stand, as if posing for a photo, in a spacious, bare street; a war memorial supervises the picture.
Nolan and Boyd were indeed of elevated importance in Australian art; Boyd’s work has been compared to Drysdale’s in its aridity. Both artists were largely interested in painting landscapes. Nolan however received major acclaim for his Ned Kelly series. Boyd’s skill in capturing a characteristic aspect of the Australian landscape is seen in a majority of his paintings, Aborigines do not feature so regularly in his work, however the desolateness of the environment they inhabit that he portrays takes care of this and somewhat equalises it.
Together with some others, Nolan and Boyd were interested in the irrational; surrealism enthused their eagerness for Aboriginal art.
Harsh light and stark contrasts are evident in both their Australian landscapes and this illustrates the artists trying to convey their message, that being the real aspects of Australia.
Aboriginal art was used in certain ways to direct Australian art as whole in to unexplored territory. To achieve new ways of paintings and completely different subject matter and to show not only Australia, but also the world, the real sun drenched open spaces they knew as Australia.
The overseas influences and inspirations were of immense importance in the makeup of the delicate web known as Australian art, the art from Europe were brought to Australia by exhibitions, reproductions, and migrants, the impacts of this are seen in the work of Australian artists. The effect of social and political unrest in Europe encouraged the Australians to examine exactly what was occurring in their surroundings. Freud, Surrealism and Expressionism were evident in ideologies, subject matter, and works of Australian artists.
The centre of Freudian ideas in this time period was Koornong; it also was the centre of theories of creativity and children’s art. Angry Penguin Danila Vassilieff, a migrant from Russia arriving in Melbourne in 1937 taught art at Koornong, this progressive school made up the third centre; Vassilieff was a model of self-reliance and spontaneity. Fighting on the losing side of the Russian revolution (anti-Bolshevik) his experience of politics brought him to the realisation that art should be apolitical and his grasping of contemporary art in London persuaded him to think that art should also be free of all literary, social and political relations. He thought art was a means of spiritual regeneration; this was founded on the concept of the individual rising above the everyday in the course of the pure passion of his expression. The significant achievement of his exhibitions at London and Melbourne backed his ideology. He had a major influence during the war when the majority of the population thought pro-Russian sympathies were in order, he was against Lenin and the Bolsheviks due to how inexperienced they were.
English radical liberal, Herbert Read, presented an artistic and political case for individualism, he did this through his writings that were highly regarded far and wide, were centred on individual understanding and liberty. His book Art Now was the go-between of surrealism and of what he coined superrealism – a skewed and representational derivative of surrealism embodied by Klee and Picasso. Trailed back to findings of Freud and Jung, superrealism is explained diversely as ‘a poetic revolution’, ‘fantasy-thinking’ and ‘creating a new mythology’. This was related to the most intellectual of the Angry Penguins and can be found at the rear of their nearly concurrent launch of personal symbols i.e. Nolan’s Ned Kelly series and Tucker’s Images of Modern Evil. Nolan was also familiar with Freudian psychology and was able to familiarise himself to concepts and interact at the level of unconscious.
Inspiration from all over the world was evident in the works that Boyd produced toward the end of the war. Enthused by Nazi atrocities (involving the ruthless suppression of Jews in concentration camps) and the dropping of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima, Boyd resorted to convention, firstly the customary religious themes, and then to the Old Masters. Definitely the greatest event of importance in the period was World War II, this effected more or less every artist, whether it be an immense effect on their work, or something as simple as a change in tone, it was without a doubt evident. The change may have come through subject matter, landscape, technique and even attitude, as there was a feeling of angst evident in intellectual artists that they strived to express in their work.
Migration during the post-war years made its effects felt in art appreciation and history as well as an introduction to an assortment of procedures and approaches. For example in 1959 Charles Reddington journeyed from the United States he was very important in the favourable reception of abstract expressionism in Australia, this emerged in the work of Dobell, Drysdale, Tucker, Nolan and Boyd.
To the extent where, in 1960 figurative expressionism was no longer an avante-garde approach in Australia.
The Angry Penguins shared a vast spread of influences. Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly series was influenced by suprematism and Mullovich’s deconstruction of 3 dimensional forms. This was conveyed by the flat black box that was symbolic of Kelly’s protective headgear. Suprematism was an offshoot of cubism, it involves reducing a cube to a square, and this is displayed in the majority of Nolan’s paintings in the period probably the best in The Death of Constable Scanlon, Mullovich was another European influence.
Arthur Boyd’s literary approach to landscape was abstraction influenced by expressionism, the emotive imagery, strong colour and free flowing line all comes through in his work to present a direct influence from expressionism.
One of the more independent of the Angry Penguins, Russel Drysdale, was influenced by 18th century European art before making a lean towards abstraction with praying mantis like figures, This is represented best in The cricketers which is perhaps Drysdale’s most famous painting, and one of the most regularly reproduced images in twentieth-century Australian art. The subject matter of three gaunt figures set in the middle of the bleak walls of shops in a uninhabited town, submersed in a not natural light, is a memorable and tremendously unique understanding of a well-known sporting game.
With Stalin in power up until 1941, there was still a large amount of Red Terror (a Communist force that persecuted anti-Bolsheviks) in Germany in the 1930s. Hitler’s holocaust of the Jews all over Germany and other parts of Europe were culminating in the early 1940s. With reparation payments being abolished to England and France there was a political discontent in those countries. However all these were not apparent in the 1950s and 1960s, other problems were occurring, but not the enormity of the discontent that was faced all over Europe in the 1930s and 1940s far out-weighed that of the latter period. So the inspirations on Australian art from Europe were far more apparent in the early stages.
Overseas influences have been vast over the period studied. Seeing as Australia was still a culturally weak nation struggling to find what was its own national identity, all these political social and economic aspects coming in from abroad were confusing to what Australians should be, however they were what had a major involvement in what became of Australian art and made it so diverse, and so accepting.