Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Australian artists

Glover, John (1767 - 1849)

GLOVER, JOHN (1767-1849), landscape painter, was born on 18 February 1767 at Houghton on the Hill, near Leicester, England, the youngest son of William Glover, farmer, and his wife Ann. As a lad Glover worked in the fields near Ingersby, drew birds and became a lover of nature. A talent for calligraphy led to his appointment as writing master at the Free School, Appleby, about 1787. Here he started painting in oil and in water-colour. He married a woman nine years his senior and began to visit London to take drawing and painting lessons from William Payne and possibly John 'Warwick' Smith. In 1794 he moved to Lichfield, set up as a drawing master and made many sketching tours of picturesque districts. Between 1795 and 1804 he exhibited views in Cumberland, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Wales and Scotland at the Royal Academy.
The academy displayed water-colours poorly and in November 1804 Glover became a foundation member of the Society of Painters in Water-Colours. Its first exhibition so stimulated water-colour painting and collecting that Glover was able to settle with his family in London. Here he taught painting profitably and travelled assiduously in search of picturesque scenery. In 1807 he was president of the Water Colour Society. But his interest in oil painting grew; and when the society split in 1812 on the question of including oils in its exhibitions Glover became a member of the reconstructed Society of Painters in Oils and Water-Colours. He had begun to exhibit large oil paintings at the British Institution in 1810 and continued until 1827.
After Napoleon's abdication Glover visited Paris and exhibited a large painting in the Salon of 1814 which appears to have attracted the interest of Louis XVIII. But peace was attended by an economic slump which checked the demand for water-colours. About 1817 Glover left London and lived in the Lake District, near Ullswater, for two years; in 1818 he visited Italy. On 24 April 1820, however, he was able to open his own permanent exhibition at 16 Old Bond Street, where he also exhibited the work of his son William and his pupil Edward Price. Having resigned from the Society of Painters in Oils and Water-Colours in 1817 in the hope possibly of election to the Royal Academy, Glover in 1823 became a foundation member of the Society of British Artists, exhibiting with it until 1830 and remaining a member until his death.
Three of Glover's sons, James (and his wife), William and Henry, sailed for Van Diemen's Land in the Prince Regent and arrived in Hobart Town on 11 July 1829. Two married daughters, Mary Bowles and Emma Lord, remained in England. Before leaving England William had purchased eighty acres (32 ha) from the surveyor-general, for which he gave drawings to the value of £300. On arrival the three sons were granted a total of 1780 acres (720 ha) for their capital of £1600. On 1 April 1831 Glover arrived in Hobart accompanied by his wife and son John Richardson, in the Thomas Lawrie. By August he was established in a town house and had bought Ring Farm, eighteen miles (29 km) away. When applying for a land grant he stated that he had already bought two improved farms in the parish of Drummond, and had brought £7000 and English shrubs and song-birds to the colony; he expected to make £1000 a year from his paintings, in part, presumably, from sales in London. In May he was granted 2560 acres (1036 ha) which he hoped to locate on the River Jordan, but in 1832 he was allocated a grant at Mills Plains on the northern slope of Ben Lomond, and built his house on the Nile River, calling his property Patterdale, after a Westmorland village where he had once lived. Here he painted and with his family developed the property which eventually comprised more than 7000 acres (2833 ha) . By 1835 he was able to send sixty-eight pictures 'descriptive of the Scenery and Customs of Van Diemen's Land' for exhibition in London. In 1847 he exhibited in a collection assembled by the Launceston Mechanics' Institute, but in his last years devoted himself largely to religious literature and painted little. He died at Patterdale on 9 December 1849, survived by his sons and many grandchildren. His widow, Sarah, died at Patterdale on 19 November 1853, aged 95. In 1845 John Skinner Prout drew his portrait, later engraved and published by Basil Long.
Glover was highly prolific in water-colour but later turned increasingly to oil painting. Influenced by his teacher William Payne, he early perfected a technique of painting in grey tints with little colour, using a split brush for foliage, seeking subtle effects of light, mist and atmosphere. In Tasmania this interest in atmospheric effects continued but he also sought assiduously to depict qualities of the landscape. In the catalogue of his 1835 exhibition he noted: 'there is a remarkable peculiarity in the Trees of this Country; however numerous they rarely prevent you tracing through them the whole distant country'. But his strong links with the eighteenth century lingered. He wished to become known as the 'English Claude' and echoes of Claude, Gaspard Poussin and Salvator Rosa persist even in his Tasmanian work.
Select Bibliography
A. Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts, vol 3 (Lond, 1905); B. Smith, European Vision and the South Pacific 1768-1850 (Oxford, 1960); B. S. Long, ‘John Glover’, Walker's Quarterly, 15 (1924); P. R. Eldershaw, ‘John Glover’, Papers and Proceedings (Tasmanian Historical Research Association), vol 12, no 1, Oct 1964, pp 37-39; S. Passioura, John Glover (M.A. thesis, University of Melbourne, in preparation); correspondence file under J. Glover (Archives Office of Tasmania); manuscript catalogue under J. Glover (State Library of New South Wales). More on the resources
Author: Bernard Smith
Print Publication Details: Bernard Smith, 'Glover, John (1767 - 1849)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, Melbourne University Press, 1966, pp 455-456.

Roberts, Thomas William (Tom) (1856 - 1931)

ROBERTS, THOMAS WILLIAM (1856-1931), artist, was born on 9 March 1856 at Dorchester, Dorset, England, elder son of Richard Roberts, journalist, and his wife Matilda Agnes Cela, née Evans. Tom was educated at Dorchester Grammar School. After her husband's death Matilda and her three children migrated in 1869 to Melbourne where they lived at Collingwood. The first years were difficult for a poor family and Tom helped his mother to sew satchels after work. He soon became interested in art and studied at the Collingwood and Carlton artisans' schools of design in 1873; at the latter Louis Buvelot and Eugen von Guerard awarded him a prize for a landscape. In 1874 he joined the National Gallery School where he attended Thomas Clark's classes in design. Though the school listed his occupation as photographer, his responsibilities at Stewart's, photographers in Bourke Street, were confined to arranging backdrops and studio sets and sometimes posing the sitters for portraits.
Roberts was one of the first painters to recognize the special character of the Australian landscape; Studley Park, Kew, was close to where he lived (in Johnston Street) and he introduced his friend Fred McCubbin to the native flora there. Encouraged by Clark and his other teachers, Roberts resolved to gain further experience in London, and the Victorian Academy of Arts helped by providing him with a bursary. Already ambitious to paint subject pictures, he had attended anatomy classes at the University of Melbourne. Roberts was the first major Australian painter to be selected to study at the Royal Academy of Arts which he attended from 1881 to 1884, benefiting especially from tuition in anatomy and perspective. To help make ends meet he contributed illustrations to the Graphic.
In London he was especially influenced by a variety of regional groups who eventually formed the nucleus of the New English Arts Club in 1886; these artists from centres such as Newlyn and Glasgow rejected the strictly historicizing Academy style. Other strong influences were Whistler and the popular plein air painters such as Bastien Lepage and his British followers. Roberts toured Spain in 1883 with the future Labor politician Dr William Maloney and fellow artist John Peter Russell. Although he spent only a few weeks in Spain it was a joyous and formative experience which encouraged his naturalistic bent. Two Spanish painters he met in Granada, Lorreano Barrau and Ramon Casas, emphasized certain popular notions of Impressionism and plein air principles. In 1884 Roberts continued his pursuit of momentary effects in small studies of the seascape and several figure studies painted during a holiday at Venice—small exercises in a Whistlerian mode.
He returned to Melbourne in 1885 at precisely the right moment to instigate a new school of painting based on plein air practice which, in Australia as elsewhere, was allied to notions of nationalism and regionalism. Roberts's Melbourne colleagues immediately benefited from his experience; Arthur Streeton, for one, later claimed that 'Bulldog's' example was crucial. His sense of mission and enthusiasm were important in a period when painters and writers were seeking local self-definition. His dedication put him in the forefront of the group of painters which became known as the Heidelberg school.
The first camp was set up at Box Hill in 1886 at Housten's Paddock, scene of 'The Artists' Camp' and 'A Summer Morning Tiff'. 'We went to the bush', said Roberts, 'and, as was always our ambition, tried to get it down as truly as we could'. Early in 1887, painting at the seaside outer suburbs, Beaumaris and Mentone, Roberts first met Streeton and recorded the long hot summer in key pictures such as 'Mentone' and 'The Sunny South'. Charles Conder joined them from Sydney in 1888. In 1889 they established a hilltop camp at Eaglemont with sweeping views of the Yarra valley.
In August that year Roberts, Streeton and Conder arranged their 9 x 5 (inches) Exhibition of Impressions (with a few contributions also by four others including McCubbin) which further defined the Heidelberg movement in the public mind. The 182 small panels, of which Roberts contributed 62, were all painted on cigar-box lids and uniformly framed in flat wide lengths of kauri wood. Roberts had brought home a few 9 x 5 impressions painted in London; the first item in the catalogue was one of his Thames-side studies. The staging of the exhibition mirrored the artists' desire to display their artistic practice in an Aesthetic and Bohemian framework. The decorations of Liberty silks and the red silk background on which they were hung, as well as the elegant flower arrangements, were consonant with Roberts's practice at his studio in Grosvenor Chambers, at the fashionable 'Paris' end of Collins Street. At social and artistic soirées there, patrons could see his latest work in a setting decked out with chinoiserie, bric-a-brac, drapes, and with the addition of musical performances which were an important part of the mise en scène. Streeton claimed that Roberts was the first to bring bunches of gum tips into town.
The catalogue of the Impressions Exhibition had quoted Gérôme: 'When you draw, form is the important thing; but in painting the first thing to look for is the general impression of colour'. It continued: 'An effect is only momentary … Two half hours are never alike'. The Ruskinite James Smith condemned four-fifths of the exhibits as 'a pain to the eye'. When Roberts showed 'Shearing the Rams' in 1890, Smith found the painting too naturalistic: 'art should be of all times, not of one time, of all places, not of one place'. Roberts countered: 'by making art the perfect expression of one time and one place, it becomes for all time and of all places'.
Roberts and his colleagues had a few discriminating supporters and patrons, but the public was unimpressed and the National Gallery gave no encouragement. In 1891, with Melbourne falling into deep economic depression, Roberts followed Streeton to Sydney where the National Art Gallery of New South Wales had a positive policy of acquiring Australian pictures. In October Roberts established a camp at Sirius Cove, Mosman Bay, where Streeton and A. H. Fullwood joined him.
As part of his urge to develop a national art, since 1889 Roberts had been investigating the possibilities of painting historical subject-pictures, describing the experience of 'strong masculine labour'. Drawing on the basic tenets of naturalism, he developed an aim to record historical processes, especially agricultural and pastoral methods which were fast disappearing. For three years in a row he visited Brocklesby station in the Riverina where he painted 'Shearing the Rams', which came to be considered the definitive image of an emerging national identity. In the earlier 1890s he travelled widely from Sydney in search of subject-matter—riding long distances, living hard—notably to the property of his friend Duncan Anderson near Inverell. The paintings 'Shearing at Newstead: The Golden Fleece' (1894) and 'Bailed up' (1895-1927) were major consequences.
Roberts was a reader: his love for the English romantic poets is reflected in the titles of some of his paintings. In particular he read the works of his Dorset elder Thomas Hardy with whom he had had a childhood association. Far from the Madding Crowd was a favourite book and he had an early ambition to illustrate Hardy's novels. The influence can be traced directly: in Hardy's use of the word 'impression' and in his poetic, melancholic twilight scenes; his depiction of shearers at work; his contrasts of city and country, of a vanishing way of life, and his artist's assumption of the task of historical recorder; and in his interest in a regional, provincial culture. Later, in England, Roberts returned several times to Dorset.
In Sydney Roberts fell naturally into close touch with J. F. Archibald of the Bulletin whom he had met on board ship in 1885, 'Breaker Morant', 'Banjo' Paterson and many other writers and journalists at his Pitt Street studio. He was a member of the Dawn to Dusk Club. His democratic, nationalist tendencies were reinforced. In this period Roberts attempted every area of representation; his portraits of literary, artistic and political figures are as important as his landscape and subject pictures. More than half his paintings between 1885 and 1900 were portraits, a means of earning a living that he much preferred to teaching (to which he succumbed from 1896). He would much rather have painted more historical subjects, but they were time-consuming, expensive in materials and difficult to sell. Some of his portraits are 'official' and impersonal; those of friends and intimates more often demonstrate his talent and intelligence, and many of women and girls show great flair. The number of distinguished public figures he painted, however, such as Sir Henry Parkes, Major General Hutton, Alfred Hill and Marshall-Hall, led him eventually to develop an interest in a historical portrait-record of Australian types: in 1900 he exhibited a series of twenty-three informal panel-portraits, much influenced by Whistler. And, mainly on his trip north in 1892 to Queensland and the Torres Strait Islands, he painted Aborigines as individuals rather than types.
Through his close friend S. W. Pring, Roberts met again a former art-student Elizabeth (Lillie) Williamson and married her on 30 April 1896 at St Hilary's Church, East Kew, Melbourne. They settled at Balmain, Sydney, and had one son Caleb, born in 1898.
Roberts was a born leader and mentor to younger painters. Russell had been distraught when Roberts left for home in 1885. Conder affectionately addressed him as 'friend, philosopher and guide'. It is not known to what extent Roberts took the lead in 1886 in forming the Australian Artists' Association as a body of professional painters in opposition to the Victorian Academy of Arts, and in forming the Victorian Artists' Association in 1888, but he was a committee-member of both bodies. He was also secretary of the literature and art section at the 1889 Melbourne meeting of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science. Then in Sydney he was founding chairman (1895-97) of the Society of Artists. He was the one artist articulate and bold enough to duel, vigorously and stylishly, with James Smith and others in the Argus. He worked assiduously to promote the status of the artist and of art as a profession, demanding respect rather than patronage. Largely through his eminent portrait-sitters, he gained an entrée to Sydney society where he felt he was representing his profession and gaining recognition for it. There was more than a touch of flamboyance, however, in his top hat and red satin-lined cloak and, remembering his rise from poverty and hardship, he was no doubt well satisfied by his social prominence. But, as J. S. MacDonald later said, 'he convinced by his arguments, he convinced by his painting … he convinced by his presence'.
At the close of the century Roberts had decided to leave Australia because of the bad economic conditions and lack of patronage—'there seemed so little in front of us'. However, when in 1901 he was invited to attend the opening of the Commonwealth Parliament in Melbourne, he was commissioned to paint the official picture. His 'Minute Book' reflects his excitement. Roberts was to paint 250 figures for which he was offered more than one thousand guineas and expenses. The work took two and a half years but it gave him financial security. In 1903 he embarked for England to complete the 'Big Picture' (1570 sq. feet, 518 cm x 305 cm). He had 'longed and longed' to return to England, but he did not receive the patronage he expected despite his contacts with Royalty while painting the picture, and, uncertain of the direction his art should follow, he entered a 'black period' for several years. Although Roberts had considered the commission to be the peak of his career, the need to represent accurately so many figures and the importance he placed on the task sapped his energy and weakened his eyesight.
Portraits were again his bread and butter; one was 'hung on the line' at the Royal Academy in 1910, but he barely made ends meet during sixteen years in London. Lillie Roberts became well known for her handsome carved frames. Tom corresponded with Prime Minister Alfred Deakin with whom, as a sitter, he had immediately struck up a warm friendship—Deakin was 'ever ready for five minutes' chaff'—and in 1910 he unavailingly offered his services in establishing a national portrait gallery. In 1913 Roberts held an exhibition of alpine landscapes, but his confidence had been lacking and his hopes disappointed. He had organized an Australian artist group based on the Chelsea Arts Club and was often nostalgic for the 'Sunny South'.
During World War I, understating his age (59), he enlisted in 1915 with several other Australian artists as an orderly, undertaking menial tasks, at the 3rd London General Hospital, Wandsworth; he became corporal, then sergeant, in charge of the dental department, and remembered the hospital with great affection. He returned to Australia in December 1919, stayed for a year and held exhibitions in Melbourne and Sydney whose success encouraged him to return finally early in 1923.
Roberts and his wife settled at Kallista in the Dandenongs in a small cottage they named Talisman. He was particularly fond of the countryside there and returned to painting small formal landscapes in a low-key tonal Impressionism which he had rediscovered in a small panel painted in 1914 at Lake Como. Lillie Roberts died in 1928 and on 27 August he married her childhood friend Jean Irving Boyes at Illawarra, Tasmania. His last work 'Ring a Ring a Roses' was a nostalgic reprise of a landscape painted at Cremorne, Sydney, in the early 1890s. He died at Talisman on 14 September 1931 and was cremated. His wife and son by his first marriage survived him.
Roberts was a slim 5 ft 10 ins (178 cm), brown-eyed, brown-bearded, prematurely balding; he retained his English accent. He was direct, definite and straightforward in manner, loved an argument and relating anecdotes, in his younger days was often the life of a party. (Sir) Frederic Eggleston, a friend of the 1920s, recalled: 'He was a great talker, full of fun and whims and wisdom, but he was no egotist … He would not permit the silent listener. Every moment brought the call for active comradeship, participation in the passing of life and the enjoyment of beauty. He could not have lived without this active interchange of affection and friendship'.
In the first third of the century his reputation, such as it was, slumped. The contrast with Sir Arthur Streeton is striking; Roberts was offered no honour. In his earlier Melbourne days he had been outspoken and suffered many 'nasty knocks' from critics and art-officialdom. The trustees of the National Gallery did not purchase one of his works until 1920—a portrait painted in London. R. H. Croll's Tom Roberts: Father of Australian Landscape Painting (1935), which included many reminiscences by associates, began his return to fame. In more recent years it has been recognized that Roberts was at least as distinguished a painter as Streeton, in the wider sense a much more significant figure, and heroic in his claims for art and as a patriot.
His readiness to absorb major current influences and his energy in disseminating them made him one of the prime movers in the development of a national movement in painting. A portrait of him by Conder is in a private collection and a self-portrait is in the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Select Bibliography
V. Spate, Tom Roberts (Melb, 1972); H. Topliss, Tom Roberts, 1856-1931: A Catalogue Raisonne (Melb, 1985), and for bibliography; Tom Roberts papers (State Library of New South Wales). More on the resources
Author: Helen Topliss
Print Publication Details: Helen Topliss, 'Roberts, Thomas William (Tom) (1856 - 1931)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, Melbourne University Press, 1988, pp 409-412.

Streeton, Sir Arthur Ernest (1867 - 1943)

STREETON, Sir ARTHUR ERNEST (1867-1943), artist, was born on 8 April 1867 at Duneed, Victoria, fourth of five children of Charles Henry Streeton, schoolteacher, and his wife Mary, née Johnson, whom Charles had met on his voyage from England in 1854 and married in 1857 on his appointment to Queenscliff. The family moved to Melbourne in 1874 when Charles joined the administrative staff of the Education Department. They settled at Richmond and Arthur attended the Punt Road State School until 1880 when he became a junior clerk in the office of Rolfe & Co., importers, of Bourke Street.
As a child Arthur liked to draw and sketch in water-colour. He enrolled in night classes at the National Gallery of Victoria School of Design in 1882-87 and in 1886 his skill at sketching led to his being apprenticed as a lithographer to Charles Troedel & Co., of Collins Street. Streeton's first independently published black-and-white work, 'His First Snake', appeared in the Australasian Sketcher of 24 January 1889. He had no formal instruction in painting; his earliest extant oils date from 1884 and at this stage he was largely self-taught; he used such manuals as William Morris Hunt's Talks About Art (1877) which urged the emulation of plein air French painters Jean Millet and Camille Corot. Inspired by his reading, Streeton wrote to the compiler of Hunt's book for photographs of Corot's work.
In the summer of 1886 Streeton met Tom Roberts at Mentone. Seeing his work 'full of light and air', Roberts asked him to join a painting group which included Frederick McCubbin and Louis Abrahams. In their company Streeton continued to work on the problems of light and heat and space and distance which had already absorbed him. With the sale of 'Settler's Camp' and 'Pastoral', both exhibited with the Victorian Artists' Society in 1888, he was able to paint full time: for the next two years he worked at Box Hill and Heidelberg with his artist friends who now included Charles Conder, and also in the city where he did portraits and studies of the Yarra River and its bridges. A camp established at an old house at Eaglemont, overlooking the Yarra valley near Heidelberg, became the focus of their artistic fellowship. Streeton and Conder supplemented their income by giving painting lessons to young women; at weekends artists and students visited to paint and picnic beneath the pines.
On 17 August 1889 the Heidelberg painters opened their 9 x 5 (inches) Exhibition of Impressions at Buxton's Art Gallery, Melbourne. The exhibition was a statement of rebellion by young artists, influenced by international trends, against the prevailing academic tradition of Victorian painting. The 182 exhibits included forty by Streeton. Mostly painted on cedar cigar-box lids and hung among silks, they were Impressionist in the direct manner of painting and the study of momentary effects, while retaining the plein-airist tonal use of colour. The catalogue stated: 'An effect is only momentary: so an impressionist tries to find his place … So in these works, it has been the object of the artists to render faithfully, and thus obtain first records of effects widely differing, and often of very fleeting character'. The exhibition won popular success, but provoked critical scorn, expressed most virulently by the influential Argus critic James Smith. Streeton, Roberts and Conder responded in a letter to the Argus, asserting: 'Any form of nature which moves us strongly by its beauty, whether strong or vague in its drawing, defined or undefinite in its light, rare or ordinary in its colour, is worthy of our best efforts'.
The camp broke up in January 1890; three months later Conder left Australia for Paris, taking with him Streeton's 'Golden Summer' (1889) which was exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 1891, and hung on the line and awarded an honorable mention at the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français, Paris, in 1892. Streeton, whose 'Still Glides the Stream and Shall for Ever Glide' (1890) had been acquired by the National Art Gallery of New South Wales, moved to Sydney. Julian Ashton saw him then as 'a slim, debonair young man … with a little gold pointed beard and fair complexion', who, when he was not painting, 'was quoting Keats and Shelley'. Streeton lived at 'Curlew Camp', Little Sirius Cove, Mosman, with Roberts and other impecunious artists, and painted a variety of harbour views, Coogee beach scenes, art-nouveau-inspired nudes and in 1893 two urban masterpieces, 'Circular Quay' and 'The Railway Station'. With Roberts he opened a teaching studio in Pitt Street.
In 1891 Streeton wrote to Roberts of his yearning to 'try something entirely new': 'to translate some of the great hidden poetry' of the immense, elemental outback. He travelled inland in New South Wales and painted directly in front of his subject, striving to capture—as he told Roberts—the 'great, gold plains', the 'hot, trying winds' and the 'slow, immense summer'. The paintings of this period, including 'Fire's On' (1891), are heroic landscapes which successfully balance bravura technique with real inspiration and feeling. His Hawkesbury River series (1896) is remarkable for the rendering of light, heat and distance. On the recommendation of John Mather the National Gallery of Victoria bought one, 'The Purple Noon's Transparent Might', shown at Streeton's first one-man Melbourne exhibition in December 1896.
After this success Streeton sailed for England, spending five months painting in Cairo en route. The early years in London were hard; he had few friends and felt none of the intuitive affinity with the English landscape that had inspired his Australian paintings. Homesick and nostalgic for his youth, he seems also to have suffered a time of artistic confusion. There was little interest in his work and little success at the major exhibiting venues, the Royal Academy and the New English Art Club. In 1906-07 he spent a year in Australia and had considerable acclaim with sales of his English and recent Australian work. G. W. Marshall-Hall and (Sir) Walter Baldwin Spencer were early patrons who became friends.
Returning to London, Streeton married Esther Leonora Clench, a Canadian violinist, on 11 January 1908 in the Marylebone register office. Apart from a visit home in 1913-14, he spent the years before World War I based in London whence he sent works for exhibition in Australia. During this period Streeton's art began to win recognition in England, France and at the international exhibitions held in the United States of America. His wife's extensive social contacts helped with commissions and Streeton's formerly rather reclusive personality had to respond to de rigueur 'country-house' weekends.
On 24 April 1915 Streeton enlisted as a private in the Australian Army Medical Corps and was posted to Wandsworth where he worked as an orderly for the next two years. Commissioned honorary lieutenant and appointed official war artist in 1918, he spent two periods in France documenting the Western Front for the Commonwealth government. In contrast to the Middle East paintings of George Lambert, Streeton concentrated on the landscape of war; his paintings show the desolation of the terrain, but none of the tragedy or drama of human suffering. As throughout his career, landscape views rather than figure-painting remained the core of his art. In July 1919 at the Alpine Club, London, he showed a series of war paintings entitled 'With Australians on the Somme'. His best water-colours recall his early work in their immediacy and delicate portrayal of light.
After the war Streeton and his family visited Australia. In 1922 they returned to London, via St Mary's, Ontario, Canada, where Nora Streeton's mother lived. Streeton's paintings of Canada were exhibited at the Montross Gallery, New York, in January 1923, but they aroused little interest in spite of a warm press reception. That year he returned to Victoria where he bought a home at Toorak and built a cottage at Olinda in the Dandenong Ranges. He made painting trips to many Australian sites and in 1928 was awarded the Wynne prize for landscape for 'Afternoon Light: the Goulburn Valley'.
In his later years Streeton became a national institution. He continued to paint sunny, pastoral landscapes, but many were mannered, fluent and facile, and devoid of the inspiration of his radical early work. Leading critics, particularly J. S. MacDonald and Lionel Lindsay, extolled his art which—with that of Roberts and McCubbin—was to some extent appropriated by the art establishment in the cause of a conservative, isolationist nationalism. Most responded to the optimism of Streeton's romantic blue and gold vision of a pastoral Australia. William Blamire Young was one of the few to contrast unfavourably Streeton's later canvases with the small 'gem-like' pictures of his early years. Reviewing a retrospective exhibition in 1933, he wrote that 'in many cases the poet has been over-powered by the technician'. As art critic for the Argus from 1929, Streeton himself became a tastemaker; although an early supporter of Hans Heysen and Norman Lindsay, he was not receptive to modern art. He frequently wrote in the press on art, the environment and public affairs. At the same time he embellished and consolidated the Streeton legend, writing his interpretation of the history of Australian painting, organizing his own numerous exhibitions and producing the Arthur Streeton Catalogue (1935). In 1937 he was knighted.
After his wife's death in 1938, Streeton retired to Olinda and devoted much of his time to his garden. He died there on 1 September 1943, having been received into the Catholic faith during his last long illness, and was buried in Ferntree Gully cemetery. His son survived him.
Widely read in English literature and poetry, Streeton was a Romantic. His love of music formed a great bond with his wife. Artistically he always preferred the tonal landscapes of the French plein air movement of the 1870s and late-Victorian Romantic landscapists like Alfred East. In the twentieth century he showed little interest in avant-garde art, believing to the end in the values of sound drawing and tonally orchestrated colour. He was of medium height and slightly built. Roberts's portrait, 'Smike Streeton, age 24' (1891), shows a fine-featured profile, wide, expressive, dark eyes, brown hair, a gold-tinged moustache and beard, and an eager, boyish expression. It is in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, as is a self-portrait, presented in 1924.
Select Bibliography
Smike to Bulldog—Letters from Sir Arthur Streeton to Tom Roberts, R. H. Croll ed (Syd, 1946); B. Smith, Australian Painting 1788-1960 (Melb, 1962); A. Galbally, Arthur Streeton (Melb, 1979); G. Serle, From Deserts the Prophets Come (Melb, 1973); Art in Australia, no 2, 1915, no 16, 1926; Meanjin Quarterly, 10, no 2, 1951; Streeton papers (Australian War Memorial); Roberts papers (State Library of New South Wales). More on the resources
Author: Ann E. Galbally
Print Publication Details: Ann E. Galbally, 'Streeton, Sir Arthur Ernest (1867 - 1943)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, Melbourne University Press, 1990, pp 119-121.

de Maistre, LeRoy Leveson Laurent Joseph (Roy) (1894 - 1968)

DE MAISTRE, LeROY LEVESON LAURENT JOSEPH (1894-1968), painter, was born LeRoi Levistan de Mestre on 27 March 1894 at Maryvale, Bowral, New South Wales, son of Etienne Livingstone de Mestre, gentleman, and his wife Clara Eliza, née Rowe, and grandson of Prosper de Mestre. From 1898 the family lived at Mount Valdemar, Sutton Forest, where he was educated by tutors and governesses. In 1913 Roi went to Sydney to study the violin and viola at the New South Wales State Conservatorium of Music, and painting at the Royal Art Society of New South Wales, under Norman Carter and Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo, who encouraged interest in Post-Impressionism. He also studied at Julian Ashton's Sydney Art School.
In 1916, as Roi Livingstone de Mestre, he tried to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force; he was accepted for home service, as his chest measurement was not up to standard. Discharged in 1917 with general debility, he became interested in the treatment of shell-shock patients by putting them in rooms painted in soothing colour combinations. In November 1916, as Roi de Mestre, he had first exhibited. That year's paintings were Impressionist interiors and landscapes, impasted and concerned with the effects of light. With the Conservatorium director's son, Adrien Verbrugghen, he theorized about the relationship between painting, music and colour.
Influenced by recent American books, de Mestre and Roland Wakelin in August 1919 shared an exhibition of vivid flat-pattern landscape paintings: titles like 'Synchromy in Orange Red' were used, and interior decoration schemes by de Mestre showed a room in 'Blue Green Major' leading into another in 'Yellow Green Minor'. This 'colour-music' exhibition became part of Australia's art-folklore as 'pictures you could whistle'. Later in 1919 they painted, but did not publicly exhibit, some of Australia's first abstract paintings. After 1919 de Mestre virtually abandoned colour-music and abstraction, though in London in 1934 he reworked some ideas. Instead his paintings of 1921-22 are experiments in Max Meldrum's opposite theory of impersonal, unemotional tonalism.
In 1923 de Mestre was awarded a travelling scholarship by the Society of Artists, Sydney. He spent three years abroad, first in London, then in France in Paris and St Jean de Luz. On returning to Sydney he held one-man shows in 1926 and 1928; contributed to annual exhibitions including the new Contemporary Group formed in 1926 by George Lambert and Thea Proctor; conducted classes in modern art in his studio in Burdekin House, Macquarie Street; and in 1929 organized the Burdekin House Exhibition of interior design, mostly antiques—but de Mestre designed one of six sensational modern rooms. From his family's position in society he helped to make modern art fashionable in Sydney in the late 1920s, even in Government House circles, but his paintings became tame exercises in Fauvism and Post-Impressionism.
In March 1930 he left Australia permanently. Henceforth he called himself Roy de Maistre, believing the modern spelling suited a modern painter. By the 1950s he had added the name Laurent, mistakenly believing in his own royal blood via Madame de St Laurent, mistress of Edward, Duke of Kent, Queen Victoria's father; eventually he also added the name Joseph, in acknowledgment of a connexion with the philosopher, Joseph de Maistre, and changed the spelling of Levistan to Leveson.
From 1930 de Maistre is best considered a British artist. He held one-man shows at the Beaux-Arts Gallery, London, (1930), in the studio of his colleague Francis Bacon later that year; at Bernheim Jeune, Paris, (1932), Mayor Gallery, London, (1934) and at Calmann Gallery, London, (1938). His work was illustrated in several editions of Herbert Read's influential book Art Now. In 1934 he conducted a painting school with Martin Block. From 1936 his home and studio was at 13 Eccleston Street, Westminster. Patrick White, who for ten years rented a flat upstairs, collected his paintings, dedicated his first novel to de Maistre and acknowledged his influence on his writing.
De Maistre's paintings from the 1930s onwards are generally Cubist in style. Academic society portraits occur at all times. Occasionally biomorphic, Surrealist forms occur in 1930s paintings, and ambiguous content; so do variations on other masters, Mantegna, Piero, Courbet, or on newspaper photographs of royalty. Religious subjects begin later with his conversion to Roman Catholicism. Systematic variations on his own compositions became numerous. His webs of angled Cubist interlace and pattern are perfect forms for his obsessive ideas about the web of ancestry, family, friendship.
While working for the British Red Cross Society in 1938-43 de Maistre scarcely painted, but thenceforth he was an establishment artist. In 1962 he was appointed C.B.E. He exhibited with the Royal Academy of Arts from 1951 and was represented in Arts Council of Great Britain exhibitions; his work was bought for the Tate Gallery and other art museums, and was frequently discussed in the writings of Sir John Rothenstein. His modern religious pictures were sought for public collections and exhibitions; he painted a series of Stations of the Cross for Westminster Cathedral and two triptychs for St Aidan's Church, East Acton. Besides religion his late painting often dwelt on interior intimacies of his studio home and its artfully cluttered bric-à-brac. These included his finest works.
De Maistre died at his Eccleston Street home on 1 March 1968 and was cremated after a service at the Brompton Oratory. In 1974 Patrick White gave all his paintings by de Maistre to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, which in 1976 exhibited its complete holding of his works.
Select Bibliography
J. K. M. Rothenstein, Modern English Painters (Lond, 1956); Roy de Maistre: A Retrospective Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings from 1917-1960 held at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, May-June 1960, (Lond, 1960); M. Gillen, The Prince and his Lady (Lond, 1970); Roy de Maistre, exhibition catalogue, Art Gallery of New South Wales (Syd, 1976); Roy de Maistre papers (Art Gallery of New South Wales Library). More on the resources
Author: Daniel Thomas
Print Publication Details: Daniel Thomas, 'de Maistre, LeRoy Leveson Laurent Joseph (Roy) (1894 - 1968)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, Melbourne University Press, 1981, pp 277-278.

Meldrum, Duncan Max (1875 - 1955)

MELDRUM, DUNCAN MAX (1875-1955), artist, was born on 3 December 1875 in Edinburgh, son of Edward David Meldrum, chemist, and his wife Christine, née Macglashan. He was educated at George Heriot's Hospital, Edinburgh, and arrived in Melbourne in 1889 with his father (who had taken a post with Felton, Grimwade & Co., wholesale druggists), his mother, two brothers and one sister.
After working briefly as a clerk in a wool store Meldrum enrolled in 1892 at the National Gallery School under Bernard Hall. In 1895-96 he sometimes assisted George Coates at his painting and life classes, was one of the artists in the Prehistoric Order of Cannibals club, and contributed cartoons to the socialist weekly the Champion. In 1899 he won the National Gallery travelling scholarship. To augment his travel funds he unsuccessfully requested the patronage of the trustees of the gallery for an art union which he proposed to conduct with his scholarship picture as the prize.
Proceeding to Paris in 1900 Meldrum began to work under L. J. R. Collin and Gustave Courtois at the Académie Colarossi. In March 1901 he was studying under Jean Paul Laurens at the Académie Julian as well as at Colarossi's, but he soon withdrew from both ateliers. In June he was living with a maternal uncle in Edinburgh and thence in December he shipped a nude study, painted in Scotland, to the Melbourne gallery trustees. He had already begun that year to copy works in the Louvre and on his return to Paris in 1902 copied a portrait by Tintoretto and Paolo Veronese's Flight from Sodom. Later that year he began to work on the original painting required by the terms of his scholarship. In Paris Meldrum met Charles Nitsch, a painter from Pacé near Rennes, who introduced Meldrum to his family; about 1907 he married Nitsch's sister Jeanne Eugenie, a singer of the Opéra Comique, Paris. From Rennes Meldrum exhibited 'La Leçon' at the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français in 1904, and from Paris 'Le contre-fa' in 1905. In 1907-08 he painted murals on commission, in the Chateau de Pacé. He exhibited 'Au Chateau de Pacé' and 'Un Paysan de Pacé' in 1908 at the Société des Artistes Français, and in 1911 'L'homme qui rit'. He was elected an associate of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts.
Returning to Melbourne with his family in 1912, Meldrum lived with his parents in East Melbourne, then at St Kilda. In 1915 he took a studio at 527 Collins Street, for a time sharing it with Harley Griffiths, senior, and opened an art school there. Among his students were Clarice Beckett, Colin Colahan, Auguste Cornels, John Farmer, Polly Hurry, Justus Jorgensen, Percy Leason and Arnold Shore, and he influenced considerably the work of his friend Alexander Colquhoun, whose son Archibald was also a Meldrum student at that time. In 1916-17 he was elected president of the Victorian Artists' Society.
In 1919 Max Meldrum His Art and Views, edited by Colahan, was published, including a long essay by Meldrum entitled 'The invariable truths of depictive art' developed from a lecture in 1917. In it he argued that painting was a pure science, the science of optical analysis or photometry by means of which the artist, in carefully perceiving and analysing tone and tonal relationships, could produce an exact appearance of the thing seen. Tone was the most important component of the art of painting, next came proportion, 'the superficial area occupied by one tone', and then colour, the least important component. The decadence of civilization was revealed through art by the declining interest in tonal analysis and the increased contemporary interest in colour. The theory, despite its severe constraints on proportion and colour, proved highly influential among his students and a Meldrum school of painting, impressed by the theory and methods of its master, developed in Melbourne. From the late 1930s his ideas were promulgated in Sydney by Hayward Veal, and in the United States of America by Leason at the Staten Island Institute of Art and Science.
Meldrum's school became the principal alternative in Victoria to the National Gallery's. Between 1916 and 1923 he held his classes in the city, then moved them to a large room in his home in Kooyong Road, Elsternwick. In April 1926 he sailed for France where he lived for some years, making a six-month tour of the U.S.A. in 1928 to lecture on his theory and methods of painting. Returning to Melbourne in 1931 he took a house at Armadale for six months, then moved to Olinda until 1933. In 1936 he bought a house in Belmont Avenue, Kew, and next year opened a new school in Collins Street. During the 1930s his students included John Farmer, Ron Crawford, Peter Glass, Hayward Veal and Ida Meldrum. He was a trustee of the National Gallery of Victoria in 1937-50, his strong opposition to the acquisition of modernist work bringing him into confrontation with Sir Keith Murdoch. Meldrum won the Archibald prize for portrait painting in 1939 and again in 1940. In 1950 The Science of Appearances as Formulated and Taught by Max Meldrum, a substantial account of his theory and methods edited by Russell Foreman, one of his students, was published in Sydney. He died at Kew on 6 June 1955 and was cremated. His wife (d.1966) and two daughters survived him.
Meldrum was probably the only Australian artist to develop a fully formulated theory of painting and to practise and teach it. Small in stature, generous to a degree, he was also argumentative and occasionally waspish. Lionel Lindsay, intolerant of his fanatical dedication to his theory, dubbed Meldrum 'the mad Mullah' and Norman Lindsay depicted him as the dogmatic McQuibble in his novel A Curate in Bohemia. A pacifist during World War I, he gave influential support to Egon Kisch on his arrival in Australia in 1934 and actively defended civil liberties over the years.
Meldrum became a foundation member of the Australian Art Association, in 1912. He held exhibitions of his work in Melbourne at the Athenaeum Hall (1913 and 1922) and Gallery (1931), at Georges Gallery (1945), and in Sydney at David Jones gallery (1937) and Farmer's Blaxland Gallery (1941). He also exhibited with the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, London. A retrospective exhibition of his work was held in the National Gallery of Victoria, the National Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Queensland National Art Gallery in 1954. The National Gallery of Victoria also held an exhibition of his work in 1961. He was awarded the medal of the Society of Artists, Sydney, for services to Australian art. There is a self-portrait in the Art Gallery of South Australia.
Select Bibliography
J. J. M. Thompson, On Lips of Living Men (Melb, 1962); D. Meeson Coates, George Coates, His Art and His Life (Lond, 1937); C. B. Christesen (ed), The Gallery on Eastern Hill (Melb, 1970); E. Hanks (compiler), Australian Art and Artists to 1950 (Melb, 1982); Triad (Sydney), 10, no 6 (Apr 1925); Meanjin Quarterly, 26, no 2 (June 1967); Argus (Melbourne), 2 Sept 1912, 23 July 1913; Punch (Melbourne), 18 June 1925; Sydney Morning Herald, 1, 3 Nov 1937, 20 Jan 1940, 22 Jan, 14 Nov 1941, 11 Mar 1950, 10 July 1954; Age (Melbourne), 7 June 1955, 22 Aug 1959; Sunday Mirror (Sydney), 23 Sept 1962; J. McGrath, The Australian Art Association, 1912-1933 (B. Soc. Sci. special study, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, 1974); Australian art and artists files (State Library of Victoria); unpublished letter, Meldrum to Leason, 23 July 1928 (Leason papers, State Library of Victoria); biography cuttings and artists files (National Library of Australia); Salon exhibition catalogues, Paris, 1903-06, 1908, 1911 (held by Société des Artistes Français, Paris); private information. More on the resources
Author: Joyce McGrath, Bernard Smith
Print Publication Details: Joyce McGrath, Bernard Smith, 'Meldrum, Duncan Max (1875 - 1955)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, Melbourne University Press, 1986, pp 480-482.

Preston, Margaret Rose (1875 - 1963)

PRESTON, MARGARET ROSE (1875-1963), artist, was born on 29 April 1875 at Port Adelaide, elder daughter of David McPherson, marine engineer, and his wife Prudence Cleverdon (d.1903), née Lyle. By 1885 the family was living in Sydney where Rose about 1888 began training with Lister Lister. In Melbourne in 1893 she enrolled at the National Gallery's school of design under Frederick McCubbin.
Her father was admitted in February 1894 to Parkside Lunatic Asylum, Adelaide, where he died next year. In June 1894 she joined her sister and mother in Adelaide. She exhibited with the (Royal) South Australian Society of Arts (and continued to do so annually when in Adelaide). Returning to Melbourne in July 1896, she enrolled at the National Gallery's school of painting under Bernard Hall and with a painting, 'Still Life', won a year's free tuition. Returning to Adelaide, in 1898 she studied at the School of Design, Painting and Technical Arts under Harry Gill. She leased a studio next year and began teaching full time and painting at week-ends, chiefly still-life subjects.
Inheriting her mother's money in 1903, she moved to a new studio where one of her students was Bessie Davidson. 'Eggs' (1903), painted in an academic illusionist style, reveals her skill. After the selection committee of the Society of Arts rejected what she believed to be her 'best still life', she left Adelaide on 2 July 1904, bound for Europe with Davidson. In Munich they viewed an exhibition of the German Secessionists. Shocked by her first view of the European avant garde, Rose MacPherson took lessons at the Munich Government Art School for Women. She then went to Paris where she saw the work of Cézanne, Matisse, Kandinsky and Rouault. Still conservative, Rose was thrilled to have one of her traditional oils accepted by the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français. With renewed self-confidence she studied Japanese and Chinese art at the Musée Guimet, learning 'slowly that there is more than one vision in art'.
On her return to Adelaide in 1907 she leased a studio with Bessie Davidson and they held a combined exhibition in March. 'Onions' (1905) was purchased by the National Gallery of South Australia. Gladys Reynell and Stella Bowen joined her classes in 1908. She also taught at the Collegiate School of St Peter and Presbyterian Ladies' College. A citizens' committee in 1911 commissioned her to paint a posthumous portrait of Catherine Spence for the gallery.
In 1912 Rose and her now intimate friend Gladys Reynell arrived in London to see the Second Post Impressionist Exhibition, organized by Roger Fry, in which Matisse and Picasso were well represented. They lived in Paris and Brittany in 1913-14 before moving to London on the outbreak of war; Rose now admired Gauguin's colour. She exhibited her first woodcuts with the Society of Women Artists, studied pottery at the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts and became familiar with the designs of Fry and the Bloomsbury group. Her paintings, 'November on the Balcony' and 'Still-Life Sunshine Indoors' were exhibited at the New Salon, Paris, and the Royal Academy of Arts, London. She also studied under the Scot A. E. H. Miller, and exhibited with the New English Art Club; 'Anemones' (1916) marks her final rejection of academic realism and the emergence of her new style based on colour theory.
From August 1918 MacPherson and Reynell taught shell-shocked soldiers ceramics, basketmaking and printmaking at Seale Hayne Neurological Hospital, Devon. The task required great ingenuity because traditional materials were unavailable. Next year Rose was invited to exhibit at the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburg, United States of America. On the voyage home she met her future husband, William George Preston (1881-1978), a gunner returning after serving with the Australian Imperial Force. She and Reynell held a joint exhibition in Adelaide in September 1919 and made some of the first pottery at Reynella. There Margaret (as she was henceforth known) married Preston on 31 December.
They settled at Mosman, Sydney. Preston became a director of Anthony Hordern & Sons Ltd, Tooheys Ltd and other companies, and belonged to the Union Club. Margaret's financial security enabled her to travel and to experiment with new styles and techniques. Her travels included visits to New Caledonia and the New Hebrides (1923), South East Asian countries and China (1924-26), North Queensland (1927) and Ceylon, Africa and India (1956-58). In the 1930s the Prestons also lived at Berowra where Margaret kept two exuberant terriers and enjoyed pottering in her garden, left half in its native state, and filling her cupboards with home-made bottled fruit and jam. Fiery and volatile in temperament, she once threw a plate of cakes at Thea Proctor. Leon Gellert later recalled, however, that never 'was a domestic alliance so felicitous … Bill seemed to regard it as a national duty to keep his beloved Margaret happy and artistically productive'.
At first Margaret had exhibited with the Royal Art Society of New South Wales. 'Summer' (1915), showing Post-Impressionist influence, was bought by the National Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1920. She soon joined the less hidebound Society of Artists, where she was supported by Sydney Ure Smith. The Contemporary Group from 1926 gave her the opportunity to show her 'modernist' style. She was now familiar with Leger and Purism and with Cubism. 'Implement Blue' (1927) shows a Japanese influence fused with a technique of lighting used by contemporary photographers.
Increasingly adept at promoting her art and ideas, Margaret Preston contributed twenty-seven articles to Ure Smith's journals, Art in Australia and the Home, as well as writing for other publications. In December 1927 she published her autobiographical essay, 'From Eggs to Electrolux', in Art in Australia. Between the wars she had a substantial part in articulating new attitudes towards art and in creating a receptive climate for changing aesthetic taste in Sydney.
For her first major printmaking exhibition she teamed with Thea Proctor in 1925; and in 1929, 1936 and 1953 held three major one-woman shows. The first woman to be commissioned by the trustees of the Art Gallery to paint a 'Self Portrait' (1930), she chose a style which conveys some of the direct challenge she communicated in her writing. Three of Ure Smith's publications were exclusively devoted to her work. In 1937 she won a silver medal at the Exposition Internationale, Paris.
Paradoxically, when her style was most international, Margaret proposed a 'national' art for Australia based on Aboriginal art. Although she was primarily a still-life artist for most of her career, in the 1940s she concentrated on landscapes in oils: in 'Aboriginal Landscape' (1941) and 'Flying Over Shoalhaven River' (1942) she reduced her palette to earth colours and surrounded simplified forms with black lines, based on her study of Aboriginal art. Still experimenting, in the 1950s she made a series of gouache stencils based on religious subjects: 'Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden' (1950) shows black figures in an Australian setting.
Survived by her husband, Margaret Preston died at Mosman on 28 May 1963 and was cremated with Anglican rites. Never an imitator, Preston needed different forms of expression. She experimented constantly in a variety of media, but her ability to present something fresh in her dynamic designs with her unerring sense of colour allowed her to break traditional barriers. Her originality and powerful expression is evident in her printmaking, especially her hand-coloured woodcuts. Her monotypes such as 'Hawkesbury River' (1946) demonstrate her acute observation of Australian landscape and flora.
Select Bibliography
H. McQueen, The Black Swan of Trespass (Syd, 1979); J. Burke (ed), Australian Women Artists (Melb, 1980); I. North et al, The Art of Margaret Preston (Adel, 1980); E. Butel, Margaret Preston (Melb, 1986); Art Network, 2, Spring 1980, p 14; I. Seivl, Margaret Preston (M.A. thesis, University of Sydney, 1986). More on the resources
Author: Isobel Seivl
Print Publication Details: Isobel Seivl, 'Preston, Margaret Rose (1875 - 1963)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, Melbourne University Press, 1988, pp 283-285.

Boyd, Arthur Merric (1862 - 1940)

BOYD, ARTHUR MERRIC (1862-1940), artist, was the father of WILLIAM MERRIC (1888-1959), potter, and THEODORE PENLEIGH (1890-1923), artist.
Arthur Merric was born on 19 March 1862 at Opoho, New Zealand, son of Captain John Theodore Thomas Boyd, formerly of County Mayo, Ireland, and his wife Lucy Charlotte, daughter of Dr Robert Martin of Heidelberg, Victoria. The Boyds came to Melbourne in the mid 1870s and on 14 January 1886 Arthur married Emma Minnie à Beckett, artist; they settled at Brighton. In 1890 they left for England to live at the à Beckett seat, Penleigh House, near Westbury, Wiltshire. They both exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1891 after which they moved briefly to Paris. On their return to Melbourne in 1894 they lived at Sandringham. In 1898 their works were included in the Exhibition of Australian Art in London at the Grafton Galleries. The family travelled overseas from time to time, and spent summers in Tasmania where the scenery inspired some of Boyd's best work; he exhibited regularly with the Victorian Artists' Society.
At some time Boyd had studied to become an engineer but he did not practise. He was an artist of charm and ability, who painted best in water-colour, without reaching the heights of his contemporaries in the Heidelberg school. While he was friendly with Frederick McCubbin and E. Phillips Fox, he did not associate much with other artists. According to his son Martin (1893-1972), the novelist, he was, if a little remote, just and generous, with a tolerant and enlightened way of bringing up children.
His wife Emma Minnie (1858-1936) was born on 23 November 1858 at Collingwood, second daughter of William Arthur à Beckett and his wife Emma, née Mills. Many critics believe her work to be superior to her husband's. She, too, painted landscapes in Tasmania and many seascapes, but she had a particular talent for genre. At their farm at Yarra Glen she painted the four seasons in a frieze around the dining-room. She was lively, handsome, cultivated and compassionate. Restless, she had something of the religious mystic in her make-up. After her death at Sandringham on 13 September 1936, her husband lived at Rosebud where he was joined by his grandson Arthur, to whom he gave painting lessons. Boyd died at Murrumbeena on 30 July 1940, survived by two sons and a daughter.
His son William Merric, known as Merric, was born on 24 June 1888 at St Kilda, and attended Haileybury College and Dookie Agricultural College. Unsuccessful as a farmer at Yarra Glen, at one time he considered entering the Church of England ministry; he was the model for 'a difficult young man' in Martin Boyd's novel under that title. However, in 1908 at Archibald McNair's Burnley Pottery, he successfully threw his first pot. His parents helped to provide a workshop for him at Murrumbeena and pottery kilns were established there in 1911 (destroyed by fire in 1926).
Merric studied at the Melbourne National Gallery School under L. Bernard Hall and McCubbin. He held his first exhibition of stoneware in Melbourne in 1912 and a second exhibition soon afterwards, and was employed by Hans Fyansch of the Australian Porcelain Works, Yarraville. On 12 October 1915 he married Doris Lucy Eleanor Bloomfield Gough, a fellow student and potter. In May 1917 he joined the Australian Flying Corps but was discharged later in England. Before his return to Australia in September 1919 he undertook training in pottery technique at Wedgwood's, Stoke-on-Trent.
Merric produced his best works in the 1920s and 1930s. These were mostly pieces for domestic use, often decorated by Doris, and some pottery sculptures. He believed that 'the first impulse of the maker of hand-pottery is to obtain pleasure in making and decorating an article, and making that pleasure intelligible … the use of our own fauna and flora is of the first importance'. In spite of his aversion to creating art that would sell well, he worked hard to provide for his growing family. In the 1930s he was employed at the Australian Porcelain Co. Pty Ltd, Yarraville, in the manufacture of Cruffel art porcelain; he earned £4 a week. Doris worked there also on a half-time basis.
In his later years Merric became something of a recluse. He had adopted his wife's faith in Christian Science and from the 1930s read little beyond its teachings and the Bible. Subject to epileptic fits, he died at Murrumbeena on 9 September 1959. Doris died on 13 June 1960. They were survived by their five children, all noted artists: Lucy, Arthur, Guy, David and Mary. Merric had considerable influence on younger artists. 682 of his drawings were collected and published by Christopher Tadgell as Merric Boyd Drawings (London, 1975). His portrait by his son-in-law John Perceval is one of several.
Theodore Penleigh was born on 15 August 1890 at Penleigh House, Wiltshire, and was educated at Haileybury College and The Hutchins School, Hobart. He studied at the Melbourne National Gallery School (1905-09) and in his final year exhibited at the Victorian Artists' Society. He arrived in London in 1911 and his 'Springtime' was soon hung at the Royal Academy. He occupied studios at Chelsea, Amersham and St Ives, but for a time made Paris his headquarters. There his studio adjoined that of Phillips Fox who brought him into contact with the French modern school and through whom he met Edith Susan Gerard Anderson; they were married in Paris on 15 October 1912.
After touring France and Italy, the couple returned to Melbourne. In 1913 Boyd held an exhibition and won second prize in the Federal capital site competition; he also won the Wynne Prize for landscape in 1914. In October he exhibited at the Athenaeum Hall paintings of Venice, Paris, Sydney, Tasmania and Victoria, including some of Warrandyte, where he had built The Robins, a charming attic house set in bushland.
In 1915 Boyd joined the Australian Imperial Force, becoming a sergeant in the Electrical and Mechanical Mining Company, but was badly gassed at Ypres and invalided to England. In 1918 in London he published Salvage, for which he wrote a racy text illustrated with twenty vigorous black and white ink-sketches of army scenes. Later that year he returned to Melbourne and in November held an exhibition at the Victorian Artists' Society's gallery. Although he suffered from the effects of gas, he held one-man shows in 1920, 1921 and 1922; his work, both water-colours and oils, sold quickly. In September 1922 he visited England to choose a collection of contemporary European art for a government-sponsored exhibition to Australia.
On 28 November 1923 Penleigh Boyd was killed instantly when the car he was driving to Sydney overturned near Warragul; he was buried in Brighton cemetery. Next March, Decoration Co. auctioned most of his remaining work, including some of his finest paintings, without reserve.
In his short career Penleigh Boyd was recognized as one of Australia's finest landscape painters, with a strong sense of colour controlled by smooth and subtle tones. 'Wattle Blossoms', hung at the Royal Academy in 1923, was much admired. He loved colour, having been influenced early by study of Turner and the example of McCubbin.
His wife Edith Susan (1880-1961), was born on 16 February 1880 in Brisbane, daughter of John Gerard Anderson, head of the Department of Public Instruction, and his wife Edith Sarah, née Wood. She studied at the Slade School, London, and in Paris with Phillips Fox. After her marriage she continued to paint and excelled in drawing. In later years she wrote several dramas, staged by repertory companies, and radio plays for the Australian Broadcasting Commission in which she took part. She died at East Burwood on 31 March 1961, survived by her two sons, of whom Robin Gerard Penleigh (1919-1971) was a distinguished architect and writer. She may be recognized as the beautiful red-haired woman in several of Phillips Fox's paintings; three of his portraits of her are held by the family.
Select Bibliography
T. P. Boyd, The Landscapes of Penleigh Boyd (Melb, 1920); K. Hood, Pottery (Melb, 1961); Bernard Smith, Australian Painting 1788-1960 (Melb, 1962); J. Reed, Australian Landscape Painting (Melb, 1965); M. Boyd, Day of My Delight (Melb, 1965); Modern Art News (Melbourne), 1 (1959), no 2; Pottery in Australia, 14 (1975), no 2; Home, 1 Dec 1921; Australian Women's Weekly (Sydney), 26 Apr 1972; Herald (Melbourne), 30 Oct 1920, 9 Sept 1959; Times (London); 29 Nov 1923; Age (Melbourne), 4 Feb 1933, 10 Sept 1959, 3 Apr 1961, 1 Feb 1975; P. Nase, Martin Boyd's Langton Novels: An Interpretative Essay (M.A. thesis, Australian National University, 1969); M. Boyd, Boyd-à Beckett Family Tree and Associated Papers (State Library of Victoria); Doulton Insulators Australia Pty Ltd Archives (Yarraville, Victoria); private information. More on the resources
Author: Marjorie J. Tipping
Print Publication Details: Marjorie J. Tipping, 'Boyd, Arthur Merric (1862 - 1940)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, Melbourne University Press, 1979, pp 371-373.

Drysdale, Sir George Russell (1912 - 1981)

DRYSDALE, Sir GEORGE RUSSELL (1912-1981), artist, was born on 7 February 1912 at Bognor Regis, Sussex, England, son of George Russell Drysdale, a gentleman of private means and Scottish ancestry, and his wife Isobel, née Gates, who was English. George Russell Drysdale was his grandfather. Having relinquished a commission with the Black Watch, his father returned in 1919 to Pioneer, the family’s sugar farm on the Burdekin River in northern Queensland. The family moved to Melbourne in 1923 and `Tas’, as he was known, went to Geelong Church of England Grammar School. When his father acquired Boxwood Park in the Riverina district in 1926, Tas was introduced to the inland plains that had been memorialised by novels of Tom Collins [Jospeh Furphy] and Marcus Clarke, by the work of the nineteenth-century Aboriginal artist Tommy McCrae, and by Tom Roberts’s paintings `Shearing the Rams’ and `The Breakaway’.
A detached retina was discovered in Drysdale’s left eye in 1929. In his final year at Geelong Grammar, possibly as a form of therapy, he had five sessions a week in drawing, including perspective, three-dimensional form, the art of memory, and design in plant forms. Eye exercises introduced Drysdale to art and perhaps determined his career; moreover, his great images—remarkable for their depth of space—were to be produced by one who had effective vision in one eye only.
During the spring of 1930, with a school friend, `Bunny’ Reed, Drysdale oversaw the shearing and farm work at Boxwood Park in his father’s absence, then worked for some months at Pioneer with his uncle Cluny Drysdale. After accompanying Cluny to Britain on family business in 1931, he returned to Boxwood Park. Plans to be a farmer receded in 1932 when he was recovering in a Melbourne hospital from an eye operation. Julian Smith, his surgeon and a gifted photographer, showed Drysdale’s drawings to (Sir) Daryl Lindsay, who suggested that he take lessons from George Bell. During the first few months that Drysdale attended his classes, Bell advised him against mere illustration and unreflective imitation, advocating the study of `form’ in modern art. The reproductions he showed to Drysdale had no meaning for the young man, who made an appointment to see (Sir) Keith Murdoch: the press baron squashed his aspirations to be an illustrator. Travelling in Europe in 1932-34, Drysdale took note of works of modern art and began to change his mind about its appeal.
In 1934, while working at Boxwood Park, Drysdale did some painting, including an oil of the foothills east of Albury similar in style to landscapes of the region painted concurrently by Bell and Rupert Bunny; and he courted Elizabeth (Bon) Stephen of Albury. She was knowledgeable about modern art, having travelled through Europe in 1930 with Lucy Swanton, who was to become Drysdale’s art dealer in Melbourne and later at the Macquarie Galleries in Sydney. On 8 February 1935 Drysdale and Bon married in a civil ceremony in Melbourne.
After undergoing surgery on his eye that year, Drysdale re-enrolled at the Bell-Shore school, Melbourne. Bell’s teaching was towards the intellectual marriage of form and idea. In May 1937 Peter Purves Smith arrived and for seven months shared Drysdale’s working space, spurring him on in friendly rivalry. The period was decisive for both young artists. Following Tas’s first solo exhibition in April 1938, the Drysdales went to London, where he took some lessons at Iain Macnab’s Grosvenor School of Modern Art. For a time Drysdale shared Purves Smith’s studio in Paris, and bought day tickets for life drawing at the Grande Chaumière; his paintings over the next two years paid luscious homage to the School of Paris. With war threatening, the Drysdales retreated to London in October, and in April 1939 sailed for home.
In Melbourne Drysdale shared Bell’s home studio and was unwillingly drawn into acrimonious politics within the Contemporary Art Society. To his dismay he was not accepted for military service because of his eye. Doubly frustrated, he retreated with his family to Albury in mid-1940 and offered to manage Boxwood Park: its new owner, Bunny Reed, was absent on military service. Having supervised the shearing, he admitted the gesture was `ridiculous … one of the stock and station agents could do it far better’, and moved to Sydney.
According to his biographer Lou Klepac, `Drysdale felt that it was only when he got to Sydney that he really began to paint’. In his country themes, from 1941, Drysdale produced significant art. The major paintings of the next forty years commenced with `The Crow Trap’, `Man Reading a Paper’ and `Man Feeding His Dogs’ (1941). The back-country theme evolved through `Home Town’ (1943), `The Drover’s Wife’ (1945), `Sofala’ (1947), for which he won the Wynne prize, `The Cricketers’ (1948), the group portraits of Cape York Aborigines in the early 1950s, `Native Dogger at Mount Olga’ and `Basketball at Broome’ in 1958. His characteristic image throughout was the figure-in-landscape. In 1959 figures and background melded together suggestively in paintings such as `Snake Bay at Night’. The culminating work, `Man in a Landscape’ (1963), was the image of an Indigenous Australian who, as Drysdale explained to the owner, Queen Elizabeth II, was trying to hold on to his land. Unlike his contemporaries (Sir) Sidney Nolan and Arthur Boyd, Drysdale did not incorporate literary subjects and characters from external sources into the Australian scene but sought to represent people in their places. His memorable achievement was to suggest that certain types of country Australians (from 1950 the types tended to be Aboriginal) represented a foundation for national identity.
Drysdale joined the board of Pioneer Sugar Mills (Pty) Ltd in 1947; he established strong ties with Pioneer, calling it his `spiritual home’. Through painting he expressed something of his, his father’s and grandfather’s love of the land, while retaining a wider choice than was available to those whose lives were tied to it. His art reflected the British-Australian experience, representing Australia to British as well as to Australian audiences; thus he resolved the so-called `provincial’ dilemma of whether to look for meaning within Australia or outside.
The repertoire of Australian types that he developed was at a level of myth too well understood by Australians to engender a sense that they were his personal creation. At inception his successful figures already had the stamp of myth. In sequence, exaggerated renditions of life on a country farm followed tall-story sessions with Purves Smith; images of wartime’s dislocated domesticity (cocooned soldiers sleeping uncomfortably at Albury railway station) followed his recognition of the symbolism in Henry Moore’s drawings of Londoners in underground shelters; drought and erosion subjects followed a trip to western New South Wales with the journalist Keith Newman of the Sydney Morning Herald; images of deserted mining towns were stimulated by George Farwell’s evocation of ghost towns; and a six-month journey through the north of Australia with his son, Timothy, led to totemic beings that melded human and animal. Characteristically, Drysdale remained in touch with his subjects, his mode being the daydream and the doodle by which key characters took on a life of their own. Thus the drover’s wife `Big Edna’, for example, had several incarnations in Drysdale’s art. By 1950, his practice when planning an exhibition was to use a few completed paintings to `seed’ the titles of other works, which he would then produce.
Drysdale’s career was international although, unlike other major Australian artists of his generation, Nolan and Boyd for example, he did not choose to live abroad. He was a regular exhibitor in London (at the Leicester Galleries in 1950, 1958, 1965, 1972), where he attracted critics and buyers. Like other internationally successful artists of his generation, he did not have to depend largely on public patronage. In 1941 the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, acquired `Monday Morning’ (1938) from the Art of Australia 1788-1941 exhibition then touring the United States of America, and the Tate Gallery, London, bought `War Memorial’ (1950) from Drysdale’s first London exhibition, but many of his major works were sold privately, with Sir Kenneth Clark, Captain Neil McEacharn, Kym Bonython and Edgar Kaufmann among notable collectors. Between 1942 and 1962 he had nine exhibitions at the Macquarie Galleries, Sydney. The first of many monographs about him appeared in 1951, written by (Sir) Joseph Burke, who held the Herald chair of fine art at the University of Melbourne. In 1960 a retrospective of Drysdale’s work was organised by the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The creativity of his colour photographs was recognised when Jennie Boddington organised a posthumous exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria.
Tragedy entered Drysdale’s life in the early 1960s with the suicide of his son, Timothy, in July 1962 and of Bon in November 1963. On 20 June 1964 at Holy Trinity Church of England, Millers Point, Sydney, he married Maisie Joyce Purves Smith, a librarian and the widow of his friend. They lived at Bouddi Farm, near Gosford, from 1966. A member of the board of trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales (1962-76) and of the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board (1963-76), he was knighted in 1969 and appointed AC in 1980. Three months after a major exhibition of drawings at Joseph Brown’s gallery, Melbourne, Sir Russell died of cancer on 29 June 1981 at Westmead and was cremated. He was survived by his wife and the daughter of his first marriage.
Select Bibliography
G. Dutton, Russell Drysdale (1964); M. Eagle and J. Minchin, The George Bell School (1981); L. Klepac, The Life and Work of Russell Drysdale (1983); J. Boddington, Drysdale Photographer (1987); G. Smith, Russell Drysdale 1912-81 (1997); Drysdale papers (State Library of New South Wales).
Author: Mary Eagle
Print Publication Details: Mary Eagle, 'Drysdale, Sir George Russell (1912 - 1981)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, Melbourne University Press, ????, pp 336-338.

History of Australian art

The visual arts of Australia include Australian Aboriginal art, Colonial, Landscape, Atelier, Modernist and Contemporary art. Australia has produced many notable artists from both Western traditions and Indigenous Australian traditions. The importance of most non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal art tends to be social and archival rather than innovative, for example, the sacredness of the land is a uniting theme to be found in both histories of Australian art. Australian art helps to inform the history of Australia since European exploration. It is also a popularly used form of self-expression. The place of art in Australian society opens up a discussion with a diversity of opinions, some of the notions it ranges across are virtuosity, fashion, socialising, hobbies, intellect, politics, entrepreneurship, investment, technology, identity, education and economic development.


Nineteenth century Australia saw the growth of new British colonies in Australia. There was an influx of convicts, English military and free settlers. With gold rush fever of the 1850s, Californian and Chinese miners soon followed. Muslim camel drivers arrived in small numbers from the 1860s.

The first descriptions of Australia by European artists were mainly "natural-history art", depicting the distinctive flora and fauna for scientific purposes. Sydney Parkinson, the Botanical illustrator on James Cook's 1770 voyage that first charted the eastern coastline of Australia, made a large number of such drawings under the direction of naturalist Joseph Banks. Many of these drawings were met with skepticism when taken back to Europe, for example claims that the platypus was a hoax. Despite Banks' suggestions, no professional natural-history artist sailed on the First Fleet in 1788, so until the turn of the century all drawings made in the colony were by soldiers, including British naval officers George Raper and John Hunter, and convict artists, including Thomas Watling. However, many of these drawings are by unknown artists. Most are in the style of naval draughtsmanship. Most of these drawings were of Natural history topics, specifically birds, and a few depict the infant colony itself.

Several professional natural-history illustrators accompanied expeditions in the early 19th century, including Ferdinand Bauer (who travelled with Matthew Flinders), and Charles-Alexandre Lesueur, who travelled with a French expedition led by Nicolas Baudin. The first resident professional artist was John Lewin, who arrived in 1800 and published two volumes of natural-history art.

Ornothologist John Gould was renowned for painting many pictures of birds.

As well as natural history, there were some ethnographic portraiture of Indigenous Australians, particularly in the 1830s. Artists included Augustus Earle in New South Wales and in Tasmania.

William Light (1786–1839) was the town planner for Adelaide. His plan is remembered today as Light's Vision.

Art in Australia from 1788 onward is often narrated as the gradual shift from a European sense of light to an Australian one. The lighting in Australia is notably different to that of Europe, and early attempts at landscapes attempted to reflect this.

Conrad Martens (1801–1878) worked from 1835 to 1878 as a professional artist, painting many landscapes and was commercially successful. His work, though, is regarded as softening the landscape to fit European sensibilities. Martens is remembered for accompanying scientist Charles Darwin on the HMS Beagle.

Another significant landscape artist of this era was John Glover.

S. T. Gill (1818–1880) documented life on the Australian gold fields.

A few attempts at art exhibitions were made in the 1840s, which attracted a number of artists but were commercial failures. By the 1850s however, regular exhibitions became popular, with a variety of art types represented. The first such was in 1854 in Melbourne. An art museum, which eventually became the National Gallery of Victoria, was founded in 1861, and began to collect Australian works as well as gathering a collection of European masters. Some of the artists of note included Eugene von Guerard, William Strutt, and Louis Buvelot.

William Piguenit's (1836–1914) "Flood in the Darling" was collected by the National Gallery of New South Wales in 1895.

Walter Withers (1854–1914) won the inaugural Wynne Prize in 1896.

The beginnings of Australian art are often popularly associated with the Heidelberg School in the 1880s. The Heidelberg school focused on achieving a truer account of Australian lighting conditions than had been achieved before. Some see strong connections between the art of the school and the wider Impressionist movement, while others point to earlier traditions of plain air painting elsewhere in Europe. Sayers states that "there remains something excitingly original and indisputably important in the art of the 1880s and 1890s", and that by this time "something which could be described as an Australian tradition began to be recognized".

Key figures in the School were Tom Roberts , Arthur Streeton (1867–1943) , Frederick McCubbin , and Charles Conder. Their most recognised work involves scenes of pastoral and wild Australia, featuring the vibrant, even harsh colours of Australian summers. The name itself comes from a camp Roberts and Streeton set up at a property near Heidelberg, at the time on the rural outskirts of Melbourne. Some of their paintings received international recognition, and many remain embedded in Australia's popular consciousness both inside and outside the art world. Jane Sutherland (1853–1928), noted for her En plein air technique, was a student of McCubbin.

Nature loving artists of previous generations are numerous, however some of the more idiosyncratic examples were Merric Boyd (1862–1940) and Sydney Long (1871–1955). Long's early paintings were influenced by the symbolists, art nouveau and partly by the Heidelberg School.

20th century

In Australia, Edwardian architecture is known as Federation architecture.

Rupert Bunny (1864–1947) was a figurative painter regarded as the most bohemian painter of his time.

Hans Heysen (1877–1968), an artist known for his luminous watercolours of River Red Gums, won the Wynne Prize nine times from 1904 to 1932.

John Peter Russell (1858–1930), an Impressionist of this era was not closely associated with the Heidelberg School.

Bertram Mackennal, (1863–1931) was the greatest Australian sculptor of the early 20th century.

In 1912, Walter Burley Griffin (1876–1937) won a contest to design a new city to be the capital city of Australia.

George Washington Lambert was a wartime artist (World War I).

Leading up to World War I, the decorative arts, including miniature, watercolour painting, and functional objects such as vases, became more prominent in the Australian arts scene. Norman Lindsay's (1879–1969) works caused considerable scandal around the turn of the century. One famous drawing, Pollice Verso (1904), caused his first scandal, as it depicted Romans giving the thumbs down to Christ on the Cross. In 2003, Robert Hughes described Lindsay's work as mediocre in his book "Goya". Lindsay's children's book The Magic Pudding was very successful in Australia. Norman Lindsay and landscape painter Ernest Buckmaster were critical of the influence of modernism in Australia.

Popular illustrators of children's books were May Gibbs, Ida Rentoul Outhwaite and Dorothy Wall (1894–1942) (the creator of Blinky Bill the Koala).

Lloyd Rees (1895–1988) moved from Brisbane to Sydney. His drawings and paintings of Sydney Harbour featured a sinuous line that was to be repeated in the work of Brett Whiteley (1939–1992). By this time, women's artworks started to attract wider attention, such as the modernist oil paintings of Clarice Beckett (1887–1935), Hilda Rix Nicholas and pastels of Florence Rodway (1881–1971), the watercolours of Thea Proctor or the paintings of Grace Cossington Smith (1892–1984), who painted the Sydney Harbour Bridge as it was being constructed.

After World War I, modernist art began to make its presence felt in the Australian art community, causing considerable controversy between its practitioners and detractors (though this is probably an oversimplification). Abstraction from 1919 was initiated by Roi de Maistre (1894–1968) and later Sam Atyeo (1910–1990).

1921 saw the founding of the Archibald Prize, Australia's most famous art prize, for portraiture, though defining portraiture has always caused controversy - most notably in 1943 when William Dobell's highly figurative portrait of an artist friend won the prize and was challenged in court on the basis that it was a caricature, not a portrait.

Max Dupain (1911–1992), whose images were of bronzed (often nude) Australians, dazzlingly lit beaches added to the mythological connection of white Australia to its coastline. Harold Cazneaux (1878–1953) created memorable photographs of Sydney in the 1930s. In the 2000s, George Caddy's (1914–1983) photographs of beachobatics taken during the thirties and forties have been rediscovered.

Works of watercolour or pastel on paper have for many years been less marketable than oil paintings on board or canvas.. Janet Cumbrae Stewart (1883–1960) was internationally recognised as one of the best pastelists of her time, but is little heard of today. In the 1930s and 1940s, with the opening up of Australia's interior, mutual influence between Western and Aboriginal culture extended to the most prominent artists. The most famous of these are the watercolourist Albert Namatjira (1902–1959) and the oil painter and printmaker Margaret Preston (1875–1963). Namatjira is associated with the Hermannsburg School. Preston was taken seriously as a key innovator of an "Australian" art of her time and still is. Namatjira's art was seen as Australiana until it was rediscovered in the 90s and celebrated as a cogent artistic vision. The watercolorist Kenneth Macqueen (1897–1960) was a contemporary of Namatjira. Macqueen mostly painted pictures of his farm in Queensland.

In 1934 the ANZAC Memorial in Sydney's Hyde Park was built and featured the sculpture "The Sacrifice" by Rayner Hoff (1894–1937).

Australia's most iconic Art Deco painting, Australian Beach Pattern was painted by Charles Meere (1890–1961) in 1940.

Social realism in the forties and fifties involved Noel Counihan (1913–1986), Herbert McClintock (1906–1985) and Roy Dalgarno (1910–2001). Yosl Bergner (1920-) worked in Australia in this decade.

Cubism was an enduring influence on painting. Grace Crowley is remembered as one of the key cubist influenced painters. Abstractionist Godfrey Miller (1893–1964) was influenced by cubism and the mystical writings of Rudolf Steiner.

In the 1940s a new generation of artists began experimenting with styles such as surrealism and other techniques. James Gleeson (1915–2008) eventually became recognised as Australia's most significant surrealist painter. Robert Klippel (1920–2001) a surrealist influenced sculptor who was influenced by industrial settings. Klippel also collaborated with Gleeson.

In Melbourne Arthur Boyd (1920–1999) and Albert Tucker (1914–1999) were prominent, and a number of artists spent time at Heide, a house in Heidelberg - the site of the Heidelberg school several decades before. Amongst the artists who spent time there were Joy Hester (1920–1960) and, most prominently Sidney Nolan (1917–1992), the best artist of the immediate postwar period, whose iconic Ned Kelly images are probably better known than the artist himself. The effect of the Ern Malley poetry case, its cover illustrated by Nolan, also reflected around the art world.

Some of the artists who migrated from Europe from the 1920s to the 1950s were: painters Danila Vassilieff (1897–1958), Sali Herman (1898–1993), Desiderius Orban (1884–1986), Bauhaus trained printmaker Ludwig Hirschfeld Mack (1893–1965), painter and laser artist Joseph Stanislaus Ostoja-Kotkowski (1922–1994), sculptor Inge King (arrived 1951), abstractionists Judy Cassab, Henry Salkauskas (1925–1979) and Eva Kubbos. They brought with them influential ideas about art.

Wolfgang Sievers (1913–2007) arrived in Australia in August 1938. He specialised in architectural and industrial photography. In 1946, Helmut Newton (1920–2004) established himself as a fashion photographer in Melbourne. Eileen Mayo (1906–1994) spent a decade in Australia before moving to New Zealand in 1962. Mark Strizic, (born 1928, Berlin), migrated to Melbourne from Zagreb, Croatia 1950, was another major portrait and architectural photographer from the late fifties to the present day, noted for his documentation of many buildings that have now been demolished.

David Moore (1927–2003) was a photojournalist.

An art centre was established at Ernabella in 1948. Art centeres are an important factor in the story of the development of contemporary aboriginal art.

Australian culture was becoming increasingly influenced by the culture of the United States, a shift away from the traditional strong influence of British and European art. Kenneth Rowell (1920–1999) began working as a scenic designer in the late forties and later worked in England for decades before moving back to Australia and working for the Australian Ballet from the 1960s onwards. His designes and figurative paintings were similar in style to the American painter Charles Burchfield. Jeffrey Smart's early work was influenced by Edward Hopper, and the artist later developed an original vision of urban alientation, unlike so many Hopper influenced artists.

In the 1950s Scottish expatriate Ian Fairweather (1891–1974) settled on Bribie Island, South-East Queensland, and produced calligraphic paintings influenced by the arts of China and Indonesia. Various influences from Chinese art did not gain equal acceptance in Western art. The early acceptance of Fairweather as an artistic hero in the Forties is in sharp contrast to the resistance American composer John Cage faced when he debuted his alleatory compositions to American audiences in the Fifties.

Russell Drysdale (1912–1981), a painter of outback scenes, represented Australia at the Venice Biennale in 1954. Drysdale, William Dobell (1899–1970), Eric Thake (1904–1982) and the cartoonist Paul Rigby (1924–2006) helped to shape the visual archetype of the plain, hearty Australian.

Abstract expressionism was an influence in artists Ralph Balson (1890–1964), Carl Plate (1907–1977), Nancy Borlase (1914–2006), Tony Tuckson (1921–1973) Clement Meadmore (1929–2005) and Yvonne Audette (1930-). Meadmore became a well known artist in New York. Tuckson's work is featured on the cover of the 2006 edition of the prestigious McCullough's Encyclopedia of Australian Art.

George Johnson, a paragon of the Melbourne geometric abstractionist joked about in David Williamson's Emerald City (1987), held his first exhibition in 1956.

Bob Woodward's El Alamein Fountain (1961) showed the public that small scale modernist public sculpture could enhance the appeal of inner city areas. The public sculptures of Tom Bass and Bert Flugelman had mixed reactions.

Thematically Australian art widened, with the suburban landscape brought to attention by John Brack (1920–1999). Brack's use of suburbia challenged the notions that Australian artists had little to deal with other than outback landscapes or well heeled inner city living. Bohemian-minded artists were attracted to cities like New York, London and Paris. Vali Myers (1930–2003) appeared in Ed van der Elsken's book of photography, "Love on the Left Bank". Roi de Maistre moved to London. Virginia Cuppaidge, Yvonne Audette, Clement Meadmore and Brett Whiteley spent significant time in New York. Flora Beresford and James Clifford were artists of the Hippie trail. Donald Friend worked in Bali, and his besotted drawings of young boys are an honest and skilled account of male beauty, although revealing what are now very dated attitudes toward pederasty and the third world.

Brett Whiteley (1939–1992). Twice winner of the Archibald Prize, he returned to Australia in the 1970s after spending time in London, Italy and New York and, amongst many other subjects, pushed the horizon to the top of the canvas and produced an array of landscapes of Sydney and particularly its inspirational harbourside. Currently Whiteley is critically ranked alongside artists such as Michael Johnson, Ken Unsworth, Colin Lanceley and Gareth Sansom.

Figurative artists popular since the 60s also included Ainslie Roberts (1911–1993), Jeffrey Smart[27] , Charles Blackman[3], Robert Dickerson[3], Donald Friend (1915–1989) and among the critics, George Baldessin (1939–1978).

Barry Kay (1932–1985) a student of Kenneth Rowell, was notable in the performing arts as a scenic designer.

David Aspden (1935–2005), Paul Partos (1943–2002), Robert Rooney, Alun Leach-Jones, Robert Jacks, Col Jordan and Sydney Ball were stars of the local color field painting scene. The Field (1968) was an exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria that was unashamedly enthusiastic about globalisation of styles in the art world. The imagery found in The Field followed was considered derivative by critics Clement Greenberg (1909–1994) and Gary Catalano (1947–2002) but it made waves within the Australian art world. Nearly a decade later, the same sort of imagery was used for the set design for Graham Kennedy's hit television quiz show Blankety Blanks.

Artists demonstratively concerned with Australian identity (Clifton Pugh, Barry Humphries, Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd, Fred Williams, for example) had greater success with the public. The Fred Williams (1927–1982) exhibition "Fred Williams - Landscapes of a Continent" was held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1977. Williams is now regarded as one of the definitive painters of the Australian landscape. Williams is known for his aerial abstractions of the arid Australian inland, and suggest the viewer is in an aircraft, flying above the land.

Richard Larter arrived in Australia in 1962 and started a long career in pop painting. Many of his paintings were of the female nude. Also Mike Brown (1938–1997) and Peter Powditch were Australia's early pop artists.

Psychedelia in 1960s Australian art was not common, a famous example is the cover of the Cream album Disraeli Gears (1967), created by Martin Sharp. Vernon Treweeke was briefly a star of psychedelic painting. Vivienne Binns exhibition of paintings at Watters Gallery in 1967 was notoriously genre defying and established her position as a contemporary of the Feminist art movement.

Charlie Numbulmoore painted his famous Wandjina spirit figures in the late 1960s.

The Power Institute of Fine Arts was established in 1968 eventually leading to the establishment of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

The photographer Lewis Morley, already famous for his photos of Christine Keeler and Joe Orton, emigrated to Australia in 1971.

In 1971-2 art teacher Geoffrey Bardon encouraged the Aboriginal people of Papunya to paint their Dreamtime stories on canvas, leading to the development of the Papunya Tula school, or 'dot art' which has become possibly Australia's most recognisable style of art worldwide. Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri (1932–2002), Long Jack Phillipus Tjakamarra and William Sandy are some of the best known Papunya artists.

The 1970s saw a new wave of Australian filmmakers, Patrick White (1912–1990) awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, the introduction of the government funding of Australian arts. Artists from socially diverse backgrounds continued to establish themselves. In the same decade a multicultural broadcaster (Special Broadcasting Service) was established and University degrees were fee free. The Sydney Opera House was opened in 1973. The National Gallery of Australia (opened in 1982) acquisition of the Jackson Pollock work Blue Poles (1952) was controversial due to the expense. The seventies are known for the enthusiasm for Happenings. Central Street Gallery was one well known venue for happenings.

The abstractionist John Passmore (1904–1984) was part of the inspiration for the artist Hurtle Duffield in Patrick White's novel The Vivisector (1970). Decades later in 2003, Passmore's friends Elinor and Fred Wrobel converted a pub into the Passmore Museum. It is one of the few museums in Australia dedicated solely to one artist's life and work. Passmore was a teacher of John Olsen (1928-), an innovative and original landscape painter. Patrick White's art collecting efforts are to this day generally unadmired but he was a collector of modernist art and an early collector of the sort of art that later came to be known as Postmodernism, including art by Imants Tillers, Frank Littler, Robert Boynes, Patricia Moylan, John Davis (1936–1999), and Tony Coleing.

Artists founded alternate practices apart from commercial galleries and art museums. Performance art and interactive art in communities throughout Australia saw the development of public art and community projects. Vivienne Binns project "Mothers' Memories Others' Memories" at UNSW and Blacktown was a ground breaking participatory project. Other artists around Australia, such as Anne Newmarch in Adelaide were involved in these kinds of practices Performance artists of the 70s included Ken Unsworth, Mike Parr, Mike Kitching, Philippa Cullen (1950–1975) , Ivan Durrant, Pat Larter (1936–1996) and Jill Orr. Installation artists of this decade included Kevin Mortensen, Rosalie Gascoigne (1917–1999), Ti Parks and Tony Trembath.

Oliffe Richmond, a very talented mid-career sculptor and colleague of Henry Moore died in 1977. Moore's links with Australia have been documented by the curator Nick Waterlow. Lenton Parr (1924–2003), memorable for his spiderish creations, also worked as an assistant to Henry Moore.

The 1980s saw an art market boom of colonial and contemporary artists, many whose careers faded with the art market crash of the early nineties. Some flourished without the need the for government funding. Some artist's careers survived the art market crash of the early 90s, and most who did not were relatively young. Elderly folk artist Pro Hart (1928–2006) was embraced by the general public. He established a gallery in Broken Hill and sold works to Prince Phillip and to the White house in the United States.

Building on the innovations of photomontage and artists such as Robert Rauschenberg (1925–2008), Man Ray (1890–1976), Gerhard Richter and Richard Hamilton, urban Australian artists were fascinated by the creative nexus of photography and painting. Painters combined painterliness with the look of photography (Carl Plate, Richard Larter, James Clifford (1936–1987), Ivan Durrant, Tim Maguire, Jill Orr, Ken Searle, Susan Norrie, Annette Bezor, Robert Boynes, Kristin Headlam, Ken Johnson, Julie Rrap, Louise Hearman, John Young, Lindy Lee, Lyndell Brown and Charles Green, Philip Wolfhagen, Leah King-Smith, David Wadelton). Those artists found limited but enthusiastic audiences. Contemporary Australian artists such as Patricia Piccinini, Tracey Moffat and Bill Henson were artistic leaders primarily using photography, using techniques of drawing, Scenic painting and Chiarascuro respectively. Julia Ciccarone circumvented the trend with her Trompe-l'œil paintings. In the world of Rock music, Richard Lowenstein was creating similar graphic effects using grainy overlays, as he did for the Hunters & Collectors video "Talking to a Stranger" (1982).

Experimental film and video was documented from the 1970s by Arthur and Corinne Cantrill, a couple of filmmakers with an interest in surrealist films publishing Cantrill's Filmnotes. In this format, innovative art was made outside of the commercial and public gallery system. Innovative and internationally recognised art videos from this era were Despair (1982) by industrial music innovators SPK and Human Jukebox (c.1986) by The Scientists.

Neo-Expressionists of the 80s were Peter Booth, Jenny Watson, Davida Allen, Jan Senbergs, Ian Smith, Salvatore Zofrea, Pasquale Giardino and Peter Walsh (1958–2008).

Some depictions of angst and human suffering in the late 20th century were: Peter Booth's dystopian expressionist paintings. George Gittoes drawing and painting the anguish of the Rwandan Genocide. Steve Cox's Criminological paintings of youths and men lapsed into and out of True crime. David McDiarmid (1952–1995), Peter Tully (1947–1992) and society photographer William Yang used their art to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic.(Epidemic levels within Australia). Figurative painters Nigel Thomson(1945–1999), Stewart MacFarlane and Fred Cress (1938–2009) explored the seamy side of urban Australian life. Their styles were akin to cinematic Black comedy. Tracey Moffatt's series "Scarred for Life" treated psychological suffering in a camp but heartfelt way. Bill Henson's unsettling depictions of teenager's suburbia were grim depictions of revelry.

Ken Done's work has featured on the cover of the weekly Japanese magazine Hanako for over ten years, and in recent times Done has also become involved in the movement toward a new Australian flag. In 1999, Done was asked to create a series of works for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies programs of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Done and Hart became role models for artists who aspired to commercial success. Done's success is primarily as a designer of mass market goods, but he has gone on to be a painter, mainly of scenes of Sydney Harbour.

Mambo Graphics is famous for the surfwear screenprint designs of Richard Allen and Chris O'Doherty. O'Doherty's surreal designs for t-shirts were hugely successful in the domestic surfwear market. A generation or two after definitive works by Sidney Nolan, Charles Meere, Olive Cotton (1911–2003) and Max Dupain, the intersection of the fine art world and beach culture is displayed in the work of photographers Rennie Ellis (1940–2003) and Anne Zahalka, painters Peter Powditch and Brett Whiteley and the screenprint works of James Clifford and Sally Robinson. Australia has also produced numerous minor graphic designers who contributed to the prevalent graphic design fashions for surfboards and surfwear.

Redback Graphix produced some striking didactic poster art in the 80s and 90s, raising awareness of drink driving, sexually transmitted diseases, racism and workplace harrassment.

The most famous performance piece of 1988 was Burnum Burnum's planting of an Aboriginal flag on the white cliffs of Dover in the United Kingdom. Burnum Burnum (1936–1997) was an Aboriginal rights activist protesting the lack of legal recognition of Aboriginal ownership of Terra Australis prior to British settlement.

The proliferation of Australia's big things developed an ironic cult following, and Maria Kozic took the joke a step further with her schlock billboard "Maria Kozic is BITCH" (1989). On the serious side, cultural historians in Australia joined the global vogue for writing about Car culture and roadside memorials. In public art there was the introduction of sculptural features on concrete noise barriers along freeways.

Macquarie University Sculpture Park was established in 1992, featuring around 100 sculptures, situated in a suburban corporate park near bushland, the sculpture park is surrounded by brutalist architecture and the grotesque beauty of the Australian bush.

Ian Burn, the leading conceptual artist, died in 1993. He was one of the few Australian artists to contribute to a new international art movement (Art and Language).

Sculpture by the Sea began in 1996 and became a major sculpture show in Sydney's eastern beachside suburbs. An antecedent to this was Christo's wrapping of Little Bay in 1969.

Some contemporary artists working with semi abstracted shapes and patterns of nature include Anne Judell, John Wolseley, Geoffrey Bartlett, Brett Whiteley, Hossein Valamanesh, Fiona Hall, Marion Borgelt, Janet Laurence, Bronwyn Oliver (1959–2006), Guy Warren and Andrew Rogers.

A grunge art movement occurred, mainly in Sydney in the 90s. It included Destiny Deacon, Nike Savvas, Hany Armanious and Adam Cullen, amongst others. Cullen's works evolved out of an unfortunate place he calls "Loserville". There had been a proto-grunge music scene in the eighties with bands such as Lubricated Goat and The Scientists. Another angry artist was Gordon Bennett, whose paintings were of white Australia's mistreatment of Indigenous Australians. Many artists chose distinctly more cheerful subject matter but they did not earn the esteemed reputation of Margaret Olley, a painter of still life floral arrangements and domestic interiors.

Aboriginal artists using western medium such as Emily Kngwarreye (c.1910-1996), Rover Thomas (c.1926–1998) and Freddy Timms have become known internationally and Emily Kngwarreye is regarded as a "genius" by curator Akira Tatehata.

Expatriate artists made their mark in Britain. Leigh Bowery (1961–1994) was a performance artist working in London, famously called "modern art on legs" by Boy George. Ron Mueck became know for his oversize lifelike sculptures. Marc Newson is a particularly successful industrial designer.

In the 90s, one of the most iconic experiments with form in Australian visual culture was the La traviata scene from the film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert in which a drag queen wearing a long train of billowing silver fabric rides atop a bus. In the 2000 Sydney Olympic Opening Ceremony, there was a focus on kitsch imagery including foam kangaroos riding bicycles.

Digital media artist Linda Dement challenged the entrenched tradition of the bad-boy artist. Tina Fiveash continued to satirise gender stereotypes. Juno Gemes brought a sleek look to contemporary social documentary, rather than the established gritty style.

Renzo Piano's Aurora Place was built from 1996-2000. The twisting structure of Aurora Place complements the design of the Sydney Opera House.

Sculptor Rosalie Gascoigne was increasingly well known for her assemblages of cut up wood, most distinctively cut up road signs.

Social Theory, Postmodernism and Cultural Studies were greatly influential in the nineties following the establishment of new universities under the Hawke and Keating governments. Throughout the nineties, humanities schools were downsized due to the imperatives of managerialism and intellectual fashion. Humanities course offerings, particularly in history, were homogenised. Fine arts and communication studies were pushed as vocational humanities, where they once would have been promoted as fostering critical thinking, communication and research skills. The heyday of cultural studies was stereotypically much well meaning talk about Poststructuralism, eclecticism, multiculturalism and cultural empathy, often by monolingual English speaking scholars who were fond of English translations of French philosophy. Australian studies also suffered, fewer academic opportunities resulted in lower demand for courses. Academic surveys of Australian contemporary art were scant. Alternately there were art magazines. Australian Art Collector appeared in 1997, featuring a mix of articles about the genuinely talented as well as numerous passingly interesting artists. These artists worked in various styles. Textually the magazine stuck to lucid prose.

In the fine arts, many contemporary artists were already reworking themes covered by the earlier postmodern artists. Some of those themes were Semiotics, Consumerism, political power, Second-wave feminism, postmodern appropriation, dead white males, the body and the distinction between high and low culture. A key text of this era was John Berger's Ways of Seeing, (1972) and coinciding with Berger's multi-perspective approach was the redefinition of Impressionist painters like E. Phillips Fox and Ethel Carrick Fox as Orientalists, essentially due to Edward Said's book on that topic in the year 1978.

Howard Arkley (1951–1999), rediscovered culture in suburbia. Juan Dávila specialised in sensationalised statements about social hipocrisy. Guan Wei, an artist of the post-Tiananmen Square Massacre era, delved into geopolitical issues of the Asia-Pacific. Tracey Moffatt was arguably the most celebrated Australian contemporary artist of the 1990s, her work involved the slickness of advertising and accurately diverse artistic representations of women. Stelarc is one of the country's most prominent performance artists and was known for his technology inspired transhuman pieces in the 1990s.

The late Arthur Boyd donated the Shoalhaven River property Bundanon to the Australian people, and this property became a new focal point for artists in residence. Artist residencies began there in 1998. Michael Leunig the cartoonist followed Arthur Boyd's prolific lyricism.

Garry Shead and John Kelly emerged as popular figurative painters in this decade.

Early 21st century

After the Dot com crash, the art market experienced a boom until the Global financial crisis of 2008-2009. A few art dealers and commentators had gone on the public record calling the art market boom the harbinger of a recession, and expressing doubts about the veracity of some of the "investment art" and "blue chip" claims made by vendors of work by highly regarded senior artists and obscure artists alike. Some Australian auction market high performers by senior painters are comparable in appearance and quality to Damien Hirst's stultifying No Love Lost series. The conventional wisdom for art buyers is to buy for pleasure rather than investment.

A number of Australian artists have recently been official war artists for the Australian War Memorial such as Wendy Sharpe and Rick Amor for the East Timor peacekeeping mission; George Gittoes in Somalia; Peter Churcher in the “War on Terrorism”, and Lewis Miller in the 2003 Iraq War. Gittoes is also a documentary maker.

In the first several years of the 2000s there was a flurry of interest in the work of William Robinson, an established artist whose work has been a favourite with collectors since the 1980s. Like Margaret Olley, Elisabeth Cummings in her early work and Cressida Campbell he is influenced by Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947). Cressida Campbell is a promising mid-career artist, also influenced by Margaret Preston, but not to the extent Criss Canning is.

Figurative art, namely classical realism, is often influenced by Magical realism, for example: Rod Moss, Ray Crooke, Janet Dawson, Daniel Boyd, Joanna Braithwaite, Julie Dowling, Eugenie Lee, Anwen Keeling, Anna Platten, Peter Simpson, Tim Storrier, Brian Dunlop (1938–2009), Cherry Hood, Kate Bergin, Zai Kuang, Graeme Drendel, David Keeling, Vincent Fantauzzo, Elizabeth Kruger, Anne Wallace, Ross Watson, Tom Alberts, Bill Leak, Steve Lopes, Lucy Culliton, Nigel Hewitt, Taring Padi artist Aris Prabawa (influenced by pop surrealism but a magical realist) and Paul Cox. In 2006 the Art Gallery of New South Wales held a show of photographers working with magical realism in the 1970s, featuring work by Robert Ashton, Robert Besanko, Kate Breakey, Ian Dodd and Victoria Fernandez.

Expressionism is a style practiced by some of Australia's best known artists, with Arlene Textaqueen, William Robinson, McLean Edwards, Margaret Woodward, Adam Cullen, Kevin Connor, Euan MacLeod, Nicholas Harding, Ben Quilty, Wendy Sharpe, Del Kathryn Barton, Jun Chen, John Bokor, Margarita Georgiadis.

Winning entries for the Archibald Prize are usually jealously disputed. Examples of impressive artists winning regional awards are Dennis Nona in 2007 winning best visual artist at the convergent The Deadlys Award, and Peter Gardiner winning the Muswellbrook Open Art Prize in 2009. The tradition in drawing is and always has been strong, evidenced in the work of Anne O'Connor, Maria Kontis, Alexander McKenzie, David Warren, Del Kathryn Barton, Vernon Ah Kee and Shane Gehlert. The Jacaranda Drawing Award and The Kedumba Drawing Award are two of the most respected prizes for drawing.

Abstraction is still widely practiced, with painters Ann Thomson, Aida Tomescu, Sally Gabori, Marie Hagerty, Karl Wiebke, Dale Frank, John Firth-Smith, Jon Plapp, John Peart and sculptors John Nicholson and James Rogers being among the most accomplished. MOP and Sydney Non Objective spaces are strongholds of non-objective art.

Joe Furlonger and Robert Juniper were praised for their landscape paintings. Louise Hearman applied her distinctive moody style to paintings of roadways. Richard Woldendorp became more widely known for his aerial photographs of estuaries. John Olsen continued to be the most prominent non-Aboriginal living painter of the Australian landscape, and there were few other examples of contemporary landscape paintings hanging in the major public galleries.

Ricky Swallow represented Australia in Venice in 2005. Swallow became known for his wooden carvings of skulls and constructions of bicycles. Artists making lifelike models has been a growing trend, and Patricia Piccinini's biotech showstopper The Young Family was publicised in 2003. A counterpoint to this is artists making crude models, wallowing in the materials used for their construction. Soft sculpture in Australian art may be traced back to Jutta Feddersen in the 1970s.

In 2006, the newly updated McCulloch's Encyclopedia of Australian Art featured an extensive section on Aboriginal Art. Inclusion in the encyclopedia is dependent on the artist being included in a public gallery and or having won an art prize of note. The practice of carpetbagging has damaged the reputation of the Aboriginal art market and recently there has been the introduction of a royalty system for all Australian artists. Previously, the Australian Indigenous Art Trade Association and the Australian Commercial Galleries Association was formed to promote ethical standards across the art industry. Aboriginal art has also suffered from critics tending to compare it unfavourably to western ideals and standards. The art buying public has generally ignored these critiques. Collecting milestones in the noughties included the Molly Gowing donation to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, also the publication of Beyond Sacred: Recent painting from Australia’s remote Aboriginal Communities: The Collection of Colin and Elizabeth Laverty.

Barbara Weir, Naata Nungurrayi, Kathleen Ngala, Shorty Jangala Robertson, Jimmy Baker, Tommy Watson, Kathleen Petyarre, Gloria Petyarre, Paddy Bedford (aka Goowoomji) (circa 1922 - 2007), John Mawurndjul, Minnie Pwerle (c.1915-2006), Makinti Napanangka, Ningura Napurrula, Nurapayai Nampitjinpa (Mrs Bennett), Dorothy Napangardi Robinson, Bill Whiskey Tjapaltjarri (circa 1920-2008), Regina Wilson, Angelina Ngal, Abie Loy Kemarre, Sarrita King, Ian Abdulla Helen McCarthy Tyalmuty, Wintjiya Napaltjarri and Brook Andrew are some of the most eminent Aboriginal artists.

Like their overseas counterparts, Australian artists of various generations have taken up the conveniences of the digital revolution with Electronic commerce, artist blogging, photo sharing sites. Curating by computer, Modding and street art are shared over the internet. A new breed of atists have to some extent bypassed exorbitantly priced gallery hire spaces and art world officiousness, posting homemade manga on DeviantArt and displaying art on sites like RedBubble and MySpace. Talented and unrepresented photographers often find their way onto Flickr and similar sites. These practices are for commercial reasons and sometimes art for art's sake. Oleh Witer was one of the early artists to exhibit artworks in the virtual world Second Life. Art auction houses began to hold auctions online. Art sellers started using sites not exclusively used for art such as EBay.

After much New Economy hype about new media, artists and commercial galleries gradually found their way online in the late nineties, displaying photos that were slow to download because of slow internet connections. In 2004, The Art Life blog put paid to any doubts that the Australian art world would have a Blogosphere of its own.

Leading potters and glass artists include Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, Merran Esson, Thancoupie, Marea Gazzard, Peter Rushforth, Noel Hart, Klaus Moje, Pippin Drysdale and Cedar Prest. The ceramics scene in Australia is generally scholarly, restrained and less parochical than in other categories of Australian contemporary art. Studio glass artists tend to be more individualistic in comparison to potters.

Artists who could be loosely defined as working within the goth mindset are Dean Home, Warren Breninger, Godwin Bradbeer, Ricky Swallow, Amanda Marburg, David Noonan, Irene Hanenbergh and Brook Andrew.

While there has been Australian involvement in the major video game Bioshock (2007), and special effects in major films like The Matrix (1999) and House of Flying Daggers (2004), artists in the broader field of New media have striven to redefine their practice. On 27 October 2008 in The Australian, Rosemary Sorensen's article on the National New Media Award quoted curator Jose Da Silva on Natalie Jeremijenko:

She's one of the great Australian artists doing amazing things and recognised internationally but somehow overlooked back home.

In the realm of the most ephemeral visual art, major Pyrotechnics displays have steadily become more sophisticated since the Bicentennial celebrations of 1988.

Cultural exchange between Australia and its neighbours has been facilitated by political leaders. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono commented on the importance of this at the 2007 APEC summit. For a number of years, Dadang Christano has made art about his Chinese Indonesian experience, while a younger cohort of Australian and Indonesian artists held the GANG festival in 2006-2007. Painter and printmaker Dean Bowen has won art prizes in Japan.

Pop Surrealists of recent years are Chris O'Doherty, Adrienne Gaha, Ben Frost, Steve Smith, Emily Hasselhoof and Shane Gehlert. In the 1980s, "lowbrow" (derog.) artist Ed Roth's (1932–2001) illustration had been used for the cover of The Birthday Party's album Junkyard (1982) and Western Australian pop surrealist John Paul was treated as a fine art painter. Street Art in Melbourne's laneways includes a mixture of styles.

Installation artists: Fiona Hall[26], Guan Wei, Nike Savvas, Zanny Begg, Fiona Foley, Scott Redford, Asher Bilu, Justene Williams, Mimi Tong, Lauren Berkowitz, Chronox, Claire Healy & Sean Cordeiro.

Performance art: Jeremy Hynes, Mark Shorter.

In visual art in Australia, the first decade of the new century saw an ongoing debate about print versus electronic media, an ongoing debate about art and the definition of pornography, and the introduction of a resale royalty in the art market.

Regional galleries became crucial players in the contemporary art scene. Significant shows at regional galleries included a survey of contemporary outsider art at Orange Regional Gallery, and a survey of the important commercial Gallery A and Anne Judell at Campbelltown Regional Gallery, Lawrence Daws at Caloundra Regional Art Gallery and the Janet Dawson survey at Bathurst Regional Gallery. Boofheads and Scrubbers Revenge at Penrith Regional Gallery reflected shifting patterns of wealth and social mobility during the noughties.