02 June 2015

Exhibition of Australian modernist art: June-Aug 2015

50 of the finest works of Australian modernist art from the past 60 years, selected by the curator Edmund Capon will be exhibited at TarraWarra Museum of Art next month. Commissioned by Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre in Sydney, "The Triumph of Modernism in the Art of Australia" presents a compelling view of the emergence of Australian modernism, with works dating from 1935 on.

The curator Edmund Capon describes The Triumph of Modernism as a rich and representative display of the story of modern Australia, with a particular emphasis on Australian identity. It details the development of a new identity in Australian art with WW2 artists such as Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd, Russell Drysdale, John Brack, John Perceval and Charles Blackman - artists who have appeared in this blog regularly. Later years see the continuing development of modern art in the works of Fred Williams and John Olsen - also very familiar to me. But the contemporary art by Imants Tillers, Howard Arkley and Aida Tomescu is less familiar to me.

Sydney born artist Brett Whiteley (1939–1992) seemed to be very comfortable creating Sydney Harbour seascapes in the 1970s and abstracted images of bush scenes. Edmund Capon proudly introduced Whiteley's work, Australia 1970-74, one of the works in the Modernism exhibition. The oil painting includes charcoal, dried reed, a eucalypt branch, a rubber snake, a stuffed Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, collage and plaster on plywood. As is typical of Whiteley, this image was a spectacle of colour, scale, texture, humour and sensuality.

Brett Whiteley,
Australia 1970-74
203 x 325 cm
TarraWarra Museum of Art collection.

Australian artist Jeffrey Smart (1921-2013) lived in his beloved Tuscan countryside since 1964 and died in Italy two years ago. This painting, The Dome, was chosen because it was a place where the light radiated magically from the land. Brunelleschi’s dome of the Florence Duomo was painted in 1977, framed by one tree on a hill and a traditional Italian red and white striped pole.

Jeffrey Smart, 
The dome 1977,
75 x 74 cm. 
From the Eva Besen AO and Marc Besen AO Collection, 
TarraWarra Museum of Art collection.

The exhibition will illustrate two themes; 1] the triumph of modernism in Australian art and 2] the particular qualities and strengths of the TarraWarra and Eva and Marc Besen collections. Visitors familiar with 19th and early 20th century paintings will note it is the story of our art, moving from the romantic, impressionism and post-impressionism ...into the modern.

The Triumph of Modernism is being exhibited at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre in New South Wales from March to 24th May 2015. It will be shown at the TarraWarra Museum of Art in Healesville-Yarra Glen Road, Healesville from 20th June to 16th August 2015. 

TarraWarra winery, restaurant and gallery 
set amongst the vineyards in Healesville

TarraWarra is Australia’s first significant, privately funded, public museum. Collectors Eva and Marc Besen were art-focused Australians who became benefactors, launching the Tarrawarra Museum with 142 of their private artworks that they bought in the 1950s. Their vision for this new art museum includes increasing their bequests over time. 

One of the great joys of  TarraWarra is that it is surrounded by the glorious vineyards of the Yarra Valley. Visitors are invited to complete their tour of the art exhibition with a wine tasting at the cellar door and a fine meal in the adjoining restaurant. In summer the wine tasting should be always enjoyed in the sunshine, facing the vineyards.

Many thanks to TarraWarra Museum of Art for sending me this material. I have also loved the Hazelhurst catalogue that accompanies The Triumph of Modernism, featuring the key works by star artists in the exhibition.


We Travel said...

The children might not normally look forward to an art gallery. So we combined it with a tour of the town and a picnic. Success.

Parnassus said...

Hello Hels, I wish you could have shown more pictures from the exhibition. I love it when local history and local collections are highlighted.

Hels said...

We Travel

I think that is smart. Spouse and I took the oldest grandchildren to the Sanctuary in Healesville where they could run around like lunatics and make a heap of noise. Then when it came to concentrating on the art and behaving nicely in the restaurant, they did me proud.

Hels said...


The exhibition doesn't open in Victoria until the 20th June, but I can certainly show one or two of the other paintings that were exhibited at the Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre in New South Wales.

Pat said...

Thanks for inviting us to view this exhibition. I will definitely visit, but to be honest, the painting on the front of the catalogue is awful.

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Hels said...


I am also not a huge fan of abstract modern art. However I am glad they have included John Olsen's 1965 painting Salute to Cerberus. John Olsen is said to be one of Australia's most influential abstract painters and water-colourist. If Olsen's signature style has truly made him a master of his craft, then we at least owe him the time to experience the Australian landscape in his thoughtful way.

However some of the students suggested that the catalogue would have been more inviting, had Sidney Nolan or Arthur Boyd been on the cover.

Hels said...

Unlimited Animation Movies

welcome aboard. Are you a fan of modern art in general and Australian art in particular?

Unlimited Animation Movies said...
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TarraWarra Museum of Art said...

Remarkable Australian landscapes from TarraWarra Museum of Art’s collection will feature in a Panorama Exhibition dedicated to exploring the Australian landscape in two stages.

Part One (12 March – 15 May 2016) of the exhibition will begin with outstanding works by artists who redefined the way Australians ‘see’ the landscape: Russell Drysdale, Sidney Nolan, Lloyd Rees, Brett Whiteley and Fred Williams. It then explores contemporary manifestations of the landscape tradition through the work of Daniel Boyd, Stephen Bush, Rosalie Gascoigne, Danie Mellor, Ben Quilty and Imants Tillers.

Part Two (19 May – 31 July 2016) of the exhibition will consider the psychological and emotional power of place that has been evoked by artists such as Peter Booth, Arthur Boyd, Janet Dawson, Godfrey Miller, John Olsen, William Robinson, Tim Storrier, Ken Whisson and Philip Wolfhagen.

Hels said...

Thank you for sending the advance notice. Speaking personally, I will be particularly keen to see the landscapes of Russell Drysdale, Sidney Nolan, Lloyd Rees, Brett Whiteley and Fred Williams. Arthur Boyd was also wonderful, but not always :)