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Australian Art 1930-1960

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 07:25 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 38.6 
  • Words: 5316
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The environment was major contributing factor to the evolution of Australian art in the 20th century. The elemental landscape; isolation and distance, the imposition of the mythical and the visionary on the landscape, national identity (the universal and the regional) and the demise of Arcadia and romantic idealism interweave magnificently to present the impact of surroundings on the artwork of such a then delicate nation. In retrospect it was the surroundings/climate/atmosphere/feeling and people of our unique nation that undoubtedly shape what we know as “Australian art” sure there are direct influences from other cultures, but while knowing this we have to understand that a perfect combination of outside cultures is the main ingredient in the recipe of our own culture.

Our flirting with the idea of rural Australia as a sun-drenched pastoral arcadia (a Heidelberg school vision) was extremely deviated from with Russel Drysdale’s compelling early painting Sunday evening (pictured below).

Completed in 1941, this work is of decisive significance in the growth of Drysdale’s sole vision. With an inland theme imagery had come to represent for Australians the fundamental uniqueness of our land and people.

In its place, in a work of art that exposed a promising individual manner, and signalled the upcoming meaning of the body to his interpretation of Australia, Drysdale affianced in an evocation of outlandish human endurance amidst the remoteness and destitution of the interior. Sunday evening, with other paintings of 1941 on similar themes, indicated Drysdale’s future function in determining a different national identity based on the uniqueness of Australian inland life.

This was without a doubt one of the works that helped change the way Australians viewed themselves and their country. The barren background to show despair and isolation complements the gaunt, elongated figures.

To many artists the search for...


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