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Richard Read on Opened eyes on Australian exhibition history

10 April 2019

Opened eyes on Australian exhibition history

Review of:

Australian Art Exhibitions: Opening our Eyes by Joanna Mendelssohn, Catherine De Lorenzo, Alison Inglis and Catherine Speck, Melbourne, Thames & Hudson, 2018, 432 pages, 396 col. Plates, 63 b. & w. illus., $100.00 hdbk, ISBN 9780500501214

Richard Read (University of Western Australia) 20/RR1

Abstract: A review of a compendious volume that traces the history of Australian exhibitions from the middle of the twentieth century to 2018. It examines how its authors place the field of exhibition history in relation to other agencies of influence on Australian culture: government policy, funding agencies, directors’ planning committees, art historians, art critics, and the inventive ways generations of curators responded to a series of artistic movements, indigenous aspirations, the cultures of minorities and successive waves of migrants. It probes possible contradictions in the volume’s presentation of exophoric or endophoric models of cohesion in national exhibitionary culture, compares it with histories of curating of other countries, and speculates upon alternative approaches to artists’ contributions to exhibition history, reasons for unequal achievements in the separate Australian states and the photography of spectating.

Key words: Australian art, galleries, exhibitions, institutional history, spectators

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