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Number 4 June 2011

AUSTRALIAN ART HISTORIOGRAPHY

Guest edited by Jaynie Anderson, University of Melbourne

This issue of the Journal of Art Historiography has been archived in perpetuity by the National Library of Australia in its Pandora web archive.

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Contents

Articles

Jaynie Anderson, ‘Art Historiography in Australia and New Zealand’ 4-JA/1

Juliette Peers, ‘The Canon and its Discontents’ 4-JP/1

Ian McLean, ‘Reverse perspective: Bernard Smith’s worldview and the cosmopolitan imagination’ 4-IMcL/1

Susan Lowish, ‘Setting the scene: early writing on Australian Aboriginal art’ 4-SL/1

Benjamin Thomas, ‘Daryl Lindsay and the appreciation of indigenous art: ‘no mere collection of interesting curiosities’ 4-BKT/1

Rex Butler and A D S Donaldson, ‘Cities within Cities:  Australian and New Zealand Art in the Twentieth Century’ 4-RBAD/1

Andrew Sayers, ‘Curators and Australian art history’  4-AS/1

Catherine De Lorenzo, Joanna Mendelssohn, Catherine Speck, ‘1968-2008: Curated exhibitions and Australian art history’ 4-CLJMCS/1

Terry Smith, ‘Inside out, outside in: changing perspectives in Australian art historiography’ 4-TS/1

Heather Barker and Charles Green, ‘No place like home: Australian art history and contemporary art at the start of the 1970s’ 4-HBCG/1

Peter McNeil, ‘What’s the Matter?: The Object in Australian Art History 4-PMcN/1

Helen Ennis, ‘Other Histories: Photography and Australia’ 4-HE/1

Howard Morphy, ‘Moving the body painting into the art gallery — knowing about and appreciating works of Aboriginal art’ 4-HM/1

Jonathan Mané Wheoki, ‘Art’s histories in Aotearoa New Zealand’ 4-JMW/1

Reviews

Anthony Gardner and Huw Hallam, ‘On the contemporary – and contemporary art history’. A review of Terry Smith, What Is Contemporary Art, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009. 4-AGHH/1

Peter McNeil, ‘“Subterranean influence”: Debating the Life of Ursula Hoff, Art Historian’. A review of Sheridan Palmer. Centre of the Periphery. Three European Art Historians in Melbourne. Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2009 and Colin Holden. The Outsider: A Portrait of Ursula Hoff. Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2009. 4-PMcN/2

Documents

Jaynie Anderson, ‘Interrogating Joe Burke and His Legacy: The Joseph Burke Lecture 2005’ 4-JA/2

Jaynie Anderson, ‘Art history’s history in Melbourne: Franz Philipp in correspondence with Arthur Boyd 4-JA/3

Mary Eagle, ‘Multiple Contexts in the first decades of the twentieth century’ 4-ME/1

Alison Inglis, ‘Art at Second Hand: Prints after European Pictures in Victoria before 1870 4-AI/1

Howard Morphy, ‘On the possible role of the Aboriginal Arts Board in the Marketing of Art from Yirrkala’, Submission to the [ANU] Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts 1975 4-HM/2

Ronald Radford, ‘Acquiring and presenting Aboriginal art in art museums:  my first 30 years’ 4-RR/1

Terry Smith, ‘The Provincialism problem’ 4-TS/2

Terry Smith, ‘Writing the history of Australian art: its past, present and possible future’ 4-TS/3

Susan Steggall, ‘Tradition and its transformation: Joan Kerr, Housewife to historian’ 4-SS/1

Daniel Thomas, ‘Art Museums in Australia:  A Personal Retrospect’ 4-DT/2

Daniel Thomas, ‘Aboriginal Art:  Who was interested?’ 4-DT/1

Bibliography of art historiography in Australia and New Zealand

Benjamin Thomas, ‘Australian and New Zealand art historiography’ 4-BJT/2

Notices

150 Years of the National Gallery of Victoria 4-NGV/1

Recent publications of the National Gallery of Victoria 4-NGV/2

National Museum Australia: Understanding Museums Link

Abstracts

Articles

Jaynie Anderson, ‘Art Historiography in Australia and New Zealand’ 4-JA/1

Abstract: This paper provides a succinct account of the principal themes in art historiography in Australia and New Zealand since the early twentieth-century until today. It is a reflection  on one of a series of conferences held by the initiative to establish a new Australian Institute of art history. It is intended to define an important field of research with contributions from many different universities and museums in Australia.  A culture created now over many centuries by continual immigration has produced a different approach to global mobility and art.  Cross-cultural art history has been a special Australian phenomenon, whether it is about indigenous and non-indigenous art or whether it is about how any culture intersects with another.  Many of the writers in the volume engage with this phenomenon.

Key words: Bernard Smith, Ursula Hoff,  Franz Phillip, Joseph Burke, Terry Smith, Daryl Lindsay, Joan Kerr

Juliette Peers, ‘The Canon and its Discontents’ 4-JP/1

Abstract: This paper overviews women artists’ contribution to early Australian art historiography, especially focusing on the period 1900-1945, but extending to considering the diverse and changing status of women artists and the evaluation of women’s art in public culture from the postwar period up to the early twenty-first century. Two particular lines of enquiry are emphasised concurrently: an overview of feminist and consciously interventionist art historical/theoretical gestures, but equally women’s contribution to disseminating an understanding of art historical narratives in Australia, prior to the establishment of the Herald Chair of Fine Arts at University of Melbourne. These accounts are drawn from primary sources that substantially have not been consolidated or compared before in an academic context and reveal a widespread practice of public lectures and radio broadcasts across Eastern Australia around art historical themes particularly in the 1920s and 1930s, as well as back to the Federation period.

Key words: Keywords: women artists, feminist art history, women art historians, art history in Australia 1900-1950. Carnegie corporation, Australian public galleries 1900-1950, Violet Teague, Margaret Preston, Mary Cecil Allen, Vida Lahey.

Ian McLean, ‘Reverse perspective: Bernard Smith’s worldview and the cosmopolitan imagination’ 4-IMcL/1

Abstract: Living and working in Australia, and being the first Australian-born professional art historian to work in the academy, is probably enough of an explanation for why Bernard Smith developed a global perspective on European art and an acute awareness of its relationship to imperialism. However Bernard Smith’s world-consciousness is grounded in an earlier era that has little relevance to the current intensification of globalization and the challenges it poses to the discipline. This essay discusses Smith’s approach to globalization within the context of the discipline’s changing world-consciousness since its emergence in the eighteenth century.

Key words: Bernard Smith, Australian art history, Marxism, Globalization, Europe, Cold war.

Susan Lowish, ‘Setting the scene: early writing on Australian Aboriginal art’ 4-SL/1

Abstract: This paper brings together some of the earliest writings on Australian Aboriginal art.  It examines references to specific examples of this unique art in a range of sources including journals of early British and French explorers, the field reports of naturalists and ethnologists, early Royal Society papers and newspaper articles of the day.  By tracing the impact of important texts and images, certain connections, collaborations and disagreements over the meaning, worth and ability of Australia’s first art and artists are revealed.  An analysis of these previously unrelated accounts contributes to an understanding of early European perceptions and attitudes towards Aboriginal art.

Key words: Aboriginal Art, Australian Art History, Art Writing, Australian Rock Art, Australian Art Exhibitions.

Benjamin Thomas, ‘Daryl Lindsay and the appreciation of indigenous art: ‘no mere collection of interesting curiosities’ 4-BKT/1

In an era when the acceptance of Indigenous art within our galleries is assumed confidently as self-evident, it is easy to overlook how such a remarkable transformation occurred almost within the space of a decade. Even more misunderstood is the prominent role Daryl Lindsay played in the early acceptance and legitimisation of Australian indigenous art. Within months of becoming director of the NGV, Lindsay prepared a major exhibition of primitive art, including Australian indigenous works, an event that became the defining catalyst for a cultural shift towards indigenous art. In the early 1960s, in the influential role of chair of the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board, Lindsay advocated for the inclusion of ‘Australian Aboriginal art, chosen for aesthetic merit’ as a dedicated collecting stream in the future NGA. It was a decisive objective, and one that was a central tenet of his vision for Australian art. Yet it is clear that Lindsay’s role in encouraging the re-evaluation of Australian Indigenous art remains poorly understood within the field of Australian gallery practice. Even within recent years, art historians have misattributed later events as being the catalyst for change, either positioning Lindsay as a reactionary late in his term as director, or placing him outside the formative years of the shift in attitude altogether. This paper explores Lindsay’s young adult experiences in Central Australia, the backdrop for his empathy with Australian Indigenous culture, and the remarkable shift in Australian Art Museum practice undertaken during his directorship that saw Indigenous artefacts exhibited and appreciated for their artistic merit.

Abstract:

Key words: Aboriginal art, Indigenous art, Daryl Lindsay, National Gallery of Victoria, NGV, Leonhard Adam.

Rex Butler and A D S Donaldson, ‘Cities within Cities:  Australian and New Zealand Art in the Twentieth Century’ 4-RBAD/1

Abstract: This paper argues for a new conception of both Australian and New Zealand art history based on their long-standing historical connection. The national histories of the art of both countries that dominated the 20th century are revealed as themselves historical, preceded and followed by non-national histories that are in effect part of a wider history of world art. The paper makes its case by looking at a number of artists whose careers cross between the two countries and at the expatriates from both countries who worked together in Europe.

Key words: Australian art, New Zealand art, UnAustralian art, nationalism in art, Augustus Earle, Gordon Walters.

Andrew Sayers, ‘Curators and Australian art history’  4-AS/1

Abstract: Most Australians do not read art history, but they do look at art in museums. There, visitors experience displays that embody art histories. The enthusiasms and research interests of curators combine with collection strengths to create these art histories. In this process, particular artists, ideas and mediums are privileged. Drawing on personal experience this talk looked at some examples of influential curators, displays, exhibitions and collecting programs over the last thirty years. In the process I hope to reveal the role of curators in making Australian art history. I also examine the way in which the demands of objects have led to new shapes for art history, have broken up or cemented orthodoxies and created stimulating juxtapositions.

Keywords: curators, creating art history, exhibitions, displays, role of museums and galleries.

Catherine De Lorenzo, Joanna Mendelssohn, Catherine Speck, ‘1968-2008: Curated exhibitions and Australian art history’ 4-CLJMCS/1

Abstract: Australian Art history in all it guises has tended to bypass the impact of contemporary curated exhibitions on shaping the discipline. Yet an examination of a cluster of key contemporary exhibitions from the early 1970s onwards reveals their significance for the history of art in Australia. They reflect institutional judgements behind the selection, research and display the work of artists as well as the reception of such work by the public, artists, art critics and art historians. This is especially so in the last decades of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st, as the country underwent major cultural changes. This paper focuses on selected exhibitions of Australian art from 1968 to 2008 and indicates how exhibitions also constitute a major form of contemporary Australian art historiography. As this period coincides with a transformation in the way exhibitions were funded, it also begins to investigate the question of the long term impact of public funding of the arts.

Keywords: Australian art history, Australian art exhibitions, cultural policy, arts funding, Aboriginal art, curatorial studies.

Terry Smith, ‘Inside out, outside in: changing perspectives in Australian art historiography’ 4-TS/1

Abstract: Beginning from some recollections of art historical training in Australia and the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, the author highlights the key role played by art historiographical awareness within revisionist approaches to art history since those decades. He focuses on the resonance of such awareness in writing histories of Australian art, including Indigenous art. Theories of provincialism that mediated the relationships between the local and the international in Australian art are shown to be present, on a global scale, in the currents of contemporary art in the world today.

Key words: Australia, art historiography, Aboriginal Art, Contemporary Art.

Heather Barker and Charles Green, ‘No place like home: Australian art history and contemporary art at the start of the 1970s’ 4-HBCG/1

Abstract: This paper looks at Australian art criticism at the start of the 1970s and at the emergence of a short-lived art journal, Other Voices, featuring a young art critic and art historian, Terry Smith. The essay argues that writing on art by scholars from the emergent discipline of Australian art history was significant in contemporary art’s innovations. But, it is argued, Australian art history also distorted the course of Australian art. The art historians’ false consciousness of nation remained central within Australian art history. Emergent generations of young art writers and art historians could not participate in the establishment of a sustainable and sustained discourse on contemporary art without participating, within the context of Cold War politics, in a reification of the categories of “Australian” in opposition to the idea of “International” art, no matter how hard they tried. Young art critic Terry Smith’s pessimistic evaluation, even before his sojourn in New York, of the implications of provincial status marked the point at which Australian art history’s interest began to shift away from the formulation of strategies to overcome the disadvantages of distance.

Keywords: Contemporary art, Australian art, Terry Smith, Color-Form painting, Australian art history, Art criticism.

Peter McNeil, ‘What’s the Matter?: The Object in Australian Art History 4-PMcN/1

Abstract: The place from which designs originate renders them distinctive and connected to the global and the local in specific ways. This paper outlines a series of historiographical issues that inflect the study of objects within Australian art history, firstly for the nineteenth century and then, more briefly, for the twentieth. In twentieth-century Australia, architects were prominent in analysing and popularising aspects of both the built environment and decorative arts which elsewhere might have been explored by art historians. Architects sometimes held academic posts that provided opportunities for research, they held strong views regarding urban planning and the built environment, and before the profession of heritage consultant arose, they were often required to research sites and take restoration decisions. This paper also considers the significant role of the collector and the rise of this activity from the 1920s to the 1970s, firstly by individuals, later by museums. The priorities of connoisseurship and a nostalgic evocation of colonial history dominated the inter-war period in Australia, resulting in a significant body of largely expository and romanticised writing. Such writing was nonetheless important in raising awareness, changing attitudes and tastes, and documenting survivals.

Key words: Australian design, decorative arts, Georgian revival, history of collecting, dealing, museology, Victorianism.

Helen Ennis, ‘Other Histories: Photography and Australia’ 4-HE/1

Abstract: This paper deals with Australian photography’s historiography in published survey histories. It argues that photography has a doubled history, represented in broader histories of Australian art and its own medium specific histories. It considers photography’s treatment in recent histories of Australian art by Christopher Allen (1997), Andrew Sayers (2001) and John McDonald (2008). The four survey histories of photography published to date – by Jack Cato (1955), Gael Newton (1988), Anne Marie-Willis (1988) and Helen Ennis (2007) – are discussed in relation to the different methodologies used. The inter-relationship between local and international developments in historiography is considered and recent paradigmatic shifts in writing on photography are identified. They include the emergence of a pluralized notion of photography, interdisciplinary approaches and concerns with narrative and materiality. Finally, it is argued that a new kind of historiography has emerged, evident in histories that are purposefully fractional.

Key words: Australian, photography, history, historiography, art museum, curatorship.

Howard Morphy, ‘Moving the body painting into the art gallery — knowing about and appreciating works of Aboriginal art’ 4-HM/1

Abstract: The paper focuses on two kinds of relationship: between Western fine art and Indigenous art, and between anthropological and art historical approaches to understanding and appreciating works of art. The primary focus is on the process by which Australian Aboriginal art came to be incorporated within galleries of fine art. This process brought both kinds of relationships to the fore in the contemporary context and challenged established boundaries exemplified by the distinction between the museum and the art gallery. It is argued that objects encompassed within the category of fine art come from very different cultural traditions and historical backgrounds. The methods of  both art history and anthropology can be productively applied in analysing the forms and significance of artworks in their social and cultural contexts. The paper concludes by considering some of the implications of the co-presence of artworks from different cultural traditions in the same contemporary gallery spaces.

Key words: Aboriginal art, Yolngu, anthropological approaches to art, cross-cultural categories, museums and galleries.

Jonathan Mané Wheoki, ‘Art’s histories in Aotearoa New Zealand’ 4-JMW/1

Abstract: This is the text of an illustrated paper presented at ‘Art History’s History in Australia and New Zealand’, a joint symposium organised by the Australian Institute of Art History in the University of Melbourne and the Australian and New Zealand Association of Art Historians (AAANZ), held on 28 – 29 August 2010. Responding to a set of questions framed around the ‘state of art history in New Zealand’, this paper reviews the ‘invention’ of a nationalist art history and argues that there can be no coherent, integrated history of art in New Zealand that does not encompass the timeframe of the cultural production of New Zealand’s indigenous Maori, or that of the Pacific nations for which the country is a regional hub, or the burgeoning cultural diversity of an emerging Asia-Pacific nation.

Keywords: Maori, New Zealand art, Pacific nations, regionalism, cultural diversity.

Reviews

Anthony Gardner and Huw Hallam, ‘On the contemporary – and contemporary art history’. A review of Terry Smith, What Is Contemporary Art, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009. 4-AGHH/1

Abstract: This analysis of Terry Smith’s What Is Contemporary Art? evaluates Smith’s ongoing project to theorise contemporary art around the theme of multiple, interconnected temporalities. It questions how this ‘contemporaneity’ differs from the classic teleologism of modernism and postmodern relativism and suggests that Smith’s categories may be valuable for understanding other cultural areas, such as contemporary music. It then raises methodological problems associated with charting the terrain of contemporary art and how they overlap with economic considerations, arguing that the task implies particular forms of privilege that may threaten the autonomy of critical analysis, but that Smith’s work goes some way toward exposing this problem.

Keywords: contemporary art, contemporaneity, contemporary music, aura.

Peter McNeil, ‘“Subterranean influence”: Debating the Life of Ursula Hoff, Art Historian’. A review of Sheridan Palmer. Centre of the Periphery. Three European Art Historians in Melbourne. Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2009 and Colin Holden. The Outsider: A Portrait of Ursula Hoff. Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2009. 4-PMcN/2

Abstract: This extended review compares two approaches to the biography of the art historian Ursula Hoff (1909-2005); Sheridan Palmer’s Centre of the Periphery. Three European Art Historians in Melbourne. Australian Scholarly Publishing. 2009, and Colin Holden’s The Outsider: A Portrait of Ursula Hoff. Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing. 2009. Palmer’s approach outlines a view of post-WW II cultural progress and the ways in which émigré culture contributed to the remaking of Australian social and cultural horizons. This can be contrasted with Holden’s, which makes Hoff’s outsider status as part Jewish and as migrant the very title of his book. The review suggests certain parallels that can drawn between the attitudes and frustrations of Hoff and the novelist Patrick White, the latter a homosexual ‘returned’ émigré. Hoff’s subject position and her distaste for a complacent and snobbish Australian cultural establishment echo White’s contemporaneous views in the 1950s-1970s. Certain approaches to the writing of cultural history, biography and ficto-criticism are highlighted, in order to emphasise the complex work performed by the cultural historian.

Key words: Ursula Hoff, Patrick White, Franz Philipp, Joseph Burke, Jewish diaspora, Australian cultural history, history of collecting.

Documents

Jaynie Anderson, ‘Interrogating Joe Burke and His Legacy: The Joseph Burke Lecture 2005’ 4-JA/2

Abstract: Art history’s history in Melbourne began with the appointment of Joseph Burke (1913-1992) to the Herald Chair of Fine Arts in 1946.  Burke made a number of remarkable appointments with Ursula Hoff, Franz Phillip, and Bernard Smith to create the seminal department of art history in Australia. Burke’s real field of expertise was in the English eighteenth century. Like many intellectuals of the diaspora, he transposed his scholarship to a different society. This article is based on Burke’s correspondence with Daryl Lindsay and Kenneth Clark.  Burke’s support for Australian artists is analysed, notably Hugh Ramsay, Russell Drysdale and Sidney Nolan.

Key words: Kenneth Clark, Sidney Nolan, Hugh Ramsay, Bernard Smith.

Jaynie Anderson, ‘Art history’s history in Melbourne: Franz Philipp in correspondence with Arthur Boyd 4-JA/3

Abstract: The article considers the Austrian born art historian Franz Philipp, who came to Australia and made his  career at the University of Melbourne in the years after the Second World War.  At Vienna Philipp was one of the last pupils of Julius von Schlossser and he brought to Australia the principles of the Vienna School of Art History. Like other art historians of the diaspora he became entranced with Australian art and wrote the first monograph on Arthur Boyd.   His correspondence with Boyd (Archives of the University of Melbourne) shows how European methods of art history allowed Philipp to interpret Boyd’s work in a cross cultural manner.

Key words: Immigration, German refugee Art History, Arthur Boyd, Vienna School of Art History, Mannerism.

Mary Eagle, ‘Multiple Contexts in the first decades of the twentieth century’ 4-ME/1

Abstract: Although national histories and art museums gather the history of Australian art into one story, the sources of inspiration of the works of art tell another story altogether, about a multitude of creative crossovers. The ‘tradition’ made by the icons of Australian art fuses academic, amateur, urban, outback, ceremonial, commissioned, and impromptu works, natural science, visitor’s chance impressions, soliloquies, arrangements, personal adornment, wall decoration; and addresses the viewer in mixtures of many cultural languages —English, German, Scottish, Chinese, Yolgnu, Yuat, Wiradjuri and a hundred others. This chapter (from a thesis) is about art produced in the early 1900s by a Yuat man William Monop (originally from East Victoria Plains in Western Australia) and a woman Margaret Preston (originally from Adelaide) and their creative engagement with ethnographer Daisy Bates (from Ireland) and anthropologist Alfred Radcliffe Brown (from England).

Key words: William Monop, Margaret Preston, Daisy Bates, Arthur Radcliffe Brown, New Norcia, structuralism, modernism.

Alison Inglis, ‘Art at Second Hand: Prints after European Pictures in Victoria before 1870’  4-AI/1

Abstract: This article examines the significance of the large number of European reproductive prints present in the public and private art collections of early colonial Victoria. Several factors are identified as contributing to this popularity, ranging from the suitability of the print medium for the
export market to the existence of informed print connoisseurs amongst colonial collectors and artists.  This article also demonstrates some of the typical features of Australian art history, in that it is concerned with the evaluation of the Australian art world through reference to European culture
(the centre-periphery debate) and also that it limits its discussion to the art of a particular Australian state (Victoria).  The nineteenth-century division of Australia into different colonies had ramifications for Australian art history that continue to the present day – namely, the tendency to interpret colonial artistic activities from a regional perspective.

Key words: Reproductive prints, Australian colonial art, colonial print collecting, colonial exhibitions, print connoisseurship, colonial art market.

Howard Morphy, ‘On the possible role of the Aboriginal Arts Board in the Marketing of Art from Yirrkala’, Submission to the [ANU] Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts 1975 4-HM/2

Abstract: The document is a submission that I made to the Australian Senate Standing Committee on Education Science and the Arts in 1975 following my initial period of fieldwork into the art of the Yolngu people of Eastern Arnhem Land. In my submission I drew attention to the very different markets with which Yolngu art production was engaged, ranging from the general tourist market to the emerging market for Aboriginal fine art. I argued that it was important to recognise the differences between these markets and to ensure that a stronger relationship was developed between the context of production and the marketing of the art. I argued that it was important to ensure that those involved in the purchasing of art and craft locally in the mission context were aware of the complex nature of the global art market in order to ensure the long-term growth and development of regional fine art production. I argued that the Aboriginal Arts Board itself might take on the role of acting as artists’ agents for remote communities, closing the distance between the artists and the market.

Key words: Aboriginal art, marketing of art, Yirrkala, Australia Council, Aboriginal Arts Board, tourist art.

Ronald Radford, ‘Acquiring and presenting Aboriginal art in art museums:  my first 30 years’ 4-RR/1

Abstract: Today, Aboriginal art is celebrated as one of the most popular areas in any Australian art museum. The author charts his role in presenting and acquiring Aboriginal art as art, in art museums, against the backdrop of related developments in the Australian art world. He traces developments from the late 1970s when he was director of the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, though his 23 years at the Art Gallery of South Australia, as a curator then director, to his current position as director of the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, which now has the largest collection and display of Australian Indigenous art. He also describes the steady progress long before his time, some of which has not been documented before, made by art museums around Australia as they gradually accepted, collected and prominently displayed Aboriginal art. He was invited to present this paper.

Key words: Aboriginal art, Art Gallery of South Australia, National Gallery ofAustralia, Clifford Possum, Great Australian Art Exhibition, Aboriginal Memorial, Western desert painting.

Terry Smith, ‘The Provincialism problem’ 4-TS/2

Abstract: The system through which art is created, exhibited, collected, interpreted, and, in some special cases, enters the history of art is not a “natural” order built around the development of Art as such. It is profoundly shaped by an inequitable distribution of reputation-conferring power that is centered on the New York artworld. While artists, critics, curators and others living elsewhere are subject to the provincialising effects of distance from the centre, those working at the centre are also provincials in that they are subject to an internal hierarchy that confers star status on just a few artists at a time. The article explores the patterns of artmaking at peripheries through the example of Australian art, and at the centre through its institutionalized acceptance of “accelerated avant-gardism.” Can the provincialist bind be broken? Only through exceptional acts of critical reflexivity on the part of artists, critics and curators. This must occur at all points in this iniquitous, self-perpetuating system––something that, at the moment, does not seem likely.

Key words: Provincialism, centre-periphery, New York artworld, Australian art, contemporary art, art system.

Terry Smith, ‘Writing the history of Australian art: its past, present and possible future’ 4-TS/3

Abstract: In the years around 1980 the history of Australian art was reconceived in a bewildering variety of ways. A historiographical revolution was underway. This was largely the result of plethora of new approaches to art history that emerged worldwide during the 1970s: contextual, feminist, populist, Marxist. Aboriginal art awaited detailed art historical consideration. This article places these changes in the context of previous efforts to chart the history of Australian art, which the author argues occurred in six phases: colonial, bourgeois nationalist, realist versus aestheticist, modernist, culturalist, and the approaches noted above. Most of these approaches developed in Australia and were applied by local authors. In recent decades, however, “external” approaches are more evident, and are deeply preoccupied with the question of defining modernism in Australia, which they largely fail to do. The author surveys a number of such attempts, taking this question as the paradoxical key to unraveling the overall structure of the history of Australian art.

Key words: Australian art, history of Australian art, historiography, modernism

Susan Steggall, ‘Tradition and its transformation: Joan Kerr, Housewife to historian’ 4-SS/1

Abstract: Australian art and architectural historian Joan Kerr (1938-2004) championed many little-known artists in her democratic approach to Australian art history. As an architectural historian she held strong views on how ‘heritage’ restoration should be conducted. Joan Kerr in context: a biography, from which this essay is taken, is a biography of Joan Kerr, arranged in chapters that deal with particular aspects of her career while also moving forward in time along her life’s journey. Tradition and its transformation: Joan Kerr, housewife to historian focuses on her coming of age as a scholar: her postgraduate studies and subsequent research in architectural history, in particular her impressive body of work on Australian nineteenth-century architecture.

Key words: Joan Kerr; Australia; art history; architectural history; biography.

Daniel Thomas, ‘Art Museums in Australia:  A Personal Retrospect’ 4-DT/2

Abstract: A survey of, and reflections on, the growth of art museums in Australia based on personal experience and involvement. It starts with the early art collections and state galleries and their organisation. It looks at changing patterns of leadership and governance. It considers the roles of inter-state competition, the varying patters of organisation and support and the impact of federal institutions. It reflects on factors of race, gender and ethnicity and also the situation of Australian exhibitions and collections in the Global Village. It considers the effects of popularisation, commercialisation and celebrity culture on exhibition practices. It concludes that Australia’s art museums, more perhaps than any others, have become unusually well-suited to a post-European or post-North Atlantic age.

Key words: Museology, Art Gallery Societies, Australian Gallery Directors Conference, State Galleries, Aboriginal art, post colonialism, crowd-pulling exhibitions, cultural regions and internationalism

Daniel Thomas, ‘Aboriginal Art:  Who was interested?’ 4-DT/1

Abstract: This paper addresses the common assumption that Aboriginal art has been absent from Australian art histories and demonstrates how this is not so. It criticises the notion that art history should be represented by specialised art-history books and argues for the important of art museum displays as texts. It also examines the ways in which Aboriginal art has been examined in literature devoted to Australian history and anthropology. It foregrounds the idea that art’s history is not necessarily best represented by official art historical texts.

Key words: Aboriginal Art, George Grey, Joan Kerr, Mary Eagle, Andrew Sayers and Carol Cooper, Baldwin Spencer, National Museum of Victoria, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Bernard Smith, Charles P. Mountford, Tony Tuckson

Bibliography of art historiography in Australia and New Zealand

Benjamin Thomas, ‘Australian and New Zealand art historiography’ 4-BJT/2

Notices

150 Years of the National Gallery of Victoria 4-NGV/1

Recent publications of the National Gallery of Victoria4-NGV/2

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