The Struggle of the Modern in Australia


During the past forty years or so in Australia a notable high culture has been created which for all its diversity is both recognizably national and modernist. Examples come easily to mind: Drysdale's landscapes with figures, Nolan's images of Ned Kelly and Mrs Fraser, Tucker's antipodean heads. Arthur Boyd's 'aboriginal bride' series, Voss, Tourmaline, Peter Sculthorpe's Sun Musics. The painters who grew up during the thirties and produced their first major works around the beginning of the war initiated this development. They were inspired by the modern art which they encountered usually at a remove through books, imported periodicals and reproductions, or from an acquaintance with the few European paintings which filtered through to Australia, and they tapped these European sources to create paintings which are distinctly Australian.

The full text of this essay is available to ALS subscribers

Please sign in to access this article and the rest of our archive.

Published 1 May 1984 in Volume 11 No. 3. Subjects: Australian art, Ern Malley Hoax, Modernism.

Cite as: Clunies Ross, Bruce A.. ‘The Struggle of the Modern in Australia.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 11, no. 3, 1984, doi: 10.20314/als.fb157c2efa.