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Transformation in Australian Art by Terry Smith

Transformation in Australian Art by Terry Smith

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Transformation in Australian Art

The Twentieth Century – Modernism and Aboriginality

Volume Two

by Terry Smith

Fine Art Publishing, 2002, [First Edition], ISBN 1877004146, black and white photographs, photographic frontispiece, hardcover, dustjacket

Very Good Condition, minor edge and shelf wear, minor rubbing and bumping edges and corners, ex-library with stickers and stamps to front endpapers, small stamp to top fore edge, dustjacket shows minor edge and shelf wear with a minor rubbing and bumping to edges and corners, sticker residue to front cover and spine (see photographs)

“In this collection of essays Terry Smith tackles tow of the most difficult, yet definitive, themes in Australian art of the twentieth century, Modernism and Aboriginality.
The first essay, ‘What was Australian Modernism?’ pursues the elusive issues of the nature of Modernism during the between-wars period.  Smith then explores the famous lost work by Margaret Preston, Still Life, 1927, as a paradigm example of the adopt, adapt, transform processes which he argues are distinctive of modernist art in settler colonial societies.  In the next chapter, Preston’s Aboriginalist works are compared and contrasted to Albert Namatjira’s usage of Landscape School formats and techniques: and unequal exchange is traced.
Abstract painting in the 1950s and 1960s seemed to be the high point of Modernism in Australian art.  Smith shows how, for Fred Williams, it was adapted to local landscape requirements, and that for artists such as Tony Tuckson it was made provisional by Aboriginal rock art.  For the artists at Central Street Gallery, Modernism was the pathway to internationalism.
Australian artists in transit, Smith argues, made original and powerful contributions to Conceptual Art, leading to its continuing impact on contemporary art in Australia today.  The book concludes with a thorough study of the other great stream of growth in our art: contemporary Aboriginal art.  Smith highlights its persistence, its capacity for diversification, its powerful political force, and its challenges to modernism.”


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