Paper Two - Victoria Souliman, "Investigating Australia’s Acquisitions of Modern Art: A Vehicle of National Identity?"

2 November, 2017
5.00 p.m.

A closer look at the acquisition trends of Australia’s major artistic and cultural institutions during the interwar years provides evidences of a delay in the reception of modern art: the Art Gallery of New South Wales acquired its first French impressionist painting, Camille Pissarro’s Peasant’s House, Eragny (1887) in 1935, while numerous public institutions outside Europe had already gathered collections of modern art. However, when considering European artworks acquired by the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the National Gallery of Victoria, there was a growing interest in British contemporary art during the 1920s and 1930s, thereby hinting at an upkeep of national collections driven by political forces. Focusing on a comparative case study of the acquisition policies of these two national galleries, this paper will consider how the onset of their national collection of modern art reflects a lingering interest in, and a sense of identification with, British artistic achievement. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate how, in the context of the interwar period, acquisitions of modern art in Australia reflected a preoccupation with national cultural identity and attempts to maintain a bond with Britain’s artistic heritage.

Location: Schaeffer Seminar Room 210, RC Mills Building A26, Fisher Rd, University of Sydney

Contact:Robert Crompton
Phone:+61 2 9351 1012
Email:robert.crompton@sydney.edu.au