Sydney Moderns

Art Life , Exhibitions Jul 12, 2013 No Comments

From Sharne Wolff

There’s nothing about Sydney Moderns that Sydneysiders and visitors won’t love. Lines and curves abound as the show begins with a clique of pictures heralding the beginnings of “the new world” in the 1920s – signalled by the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Co-curators Deborah Edwards and Denise Mimmocchi have paired old favourites with many lesser-known (or seen) gems including a group of “lost moderns” like the wonderful Tempe Manning. There are so many pictures from Roy de Maistre and Roland Wakelin that it’s almost possible to overdose on their musical colour-charged experiments. Well-travelled modern women like Thea Proctor, Margaret Preston, Grace Cossington Smith and Dorrit Black are appropriately celebrated. Preston’s homages to traditional Aboriginal design feature heavily. Still life pictures and painted interiors also reflect the influence of female artists and the domestic effects of War.


Views of Sydney harbourside suburbs and bays get a good run although fewer landscapes in this show reveals their lesser significance to the theme. If that isn’t enough already, there are a bunch of stunning photographs by Max Dupain, Harold Cazneaux and unsung star, Olive Cotton. Amongst the most interesting works are many of Frank Hinder’s spectacular ‘futuropolis’ visions that still look fresh today. Two large rooms of Australian cubist works illustrate how the style evolved in Australia. The show rounds off with an array of dazzling colour abstractions from Hinder, Crowley, Ralph Balson and more.

Until October 7
Art gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
Pic: Roy de Maistre, Rhythmic composition in yellow green minor 1919. Courtesy of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. © Caroline de Mestre Walker.

Sharne Wolff

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