Monday, July 11, 2011

The end of Australian Art at the AGNSW?

Christopher Allen's article "Money Talks" published July 9 informs us that the departments of Contemporary Art and Australian Art have now merged at the Art Gallery of New South Wales(AGNSW).  He describes this as a questionable decision, defining Australian art thus:

"Australian art, as a department within the gallery, is concerned with those periods that are far enough from us to be considered with some historical detachment and a degree of objectivity. It covers everything from the early colonial period to the post-war years up until perhaps 20 or 30 years ago. The 19th and early 20th centuries by now can be discussed in an informed and scholarly manner; more recent generations, and especially when the artists are still living, may still be the subject of disagreements."

It is no surprise that Allen categorises Australian art is this very traditional and staid fashion.  I guess the AGNSW has other ideas. I'm off to Sydney to investigate.  More to come...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Visual Resources for teaching Art History in Australia

The teaching of Art History requires ready access to a range of good quality images, as taking classes of 20 or more to the actual art gallery and hoping that what you are teaching is actually on display is not practical on a week-by-week basis.

Unfortunately, the days of the physical slide and slide projector are behind us but the age of digital archives of Australian art has not yet arrived!

Many art historians have their own database of digital images - some they've imported and some they've photographed themselves. I remember accompanying one famous name through the NGV furiously copying labels while he systematically photographed their collection.

Unfortunately, this state of affairs does not build a living resource that allows student access.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The State of Australian Art History

Two fairly recent newspaper articles sit on my office desk.  They are:  Ned Kelly, ever the outlaw, defies the slowdown in the art market and  Universities are letting Australian art down. I like the juxtaposition, with one article detailing the record price ($5.4 million) paid for a piece of Australian art and the other lamenting the fact that there is a lack of interest in Australian art history.

In the 10 years I have been teaching art history at the University of Melbourne, student numbers have remained fairly steady. What has grown is the number of educational opportunities for learning about Australian art outside the university. Galleries, auction houses and adult education are now offering their own subjects and courses. Many of which are very well attended.

It is great to see such community interest in Australia's cultural heritage; it would be even better to see that translate to greater numbers studying Australian art the tertiary level.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mission Statement

This blog provides a forum for the discussion of all things relevant to the field of Australian art.  The main focus will be on the advancement of scholarly resources, but all contributions on related matters of interest to the art of Australia are welcome. In particular, this blog creates no division between Australian Art and Australian Aboriginal Art but seeks instead to find points of convergence, intersection, influence and communication between the art that grew here and art that didn't.