The art of life
A National Gallery of Australia Travelling Exhibition
Douglas Annand 'Lady with feather in hat [Cover design for 'The Home', Vol. 16, No. 4, April 1935]' 1935 steel, feathers and black paper on fabric mounted on card Collection of the National Gallery of Australia click to enlarge
Douglas Annand was a graphic desiger, watercolourist, textile designer, muralist and sculptor of enormous ability and great style who was quite appropriatly described as 'the most brilliant and versatile eclectic in this country'.1 The exhibition Douglas Annand: the art of life is the first to recognise his enormous contribution to the deveopment of modernism in Australia.
Born in Toowoomba in 1903, Annand grew up in Brisbane. He moved to Sydney in 1930 and was soon successfully freelancing as a design consultant. From the thirties on he created a sophisticated corporate image for many of Australia's large companies, including Atlantic Union Oil, Farmer's, David Jones and Orient Line (later P & O). He produced innovative and stylish cover designs for The Home, while his stunning photomontage poster designs for the Australian National Travel Association broke new ground in modern design. In 1937 he designed new Australian coins and his kangaroo penny remains as one of the most iconic images in Australian design. As Art Director for the Australian Pavilion at the 1939 New York World's Fair Annand brought Australia to the forefront of international design. His work in murals developed from this time and he eventually won the Sulman Prize for his murals for Bathurst Public School, Jantzen and the Orient Line.
Annand was part of an Australian graphic design tradition which was concerned more with art and aestheics than commercialisation. Unlike most of his colleagues, Annand chose not to work overseas and instead set new standards for Australian designers, creating images that were international in their philosophy yet typically Australian and always typically Annand.
He served as a camouflage artist during the Second World War. Always a keen observer of the beauty and detail of the world around him, he spent every spare moment filling sketchbooks with drawings and watercolours. It was a passion which continued throughout his life.
From the mid-forties Annand produced stylish textile designs and then moved on to experiment in another new range of media. In the fifties and sixties his sculpture and screens in glass and metals evolved from the figurative and two-dimensional to the abstract, organic and three-dimensional, typified by his dramatic works in Sydney's Anzac House, Liner House and C.S.R. and P & O Headquarters. Annand loved to experiment with line and form and with the treatment, combination and use of materials. He designed with energy, humour and originality.
One lifetime was not long enough for Douglas Annand. He had planned to travel and work until he was ninety, but in 1976 he suffered a stroke and died shortly after, aged seventy-three.
1. Alan McCulloch 'Art Review: Coordination and a Satirist' in The Herald (Melbourne), 21 March 1956, p. 18
- Heide Museum of Modern Art, Bulleen VIC 17 February - 9 June 2003
- Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane QLD 12 July - 31 August 2003
- Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery, Toowoomba QLD 13 September - 16 November 2003
- Australian National Maritime Musuem, Sydney NSW 3 March – 9 May 2004