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Australian art Surrealism

Surrealism, the great revolutionary movement originating in France in the 1920s, was to change the course of Australian art in the 1940s. While there was no organised Surrealist movement in Australia its importance lies in the fact that some of Australia’s leading artists were influenced by Surrealism at a formative period of their careers. James Gleeson was Australia’s most prominent Surrealist.  His works explored ideas of an alternative reality experienced through dreams, hallucinations, and unsettled mental states.  Artists such as Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker, Arthur Boyd, Robert Klippel, Dusan Mareck, Peter Purves-Smith, James Cant, Ivor Francis, Max Ebert and Max Dupain took some of the ideas of this movement to enrich their art and the impact it had at that time and on their future development was decisive.

In 2007, the National Gallery of Australia acquired the Agapitos/Wilson collection of Australian Surrealism, through purchase and the generous donation of Ray Wilson OAM and the late James Agapitos OAM. The Agapitos/Wilson collection includes 285 paintings, prints, collages, drawings, photographs and sculptures by the foremost artists associated with Surrealist art practice in Australia, covering the period 1925 to 1955. This collection combined with the Gallery’s existing holdings of Australian and international Surrealism to become the pre-eminent collection of Surrealist art in Australia.