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Australian art Late 20th Century

The Gallery’s collection of Australian art from the late twentieth century is rich and diverse.  It showcases the wide variety of materials, stylistic approaches, and external influences explored by artists from the late-1970s until the turn of the century.

Throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s many artists continued to explore ideas of abstraction and popular culture, including Dale Hickey, Howard Arkley, Robert Rooney and Carol Rudyard.  For others artists, depictions of the Australian landscape and poignant reflections on place, history and the natural world persisted as significant influences.  Artists such as Rosalie Gascoigne became one of Australia’s foremost landscape and assemblage artists; developing a poetic language with found objects in response to her surroundings.  Howard Taylor’s works explore form, light and space searching for an abstract visual language with which to describe the Australian landscape and atmosphere.  

Other artists have reflected on ideas such as personal and cultural identity or the power of text based art.  Bea Maddock has also explored the written word, drawing on diary references as well as extracts of poetry, prose and philosophical texts. One of the key works in the Gallery’s late twentieth century collection is Colin McCahon’s grand painting, Victory over death 2 1970; an example of the artist’s ongoing process of exploring text, faith and meaning in his art and life.  This is complemented in the collection by McCahon’s significant early painting, Crucifixion: the apple branch 1950.