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Collection Introduction

Australian art

The National Gallery of Australia's collection of Australian art reflects its unique national responsibility to present the story of visual art in Australia.

The collection includes works of consistently high quality and outstanding aesthetic merit – works by artists from all Australian states and territories and by Australian artists working overseas, as well as works by artists living for a time in Australia. The wide-ranging collection of the work of Indigenous artists from all regions and urban areas of Australia is discussed separately on this site at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.

The Gallery's permanent displays of Australian art are presented in an integrated and broadly chronological arrangement of works from the earliest colonial period to the present day: paintings and sculptures, works on paper, photographs and other photomedia, decorative arts and design. Because of New Zealand's geographical and historical proximity to Australia, works by New Zealand artists are collected selectively and often displayed alongside Australian works.

Key paintings and sculptures are continually on display, although from time to time works are interchanged. Works by contemporary Australian artists are changed more regularly in order to represent the variety of contemporary art in the collection. The changeover of light sensitive prints, drawings, photographs and textiles, which occurs a number of times each year, offers rotating highlights of the extensive holdings of Australian works in these mediums. The Gallery's commitment to providing the widest possible access to its collections is carried through in its exhibitions travelling across Australia and in loans to institutions within Australia and overseas.

New acquisitions

Events

Special focus

Related exhibition sites

Select Publications

  • At home in Australia  Peter Conrad, 2003, National Gallery of Australia, in association with Thames and Hudson
  • Australian Art in the National gallery of Australia, Anne Gray, editor, National Gallery of Australia 2002
  • Australian folk and popular art in the Australian National Gallery John McPhee, 1988
  • Building the collection Pauline Green, editor, 2003
  • Federation : Australian art and society 1901-2001  John McDonald 2000
  • Grace Cossington Smith  Deborah Hart, editor 2005
  • Home sweet home: works from the Peter Fay collection, 2003
  • Joy Hester and friends Deborah Hart, 2001
  • National Sculpture Prize and exhibition, 2005, 2005
  • National Sculpture Prize and exhibition, 2003, 2003
  • Place made: Australian Print Workshop  Roger Butler and Anne Virgo editors 2004
  • Read my lips: Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman  Kathryn Weir 1998
  • Tales of the unexpected: aspects of contemporary Australian art,  Deborah Hart, 2002
  • The Antipodeans: challenge and response in Australian art 1945-1965, 1999
  • The Edwardians: secrets and desires  Anne Gray; with essays by Ann Galbally, 2004
  • The prints of Margaret Preston: a catalogue raisonné Roger Butler, 2005
  • Uncommon world: aspects of contemporary Australian art 2000

 

Image above:
Ramingining Artists 
The Aboriginal Memorial 1987–88
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Purchased with the assistance of funds from National Gallery admission charges and commissioned in 1987

  1. Colonial NSW & Tasmania

  2. Early European images of the Pacific, Colonial Victoria & South Australia

  3. Australian Impressionism

  4. Expatriates, Federation Landscapes & Symbolism

  5. Modern Women

  6. Moderns

  7. Surrealism

  8. Expressionism & Social Realism

  9. Abstraction: Spirit and Place

  10. Social Comment & Hard Edged Abstraction

  11. Australian Decorative Arts

  12. Late 20th Century

  13. Contemporary

  14. Sidney Nolan - Ned Kelly