'Tis a decent walk from the bus stop on Carrington Street, Wynyard, across to the Art Gallery, via Martin Place, Sydney Hospital, and The Domain, thence, practically retracing my steps to Dymocks on George Street. My first excursion since the June long weekend, not aided by a 40 minute wait at the bus stop to start the day, my fault, I suspect.
The new exhibition at the gallery, 'Sydney Moderns: Art for a new world' is worth the weariness, however. Showing until the long weekend in October, the exhibition is extensive, hanging 187 works over ten rooms, covering: Introduction; Colour and light; Colour and music; Modern design; Still life; Lanscapes of modernity; The city; A living room designed by Hera Roberts; Cubism; and, Abstraction. Towards the end of the exhibition, rooms that usualy have sofas in the centre, had additional walls for display, at which one cannot scoff, I suppose, but my legs were wobbly come my exit through the shop (no passing GO, no spending $200).
So, what did I like?
|Channelling Cossington Smith's 'Centre of the City' (1925)|
Firstly, the subject was Sydney through the years from the beginning of WW1 to the end of WW2, and for this history devotee, that was probably sufficient. Secondly, it was liberally sprinkled with artists of whom I was totaly ignorant, eg Eric Wilson, Dorrit Black, and Tempe Manning, to name a few. But, the 'biggies' of the genre were there, Grace Cossington Smith, Roy de Maistre, Roland Wakelin, Margaret Preston, Thea Proctor, and Harold Cazeneaux. Remember, the genre is pretty much 'art deco' so it rules out people like Olley and Dobell.
|Margaret Preston's 1930 selfie|
There is an interesting review on Guardian Australia, 'Sydney Moderns: celebrating the city and its female artists' which I think may push its argument too far. It really only dawned on me that this was a theme when I was in front of Preston's stark self portrait, which put me in mind of another female Australian who has been dealt with starkly in recent days, but considering the lead time for an exhibition like this, the link is tenuous, and purely in my own head. I do not know how many male artists vs female artists there are represented, nor do I have a breakdown of works by gender. Suffice to say that Roland Wakefield, and Roy de Maistre are very well represented, probably as much as Preston, Cossington Smith, and Proctor.
But, enough of this angle. The exhibition is worth it just to be able to see the reproduction of Hera Robert's 'Living room', and the covers of 'Home' magazine from 1931. I will return, and attempt to convert my single concession to a season pass. Sorely tempted by a softcover copy of the catalogue for a mere $55 ...