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Art of Australia, 1788-1941

October 2 – October 26, 1941
Ground Floor, Central Gallery

Installation view of Art of Australia, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Gallery Archives

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

Overview: More than 70 paintings, watercolors, drawings, bark drawings, and works of sculpture were included in this exhibition. It was the first comprehensive exhibition of Australian art shown in the United States. The works came from the National Galleries of New South Wales; Victoria, South Australia; Queensland, Western Australia; and Tasmania; and were supplemented by loans from artists and collectors. Sent to the United States by the Commonwealth of Australia under the auspices of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the material was selected by a committee that included the directors of the galleries of Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide. Theodore Sizer, director of Yale University Art Gallery, served as advisor. The exhibition presented a cycle, starting with the work of the aborigines, continuing with the dominating styles of 19th-century British art, and ending with the influence of aborigine work as a basis for a new outlook for the national art of Australia.

Organization: The exhibition was circulated by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, then to other museums in the United States and Canada. 61 of the catalogued works were shown only in Canada. The exhibition in Washington contained works from the collection of the wife of the Australian ambassador.

Catalog: Art of Australia, 1788-1941, by Sydney Ure Smith. New York: Museum of Modern Art for the Carnegie Corporation, 1941.