Sydney encounters with modernism, modernity and style moderne
The Gallery’s exhibition Sydney moderns: art for a new world is a visual feast, showcasing the astonishing array of responses to modernism by Sydney’s artists from the post-WWI years to the 1940s.
At a time when Sydney itself was modernising, beginning to emerge as a sophisticated city of the world with civic projects such as the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the adoption of art deco practices in its architecture, this city was boldly bursting into maturity.
To coincide with the exhibition, this eight-part lecture course presents an in-depth exploration of the many facets of modernism that Sydney’s artists, photographers, designers and architects experimented with in their work, and the changes in society that paralleled this creative explosion.
The course brings together experts from across the spectrum, with an introductory lecture by exhibition co-curator Denise Mimmocchi that will place the exhibition and the course in context.
Each session will be hosted and include readings by distinguished Australian actor John Derum. There are two lectures per session.
The exhibition Sydney moderns: art for a new world is sponsored by the Gallery’s members organisation – the Art Gallery Society of NSW – in its 60th anniversary year.
Image: Thea Proctor The seaside c1923 (detail), Cbus collection of Australian art 1991.37 © AGNSW
Sundays 23 June - 4 August 2013, 10.30am
Bookings and enquiries: 02 9225 1878
Link above is for subscription tickets
Ticket price includes lecture entry, coffee during intermission and a glass of wine after the session.
Cancellations: Three full working days (Mon–Fri) notice is required to qualify for a refund. All refunds attract an administration charge of 25% of the ticket price(s) with a minimum charge of $5. With subscription tickets there are no refunds for single sessions unless a session is cancelled. Not negotiable.
Duration 2 hours, 30 minutes
Location: Domain Theatre
Related exhibition: Sydney moderns
Sunday 23 June
The co-curator of Sydney moderns provides an overview of the themes and works in the exhibition.
Murdoch’s modern: The Herald Exhibition of French and British Contemporary Art
The Herald Exhibition of French and British Contemporary Art is remembered as one of the most enlivening events in Australia’s modern cultural development. Opening when Australia was undergoing profound change, it became the focus for the opposing forces of cultural conservatism and cultural growth which marked the time.
Sunday 23 June 2013 10:30am – 1pm
Sunday 30 June
Flappers, speedos and the new look: fashion in Australia in the 20s, 30s and 40s
Claudia Chan Shaw
The modern Australian woman emerged in the 1920s with a taste for the high style and frivolity of the time. She desired the glamour of Hollywood in the 1930s and experienced the lows of economic depression and world war. By the end of the 1940s optimism returned and with it, the beginnings of an Australian look.
Sydney synaesthesia: colour music painting and colour and light
An outstanding feature of the Sydney modernists was their preoccupation and experimentation with colour painting and colour theory. In 1919 Roy de Maistre and Roland Wakelin staged the Colour in art exhibition, the first public showing of ‘colour music paintings’ in Australia. This was an era when the idea of colour-music synchromism became central in the development of abstraction.
Sunday 30 June 2013 10:30am – 1pm
Sunday 7 July
To be young was very heaven
Jill Julius Matthews
Whether their taste was high, middle or low brow, whether their purse was slim or fat, for young Sydneysiders modernity and modernism were commodities available for purchase. Movie mad, star struck and dance crazy, Sydney youth rushed to buy the new in a marketplace geared for pleasure.
Australian moderne on Broadway: Judith Anderson in New York, 1924-34
Adelaide-born actress Judith Anderson is best known for her role as Mrs Danvers in Hitchcock’s 1940 Rebecca or as Medea on Broadway in 1947. She is lesser known as one of the many Australians who made their way to Hollywood and Broadway in the teens and twenties of last century. This lecture will discuss this exodus and focus in detail on how Anderson’s unusual style made her a New York fashion icon during the period 1924-34.
Sunday 7 July 2013 10:30am – 1pm
Sunday 14 July
Sydney in black and white
Black and white art is a vital element in the economies of the Australian art world c1910-40. Prints and drawings made for mass reproduction, especially cartoons of Sydney, are an extraordinary index to daily life that both complement and explode the heady drawing room debates swirling around the ability of traditional art to represent the experiences of contemporary urban life.
Being modern: Sydney photographers of the 1920s and 30s
Sydney photographers dominated the modern photography movement, producing works that have since become iconic. This lecture will consider their diverse contributions and their long-term significance, focusing on the work of Harold Cazneaux, Olive Cotton and Max Dupain.
Sunday 14 July 2013 10:30am – 1pm
Sunday 21 July
Still life as laboratory table
A new visual language for the 20th century was largely carried out through the most humble of subject matter – vases of flowers, bowls of fruit, pots and pans. This lecture looks at how Sydney artists adopted still-life subjects to make larger statements on the pictorial recoding of the world and for establishing modernist elements of expression in their painting practices.
Sydney’s modernist poet: Kenneth Slessor (1901-1971)
Much influenced by the leading inter-war modernists in poetry, TS Eliot and Ezra Pound, Kenneth Slessor published poems (such as ‘William Street’) and collections (such as Darlinghurst nights and Five bells), evoking, with a vivid visual sense, the urban scene of Kings Cross, where he lived for many years, and the city’s luminous harbour. This lecture will consider Slessor’s poetry both in relation to modernism and to his own distinctive voice, in a reading of several of his best-known poems.
Sunday 21 July 2013 10:30am – 1pm
Sunday 28 July
Upstairs downstairs: The Burdekin House exhibition 1929
The Burdekin House exhibition was the culmination of jazz-age Sydney. This lecture recounts how the exhibition came about, what it looked like, and what the impact was of what is now regarded as an iconic moment in Australian modernism.
Parallel modernisms: Japan, Sydney and AL Sadler
Unbeknownst to most contemporary Australians, Japan was developing modernism in parallel with Australia. Arthur L Sadler, Chair of Oriental Studies at the University of Sydney, was one of the informed few. In Sydney, Sadler advocated for simplicity, derived from Japanese tea ceremony principles, for modernist aesthetics in interior and garden design.
Sunday 28 July 2013 10:30am – 1pm
Sunday 4 August
Sydney’s art-deco city
This lecture will highlight how the city changed in the interwar years, the hallmarks of art deco in Sydney during this era and the legacy for our city today. It will focus on the new forms of entertainment provided by nightclubs, coffee shops, department stores, pubs and theatres.
Modern bodies: from beach to gymnasium
The period between the wars saw artists such as Raynor Hoff, Charles Meere, Napier Waller and Max Dupain develop a new image of the sexually charged body based on classical ideals. The notion of the perfect sun-bronzed Australian body endures into the 21st century as an iconic and nationalistic image that we are reluctant to relinquish.
Sunday 4 August 2013 10:30am – 1pm
Sunday 11 August
Modern women: in the sky, in the suburbs, in The Home magazine
Women modernists took up the challenge of representing – perhaps even creating – a completely new subject: the modern woman. They were themselves of a generation that had witnessed the old world dying on the Flanders fields, and knew that their job was in part to build a new, modern nation. Not surprisingly, they painted modern women as active agents in postwar urban life, rather than bit-players at the periphery of the national story.
The new dawn: modernism in Australia post-WWII
Modernism in Australian cultural practice c1920-40 was limited to small elites, easily satirised and often dismissed. In contrast, post-WWII the once frightening experimental and provisional nature of those ideas become normalised and mainstream. Examining the work of key artists, designers and architects, this lecture will discuss this shift in taste.
Sunday 11 August 2013 10:30am – 1pm