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An image of The curve of the bridge by Grace Cossington Smith
Alternate image of The curve of the bridge by Grace Cossington Smith Alternate image of The curve of the bridge by Grace Cossington Smith Alternate image of The curve of the bridge by Grace Cossington Smith
Alternate image of The curve of the bridge by Grace Cossington Smith Alternate image of The curve of the bridge by Grace Cossington Smith Alternate image of The curve of the bridge by Grace Cossington Smith

Grace Cossington Smith

(Australia 1892 – 20 Dec 1984)

The curve of the bridge
Place of origin
SydneyNew South WalesAustralia
Media category
Materials used
oil on cardboard

110.5 x 82.5 cm board; 126.5 x 99.0 x 8.0 cm frame

Signature & date
Signed l.l. corner, black ink "G.Cossington Smith". Not dated.
Purchased with funds provided by the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales and James Fairfax AO 1991
Accession number
© Estate of Grace Cossington Smith
20th & 21st c Australian art
Further information

Throughout its construction, which was completed in 1932, the Sydney Harbour Bridge inspired many artists to redefine their visions of the city and the harbour by incorporating this new industrial structure. This painting shows the massive frame-work in mid-construction, emerging from the shores of North Sydney. It reveals Grace Cossington Smith’s view of the bridge as a dynamic work-in-progress.

In a powerful translation of forms through colour and light, the painting radiates optimism and energy in a celebration of modern engineering and, more broadly, the modern age. The artist made many pencil studies onsite, which she inscribed with notes on colour, took back to her studio and transformed into an iconic expression of Sydney’s most enduring urban monument.

Bibliography (39)

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Great gifts, great patrons: an exhibition celebrating private patronage of the Gallery, Sydney, 1994. no catalogue numbers

Craig Bush, Look, 'Years of enrichment: The society reaches another milestone', pg. 12-15, Newtown, May 2009, 14.

Edmund Capon, Art Gallery of New South Wales: highlights from the collection, Sydney, 2008, 92, 93 (colour illus.).

Edmund Capon, 10 Masterpieces of Australian Painting, Sydney, 1993, (colour illus.).

Paula Dredge, Margaret Sawicki, Steven Miller and Lindsay Parker, S.A. Parker Framing Works, 'Works in the collection with known Parker frames', pg. 27-68, Sydney, 2004, 37 (illus.), 42 (colour illus.).

Laurie Duggan, Ghost nation: imagined space and Australian visual culture 1901-1939, 'The Bridge', pg. 110-117, St. Lucia, 2001, 113, (illus.). reproduced between pages 136-137

Dinah Dysart, Art and Australia (Vol. 46, No. 3), 'Australianness: Daniel Thomas reflects on a lifetime spent on moving art beyond the margins', pg. 438-447, Paddington, 2009, 442 (colour illus.).

Deborah Edwards and Vivienne Webb, Look, 'An icon of Sydney modernism', pg.18-19, South Yarra, Aug 1999, 18.

Deborah Edwards, Art treasures: candidate citites for the 2000 Olympic Games: Beijing, Berlin, Brasilia, Istanbul, Manchester, Sydney, 'The curve of the bridge', pg. 170, Lausanne, 1993, 170, 171 (colour illus.). 6 Sydney

Deborah Edwards, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Moderns', pg. 103-104, Sydney, 2000, 104, 114, 115 (colour illus.), 302.

Peter Gotting, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'To great and absent friends', pg. 14, Sydney, 01 Aug 2000, 14. See Curator's Worksheet for copy of article.

Jane Hampson, Sun-Herald, 'Taking sport out of the picture', pg. 9, Sydney, 30 Jul 2000, 9 (colour illus.). NOTE: page 9 of Sunday Metro lift-out

Deborah Hart, Grace Cossington Smith, 'A distinctive vision', pg. 26-55, Canberra, 2005, 39, 45, 130 (colour illus.), 131-133, 136, 140, 176.

Kathryn Hendy-Ekers, Louise Chamberlin and Deryck Greenwood, Art-iculate: art for VCE units 1-4, 'Grace Cossington Smith', pg. 151-153, Port Melbourne, 2009, 151 (colour illus.).

Bruce James, Australian painters of the twentieth century, 'Grace Cossington Smith', pg. 40-51, Roseville, 2000, 40 (colour illus.), 44.

Bruce James, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Light fantastic', pg. 11, Sydney, 02 Sep 2000, 11. NOTE: page 11 of Spectrum lift-out.

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 102 (colour illus.), 141 (colour illus.). The image on pg. 102 is in detail.

Bruce James, Grace Cossington Smith, Sydney, 1990, 83 (colour illus.). plate no. 38

Sandra Jane, Art is ... making, creating and appreciating 2, Milton, 1999, 222 (colour illus.).

Heather Johnson, Australian art collector, 'Private Pleasure, Public Gain - the influence of private collections', pg. 58-61, Ultimo, Apr 1998-Jun 1998, 58 (colour illus.), 59.

Heather Johnson, Australian Journal of Art (vol. XI), 'The problem of "gendered space": Roy de Maistre and Surrealism', pg. 85-108, Canberra, 1993, 88-89.

Deborah Jones, The Weekend Australian, 'Australian Icons: masters of the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales', pg. 1, Surry Hills, 12 Aug 2000-13 Aug 2000, 1 (colour illus.), 4. This colour supplement is a 'Review Special' published for the 'Weekend Australian'. It consists of a four-page, colour wrap-around for the 'Weekend Australian Review'. 'The Australian' was the media sponsor for the AGNSW Exhibition 'Australian Icons', for the Olympic Arts Festival 2000.

Caroline Mackaness, Bridging Sydney, Sydney, 2006, 167 (colour illus.).

John Masters, Sydney moderns: art for a new world, 'From the sponser', pg. 8, Sydney, 2013, 8, 12 (colour illus.), 34, 154, 155 (colour illus.), 315, 324.

Alan McCulloch and Susan McCulloch, The Encyclopedia of Australian Art, St Leonards, 1994, 404 (colour illus.).

Ewen McDonald, The Art Gallery of New South Wales collections, 'From Colonialism to late Modernism', pg. 7-106, Sydney, 1994, 34, 35 (colour illus.).

Bill Merrilees and Dale Miller, Retailing Management - A Best Practice Approach, Melbourne, 1996, front cover (illus.).

Michael Moy, Sydney Harbour Bridge: Idea to icon, Ashgrove, 2006, 49 (colour illus.).

Barry Pearce, Southern reflections: 10 contemporary Australian artists, 'An Introduction to Australian Art', pg. 34-42, Sydney, 1998, 37 (colour illus.). 7

Barry Pearce., Foundation Newsletter #2, 'Grace Cossington Smith's "Centre of a city" c1925', Sydney, May 2003.

Barry Pearce, Look: 1953-2003 celebrating 50 years, 'Presenting our own artists: how the AGS put balance into the Australian collection', pg. 42-44, Sydney, May 2003, 43 (colour illus.).

Barry Pearce, Look, 'Jewel of a painting returns: Out of Australian sight for nearly ninety years', pg. 12-13, Newtown, Mar 2010, 12.

Lisa Slade and Rachael Kirsten, Enter Art, Sydney, 2000, sheet number 4 (colour illus.). Education kit produced by the NSW Dept of Education and Training as teaching resource for primary school teachers.

Susannah Smith, Look, 'Women's work: their diverse and significant contribution to the modernist art scene', pg. 13-15, Newtown, Aug 2013, 14.

Jill Sykes, Look, ‘Barry Pearce’s next book-call it “segueing with intent”’, pg. 28-29, Newtown, Mar 2012, 28, 29 (colour illus.).

Wayne Tunnicliffe and Deborah Edwards, Look, 'New Australia', pg. 24-27, Newtown, May 2012, 24, 27 (colour illus.),.

Sydney Ure Smith and Leon Gellert (Editors), Art in Australia [series 3, no. 29], Sydney, Sep 1929, (illus.). plate no. 26; "'The Bridge Curve' (in possession of Mrs G. MacDermott.)"

Judith White (Editor), Look, South Yarra, Apr 1999, cover (colour illus.), 5 (colour illus.). This image appearing on the cover is in detail.

Editor Unknown (Editor), Australian artist, 'Australian Icons at the Art Gallery of New South Wales', pg, 4-5, Chatswood, Aug 2000, 5 (colour illus.).

Exhibition history (9)

An Exhibition of Paintings and drawings by Lionel T. Crawshaw, R.S.W., Mrs. Lionel Crawshaw and Grace Cossington Smith, Walker's Galleries, United Kingdom, 22 Apr 1932–12 May 1932

Art Treasures of Olympic Cities, Lausanne Olympic Museum, 22 Jun 1993–03 Oct 1993

Great gifts, great patrons, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 17 Aug 1994–19 Oct 1994

Australian icons: twenty artists from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Aug 2000–03 Dec 2000

Grace Cossington Smith: a retrospective exhibition (2005):

Bridging Sydney, Museum of Sydney, Sydney, 16 Dec 2006–29 Apr 2007

Australian modern masterpieces from the Art Gallery of New South Wales:

Sydney Moderns, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Jul 2013–07 Oct 2013

Australian Art Quest, State Theatre