This high-keyed, optically thrilling painting was the first work by Aspden to be acquired by the Art Gallery of New South Wales. It reveals the artist’s genesis in the avant-garde of 1960s Sydney in which a generation of young painters – inspired by contemporary developments abroad, most significantly in the United States – turned to a highly refined and reductive formalism as a new way of thinking about and making art. In this ‘new abstraction’, concerns of subject and social or geographical context were subsumed by the purist, formal qualities of the work.
While Aspden’s early experimentation in the 1960s with shaped canvases, expanses of uniform colour and hard-edged geometic forms gave way to a freer, more painterly style in the 1970s, some elements of his early hard-edge colour-field phase remained. These included his habit of working on a large scale, his fascination with colour and formal relationships within an image, and his interest in the idea of art as an experience, in which the autonomous object had a direct and active relationship with the viewer.
synthetic polymer paint on canvas
152.4 x 244.0 x 2.8 cm stretcher
Signature & date
Signed and dated c. verso, black fibre-tipped pen "ASPDEN 69".
Purchased with funds provided by an anonymous purchase fund for contemporary Australian art 1970
Not on display
© Karen Aspden
Shown in 5 exhibitions
David Aspden (1969), Gallery A (Melbourne), South Yarra, 04 Aug 1969–23 Aug 1969
Hard Edge, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 07 Aug 1999–24 Oct 1999
Australian abstraction 1965-1985: from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 09 Dec 2006–25 Jan 2007
Forcefields, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 28 Feb 2014–14 Sep 2014
Birth of the Cool:
- Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum of Art, Adelaide 17 Jul 2015–18 Sep 2015
- Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University, Canberra 06 Nov 2015–21 Dec 2015
Referenced in 12 publications
Bruce Adams, Sunday Australian, 'Tailor-made for cultural limbo', pg. 22, Sydney, 30 Apr 1972.
Gallery A (Melbourne), David Aspden (1969), Melbourne, 1969. cat.no. 4
G.E.W. Harriott (Editor), The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Art prizes awarded', pg. 10, Sydney, 14 Jul 1972.
Terence Maloon, Birth of the cool, Canberra, 2015, 3 (colour illus.), 5 (colour illus.), 42. cat.no. 2
Patrick McCaughey., Age, 'Stamina, a realist and some graffiti', Melbourne, 06 Aug 1969. Exhibition review.
Alan McCulloch., The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Making the eye twitch', Sydney, 06 Aug 1969.
John McDonald, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Harmonious effects', pg. 14-15, Sydney, 13 Aug 2011-14 Aug 2011, 14. Article appears in 'Spectrum' supplement.
Hal Missingham (Editor), Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, Sydney, Jul 1971, 606. Special Gifts
Helen Campbell with Eric Riddler, David Aspden: the colour of music and place, 'Chronology', pg. 79-85, Sydney, 2011, 14-15 (colour illus.), 80, 88.
Daniel Thomas, Gallery A Sydney 1964 - 1983, 'Ralph Balson and Gallery A', pg. 103-115, Campbelltown, 2009, 101 (illus.), 110 (colour illus.), 112.
Alan Warren., Herald Sun, 'Tuning in to an artist', Port Melbourne, 06 Aug 1969. Exhibition review.
Natalie Wilson, Tackling THE FIELD, 'Tackling The Field', pg. 1-29, Sydney, 2009, 4 (colour illus.), 25. NOTE: This work was hung in an adjoining room for the duration of the 'Tackling THE FIELD' collection focus display.