The American-born James Doolin was a significant figure in the development of colour field painting and minimalist art in Australia, despite residing in this country for only two years. Doolin arrived in Melbourne from New York in 1965 and exhibited his paintings at Gallery A and Central Street Gallery in Sydney during his time in Australia.
Doolin's 'Artificial landscape' series of hard-edge works reference the synthetic forms and colours of the city. In 1969 a sophisticated sub-group of 'arch paintings' evolved out of this series. Characterised by an arched format and airbrushed bands of kaleidoscopic colour, these so-called 'rainbow windows' were produced in California and shipped to Sydney, where they were exhibited to critical acclaim at Central Street Gallery in May/June 1970. In a letter to Tony McGillick, Doolin addressed the response to his 'arch paintings':
to all the questions as to whether they are ‘supposed to be‘ architectural, religious, sexual, metaphysical, mystical, ritualistic, floral, phallic, hard edge or colour field, mechanical or sensual, solid or atmospherical, ancient or modern, special or flat, the answer is yes.
synthetic polymer paint on canvas
206.0 x 137.0 x 3.2 cm stretcher
Signature & date
Signed and dated u.l. verso, black fibre-tipped pen "JAMES DOOLIN/ .../ 1969...".
© Estate of James Doolin
Shown in 3 exhibitions
James Doolin, Central Street Gallery, Sydney, 27 May 1970–13 Jun 1970
Central Street Live:
- Lewers Bequest and Penrith Regional Art Gallery, Emu Plains 16 Nov 2002–23 Feb 2003
- Macquarie University Art Gallery, Sydney 07 Mar 2003–05 May 2003
Forcefields, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 28 Feb 2014–14 Sep 2014
Referenced in 7 publications
Gary Catalano, The years of hope: Australian art and criticism 1959-1968, Melbourne, 1981, 159. General reference to series of 'Artificial landscape' paintings.
Central Street Gallery, James Doolin 'Artificial landscape' paintings 27th May 13th June 1970 Central Street, Sydney, 1970, n.pag..
James Gleeson., Sun-Herald, 'World of art … with James Gleeson: Opposites are valid', Sydney, 31 May 1970, page number unknown. exhibiton review
Elin Howe, Central Street live, Sydney, 2002. no catalogue numbers
Mollie Lyons, The Australian Women's Weekly, 'Social roundabout', pg. 10-11, Sydney, 10 Jun 1970, 11 (colour illus.). Mr and Mrs Bernie Hamill photographed in front of the work at the opening
Eric Riddler, Art and Australia (Vol. 41, No. 1), 'Central Street Live: a 'swinging sixties' phenomenon', pg. 48-49, Sydney, Sep 2003-Nov 2003, 49 (colour illus.). installation view of 'Artificial landscape 6' at Penrith Regional Gallery & the Lewers Bequest venue during the exhibition 'Central Street Live'.
Daniel Thomas., The Sunday Telegraph, 'Art with Daniel Thomas: Rainbow windows', Sydney, 31 May 1970, page number unknown. exhibiton review