The curve of the bridge
Grace Cossington Smith
1892 - 20 Dec 1984
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.
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
© Estate of Grace Cossington Smith
Where the work was made
Shown in 10 exhibitions
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
O'Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Making Modernism:
- Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne 12 Oct 2016–19 Feb 2017
- Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane 11 Mar 2017–11 Jun 2017
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 01 Jul 2017–02 Oct 2017
Australian Art Quest, State Theatre
Referenced in 42 publications
Craig Bush, Look, 'Years of enrichment: The society reaches another milestone', pg. 12-15, Sydney, May 2009, 14.
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, Sydney, 2009, 442 (colour illus.).
Deborah Edwards, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Moderns', pg. 103-104, Sydney, 2000, 104, 114, 115 (colour illus.), 302.
Deborah Edwards and Vivienne Webb, Look, 'An icon of Sydney modernism', pg.18-19, Melbourne, 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.). cat.no. 6 Sydney
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.
Bruce James, Australian painters of the twentieth century, 'Grace Cossington Smith', pg. 40-51, Sydney, 2000, 40 (colour illus.), 44.
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, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Light fantastic', pg. 11, Sydney, 02 Sep 2000, 11. NOTE: page 11 of Spectrum lift-out.
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, Sydney, 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.
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.
Tomislav Nikolic, Look, 'The art that made me', Sydney, May 2018-Jun 2018, 24 (colour illus.).
Barry Pearce., Foundation Newsletter #2, 'Grace Cossington Smith's "Centre of a city" c1925', Sydney, May 2003.
Barry Pearce, Look, 'Jewel of a painting returns: Out of Australian sight for nearly ninety years', pg. 12-13, Sydney, Mar 2010, 12.
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, Southern reflections: 10 contemporary Australian artists, 'An Introduction to Australian Art', pg. 34-42, Sydney, 1998, 37 (colour illus.). fig.no. 7
Susannah Smith, Look, 'Women's work: their diverse and significant contribution to the modernist art scene', pg. 13-15, Sydney, Aug 2013, 14.
Jill Sykes, Look, ‘Barry Pearce’s next book-call it “segueing with intent”’, pg. 28-29, Sydney, Mar 2012, 28, 29 (colour illus.).
Wayne Tunnicliffe and Deborah Edwards, Look, 'New Australia', pg. 24-27, Sydney, May 2012, 24, 27 (colour illus.),.
Judith White, art lovers: the story of the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales 1953-2013, 'Chapter 5: Be part of the art 1988-2000', pp. 111-138, Sydney, 2013, 2-3 (illus.), 115, 226, 227 (colour illus.).
Jane Wynter, Look, 'Vale James Fairfax', Sydney, May 2017-Jun 2017, 17 (colour illus.).
Art is ... making, creating and appreciating 2, Milton, 1999, 222 (colour illus.).
S.A. Parker Framing Works, 'Works in the collection with known Parker frames', pg. 27-68, Sydney, 2004, 37 (illus.), 42 (colour illus.).
Bridging Sydney, Sydney, 2006, 167 (colour illus.).
Retailing Management - A Best Practice Approach, Melbourne, 1996, front cover (illus.).
AGNSW Collections, 'From Colonialism to late Modernism', pg. 7-106, Sydney, 1994, 34, 35 (colour illus.).
The Encyclopedia of Australian Art, St Leonards, 1994, 404 (colour illus.).
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.
Sydney Harbour Bridge: Idea to icon, Ashgrove, 2006, 49 (colour illus.).
10 Masterpieces of Australian Painting, Sydney, 1993, (colour illus.).
Art Gallery of New South Wales: highlights from the collection, Sydney, 2008, 92, 93 (colour illus.).
Grace Cossington Smith, Sydney, 1990, 83 (colour illus.). plate no. 38
Art in Australia [series 3, no. 29], Sydney, Sep 1929, (illus.). plate no. 26; "'The Bridge Curve' (in possession of Mrs G. MacDermott.)"
Art-iculate: art for VCE units 1-4, 'Grace Cossington Smith', pg. 151-153, Port Melbourne, 2009, 151 (colour illus.).
Great gifts, great patrons: an exhibition celebrating private patronage of the Gallery, Sydney, 1994. no catalogue numbers
Australian artist, 'Australian Icons at the Art Gallery of New South Wales', pg, 4-5, Chatswood, Aug 2000, 5 (colour illus.).
Look, Melbourne, Apr 1999, cover (colour illus.), 5 (colour illus.). This image appearing on the cover is in detail.
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