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Australian art

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Graph segments



Carl Plate


19 Dec 1909 - 15 May 1977


Following five years in Europe where he studied under Bernard Meninsky, Carl Plate returned to Sydney in 1940, bringing with him an intimate knowledge of works by contemporary British artists, including Henry Moore, Graham Sutherland, and Barbara Hepworth, and influencing the subsequent direction of his painting.

Plate's work during the 1940s and 1950s moved progressively towards abstraction, and reflected his belief in the Surrealist theory of unconscious creative impulses, the metamorphosis of natural objects and the expression of extra-sensory experience.

'Graph segments' belongs to a group of paintings produced in the early 1960s notable for their large scale and dynamic application of mellow earth colours, and re-affirm his belief in the employment of randomness and chance in art as practiced by Surrealist artists Paul Klee and André Breton.

In an interview with Laurie Thomas in 1968, Plate remarked:
"One is aware of a dimension which is non-visual - but you can’t be too explicit about it - to make something visually which doesn't relate specifically to anything visual but which exists in a timeless area. A thing which has been created as something to look at must somehow incorporate within itself all the concentrated experience which may or may not create a reaction in the person who looks at it. I would like to think that somewhere, somehow, in my pictures is something that people can respond to; but I'm humble enough to wonder whether they can ...".

Australian Art Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2001




Media category


Materials used

diptych: synthetic polymer paint on canvas


each panel 137.0 x 183.0 cm stretcher; 137.0 x 366.0 cm stretcher overall; 139.7 x 369.0 x 4.0 cm frame overall :

a - left panel, 137 x 183 cm

b - right panel, 137 x 183 cm

Signature & date

Signed and dated u.r. corner right panel [part b], black oil "Carl Plate '63-4".


Purchased 1979


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Carl Plate

Works in the collection


Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 4 publications


Sasha Grishin, Australian art: a history, 'John Olsen and the anxious image', pg. 386-397, Carlton, 2013, 393, 394 (colour illus.), 551, 567. plate no. 37.7

Barry Pearce, Three years on: a selection of acquisitions 1978-1981, 'Australian Art', pg. 5-26, Sydney, 1981, 6, 20 (illus.). 31

Laurie Thomas., The Australian, 'Seeing what isn't there', Sydney, 02 Oct 1968, page unknown. A work titled 'Graph segments' is mentioned, Thomas stating that 'this work was included in the Australian exhibition which toured Europe some years ago', and that it 'is one of the finest paintings of the past 20 years'. As the Gallery's 'Graph segments' did not come into the collection until 1979, it is difficult to say with certainty whether the Gallery's painting is the one to which Thomas is refering. A number of works exist from the Segments series. This, however, is an excellent article on the artist and Plate is quoted extensively.

Anne Watson., Project 22: Carl Plate 1909-1977, 'The Paintings', Sydney, 1977. 20; Collection of Mrs Jocelyn Plate