We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Arums growing

circa 1927


Grace Cossington Smith


1892 – 20 Dec 1984

Artist profile

  • Details

    Other Title
    Lilies in a garden
    circa 1927
    Media category
    Materials used
    oil on cardboard
    48.6 x 38.5 cm board
    Signature & date

    Signed l.r., black ink? "G. Cossington Smith". Not dated.

    Purchased with the support of the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales through the Dagmar Halas Bequest 2016
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Estate of Grace Cossington Smith

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    Artist information
    Grace Cossington Smith

    Artist profile

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Grace Cossington Smith's art of the 1920s elaborated on the idea of the energies and vital movements of growth that underpinned the natural world. Her pulsating, colour-saturated brushwork became a primary metaphor for describing the metaphysics of a world in perpetual motion.

    During this decade, Cossington Smith developed concepts concerning 'decorative' (or non-naturalistic) organisation in her art. Her paintings suggest her knowledge of the work of Matisse as well as a renewed study of the art of Gauguin. It was from the interactions between rhythmic movement and decorative form in Gauguin that Cossington Smith appears to have absorbed the principle of entirely covering the surface of the composition without a focal point.

    Cossington Smith applied these aesthetic strategies to her depictions of the natural world. She painted both the minutiae and sublime expanse of the landscape, creating innovative works that suggest the dynamic, unseen sensations of organic life forms.

    In 'Arums growing' c1927, Cossington Smith creates a cropped, condensed composition of criss-crossing forms of leaves and flowers. She presents a weaving of plant forms that appear as an impenetrable organic force. Cossington Smith has here elaborated on the patterned tapestry-like surface effect gleaned from the work of Gauguin. But the painting is also telling of Cossington Smith's distinct application of colour through vibrating brushwork into rhythmically abstracting forms as the methods by which she extended Gauguin's example to create a unique, modern portrayal of nature.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 3 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 1 publication

    • Denise Mimmocchi, Look, 'Grace Cossington Smith: Arums growing 1926', Sydney, Nov 2016-Dec 2016, 30 (colour illus.).

Other works by Grace Cossington Smith

See all 26 works