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Australian art

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Luna Park



Sidney Nolan

Australia, England

22 Apr 1917 - 28 Nov 1992


Sidney Nolan began his career in Melbourne in 1938 at the age of 21, a largely self-taught, consciously determined innovator. Work by Picasso, Cézanne, Rousseau, Matisse and van Gogh that he saw in the 1939 Herald exhibition of French and British contemporary art at the Melbourne Town Hall profoundly affected his visual imagination.

From the outset, Nolan drew on elements in the everyday world around him that lent themselves to abstraction. In 'Luna Park', inspired by the linear ironwork grid of the Big Dipper at St Kilda’s celebrated fun fair, Nolan transforms the structure into a pattern of graceful arabesques and rectangles set against the vivid colours of the fair and sky beyond.


Video 19:54

Violence and sunlight: the art of Sidney Nolan

Watch on Gallery Channel




Media category


Materials used

nitrocellulose lacquer on canvas


67.0 x 84.0 cm stretcher; 78.7 x 95.5 x 3.3 cm frame

Signature & date

Dated l.l., black synthetic polymer paint ".../ 41".


Purchased with funds provided by the Nelson Meers Foundation 2003


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Sidney Nolan

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 29 publications


Brian Adams, Sidney Nolan: such is life, Melbourne, 1987, 46. Refers to the series of Luna Park and St Kilda paintings.

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales Annual Report 2004, 'Collection: Australian art', pg. 19-20, Sydney, 2004, 19.

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales annual report 2003 [for the year ended 30 June 2003], Sydney, 2003, 9, 14, 15 (colour illus.).

Helen Campbell, Look, 'Drysdale textile design... and other surprising 'rediscoveries'', pg. 30, Sydney, Aug 2014, 30.

Edmund Capon AM, OBE, Foundation Newsletter #2, Sydney, May 2003, (colour illus.).

Jane Clark, Sidney Nolan - landscapes and legends: a retrospective exhibition 1937 - 1987, Sydney, 1987, 37. Refers to the series of Luna Park and St Kilda paintings.

Dulcie Deamer., Truth, 'Why will our artists gibber?', Sydney, 14 Sep 1941, (illus.). Review of the Contemporary Art Society exhibition, in which this painting was shown in September 1941.

Deutscher-Menzies Fine Art, The Sydney auction: Australian and International Art: Fine Art, 4 March 2003, Sydney, 2003, 72, 73 (colour illus.). lot no. 41

Michael Gawenda (Editor in Chief), Age, 'AGNSW's new Nolan room', pg. 6, Melbourne, 22 Dec 2004, 6.

Peter Hill, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Mix 'n' match', pg. 18, Sydney, 15 Jan 2005-16 Jan 2005, 18 (colour illus.). Spectrum supplement of Saturday's edition.

Stephanie Holt and Jennifer Phipps (Curators), Luna park and the Art of Mass Delirium, Melbourne, 1998, 14-15, 47. Refers to a number of Luna Park paintings but not specifically to this painting.

Terry Ingram, The Australian financial review, 'Great appreciations', pg. 49, Sydney, 06 Mar 2003, 49.

Nicholas Isherwood, Nolan's Nolans: a reputation reassessed, London, 1997, (colour illus.). 6; not paginated

Frances Lindsay, Sidney Nolan, 'Sidney Nolan: the end of St Kilda Pier', pg. 67-77, Sydney, 2007, 68, 94 (colour illus.), 229. 8

Elwyn Lynn, Sidney Nolan: myth and imagery, London, 1967, 64 (illus.). plate no. 12

Giucio Montagna (Editor), La Fiamma, 'Sydney [sic] Nolan at the Art Gallery of NSW', pg. 18, Leichhardt, 22 Dec 2004, 18.

Clare Morgan., The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Gallery sells off the family silver and strikes gold', Sydney, 21 Dec 2004, (colour illus.).

Barry Pearce, Look, 'Gift of three Nolans', pg. 11-12, Sydney, Jul 2003, 11 (colour illus.), 12.

Krystyna Pollar., The Australian, 'Nolan the nation's "greatest painter"', Sydney, 19 Dec 2004. This article also appeared in Melbourne's 'Herald Sun' and 'Daily telegraph', Adelaide's 'Advertiser' and Brisbane's 'Courier mail', on 19 December 2004.

Public Programmes Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sidney Nolan retrospective, Sydney, 2007, (illus.).

T.G. Rosenthal, Sidney Nolan, London, 2002, 26, 27 (colour illus.).

John Saxby (Editor), Look, 'The art that made me: Reg Mombassa', Sydney, Nov 2015, 13 (colour illus.).

John Saxby, Look, 'A window opens on new stories about building the collection', pg. 26-28, Sydney, May 2015, 28.

Sebastian Smee'., The Australian, 'Gallery makes room for foundation's gift of Nolans', Sydney, 21 Dec 2004.

Smith & Singer, Sotheby's Melbourne: The Estate of Sir Sidney Nolan, Armadale, 2001, (colour illus.). lot no. 19

Jill Sykes (Editor), Look, 'Doing justice to Nolan', pg. 8, Sydney, Mar 2005, 8.

Jill Sykes, Look, 'Nolan's Australia', pg. 28-31, Sydney, Oct 2004, 30, 31 (colour illus.).

Third Annual Exhibition: Contemporary Art Society, Sydney, 1941. 165; titled 'Luna Park', price: 10 gns.

Nolan: Everyone feels they know Nolan, but that is far from the truth, East Melbourne, 2018. DVD documentary