Dorrit Black was a key figure in the development of modernist aesthetics in Australia during the interwar decades, largely due to her work as a printmaker.
Born in Adelaide, Black arrived in Sydney in 1915 and studied under Julian Ashton and Elioth Gruner. During the 1920s she was increasingly focused on 'modernising' her practice and in 1927 travelled to Europe in order to acquire (in her own words) "a definite understanding of the aims and methods of the modern movement and in particular - the cubists".
She initially studied linocut printmaking with Claude Flight at the Grosvenor School in London, an important centre for the development of modernist prints in England, but also for Australia – several of Flight’s best students were Australian. This print is strongly redolent of the aesthetic she developed at the Grosvenor School, which encouraged ‘modern prints for the modern age’ with subjects including the modern city, dynamic movement of the figure and nature, all through the new medium of the colour linocut.
Black later moved to Paris where she enrolled in the Academy of the Salon cubist André Lhote. Black also worked briefly with Albert Gleizes in 1929 prior to her return to Australia. Black held her first solo show in Sydney at the Macquarie Galleries in 1930, exhibiting works that declared the cubist-inspired aesthetics that she had developed during her studentship overseas.
colour linocut, printed in five colours on thin white paper
from edition of 50
23.2 x 16.6 cm sight
Signature & date
Signed in image to print l.l. in black ink, " DB [monogram]". Not dated.
Purchased with funds provided by the Australian Collection Benefactors Program 2015
Shown in 6 exhibitions
Contemporary Group Exhibition (1939), Farmer's Blaxland Gallery, Sydney, 21 Jun 1939–30 Jun 1939
An exhibition of oils, water colours, pastelas and linocut prints by Dorrit Black, Royal South Australian Society of Arts Gallery, 25 Oct 1945–03 Nov 1945
(Dorrit Black exhibition 1949), Royal South Australian Society of Arts Gallery, 10 May 1969 -
Dorrit Black (1891-1951): retrospective exhibition, Royal South Australia Society of Arts, Adelaide, 24 Apr 2011–15 May 2011
Dorrit Black: unseen forces, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 14 Jun 2014–07 Sep 2014
Modern impressions; Australian prints from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 02 Sep 2016–Jan 2017
Referenced in 6 publications
Linocuts of the machine age: Claude Flight and the Grosvenor school, England, 1995, 162, 163 (illus.). Cat. no. DB 40
Dorrit Black: unseen forces, Adelaide, 2014, 205 (colour illus.).
The Estate of Colin Lanceley: Monday 16 November 2015 Sydney, South Yarra, 2015, 21 (colour illus.). Lot no. 60
The art of Dorrit Black, North Melbourne, 1979, 132. Cat. no. L28 (dated 1930-35).
Masterpieces of Australian printmaking, Sydney, 1987, 12, 13 (colour illus.). Cat. no. 7 (impression not known)
Dorrit Black collection: 17 April - 29 May 1999, Sydney, 1999, 19 (colour illus.). Cat. no. 14 (impression not known)