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In line with decisions made by the National Cabinet as communicated by the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, the Art Gallery of New South Wales is currently closed but will reopen to the public on June 1. The Gallery will be observing strict social distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of all visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the State. More information




Australian art

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circa 1940


Sidney Nolan

Australia, England

22 Apr 1917 - 28 Nov 1992


Sidney Nolan created this collage using 19th-century wood-cut illustrations, changing its orientation and juxtaposing disparate images to defy any narrative interpretation. The stark tonal contrast of black and white lends emotive force and a surreal, dreamlike quality. Nolan’s unorthodox approach sought to disorient the senses in order to convey an intense emotional reality, inspired particularly by French poet Arthur Rimbaud (1854–91).

Fascinated by the multi-functional potential of collage, Nolan combined its sculptural capacity with the shapes and tones of his source materials to create an abstract composition. His patchwork quilt-like structure suggests movement or fracture and forces our perception to slip between surface
and illusory depth.



circa 1940

Media category


Materials used

collage of wood-cut illustrations on book page


16.7 x 11.6 cm sheet (irreg.)

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased 2003


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Sidney Nolan

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

Referenced in 5 publications


Jane Clark, Sidney Nolan - landscapes and legends: a retrospective exhibition 1937 - 1987, Sydney, 1987, 33.

Elwyn Lynn, Sidney Nolan: myth and imagery, London, 1967, 9-10.

Arthur McIntyre, Contemporary Australian collage and its origins, Roseville, 1990, 19, 30-32.

Kendrah Morgan, Sidney Nolan: early experiments with Narelle Jubelin: Coda, Bulleen, 2012, 11-12.

T.G. Rosenthal, Sidney Nolan, London, 2002, 25.