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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 1 June. The Gallery will be observing strict physical 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

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Title

The aeroplane

1929-1930


Artist

Arthur Murch

Australia

08 Jul 1902 - 23 Sep 1989


About

Of his time in Europe, during the years of his Travelling Art Scholarship from 1925, Murch stated that he explored painting “as if I were a pilgrim traversing the years”. Equally exhilarated by the great frescos of the Italian Primitives; the masterpieces of the Renaissance and the invigorating force of the modern masters, Murch returned to Sydney in 1927 reinterpreting the forms of artistic tradition and modernity within his own practice.

'The aeroplane' (1929) was painted in Murch’s grandfather’s Croydon backyard. Merging elements of the traditions Murch studied in Europe along with a feel for the American art of the New Deal of the Depression era, the work depicts a scene in a local backyard as an unseen aeroplane flies overhead. With its stylised posing of figures and backyard animals, the work is more of an allegorical composition; a metaphorical or symbolic rendering of an encounter between tradition and modernity. The stilled atmosphere and the mural-like qualities of the work invoke a sense of the monumentality of the changing world.

It is often children that are at the centre of the themes of Murch’s art. Here, the young girl is the only human figure who appears unperturbed. With her gesture and air of inward knowing, her figure is reminiscent of the Christ child of Renaissance painting. Placed in a suburban Australian scene, Murch paints her as a gatekeeper to the new world.


Details


Date

1929-1930


Media category

Painting


Materials used

oil and egg tempera on canvas on board


Dimensions

48.0 x 40.0 cm


Credit

The Australian Collection Benefactors’ Fund 2017


Location

Not on display


Accession number

512.2017


Artist information

Arthur Murch

Works in the collection

30


Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history


Referenced in 3 publications

Bibliography


Joseph Eisenberg, Arthur Murch 1902-1989: A retrospective, Armidale, 1992, 18. cat.no. 1

Society of Artists, Society of Artists Annual Exhibition (1929), Sydney, 1929, 10. cat.no. 8

Daniel Thomas AM, Project 19: Arthur Murch, Sydney, 1977. cat.no. 2