Out of Australia
prints and drawings
from Sidney Nolan
to Rover Thomas

26 May – 11 September 2011

Exhibition Closed

Room 90

Part of the Australian season

A free prints and drawings exhibition featuring works by Australian artists from the 1940s to the present.

The exhibition is the first big show of Australian art of any kind in London for over a decade, and it is the first exhibition of Australian works on paper of this scale and ambition to be held outside Australia. It features 125 works on paper by 60 artists, from the 1940s modernists to contemporary artists and Indigenous Australian printmakers, all drawn from the British Museum’s impressive collection.

The exhibition is arranged broadly chronologically, beginning with the rise of the ‘Angry Penguins’ group of artists – where Sidney Nolan (best known for his iconic images of the bushranger Ned Kelly), Arthur Boyd, Albert Tucker and Joy Hester experimented with surrealism and expressionism. The show continues with the works of Australian artists in London and Paris during the 1950s and 60s, including Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker and Arthur Boyd, sculptor Robert Klippel, Brett Whiteley and Colin Lanceley. This section demonstrates the close interplay between the Australians living abroad and the British and European art scenes.

The examples from the 1960s and 70s show the development of printmaking in Australia, with the breakthrough landscape etchings of Fred Williams, the feminist works of Barbara Hanrahan and Bea Maddock, the figurative expressionism of George Baldessin, and the abstract metaphysical etchings of Roger Kemp. Important drawings by Tony Tuckson reveal his responses to abstract expressionism while those by Robert Jacks show his direct experience of minimalism in North America during the 1970s.

The 1980s and 90s are represented with drawings by Dick Watkins, James Gleeson, and Ken Whisson. Political and social issues are expressed in the prints of Mike Parr, Ann Newmarch and Micky Allan and the AIDS activist David McDiarmid. Prints since the late 1990s include those by Rick Amor and John Wolseley. The show concludes with works by contemporary artists including Brent Harris, Ricky Swallow and G.W Bot, and prints by some of the most prominent Indigenous Australian artists including Rover Thomas, Robert Cole, Pedro Wonaeamirri, Gloria Petyarre, Kitty Kantilla, Judy Watson and Dorothy Napangardi.

Sidney Nolan, Kelly

Sidney Nolan (1917–1992), Kelly, 1954. Felt-tipped pen on thin coated paper. Presented by Lady Mary Nolan. Reproduced by permission of the Trustees of the Sidney Nolan Trust.

Exhibition catalogue

Out of Australia

By Stephen Coppel, British Museum, £25