Australian art in London has mixed reviews

The Royal Academy blockbuster exhibition of the autumn is on Australian art of the last 200 years.  Arts journalists have given it mixed reviews with the the Sunday Times’ Waldemar Januszczak describes indigenous art as “tourist tat”, Frederick McCubbin’s famous The Pioneer as “poverty porn”, and Fred Williams’ desert landscape as “thick cowpats of minimalism”.  Perhaps it is a little unfair, it is the indigenous art which is the best.  The weakest is where the art emulates other western art.  Australia has yet to find its own true art, but there are hints in the final rooms as western and indigenous art blend together.  The two centuries in between are rather a bland series of pictures of scenery and townscapes and artistically, rather a blur.  It is a pity that there is not more of the older native Australian art, with really only one artwork from the 19th century and only one sculpture.  Given the amount of loans that have been made by Australian galleries, this could have been more meaningful and more stimulating.  Adrian Searle in the Guardian takes the opposite view, however, as he thinks that it all goes wrong with the artworks from the last 60 years.  If someone was to try and show 60 years of British art in a few rooms, would it have any more sense than this show?


  • Australia 4
  • Big Yam Dreaming
  • Australia exhibition at the Royal Academy
  • Australia – Vernon Ah Kee

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