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The Antipodean Manifesto

The Antipodean Manifesto

The Antipodean Manifesto features a selection of paintings, drawings, prints and ceramics by the seven artists who formed the Antipodean group in Melbourne in 1959.

Charles Blackman, Arthur Boyd, David Boyd, John Brack, Robert Dickerson, John Perceval, and Clifton Pugh held a single exhibition at the Victorian Artists Society in August 1959. The Antipodean Manifesto was written by art historian and fellow group member Bernard Smith and, signed by Smith and the exhibiting artists, it was included in the exhibition’s catalogue.

The Antipodean Manifesto stated that the artists were opposed to non-figurative art and that recognisable images were the basis of painting. The threat of abstraction on Australian figurative art was perceived by the unchallenged reception that abstract art was receiving with audiences and critics locally and abroad. The Antipodeans did not see themselves as representative of a national cultural identity. Rather, they were deeply rooted in the post-war modernist artistic and literary associations of the Heide circle in Melbourne. They asserted the importance of subject matter and a theme viewing abstract art, predominately gaining popularity in Sydney, as marginalising their artistic contribution, and ultimately leading “to the death of art”.

The exhibition, drawn from The State Art Collection, explores the formation and aspirations of the group, situating their work within the social and political context of late 1950s Australia.

Image credit - Charles Blackman Triptych Alice 1957 (detail). Oil and enamel on Masonite, 121.6 x 274.1 cm. The State Art Collection, The Art Gallery of Western Australia. Purchased with assistance from the Friends of the Art Gallery, 1988.
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    The Art Gallery of Western Australia

    Perth Cultural Centre

    Perth WA 6000

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