New books: art and the spirit of the land

Nice to see the new-book’s trolley starting to fill up again:

Sydney Long : the spirit of the land by Anne Gray

National Gallery of Australia, 2012

 

The haunting images of Australian artist Sydney Long are familiar to anyone who has spent any time at all in major Australian galleries. Variously described as a Symbolist and Art-Nouveau painter, his beautiful and highly decorative Australian landscapes are often populated by the mythological creatures of a distinctly non-Australian tradition; nymphs and fauns frolicking amongst the gums or leading processions of brolgas and magpies. This beautiful catalogue comes from a major retrospective held last year at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, and features fascinating essays by Anne Gray and Roger Butler.

 

Mysterious wisdom : the life and work of Samuel Palmer by Rachel Campbell-Johnston

Bloomsbury, 2012

An English artist who clearly needs to be much better known than he is, Samuel Palmer was a member of the early 19th century group known as “the Ancients”,¬†likeminded Romantic artists who shared a sense of devotion to the intellectual and artistic vision of William Blake, and who transformed that vision into an almost mystical recreation of the British landscape. This recent biography by Rachel Campbell-Johnston places the artist, whom Kenneth Clark thought of as the English Van Gogh, centre-stage at an important moment in British art.

Plein airs and graces : the life and times of George Collingridge by Adrian Mitchell

Wakefield Press, 2012

A somewhat forgotten figure from Australia’s pre-Modern era, George Collingridge arrived in New South Wales from France in 1879 (although he was born in England in 1847) and almost immediately set about extolling the virtues of his new home with an almost boundless energy and enthusiasm. A man of many talents, his delicately naive paintings of the Australian landscape evoke both his European background as well as a desire to capture the difference of his new homeland, and this recent biography gives his rich and varied life the detail and recognition it deserves.

 

 101 contemporary Australian artists, edited by Kelly Gellatly

National Gallery of Victoria, 2012

 

Of course art is always a work-in-progress, and this marvellous book from the National Gallery of Victoria showcases the work of 101 contemporary Australian artists whose work is held in the collection. Crossing just about every artistic genre and form imaginable, the kaleidoscopic range of images to be found here attests to an art scene that virtually defies any kind of categorisation or national stereotyping. And bravo to the editor Kelly Gellatly and the various writers of the text for the clarity and insight they bring to these often challenging (and intriguing) works.

 

A beautiful landscape closer to home, from our Picture Collection:

Point Ormond (Red Bluff) St. Kilda, by Elizabeth Parsons (1881)

 

 

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