Grace Crowley: being modern is an important retrospective exhibition of paintings and drawings by one of Australia’s most influential modern artists. The exhibition opens at the National Gallery of Australia on Saturday 23 December. This is the first exhibition of Grace Crowley’s work since 1975. Featuring important works from public and private collections, the exhibition traces her remarkable artistic journey from traditional landscapes to avant-garde experimentation and pure abstraction. The exhibition also includes several recently rediscovered paintings and the largest number of Crowley’s abstract paintings ever assembled, enabling a new appraisal of Crowley’s achievement.
‘Crowley’s late abstracts can be seen as the climax of her long journey to realise a universal art based on the harmonious relationship of colour and form,’ says Elena Taylor, Curator of Australian Painting and Sculpture.
Born in rural New South Wales in 1890, Grace Crowley’s life and art intersected with some of the major movements in 20th-century art. In 1926 Crowley left Sydney for Paris where she studied with the cubist painter André Lhote. On her reluctant return to Sydney she became an influential teacher, introducing a style of abstraction based on cubist principles. In the 1940s, Grace Crowley and her friend Ralph Balson were the first Australian artists to entirely abandon representation, devoting themselves to the pursuit of pure ‘objective’ painting.
Grace Crowley: being modern is accompanied by a full-colour 64-page monograph – the first to be published about this important Australian artist’s work. The exhibition is supported by a range of public programs and events including floortalks, lectures, performances and screenings.
The exhibition has been curated by Elena Taylor, Curator of Australian Painting and Sculpture at the National Gallery of Australia.