Imagining the Antipodes: Culture, Theory and the Visual in by Peter Beilharz

By Peter Beilharz

Bernard Smith is widely known as certainly one of Australia's best intellectuals within the fields of anthropology and artwork heritage. Peter Beilharz argues that Smith's paintings additionally features a social idea or a manner of wondering Australian tradition and identification. Smith allows Australians to consider concerns of position and cultural imperialism in the course of the photograph of being no longer Australian a lot as antipodean. this can be the 1st book-length research of Bernard Smith's paintings. it truly is either an creation to Smith's considering and an enormous interpretive argument approximately imperialism and the antipodes.

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The connection between art and politics was to shadow his path. The crossover alluded BEGINNINGS to in the inaugural lecture also reflected Smith's civilisational sensibilities. One aspect of Smith's work concerns the way in which art history, among other things, reflects general societal trends towards secularisation, powerful though necessarily ever incomplete. The rise of modern painting, in this view, involves its relocation, from the church to the gallery; the shift in institutional location also indicates a shift of the kind of politics involved.

Why should Australian painting often resemble the English, and representations of Australia look like England? The answer was to be found in the fact that the viewers and painters brought certain habits of vision with them, which endowed natural scenes with the forms and residues of memory, of the other: 'This is what Paul Nash meant by saying that "nature is what the artists of the day before yesterday made people believe in"'. 3 This is to say that the early colonists saw Australian landscape with English eyes, that they endowed that landscape with the formal qualities of landscapes to which they were aesthetically accustomed in England.

Perhaps writing was a better field in which to work on the art of persuasion. The second volume of Smith's autobiography disappeared into silence, together with his history of Australian architecture. There were other matters more urgent and enduring on which Smith would raise his voice. CHAPTER 2 E N C O U NTE RING AUSTRALIAN PAI N T I NG PLACE, TASTE AND TRADITION 'In 1940 no one in Sydney took any real interest in Australian art/ 1 Thus wrote Smith in the opening lines of the Second Preface to his first history of Australian art.

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