Australian Art and Artists in London, 1950–1965: An Antipodean Summer
by Simon Pierse
Ashgate Publishing, £70 hb, 314 pp, 9781409420545
For a brief period, Australian art enjoyed unprecedented popularity in London, which became home to a large expatriate community of artists such as Sidney Nolan, Arthur and David Boyd, Charles Blackman, and Brett Whiteley. This ‘Antipodean Summer’ is vividly portrayed in Pierse’s critical account. He reveals that the success of these artists depended upon the support of a handful of art patrons, notably that of the art historian Kenneth Clark, the flamboyant young director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery Bryan Robertson, and the Australian expatriate art dealer Alannah Coleman. Nolan’s solo exhibition at the Redfern Gallery, Robertson’s ground-breaking Recent Australian Painting (1961), and Coleman’s Australian Painting and Sculpture in Europe Today (1963) were also crucial to the success of Australian artists. These exhibitions provided a counterpoint to the much-critiqued Tate Gallery survey exhibition, AustralianPainting: Colonial, Impressionist, Contemporary (1962–63).