Sydney Long: The Spirit of the Land
National Gallery of Australia, $49.95 pb, 208 pp, 9780642334299
Symbolist art has received an unusual amount of attention recently. First there was Denise Mimmocchi’s Australian Symbolism: The Art of Dreams at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (which Jane Clark reviewed in the September 2012 issue of ABR). Now Sydney Long: The Spirit of the Land celebrates Australia’s foremost exponent of the movement. Sydney Long (1871–1955) was born in Goulburn, so the National Gallery in Canberra can claim him as a local talent. More importantly, they have staff with relevant expertise to mount this major retrospective. Anne Gray, the exhibition’s curator, is an authority on Edwardian Australian art. Ron Radford, the NGA director, was one of the first to look seriously at Art Nouveau in Australia; he curated a landmark exhibition on the subject as far back as 1981.