Arthur Streeton

Arthur Streeton in retrospect

Art Gallery of New South Wales
17 December 2020

The purpose of a retrospective exhibition is to reconsider, to come to fresh insights. Streeton, now at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, is the largest exhibition of the painter’s works since his 1931 lifetime retrospective, which was also at AGNSW (the current offering is only twenty works shy of that show’s massive total of 170). It’s a feast, one that enables us to reassess the great man’s art. And like all good retrospectives, it questions older certainties.

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This is now the best book on one of Australia’s best – and best-loved – artists: Arthur Streeton, who worked in Melbourne, Sydney, Cairo, Canada, and London, and exhibited from 1884 to 1943. The National Gallery owns forty-six oil paintings, from 1884 to 1934, some being his best and most characteristic, others interesting oddities or minor pot-boilers. Of course, many of his most famous works are not here, but we see him whole.

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