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American Masters 1940-1990 at the National Gallery Canberra

Jackson Pollock Blue poles 1952 oil, enamel, aluminium paint, glass on canvas National Gallery of Australia © Pollock-Krasner Foundation/ARS/Copyright Agency
Written by Aksel Ritenis

American Masters 1940-1990

24 August – 11 November

Drawn exclusively from the National Gallery of Australia’s outstanding collection of American art, American Masters celebrates the nation’s artists from the 1940s to the end of the 1980s.

NGA 001Robert Motherwell
Elegy to the Spanish Republic 1958
synthetic polymer paint on canvas
National Gallery of Australia
Purchased with the assistance of American Friends of the National Gallery of Australia Inc., New York, NY, made possible with the generous support of The Dedalus Foundation and the Foundation of the National Gallery of Australia 1994
© Dedalus Foundation, Inc./VAGA/Copyright Agency


From Abstract Expressionism, Colour Field, Pop, Neo-Dada and Photo-Realism, to Conceptual, Land and Performance art, American Masters examines how a generation of young Americans challenged local traditions and reinvented modern art, inspired by European émigrés including Marcel Duchamp, Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian and Josef Albers. The sensational international impact of the era’s major artists is captured in masterpieces by Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Chuck Close, Donald Judd, Eva Hesse and Louise Bourgeois.

Audrey Flack
Jolie madame [Pretty woman] 1973
oil on canvas
National Gallery of Australia
© Audrey Flack

Highlights include the NGA’s holdings of paintings and works on paper by the New York School, including Sol LeWitt’s huge Wall drawing No. 380 a-d 1982, specially re-made for this exhibition, and a selection of spectacular light works by Dan Flavin, Bruce Nauman, Keith Sonnier and James Turrell.

Robert Smithson
Rocks and mirror square II 1971
basalt rocks and mirrors
National Gallery of Australia
© Robert Smithson/VAGA/Copyright Agency

This exhibition, brilliantly developed by NGA inaugural Director James Mollison, reveals a vast new array of major works, rarely shown and never seen together in this way.


Free exhibition tours depart daily at 11.00am.


Frank Stella
Flin Flon 1970
synthetic polymer and fluorescent paint on canvas
National Gallery of Australia
Purchased through the NGA Foundation with the assistance of Terrey and Anne Arcus and Penelope and Harry Seidler 2002
© Frank Stella/ARS, New York/Copyright Agency



About the author

Aksel Ritenis

Publisher and Custodian of the Sydney Times

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