Epic anthology charts the rise of Adelaide art

Author and curator Margot Osborne has produced a sweeping cultural history of progressive art in Adelaide.

Adelaide, often hailed for its picturesque landscapes and cultural diversity, has long been a breeding ground for artistic innovation. In her latest opus, The Adelaide Art Scene: Becoming Contemporary 1939-2000, esteemed author and curator Margot Osborne meticulously traces the trajectory of progressive art in this South Australian city, spanning from the tumultuous era of World War II to the dawn of a new millennium.

The Adelaide Art Scene: Becoming Contemporary 1939-2000 is an anthology of new writing by specialists, archival writing from the likes of Max Harris, Robert Hughes and Peter Ward, and six overview chapters.

The book’s narrative encompasses landmark exhibitions, bursts of maverick art criticism and art activism, the competitive roles of art societies, the rise and fall of key art galleries, and the changing role of the city’s flagship art museum, the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Key themes include the impact of émigré artists, confronting approaches to female sexuality by a succession of women artists, the emergence of activist art in the 1970s, and of postmodernism in the 1980s, culminating with the rise of Indigenous art at the century’s end.

The Adelaide Art Scene: Becoming contemporary 1939-2000 is published by Wakefield Press in association with Guildhouse and Carrick Hill, with financial support of the South Australian Government’s Department of Premier and Cabinet through Arts South Australia.

To celebrate the launch of The Adelaide Art Scene: Being contemporary 1939-2000, join the author and publishers at the Art Gallery of South Australia tonight, Friday 6 October.

In conjunction with the book’s publication Carrick Hill is presenting Adelaide Mid-Century Moderns: Emigres, mavericks and progressives, a first survey exhibition of modernism in Adelaide in the 1950s and 1960s. Open until 15 October 2023.


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