Grace Crowley & Ralph Balson at the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia

Thu 23rd May, 2024 – Sun 22nd September, 2024
The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Fed Square
Two pioneers of Australian abstraction are the focus of a major new exhibition in Fed Square.

Grace Crowley and Ralph Balson were key figures in Australia’s abstract art movement. A new exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia is the first major show to explore the pair’s creative partnership in depth. It will chart their influence on Australian modern art over several decades.

Opening on Thursday May 23, Grace Crowley & Ralph Balson explores the pair’s collaborative approach to painting. It will include more than 80 paintings and works on paper, including many works that have never been shown to the Australian public before. The exhibition draws from the NGV’s own collection as well as that of major institutions like the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the National Gallery of Australia and several regional and private collections.

Crowley studied in Paris between 1926 and 1929 with cubist artists André Lhote and Albert Gleizes. Their teaching greatly influenced her style, and she brought their modernist principles back with her to Sydney. Balson was born in England and worked as a plumber and house painter before he moved to Australia when he was 23. He attended weekend art classes at Julian Ashton’s Art School in Sydney, where Crowley was his teacher. Both were included in the seminal show Exhibition 1, the first display of semi-abstract painting and sculpture in Australia, held at David Jones Gallery in 1939. Two years later Anthony Horden’s Fine Art Gallery hosted a solo exhibition of Balson’s – the first in the country to include only works of pure abstraction.

The pair’s close partnership continued through this intensely experimental phase, until Balson’s death in 1964. The exhibition covers their move into pure abstraction, and the pivotal role they played in shaping the history of modern art in Australia.

Grace Crowley & Ralph Balson is free to visit and runs until Sunday September 22.

Broadsheet is a proud media partner of the National Gallery of Victoria.

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