The newly refurbished 20th-century galleries at the Art Gallery of NSW (AGNSW) have been officially opened to the public. The galleries now display work from Australian and international artists together, across two floors. It’s part of an attempt to give greater context to the role of Australian artwork in an international landscape, and show international art from a Sydney perspective. Works by Aboriginal artists have been centred to amplify their importance.
The Pukumani Grave Posts, which were created by Tiwi artists in 1958, are the focal point of one of the rooms, which is also hung with works by fellow Aboriginal artists Tony Tuckson and Noŋgirrŋa Marawili. Moving-image work The Story of the Kelly Gang offers another perspective on our national story and identity. Work by Brett Whiteley is shown alongside that of his peer, the British artist Francis Bacon. And French modernist Pierre Bonnard sits with work by Sydney artist Grace Cossington-Smith.
"In a shift from traditional museum practice, we are showing Australian artists alongside international artists,” said AGNSW’s director Michael Brand in a statement. “Such a display allows us to not only explore the connections between local artists and global art movements, it asserts that Australian artists have always been international artists, and that many international artists continue to work in Australia in many different ways."
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You’ll also find works by New-Zealand born Australian sculptor Rosalie Gascoigne; Beirut-born, British-Palestinian multimedia and installation artist Mona Hatoum; leading contemporary artist Tracey Moffatt; and American painter and sculptor Frank Stella. There’s also an incredible interactive artwork involving yellow balloons by Scottish Turner Prize-winner Martin Creed, installed at the gallery for the first time. And Ken Unsworth’s Suspended Stone Circle II, a crowd favourite, has also been rehung, this time over two levels in the new atrium.
It’s a prelude to the launch of Sydney Modern, which will see a whole new building open at the AGNSW on December 3.