Posts Tagged ‘watercolour


Exhibition: ‘Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern’ at the Brooklyn Museum, New York

Exhibition dates: 3rd March – 23rd July 2017


Hilda Belcher (American 1881-1963) 'The Checkered Dress (Young Georgia O'Keeffe)' 1907


Hilda Belcher (American 1881-1963)
The Checkered Dress (Young Georgia O’Keeffe)
Oil on canvas


Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946) 'Georgia O'Keeffe at 291' 1917


Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946)
Georgia O’Keeffe at 291
Platinum print
9⅝ x 7⅝ in. (24.3 x 19.4 cm)
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, N.M.; Gift of The Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation
© Georgia O’Keeffe Museum


Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887-1986) 'Blue #2' 1916


Georgia O’Keeffe (American, 1887-1986)
Blue #2
Watercolour on paper
15⅞ x 11 in. (40.3 x 27.8 cm)
Brooklyn Museum; Bequest of Mary T. Cockcroft, by exchange
Photo: Sarah DeSantis, Brooklyn Museum



“Even in photographs in which O’Keeffe gazes directly at the camera, she telegraphs an elegant aloofness – not a coldness, exactly, but a demand to be seen from a distance, like the vast Southwestern landscapes that she made her own. Looking into her face repeated on gallery walls, I was reminded of the way a horizon invites one’s eye to the farthest possible point. Our gaze shifts; the horizon stays the same.” ~ Haley Mlotek on The NewYorker website


Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946) 'Georgia O'Keeffe' 1918


Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946)
Georgia O’Keeffe
1918, printed 1920s
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Alfred Stieglitz Collection
© Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington


Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946) 'Georgia O'Keeffe' c. 1920-22


Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946)
Georgia O’Keeffe
c. 1920-22
Gelatin silver print
4½ x 3½ in. (11.4 x 9 cm)
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, N.M.; Gift of The Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation
© Georgia O’Keeffe Museum



I love this woman. Such style, class and talent.

Fabulous art, clothes and photographs. An icon in every sense of the word.


Many thankx to the Brooklyn Museum for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.


Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern takes a new look at how the renowned modernist artist proclaimed her progressive, independent lifestyle through a self-crafted public persona – including her clothing and the way she posed for the camera. The exhibition expands our understanding of O’Keeffe by focusing on her wardrobe, shown for the first time alongside key paintings and photographs. It confirms and explores her determination to be in charge of how the world understood her identity and artistic values.

In addition to selected paintings and items of clothing, the exhibition presents photographs of O’Keeffe and her homes by Alfred Stieglitz, Ansel Adams, Annie Leibovitz, Philippe Halsman, Yousuf Karsh, Cecil Beaton, Andy Warhol, Bruce Weber, and others. It also includes works that entered the Brooklyn collection following O’Keeffe’s first-ever museum exhibition – held at the Brooklyn Museum in 1927.

The exhibition is organised in sections that run from her early years, when O’Keeffe crafted a signature style of dress that dispensed with ornamentation; to her years in New York, in the 1920s and 1930s, when a black-and-white palette dominated much of her art and dress; and to her later years in New Mexico, where her art and clothing changed in response to the surrounding colours of the Southwestern landscape. The final section explores the enormous role photography played in the artist’s reinvention of herself in the Southwest, when a younger generation of photographers visited her, solidifying her status as a pioneer of modernism and as a contemporary style icon.

Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern is organised by guest curator Wanda M. Corn, Robert and Ruth Halperin Professor Emerita in Art History, Stanford University, and coordinated by Lisa Small, Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, Brooklyn Museum.


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Georgia O'Keeffe: Living Modern installation view


Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern installation view with Alfred Stieglitz’s Georgia O’Keeffe at 291 (1917) at left, and Gaston Lachaise’s sculpture Georgia O’Keeffe (1925-27) at centre


Georgia O'Keeffe: Living Modern installation view


Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern installation view with her painting Clam and Mussel (1926) second left


Georgia O'Keeffe: Living Modern installation view

Georgia O'Keeffe: Living Modern installation view


Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern installation view with her painting Manhattan (1932) left, and Brooklyn Bridge (1949) right


Georgia O'Keeffe: Living Modern installation view


Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern installation view with her painting Rams Head, White Hollyhock – Hills (Rams Head and White Hollyhock, New Mexico) (1935) at right


Georgia O'Keeffe: Living Modern installation view

Georgia O'Keeffe: Living Modern installation view


Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern installation view with her painting In the Patio IX (1950) at right, and an Emilio Pucci dress second right


Georgia O'Keeffe: Living Modern installation view


Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern installation view with her painting The Mountain, New Mexico (1931) at left


Georgia O'Keeffe: Living Modern installation view

Georgia O'Keeffe: Living Modern installation view

Georgia O'Keeffe: Living Modern installation view


Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern installation view with Georgia O’Keeffe by Irving Penn (1948) second left, and Georgia O’Keeffe by Laura Gilpin (1953) at right

Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern installation views
© Jonathan Dorado



Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern


Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946) 'Georgia O'Keeffe' 1922


Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946)
Georgia O’Keeffe
Gelatin silver print
24.1 x 19.4 cm
Art Institute of Chicago, Alfred Stieglitz Collection


Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887-1986) 'Pool in the Woods, Lake George' 1922


Georgia O’Keeffe (American, 1887-1986)
Pool in the Woods, Lake George
Pastel on paper
17 x 27½ in. (43.3 x 69.9 cm)
Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Winston-Salem, N.C.; Gift of Barbara B. Millhouse in memory of E. Carter, Nancy Susan Reynolds, and Winifred Babcock
Courtesy of Reynolda House Museum of American Art, affiliated with Wake Forest University
© Georgia O’Keeffe Museum/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887-1986) 'Black Pansy & Forget-Me-Nots (Pansy)' 1926


Georgia O’Keeffe (American, 1887-1986)
Black Pansy & Forget-Me-Nots (Pansy)
Oil on canvas
27⅛ x 12¼ in. (68.9 x 31.1 cm)
Brooklyn Museum; Gift of Mrs. Alfred S. Rossin
Photo: Christine Gant, Brooklyn Museum


Gaston Lachaise (American (born France) 1882-1935) 'Georgia O’Keeffe' 1925-27


Gaston Lachaise (American (born France) 1882-1935)
Georgia O’Keeffe
H. 22-3/4 x W. 7-3/4 x D. 12-1/4 in. (57.8 x 19.7 x 31.1 cm); including 5-3/4 in. high base. Weight 70 lb (31.8 kg)
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949
The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946) 'Georgia O'Keeffe, Prospect Mountain, Lake George' 1927


Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946)
Georgia O’Keeffe, Prospect Mountain, Lake George
Gelatin silver print
4⅝ x 3⅝ in. (11.8 x 9.3 cm)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Alfred Stieglitz Collection
© Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington


Attributed to Georgia O'Keeffe. 'Dress (Tunic and Underdress)' c. 1926


Attributed to Georgia O’Keeffe
Dress (Tunic and Underdress)
c. 1926
Ivory silk crepe
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, N.M.; Gift of Juan and Anna Marie Hamilton
Photo: © Gavin Ashworth


Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887-1986) 'Line and Curve' 1927


Georgia O’Keeffe (American, 1887-1986)
Line and Curve
Oil on canvas
32 x 16¼ in. (81.2 x 41.2 cm)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Alfred Stieglitz Collection, Bequest of Georgia O’Keeffe
© Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington


Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887-1986) 'Clam and Mussel' 1926


Georgia O’Keeffe (American, 1887-1986)
Clam and Mussel
Oil on canvas
48 1/8 × 29 7/9 in
122.2 × 75.6 cm
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe / Art Resource, NY
© ARS, NY The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe



Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern offers a new look at the iconic American artist’s powerful ownership of her identity as an artist and a woman. This major exhibition examines the modernist persona that Georgia O’Keeffe crafted for herself through her art, her dress, and her progressive, independent lifestyle. It will mark the first time O’’eeffe’s understated yet remarkable wardrobe will be presented in dialogue with key paintings, photographs, jewellery, accessories, and ephemera. Opening on March 3, Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern represents a homecoming of sorts, as the artist had her first solo museum exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, in 1927.

On view through July 23, 2017, Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern is part of A Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism at the Brooklyn Museum, a yearlong project celebrating a decade of feminist thinking at the Brooklyn Museum.

In addition to a number of O’Keeffe’s key paintings and never-before-exhibited selections from her wardrobe, the exhibition will also feature portraits of her by such luminary photographers as Alfred Stieglitz, Ansel Adams, Philippe Halsman, Yousuf Karsh, Todd Webb, Cecil Beaton, Bruce Weber, Annie Leibovitz, and others. These images, along with the garments and artworks on view, testify to the ways that O’Keeffe learned to use photographic sittings as a way to construct her persona, framing her status as a pioneer of modernism and as a style icon.

“Fifteen years ago I learned that when Georgia O’Keeffe died and left her two homes to her estate, her closets were filled with her belongings. The O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe now owns the homes and their contents, but no one had yet studied the sixty years of dresses, coats, suits, casual wear, and accessories she left behind. I took on that task. The Georgia O’Keeffe who emerged from my research and is presented in this exhibition was an artist not only in her studio but also in her homemaking and self-fashioning,” says guest curator, Wanda M. Corn, Robert and Ruth Halperin Professor Emerita in Art History, Stanford University.

“This exhibition reveals O’Keeffe’s commitment to core principles associated with modernism – minimalism, seriality, simplification – not only in her art, but also in her distinctive style of dress,” says Lisa Small, Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, Brooklyn Museum, who serves as the exhibition’s in-house coordinator.

Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern opens with an introduction that demonstrates how O’Keeffe began to craft her signature clothing style as a high school student, dispensing with the bows and frills worn by young women at the time. The exhibition continues in four parts. The first is devoted to New York in the 1920s and ’30s, when she lived with Alfred Stieglitz and made many of her own clothes. It also examines Stieglitz’s multiyear, serial portrait project, which ultimately helped her to become one of the most photographed American artists in history and contributed to her understanding of photography’s power to shape her public image.

Her years in New Mexico comprise the second section, in which the desert landscape – surrounded by colour in the yellows, pinks, and reds of rocks and cliffs, and the blue sky – influenced her painting and dress palette. A small third section explores the influence and importance of Asian aesthetics in her personal style. The final section displays images made after Steiglitz’s era by photographers who came to visit her in the Southwest.

Press release from the Brooklyn Museum


Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946) 'Georgia O'Keeffe' 1929


Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946)
Georgia O’Keeffe
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Alfred Stieglitz Collection
© Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington


Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887-1986) 'Manhattan' 1932


Georgia O’Keeffe (American, 1887-1986)
Oil on canvas
84⅜ x 48¼ in. (214.3 x 122.6 cm)
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; Gift of The Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation
Photo: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C./Art Resource, NY


Ansel Adams (American, 1902-1984) 'Georgia O'Keeffe and Orville Cox' 1937


Ansel Adams (American, 1902-1984)
Georgia O’Keeffe and Orville Cox
Gelatin silver print
7¾ x 11 in. (19.7 x 27.9 cm)
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, N.M.; Gift of The Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation
© 2016 The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust


Attributed to Georgia O'Keeffe. 'Blouse' c. early to mid-1930s


Attributed to Georgia O’Keeffe
c. early to mid-1930s
White linen
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, N.M.; Gift of Juan and Anna Marie Hamilton
Photo: © Gavin Ashworth


Attributed to Georgia O'Keeffe. 'Dress with Matching Belt' c. 1930s


Attributed to Georgia O’Keeffe
Dress with Matching Belt
c. 1930s
Black wool, crepe and white silk
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, N.M.; Gift of Juan and Anna Marie Hamilton
Photo: © Gavin Ashworth


Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887-1986) 'The Mountain, New Mexico' 1931


Georgia O’Keeffe (American, 1887-1986)
The Mountain, New Mexico
Oil on canvas
30 1/16 × 36 1/8 in. (76.4 × 91.8 cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York


Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887-1986) 'Rams Head, White Hollyhock - Hills' (Rams Head and White Hollyhock, New Mexico) 1935


Georgia O’Keeffe (American, 1887-1986)
Rams Head, White Hollyhock – Hills (Rams Head and White Hollyhock, New Mexico)
Oil on canvas
30 x 36 in. (76.2 x 91.4 cm)
Brooklyn Museum; Bequest of Edith and Milton Lowenthal
Photo: Brooklyn Museum


Ansel Adams (American, 1902-1984) 'Georgia O'Keeffe at Yosemite' 1938


Ansel Adams (American, 1902-1984)
Georgia O’Keeffe at Yosemite
Gelatin silver print
5¾ x 3⅜ in. (14.5 x 8.7 cm)
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, N.M.; Gift of The Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation
© 2016 The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust


Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887-1986) 'Brooklyn Bridge' 1949


Georgia O’Keeffe (American, 1887-1986)
Brooklyn Bridge
Oil on Masonite
48 x 35⅞ in. (121.8 x 91.1 cm)
Brooklyn Museum; Bequest of Mary Childs Draper
Photo: Brooklyn Museum


Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986) 'In the Patio IX' 1950


Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986)
In the Patio IX
Oil on canvas mounted on panel
H- 30 x W- 40 in. (76.2 x 101.6 cm)
The Jan T. and Marica Vilcek Collection
© The Vilcek Foundation


Laura Gilpin (American, 1891-1979) 'Georgia O'Keeffe' 1953


Laura Gilpin (American, 1891-1979)
Georgia O’Keeffe
Gelatin silver print
24.1 x 19.4 cm
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, N.M.
© 1979 Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, TX


Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887-1986) 'Patio with Cloud' 1956


Georgia O’Keeffe (American, 1887-1986)
Patio with Cloud
Oil on canvas
36 x 30 in. (91.4 x 76.2 cm)
Milwaukee Art Museum; Gift of Mrs. Edward R. Wehr
© Georgia O’Keeffe Museum/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Photo: P. Richard Eells


Todd Webb (American, 1905-2000) 'Georgia O'Keeffe on Ghost Ranch Portal, New Mexico' c. 1960s


Todd Webb (American, 1905-2000)
Georgia O’Keeffe on Ghost Ranch Portal, New Mexico
c. 1960s
Gelatin silver print
10 x 8 in. (25.4 x 20.3 cm)
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, N.M.; Gift of The Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation
© Estate of Todd Webb, Portland, ME


'Padded Kimono (Tanzen)' c. 1960s-70s


Padded Kimono (Tanzen)
c. 1960s-70s
Silk with woven black and gray stripe
Inner garment: Kimono. White linen (?)
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, N.M.; Gift of Juan and Anna Marie Hamilton
Photo: © Gavin Ashworth


Bruce Weber (American, born 1946) 'Georgia O'Keeffe, Abiquiu, N.M.' 1984


Bruce Weber (American, born 1946)
Georgia O’Keeffe, Abiquiu, N.M.
Gelatin silver print
14 x 11 in. (35.6 x 27.9 cm)
Bruce Weber and Nan Bush Collection, New York
© Bruce Weber


'Emsley. Suit (Jacket, Pants, and Vest)' 1983


Emsley. Suit (Jacket, Pants, and Vest)
Black wool
Inner garment: Lord & Taylor. Shirt
c. 1960s. White cotton
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, N.M.; Gift of Juan and Anna Marie Hamilton
Photo: © Gavin Ashworth


Ansel Adams (American, 1902-1984) 'Georgia O'Keeffe, Carmel Highlands, California' 1981


Ansel Adams (American, 1902-1984)
Georgia O’Keeffe, Carmel Highlands, California
Gelatin silver print
10⅛ x 13⅛ in. (25.7 x 33.3 cm)
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, N.M.; Gift of Juan and Anna Marie Hamilton
© 2016 The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust


'Georgia O'Keeffe: Living Modern' by Wanda Corn book cover 2017


Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern by Wanda Corn book cover 2017
Courtesy of Delmonico Books Prestel



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200 Eastern Parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11238-6052
T: (718) 638-5000

Opening hours:
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Thursday11 am – 10 pm
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first Saturday of each month, 11 am – 11 pm
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Exhibition: ‘Australian Women Artists Between the Wars’ at Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 3rd March – 30th April 2015

Artists: Clarice Beckett, Dorrit Black, Bessie Davidson, Ethel Carrick Fox, Joy Hester, Nora Heysen, Hilda Rix Nicholas, Margaret Preston, Jane Price, Thea Proctor, Kathleen Sauerbier, Grace Cossington Smith, Clara Southern and others.



Clarice Beckett. 'Winter Morning, Beaumaris' c. 1927-31


Clarice Beckett (Australian, 1887-1935)
Winter Morning, Beaumaris
c. 1927-31
Oil on canvas
39.3 x 55cm



A delightful exhibition on a subject I freely admit that I knew very little about. An intelligent opening speech from Associate Professor Alison Inglis from The University of Melbourne helped me to be more informed about this fascinating period in Australian art history.

The hero for me in this posting is the work of Clarice Beckett. The atmosphere of her paintings when seen in the flesh is incredible, perfectly capturing the suffused light of the bayside suburbs of Melbourne where she painted. Her impressions are so purposeful and vivid; no extraneous flourish is necessary. Look at the painting The Red Bus for example (below) … the brief almost cartoonish outline of the bus hugs the right hand side of the composition, the red picked up by one of the two people walking in the middle of a road that runs behind the tea-trees that shield the beach from view. Every Australian would understand the symbolic quality of this mythic road.

Shadows are delineated by a few patches of darkness, telegraph poles by four swiftly drawn lines balanced on the left-hand side of the painting by a faint sign post that is almost not there, reinforced spatially by a ghostly white figure further up the painting in the middle of the road. We can almost hear the cicadas song, feel the heat rising from the tarmac, a little breeze rolling in from the sea every now and then. These cultural memories, as annotated by Beckett, will last forever.


Many thankx to Lauraine Diggins Fine Art for allowing me to publish the text and art work in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the art.



Clarice Beckett. 'Morning Ride' Nd


Clarice Beckett (Australian, 1887-1935)
Morning Ride
Oil on canvas on pulp board
29.5 x 35cm



Clarice Beckett (Australian, 1887-1935)

Clarice Majoribanks Beckett (21 March 1887-7 July 1935) was an Australian painter whose works are featured in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria and the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Beckett is recognised as one of Australia’s most important modernist artists. Despite a talent for portraiture and a keen public appreciation for her still lifes, Beckett preferred the solo, outdoor process of painting landscapes. She relentlessly painted sea and beachscapes, rural and suburban scenes, often enveloped in the atmospheric effects of early mornings or evening. Her subjects were often drawn from the Beaumaris area, where she lived for the latter part of her life. She was one of the first of her group to use a painting trolley, or mobile easel to make it easier to paint outdoors in different locations..


Australian Tonalism

Australian Tonalism is characterised by a particular “misty” or atmospheric quality created by the Meldrum painting method of building “tone on tone”. Tonalism developed from Meldrum’s “Scientific theory of Impressions”; claiming that social decadence had given artists an exaggerated interest in colour and, to their detriment, were paying less attention to tone and proportion. Art, he said, should be a pure science based on optical analysis; its sole purpose being to place on the canvas the first ordered tonal impressions that the eye received. All adornments and narrative and literary references should be rejected.

Tonalism opposed Post-Impressionism and Modernism, and is now regarded as a precursor to Minimalism and Conceptualism. The whole movement had been under fierce controversy and they were without doubt the most unpopular group of artists, in the eyes of most other artists, in the history of Australian art. Influential Melbourne artist and teacher George Bell described Australian Tonalism as a “cult which muffles everything in a pall of opaque density”.

While painting the wild sea off Beaumaris during a big storm in 1935, Beckett developed pneumonia and died four days later in a hospital at Sandringham. She was buried in the Cheltenham Memorial Park (Wangara Road) not far from another noted female artist, Mary Vale. She was only 48 when she died, the year after her mother’s death.

Text from the Wikipedia website


Clarice Beckett. 'The Red Bus' Nd


Clarice Beckett (Australian, 1887-1935)
The Red Bus
Oil on canvas on composition board
36.5 x 44cm


Dorrit Black. 'The Parish Hall' 1937


Dorrit Black (Australian, 1891-1951)
The Parish Hall
Coloured linocut
23 x 36cm


Family archive image of Dorrit Black



“It is the artist’s business to reveal to mankind a new outlook on life and the world.”

Dorrit Black, 1946


It should come as no surprise that Dorothea Foster (Dorrit) Black, like other women artists, would be scorned by the sexist, conservative Australian art establishment during her lifetime. When her life was tragically cut short by a car accident in Adelaide in 1951, artist and critic Ivor Francis’s obituary declared Black was that city’s first and, perhaps least understood “modern” artist.

“She has so consistently been artistically cold-shouldered and ignored since her return here about 20 years ago that it is amazing how she maintained the courage to fight on against so much prejudice and misunderstanding,” he wrote. “… It will be many years before her exceptional talent can be properly appreciated in its right perspective, as it most certainly will be.” …

Black was part of a generation of women, alongside Margaret Preston, Grace Cossington-Smith and Grace Cowley, who took risks by travelling overseas, painting in modernist styles and pursuing artistic careers often against the wishes of their family.

“What decided me to throw in my hand altogether the other day was your declaration that I ought to consider my time as belonging to the family first, leaving my painting for my spare time …” Black wrote in a letter to her brother in 1938. “After more than 20 years of struggling to make an artist of myself, I cannot give it all up and settle down to being nothing but a good sister and daughter.”

“She was a very modern woman which meant she belonged to an age when educated women started to break out of Victorian traditions and become independent and self-determined,” Lock-Weir says.

Black travelled to Europe on three occasions, including a two-year stint beginning in from September 1927 when she studied with printmaker Claude Flight at London’s Grosvenor School of Art, and cubists Andre Lhote and Albert Gleizes in Paris. In the summer of 1928, she travelled to the south of France with Crowley and Anne Dangar, where each painted views of the medieval hillside town of Mirmande. Black returned to Adelaide in 1935 to care for her ailing mother, building a studio-house on the city’s edge at Magill where she mainly painted landscapes of the Adelaide Hills and south coast. She also continued to advocate modern art and taught at the South Australian School of Art, influencing a generation of artists led by Jeffrey Smart and Ruth Tuck.

“Plump, dignified, black-haired and well-groomed, she was regarded as a mother-figure by younger artists,” wrote Ian North in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Black’s untimely death in 1951 at the age of 59 left a small legacy of around 130 oil paintings, 159 watercolours, 50 linocuts and a handful of drawings, according to art consultant John Cruthers. “Some painters paint a lot, some paint a little, and then there’s Dorrit.”

Andrew Taylor. “Rescuing the reputation of early Australian modernist Dorrit Black,” on The Sydney Morning Herald website, June 6th 2015 [Online] Cited 24/04/2015


Miriam Moxham. 'Country Morning' c.1940


Miriam Moxham (Australian, 1885-1971)
Country Morning
c. 1940
Oil on composition board
94 x 182cm


Bessie Davidson. 'Autumn Table at Villeneuve' 1935


Bessie Davidson (Australian, 1879-1965)
Autumn Table at Villeneuve
Oil on plywood
44 x 82cm



Bessie Davidson (Australian, 1879-1965)

Bessie Davidson (1879-1965) was an Australian painter known for her impressionist, light-filled landscapes and interiors.

Davidson traveled to Australia to visit family in 1914 and was there when World War I began. She returned to France immediately, where she joined the French Red Cross and served in various military hospitals. During the war, she met the woman who would be her companion for the next two decades, Marguerite Leroy (d. 1938), whose nickname was “Dauphine”.

The postwar period between 1918 and 1920 saw Davidson producing quiet, intimate, loosely impressionistic paintings – mostly interiors, still lives, and portraits – in muted tones. Her style evolved in a more vigorous direction in the 1920s and 1930s, with rich, vibrant, often dramatic colours laid on with a palette knife. In this period her work sold well and was well-received by critics. She traveled around Europe, Russia, and Morocco making outdoor sketches that she used as the basis for paintings later produced in her studio. Her landscapes are notable for their quality of light and sense of atmosphere.

In 1930 Davidson was a founding vice-president of La Société Femmes Artistes Modernes. She was a founding member of the Société Nationale Indépendentes and a member of the Salon d’Automne. In 1931 she was appointed to the French Legion of Honor, in part for her cofounding of the Salon des Tuileries, the only Australian woman to receive that honour up to that time. She exhibited widely with such artists as Mary Cassatt, Tamara de Lempicka, Camille Claudel, and Suzanne Valadon.

Although still a citizen of the British Commonwealth, Davidson decided to stay in France during World War II. She lived with friends in Grenoble, and some sources say that she was a member of the French Resistance. Her paintings from this period are strong, bright, and lively. In 1945, she returned to her old studio in Paris, occasionally spending time at a farm she bought near Rouen. In the postwar period, she painted mostly outdoors on small wood panels. She died at Montparnasse in France in 1965. She was buried in Saint-Saëns, Seine-Maritime.

Text from the Wikipedia website


Bessie Davidson. 'Still Life with Flowers and Pears' Nd


Bessie Davidson (Australian, 1879-1965)
Still Life with Flowers and Pears
Oil on cardboard
61 x 46cm



In the period between the wars, Australian women artists were leading the way by challenging traditions and exploring new ideas in art with a focus on colour, form and design, and subjects such as urban culture.

Role models like Jane Price, Jane Sutherland and Clara Southern had provided women with a basis to seriously pursue art as a profession. Circumstances and opportunity1 saw a flourishing of female artists establish a career through dedicated studies at a growing number of art schools, combined with travel overseas and, quite often, financial independence.

Painting en plein air was continued but rather than romanticised landscapes concerned with effects of light, the rise of the modern woman artist painted the landscape familiar to them with an adventurous attitude towards colour: from the buses and telegraph poles of Beckett’s Melbourne bayside suburbs; to the South Australian landscapes of Sauerbier; urban scenes such as Tempe Manning’s Princes Street and the intimate depictions of home or studio as seen in Gurdon’s Under the Window and as favoured by Cossington Smith.

Whilst there was no overall identifying modernist movement, a common experience of nearly all the women represented in this exhibition was travel and studies overseas, particularly to Paris and London,2 where the exposure to influences such as postimpressionism, modernism, futurism, cubism shaped each individual artist’s subsequent style.

Seemingly traditional and feminine subjects such as still life, flowers, intimate interior and leisure scenes and were invigorated through the work of artists such as Proctor (The Sewing Basket); Preston (Flowers) and Davidson, who maintained her career in France.3 Women artists were also exploring more modern and urban subjects, such as Craig’s HMAS Cerberus and the iconic renditions of the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Women artists tackled a wide variety of subjects, including those more accepted in the male domain, and which modern women now inhabited. Rix Nicholas ventured out to capture Australians in remote rural areas as seen in the well-known Fair Musterer (1935, QAG) and as in Boy on a Horse. Nora Heysen was the first woman awarded the Archibald Prize4 and appointed as an official war artist in 1943, as was Sybil Craig in 1945. Printmaking was also a key to the rise of modernism, most effectively by Dorrit Black as seen in The Parish Hall and also by Mabel Pye and Lisette Kohlhagen. Greater commercial and domestic design opportunities were a further important influence, including murals as undertaken by Haxton5 and the frieze-like Country Morning by Moxham.

There is an ever-growing understanding and appreciation of women artists and their influence in shaping Australian art, from ‘lost’ moderns6 to the household names such as Preston and Cossington Smith.

Text from the catalogue to the exhibition



  1. For example, the massive impact of the First World War allowed a shift away from the role of women simply as wife and mother and the economic affluence post-war, prior to the Depression, facilitated the ability to travel and contributed to opportunities for commercial art; the growth of art schools; the rise of domestic decoration.
  2. For example, Black studied in London with Claude Flight 1927 and with Andre Lhote and Albert Gleizes 1927-29 in Paris; Proctor studied in London with George Lambert in 1903; Sauerbier studied at the Central School of Art in London 1925-27; Cossington Smith attended the Winchester School of Art in 1912; Crowley studied in Paris 1926-29; Davidson attended the Academie de la Chaumiere in Paris as did Syme and Rix Nicholas, among other studies in Paris and London; Heysen travelled to England, Paris and Italy; Carrick Fox travelled extensively throughout her life including London, Paris, Spain, Italy, Northern Africa, Australia, Tahiti; Preston travelled to Europe and her work was hung in the Old Salon in 1905.
  3. Davidson was appointed Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur for Art and Humanity by the French Government in 1931.
  4. Portrait of Madame Elink Schuurman, 1938.
  5. Elaine Haxton was awarded the Sulman Prize (AGNSW) in 1943 for her mural designs.
  6. See Dessmann, J. and Edwards, D., ‘The lost moderns: Tempe Manning, Niel A Gren and Norah Simpson’, Sydney Moderns: Art for a New World, Art Gallery of NSW, 2013.



Sybil Craig. (HMVS Cerberus, Half Moon Bay, Melbourne) Nd


Sybil Craig (Australian, 1901-1989)
HMVS Cerberus, Half Moon Bay, Melbourne
c. 1927-28
Oil on paper
44.8 x 49.3cm



HMVS Cerberus (Her Majesty’s Victorian Ship) is a breastwork monitor that served in the Victoria Naval Forces, the Commonwealth Naval Forces (CNF), and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) between 1871 and 1924. Built for the colony of Victoria under the supervision of Charles Pasley, Cerberus was completed in 1870, and arrived in Port Phillip in 1871, where she spent the rest of her career. In 1924, the monitor was sold for scrap, and was sunk as a breakwater off Half Moon Bay. The wreck became a popular site for scuba diving and picnics over the years, but there was a structural collapse in 1993. Cerberus was sold to the Melbourne Salvage Company for £409 on 23 April 1924, with the buyer to break her up for scrap. The warship was towed from Corio Bay to Williamstown Naval Dockyard on 14 May for disassembly. After the salvage company removed what they could, she was then sold on to the Sandringham council for £150. The monitor was scuttled on 26 September 1926 at Half Moon Bay to serve as a breakwater for the Black Rock Yacht Club.

Sybil Craig studied privately with John Shirlow before attending art school at the National Gallery of Victoria (1924-1931) with Bernard Hall, William McInnes and Charles Wheeler. She also took private classes with George Bell and held her first solo exhibition in 1932 and as well as painting (in oils, watercolours and pastels) she also undertook more graphic work, including prints.

Craig was a founding member of the New Melbourne Art Club and was appointed an official war artist in 1945 (the third woman to be appointed after Nora Heysen and Stella Bowen) and depicted women workers at the munitions factory at Maribyrnong. Her paintings are particularly characterised by her use of colour and strong design. She is represented in key texts covering modern women artists.


Nora Gurdon. 'Under the Window' 1922


Nora Gurdon (Australian, c. 1881-1974)
Under the Window
Oil on canvas
44.5 x 54.5cm



Nora Gurdon is well known for her late impressionist landscapes and is also associated with the Heidelberg School with Streeton a frequent guest at her country property. In 1914 Gurdon went to England and during the war nursed for two years at the Le Croisic, France. Streeton was also in Europe working as an official war artist often painting hospital scenes. In 1920 Gurdon returned to Australia and from that time added scenes from domestic life to her painting oeuvre (Peers p. 149). However she remained independent, did not marry, and made further trips to Europe in 1927 and 1937.

She was a member of the Australian Art Association and the Melbourne Society of Women Painters and Sculptors, (MESWAPS) joining as early as 1923. From her country property, Gurdon welcomed many fellow painters. For the members of the MESWAPS ‘successful outdoor painting days were held at the studio of Nora Gurdon in Mount Dandenong’.


Nora Heysen. '(Self Portrait)' 1936


Nora Heysen (Australian, 1911-2003)
Self Portrait
Charcoal on paper
35 x 25cm


Thea Proctor. 'The Sewing Basket' c. 1926


Thea Proctor (Australian, 1879-1966)
The Sewing Basket
c. 1926
13.5 x 14cm


May and Mina Moore. 'Thea Proctor' 1912


May Moore (New Zealand, Australia 1881-1931)
Mina Moore (New Zealand, Australia 1882-1957)
Thea Proctor
Gelatin silver photograph, brown tone
18.5 x 10.0cm



“… the portrait of Thea Proctor is brown-toned, although the minimal studio background and the very direct gaze of the subject signals change. Jack Cato wrote of May and Mina that: ‘these enterprising young women were unable to afford the great studio premises filled with light from glass roofs and glass walls that were then the order of the day. By necessity they devised a method of portraiture by using the meagre light from an ordinary window in an ordinary room. It made their work so distinctive.’1 Despite the strong chiaroscuro, Proctor’s face is clear and her gaze direct. Her very upright pose, with her hand on her hip and no props to lean against, is that of a modern woman. Proctor’s dress was made by herself for the going-away party of her relative John Peter Russell in 1912. Other photographs from this shoot were published in The Lone Hand in July 1913 where it was noted that ‘she is singularly free from feminine tremors concerning her own work’.”2


  1. Cato J. (1955), The story of the camera in Australia, Georgian House, Melbourne p. 136
  2. Engledow, S. (2005), ‘The world of Thea Proctor’, The world of Thea Proctor, S. Engledow, A. Sayers and B. Humphries, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra p. 37

© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007


Mabel Pye. 'Blue Vase' c. 1936


Mabel Pye (Australian, 1894-1982)
Blue Vase
c. 1936
Coloured linocut
22.7 x 18.7cm



Mabel Pye was a printmaker and painter from Melbourne who studied with Adelaide Perry and Napier Waller under Bernard Hall at the National Gallery School. Mabel introduced the use of linocuts into her work in the early 1930’s with bold colors and lines. Her work encompassed the use of the everyday including landscapes, portraits and still life. Mabel was a member of both the Victorian Art Society from 1918-1941 and also the Melbourne Society of Women Painters and Sculptures from 1920-1950.


Ethel Carrick Fox (1872-1952)


Ethel Carrick Fox (Australian, 1872-1952)


Ethel Carrick. (Arabs Walking Down a Street) Nd


Ethel Carrick Fox (Australian, 1872-1952)
Arabs Walking Down a Street
Oil on canvas
45.7 x 37.9cm



Ethel Carrick Fox (Australian, 1872-1952)

Ethel Carrick Fox (1872-1951) was the wife of painter Emanuel Phillips Fox and a major artist in her own right. Carrick studied at the Slade School. She married E. Phillips Fox in 1905 and moved to Paris. She exhibited at the Salon D’Automne, Royal Academy London, Australian Art Association, Melbourne Society of Women Painters and Sculptors, as well as at solo exhibitions and dual shows with her husband’s work.

She travelled extensively from 1920-1940, and lobbied Australian public gallery directors and curators to buy her husband’s works. During the 1920s she was recommended by the Atelier Grande Chaumiere as a private teacher of still life painting in Paris, and included a number of Australians and Americans in Paris amongst her students. Carrick died in Melbourne in 1951.

Text from the Wikipedia website



Lauraine Diggins Fine Art
Boonwurrung Country
5 Malakoff Street
North Caulfield
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 3161
Phone: (61 3) 9509 9855

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Friday 10am – 6pm

Lauraine Diggins Fine Art website


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Notes from the lecture ‘Anti-Entropy: A natural History of the Studio’ by William Kentridge at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), Melbourne

Date: 8th March 2012


Edward Francis Burney. 'A view of Philip James de Loutherbourg's Eidophusikon' c. 1782


Edward Francis Burney (English, 1760-1848)
A view of Philip James de Loutherbourg’s Eidophusikon
c. 1782
At left a man bowing to a woman, to right figures seated on a bench in the foreground, watching a scene titled ‘Satan Arraying his Troops on the Banks of a Fiery Lake, with the Raising of the Palace of Pandemonium’ during a performance of Milton’s “Paradise Lost” on a stage labelled EIDOPHUSIKON in a cartouche above
Pen and grey ink and grey wash, with watercolour
© The Trustees of the British Museum



A munificence of Minor White and the revelation of the object through contemplation could be found in the lecture by William Kentridge. As an artist you must keep repeating and constructively playing and something else, some new idea, some new way of looking at the world may emerge. As a glimpse into the working methodology of one of the worlds great artists the lecture was fascinating stuff!

Images in this posting are used under fair use for commentary and illustration of the lecture notes. No copyright breach is intended. © All rights remain with the copyright holder. My additions to the text can be found in [ ] brackets.



On self-doubt as an artist

“At four in the morning there are no lack of branches for the crow of doubt to land upon.”

On Memory

“Memory – both memory and the forgetting of memory. For example, the building of monuments [monuments to the Holocaust, to wars] takes the responsibility of remembering away.”

On Play

“We absolutely want to make sense of the world in that way. That’s one of the principles of play – that however much you distort and break things apart, in the end we will try to reconstruct them in some way to make sense of the world. I think that every child does it. It’s fundamental.”
On Looking

“It’s the capacity for recognition that makes a difference between order and disorder in looking at visual images. And it’s the vocabulary of recognisable images that we have inside us, which is completely vital to what it is to see. I don’t really buy the idea that order and disorder are the same.”

William Kentridge



First History of the Cinema

Performances of Transformation

  • Cinema
  • Shadow dancing
  • Eidophusikon (The Eidophusikon was a piece of art, no longer extant, created by 18th century English painter Philip James de Loutherbourg. It opened in Leicester Square in February 1781.Described by the media of his day as “Moving Pictures, representing Phenomena of Nature,” the Eidophusikon can be considered an early form of movie making. The effect was achieved by mirrors and pulleys.
  • Quick change artist
  • Stage magicians

All work against the time of the audience e.g. the quick change artist may take 3 seconds, the sunset in a Georges Méliès film may take 2 minutes instead of 2 hours. The technology / scrims / screens happen at different speeds but the different times become one in the finished film. There is an elision of time: appearances / disappearances. Stopping time [changing a scene, changing clothing etc…], starting time again.


Méliès starring in 'The Living Playing Cards' 1904


George Méliès starring in The Living Playing Cards (1904)



Second History of the Cinema

The sedimented gaze of the early camera. The slow chemicals meant that the object had to wait under the camera’s gaze for minutes. People were held in place by stiff neck braces to capture the trace of their likeness. Congealed time.

On the other hand, in cinema, a tear forward becomes a repair in reverse.

By rolling the film in reverse there is a REVERSAL of time, a REMAKING of the world – the power to be more than you are – by reversing to perfection. You throw a book or smash a plate: in reverse they become perfect again, a utopian world.


Giving yourself over to what the medium suggests, you follow the metaphor back to the surface. Following the activity [of play] back to its root. Projecting forwards, projecting backwards. There is endless rehearsal, constant repetition, then discovering the nature of the final shot or drawing to be made. New ideas get thrown around: leaning into the experience, the experiment, the repetition, the rehearsal.


Four elements

  1. something to be seen
  2. the utopian perfection: perfectibility
  3. the grammar of learning that action
  4. Greater ideas, further ideas and thoughts; potentiality and its LOSS
    Further meanings arise

How is this achieved?
Rehearsal, repetition

New thoughts will arise being led by the body in the studio NOT in the mind. Not conceptual but the feeling of the body walking in the studio.

The physical action as the starting point not the concept.


Six different degrees of tension

  1. Least tension in the body possible: slumped
  2. Relaxed
  3. Neutral
  4. Purpose: an impulse to make things happen – desire
  5. Insistence: listen to me, this is very important
  6. Manic: Noh theatre with its rictus of the body

What the body suggests is the construction of an image.

There are different degrees of tension in these performances. What do they suggest? This reverse osmosis from one state to another?


Third History of Cinema

Technologies of Looking

Pre-cinematic devices – a process of seeing in the world, of looking. Produces a reconfigured seeing, the invisible made [moving] visible.



3D world made into a 2D image put back into 3D by our brains. The nature of binocularity, of depth perception. We see an illusion of depth, a construction by the eyes. Our brain is a muscle combining the two images. Depth of Field (DOF): focusing at different distances, we are inside the field of the image. Peripheral vision is blanked off; we look through a magnifying glass. A machine for demonstrating seeing. Text from the Wikipedia website


William Kentridge. Drawing for the film 'Stereoscope' 1998-99


William Kentridge (South African, b. 1955)
Drawing for the film Stereoscope
Charcoal, pastel, and coloured pencil on paper
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
© 2008 William Kentridge


Zoetrope by William George Horner, 1834


Zoetrope by William George Horner, 1834



An illusion of movement not depth. Double revelation:

A/ the brain constructed illusion of movement
B/ Caught in time [as the action goes around and around] and wanting to get out of it!


In the reordering, in the crack, something else may emerge, some new idea may eventuate. The tearing of time. 

[Marcus: the cleft in time]

Text from the Wikipedia website


The Etching Press

There are erotics built into the language of the etching, but there is also a logic built into the machine used for etching. The Proof print, arriving at the first state. Going on the journey from artist as maker to artist as viewer through the mechanism of the etching press.


Claude Glass

“A Claude glass (or black mirror) is a small mirror, slightly convex in shape, with its surface tinted a dark colour. Bound up like a pocket-book or in a carrying case, black mirrors were used by artists, travellers and connoisseurs of landscape and landscape painting. Black Mirrors have the effect of abstracting the subject reflected in it from its surroundings, reducing and simplifying the colour and tonal range of scenes and scenery to give them a painterly quality).” From Wikipedia.

“The Claude glass was standard equipment for Picturesque tourists, producing instant tonal images that supposedly resembled works by Claude. “The person using it ought always to turn his back to the object that he views,” Thomas West explained in his Guide to the Lakes. “It should be suspended by the upper part of the case… holding it a little to the right or the left (as the position of the parts to be viewed require) and the face screened from the sun.”” From the V & A website


Claude Glass, manufactured in England, 18th century


Claude Glass, manufactured in England, 18th century
V & A


Anamorphic Mirror

A counter intuitive way of drawing; turning 2D into 3D. The landscape has no edge, like a carrousel.



Anamorphic drawing and cone shaped mirror


Anamorphic drawing and cone shaped mirror


William Kentridge studio


William Kentridge studio
Photo by John Hodgkiss
Art Tatler



The Studio

In the studio you gather the pieces together like a kind of Zoetrope. You may arrive at a new idea, a new starting point. Repetition, going around and around your head (at four in the morning!). There must be a truce between the artist as maker and the artist as viewer. As in earlier times, you walk the cloisters, you promenade.

You find the walk that is the prehistory of the drawing, that is the prehistory to the work.

A multiple, fragmented, layered performance of walking. You are trying to find the grammar of the studio – the necessary stupidity. Making a space for uncertainty. The conscious suppression of rationality. At some point, emerging, escaping the Zoetrope, from the physical making, something will be revealed. The spaces open up by the stupidities. Something new emerges.




Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)
Federation Square, Melbourne, Australia

William Kentridge: Five Themes

Thursday 8 March – Sunday 27 May 2012
Exhibition open daily 10am – 6pm

ACMI website


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Exhibition: ‘Monika Tichacek, To all my relations’ at Karen Woodbury Gallery, Richmond

Exhibition dates: 4th May – 28th May 2011


Monika Tichacek. 'To all my relations' 2011


Monika Tichacek (Australian, b. 1975 Switzerland)
To all my relations
Gouache, pencil and watercolour on paper
244.0 x 300.0 cm overall



This is a stupendous exhibition by Monika Tichacek, at Karen Woodbury Gallery. One of the highlights of the year, this is a definite must see!

The work is glorious in it’s detail, a sensual and visual delight (make sure you click on the photographs to see the close up of the work!). The riotous, bacchanalian density of the work is balanced by a lyrical intimacy, the work exploring the life cycle and our relationship to the world in gouache, pencil & watercolour. Tichacek’s vibrant pink birds, small bugs, flowers and leaves have absolutely delicious colours. The layered and overlaid compositions show complete control by the artist: mottled, blotted, bark-like wings of butterflies meld into trees in a delicate metamorphosis; insects are blurred becoming one with the structure of flowers in a controlled effusion of life. The title of the exhibition, To all my relations,

“has inspired an understanding that all animist cultures’ peoples have who live in close relationship to the earth. We are all related, we all exist in an interdependent system. The ecosystem is such an unbelievably complex, harmonious system. Every drop of rain, every insect, every micro-organism has its place for the perfect functioning and health of nature… The title is an acknowledgement and honouring of all that is live-giving, every little element that makes up the big picture of life on earth.”1

It was very difficult to pull myself away from the beauty and intimate polyphony of voices contained within the work. I loved it!

Dr Marcus Bunyan


  1. O’Sullivan, Jane. “Artist Interview: Monika Tichacek,” on Australian Art Collector website, 19th May 2011 [Online] Cited 21/05/2010 no longer available online

Many thankx to Karen Woodbury Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs and Art Guide Australia for allowing me to publish the text in the posting. The text by Dylan Rainforth was commissioned by Art Guide Australia and appears in the May/June 11 issue of Art Guide Australia magazine. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.


Monika Tichacek. 'To all my relations' (detail) 2011


Monika Tichacek (Australian, b. 1975 Switzerland)
To all my relations (detail)
Gouache, pencil and watercolour on paper
244.0 x 300.0 cm overall


Monika Tichacek. 'To all my relations' (detail) 2011


Monika Tichacek (Australian, b. 1975 Switzerland)
To all my relations (detail)
Gouache, pencil and watercolour on paper
244.0 x 300.0 cm overall


Monika Tichacek. 'To all my relations' (detail) 2011


Monika Tichacek (Australian, b. 1975 Switzerland)
To all my relations (detail)
Gouache, pencil and watercolour on paper
244.0 x 300.0 cm overall



The Cycle of Nature – Monika Tichacek’s To All My Relations

Dylan Rainforth

Anyone used to the immaculately controlled, exactingly lit photographic and video mise en scène that Swiss-born artist Monika Tichacek presented in such series as The Shadowers, for which she won the prestigious Anne Landa Award for Video and New Media Arts in 2007, may be surprised by the direction her work has taken in her latest exhibition. To All My Relations consists entirely of works on paper – watercolour and ink drawings that evince a tension between abstract, gestural shapes and bleeds of colour, recalling (just for convenience’s sake) Kandinsky, and intricately rendered natural forms that owe more to the scientific, zoological and botanical narratives of the Endeavour voyages of Captain Cook, Joseph Banks and the artist Sydney Parkinson.

The work has come out of an intensive period over the last few years in which Tichacek spent considerable time in the jungles of South America and the deserts of the United States, as well as time spent in the New South Wales bush and studying nature books. “I’m getting more and more interested in the cellular, microscopic imagery that you get when you enlarge something and peer deeper into the structure of how material elements are composed, and that really coincides with my interest in Eastern philosophies of Buddhism and many other things too. I guess I’m looking as deeply into the nature of something as is possible but I’m trying not to do it so much with my mind – but of course that’s very challenging,” she says, laughing lightly.

“The exploration of feeling is quite important to me – it’s quite a departure from what I used to do, which were certainly works that came from a very inner landscape but then the execution would be very conceptual, obviously – it had to be and this new work is much more intimate.”

That challenge to the rational, objective Western subject is informed by Tichacek’s exposure to indigenous traditions in South America and other places.

“In 2006 I had a research grant and I went to the Amazon because I wanted to look more deeply into animist cultures, meaning cultures that really see the land as living and as alive with energy and with spirit or ‘beingness’. So I went to the Amazon and spent quite a long time there and also in the mountains in Peru and saw a little bit of Central America and also North America in the desert. I spent time there and really learnt a lot about their indigenous ways and got to participate in a lot of things and experience a lot of things. In the Amazon shamanic tradition there is a process – they call it dieting – you spend a few months more or less alone, existing on very limited foods. You get very little, limited food and very little contact and they give you different traditional plants that, through the communion they do, they are ‘told’ to give you. And you are encouraged to connect with this plant for its healing properties to come through. So that was quite an amazing time to get quite still…”

The exhibition title comes from a Native American ceremony. According to Tichacek, “It’s always said when entering the sweat lodge and it’s an acknowledgement of being related to everything in nature, every being, the understanding that without all these other relations one wouldn’t exist. In those cultures it’s much more understood – we’ve lost that understanding because we can just buy things in the supermarket and eat them but if we lived that way we would probably remember a lot more that we are closely related to everything around us.”

From this perspective we can see that this new work is not a complete departure from Tichacek’s earlier work after all, yet its intentions are radically different. Both the natural world and shamanistic knowledge played their part in The Shadowers. Professor Anne Marsh has described Tichacek’s video, played out in a violent scene occurring between three women (one of whom Marsh characterises as a witch doctor or shaman) in a forest environment, as stretch[ing] the boundaries between body art, ritual and sado-masochism by assaulting the senses and transgressing the social realm. In psychoanalytic terms it tears at the screen of the real and immerses the viewer into the abject world of instinctual response where language has no authority.” [i]

Pain, sado-masochism, ritual and endurance certainly have their place in shamanistic traditions – one need only think of any number of initiation rites – but now Tichacek is looking for a less conflicted relationship with nature. “The work has always been very personal and I guess in The Shadowers that nature relationship was starting to come in but it was very tense and very violent and very confused. The continuation of that theme is still there – the exploration of how to understand the experience of the self and what we are doing here and how we come to exist. That’s definitely been there before but this new work is more in the realm of psychology and the previous works are more in the realm of the female body.”

To All My Relations will present several drawings, with one in particular being conceived on a massive scale that Tichacek intends to convey the sense of awe we experience when surrounded by nature. The artist will also stage a performance – something her interdisciplinary practice has always embraced – at the opening. Although she had not completely determined the details when I spoke to her the performance was inspired by a drawing she made a few years ago and will symbolically connect the artist’s body to the roots of a tree.

“I always feel like [performance serves] to bring my body into it. Although I feel like my body’s very much in these drawings there’s something about performance that’s really physically present.”

Dylan Rainforth.


This text by Dylan Rainforth was commissioned by Art Guide Australia and appears in the May/June 11 issue of Art Guide Australia magazine.

[i] Marsh, A. The Shadowers: Haunting the Real; essay available on Karen Woodbury Gallery website, accessed 03/04/11, no longer available online



Monika Tichacek. 'To all my relations' (detail) 2011


Monika Tichacek (Australian, b. 1975 Switzerland)
To all my relations (detail)
Gouache, pencil and watercolour on paper
244.0 x 300.0 cm overall


Monika Tichacek. 'To all my relations' (detail) 2011


Monika Tichacek (Australian, b. 1975 Switzerland)
To all my relations (detail)
Gouache, pencil and watercolour on paper
244.0 x 300.0 cm overall


Monika Tichacek. 'Birth of generosity' 2011


Monika Tichacek (Australian, b. 1975 Switzerland)
Birth of generosity
Pencil and watercolour on paper
70.0 x 114.0 cm overall


Monika Tichacek. 'Transmission' 2011


Monika Tichacek (Australian, b. 1975 Switzerland)
Pencil and watercolour on paper
150.0 x 125.0 cm



Karen Woodbury Gallery

This gallery has now closed


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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

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