Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, Art Gallery of New South Wales

The Yiribana Gallery presents a selection of works from our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collection. It also includes the Yiribana Project Space, home to a range of changing exhibitions.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.
The collection represents Indigenous artists from communities across Australia. The earliest work in the collection, by Tommy McRae, dates from the late 19th century. Included in the collection are desert paintings created by small family groups living on remote Western Desert outstations, bark paintings of the saltwater people of coastal communities and the new media expressions of ‘blak city culture’ by contemporary artists.

Yiribana means ‘this way’ in the language of the Eora people and acknowledges the location of the Gallery on Gadigal land.

Art Gallery of New South Wales
The Gadigal people of the Eora nation are the traditional custodians of the land on which the Art Gallery of NSW is located.

Established in 1871, the Gallery is proud to present fine international and Australian art in one of the most beautiful art museums in the world. We aim to be a place of experience and inspiration, through our collection, exhibitions, programs and research. Admission to the Gallery is free, as are our permanent galleries and most exhibitions and events.

Collection
Modern and contemporary works are displayed in expansive, light-filled spaces, offering stunning views of Sydney and the harbour, while our splendid Grand Courts are home to a distinguished collection of colonial and 19th-century Australian works and European old masters. There are also dedicated galleries celebrating the arts of Asia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.

As a museum of art we must be a place of experience and inspiration. It is an art museum that lives and breathes its role; we want our visitors to enjoy their visit and at the heart of that lies our enormously rich and varied collection.

The collections of an art museum such as those of the Art Gallery of NSW are enormously rich and varied. They are a fascinating barometer of the evolution of taste and style, and of changing social, cultural and even political values. They are also a definitive marker of the growth of an institution. In our roughly 130-year history, the Art Gallery of NSW has become far more than just a destination for looking at pictures. We have in that century or so evolved into a place of more extended experience: a place to enjoy lectures, films, concerts and performances, a place to meet friends or take part in education programs or special events. But above all, as a museum of art we must be a place of experience and inspiration, and at the heart of that lies our collection.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.
The collection represents Indigenous artists from communities across Australia. The earliest work in the collection, by Tommy McRae, dates from the late 19th century. Included in the collection are desert paintings created by small family groups living on remote Western Desert outstations, bark paintings of the saltwater people of coastal communities and the new media expressions of ‘blak city culture’ by contemporary artists.

Asian art
The first works to enter the collection in 1879 were a large group of ceramics and bronzes – a gift from the Government of Japan following the Sydney International Exhibition that year. The Asian collections after grown from that beginning to be wide-ranging, embracing the countries and cultures of South, Southeast and East Asia.

Australian art
The collection dates from the early 1800s, and includes many iconic paintings and sculpture from the annals of Australian art history. 19th-century Australian artists represented include: John Glover, Arthur Streeton, Eugene von Guerard, John Russell, Tom Roberts, David Davies, Charles Conder, William Piguenit, E. Phillips Fox (including Nasturtiums), Frederick McCubbin, Sydney Long and George W. Lambert.

20th-century Australian artists represented include: Arthur Boyd, Rupert Bunny, Grace Cossington Smith, H. H. Calvert, William Dobell, Russell Drysdale, James Gleeson, Sidney Nolan, John Olsen, Margaret Preston, Hugh Ramsay, Lloyd Rees, Imants Tillers, J. W. Tristram, Roland Wakelin, Brett Whiteley, Fred Williams and Blamire Young.

Forty four works held at the gallery were included in the 1973 edition of 100 Masterpieces of Australian Painting.

Contemporary art
The contemporary collection is international, encompassing Asian and Western as well as Australian art in all media. With the gift of the John Kaldor Family Collection, the Gallery now holds arguably Australia’s most comprehensive representation of contemporary art from the 1960s to the present day. Internationally, the focus is on the influence of conceptual art, nouveau realisme, minimalism and arte povera. The Australian contemporary art collection focuses on abstract painting, expressionism, screen culture and pop art.

Pacific art
The collection of art from the Pacific region began in 1962 at the instigation of our then deputy director, Tony Tuckson. Between 1968 and 1977, the Gallery acquired over 500 works from the Moriarty Collection, one of the largest and most important private collections of New Guinea Highlands art in the world.

Photography
The photography collection has major holdings of a wide variety of artists including Tracey Moffatt, Bill Henson, Fiona Hall, Micky Allan, Mark Johnson, Max Pam and Lewis Morley. As well as contemporary photography, Australian pictorialism, modernism and postwar photo documentary is represented by The Sydney Camera Circle, Max Dupain and David Moore. The evolution of 19th-century Australian photography is represented with emphasis on the work of Charles Bayliss and Kerry & Co. International photographs include English pictorialism and the European avant garde (Bauhaus, constructivism and surrealism). Photo-documentary in 20th-century America is reflected through the work of Lewis Hine and Dorothea Lange among others. Contemporary Asian practices are represented by artists such as Yasumasa Morimura and Miwa Yanagi. Styles range from the formal aesthetics of early photography to the informal snapshots of Weegee to the high fashion of Helmut Newton and Bettina Rheims.

Western art
The gallery has an extensive collection of British Victorian art, including major works by Lord Frederic Leighton and Sir Edward John Poynter. It has smaller holdings of European art of the 15th to 18th centuries, including works by Peter Paul Rubens, Canaletto, Bronzino, Domenico Beccafumi, Giovanni Battista Moroni and Niccolò dell’Abbate. These works hang in the Grand Courts along with 19th-century works by Eugène Delacroix, John Constable, Ford Madox Brown, Vincent van Gogh, Auguste Rodin, Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne and Camille Pissarro.

British art of the 20th century occupies a significant place in the collection together with major European figures such as Pierre Bonnard, Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Alberto Giacometti and Giorgio Morandi.

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