Bringing Forth the Vivid Australian Art
Bringing Forth the Vivid Australian Art

Art is a line around your thoughts – Gustav Klimt 

Whenever we read this quote written by an outstanding Australian Artist Gustav Klimt, we recall the times when art inspired us during our most pedestrian hours. Long before people even learned to speak, they communicated with the help of visual symbols which shows art has been in existence since the inception of humankind. Art is a godsend, it has the ability to widen our way of looking. Art helps us to observe the world closely, to think out-of-the-box, and to bring exceptional solutions that we wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. Art has no bounds, it flows from generation to generation and nation to nation freely. It can spring up naturally, symmetrically with an unrefined landscape, or can be attentively crafted by an artist. Though we have a slew of museums brimmed with great artistic works yet there are a few that actually show and tell the conflux of emotion, artistic genius, and intent. 

In this day and age, we see lavish masterpieces in varied shapes and sizes mirrored on walls, stationaries, floors, or even on our coffee mugs. Apart from wowing by the sight of these elegant art miniatures, do we ever give a thought about their origin? Art is an ideal reflection of cultural variance. The current appearance of art is shaped and influenced by different cultures. Every culture, every country has its own definition of art and its way to perceive it. One of these countries is Australia, which has its own vivid art history. In this blog, we will be walking you through the existence of magnificent Australian Art. 

All about Australian Art and its Good Olden Day

Australia has a long, long rich art history that is worth learning about. The Australian art history is one-of-a-kind, it is distinct from any other country in the world. Due to the country’s confinement, the natives decided to shape their own identity and embrace their isolation. This self-exploration journey of Australian natives is highly reflected in the history of Australian art. Let’s have a look at how Australian Art bloomed throughout the decades:

The Aboriginal Art

The Australian art made an appearance in the country well ahead of the arrival of Europeans on the continent’s shores in 1788. The inhabitants of the country had been painting long before this time which is why the indigenous art of Australia is known to be the oldest art tradition in the world. The tradition of the eminent Aboriginal Rock Art is still prevalent across the continent and you can luxuriate in its beautiful sight starting from Uluru and Kakadu to the Grampians to nearby Sydney. Everyone knows about the famous cave painting, but a few know that Aboriginal Art is older than Cave Painting and it’s been in existence for more than 30,000 years which is just astounding! This aboriginal art manifests the various influential aspects of indigenous life through symbols like arches, concentric circles, and dots. The indigenous people used to paint this art onto bark, sand, rock, and stone. 


The purpose of early colonial art in Australia was to depict the rich history of the continent and it was scientific in nature. By scientific, we mean the illustration of flora and fauna of the distinct Australian land for scientific purposes. Such drawings were made by Sydney Parkinson, the Botanical Illustrator under the supervision of naturalist Joseph Banks. The Europeans were wowed by the diversity of the continent and they expressed their amazement through whimsical paintings while they were trying to uncover the meaning of this strange land. The most alluring thing that drew them towards Australia was its natural light, as it was unique and different from the European light. By the end of the century, there was a treasure full of drawings made by brave soldiers like George Raper and John Hunter, and convict artist Thomas Watling. 



Australia’s artwork started to take a new shape as a result of the Victorian Gold Rush. There came a time when the colonial art market heightened the demand for landscape painting and those were commissioned by merchants and wealthy landowners. These landscape paintings were all about delving into the rich Australian landscape and how the colonialists used to view and relate themselves to their surroundings.  At that time, the leading figure of landscape painting was Louis Buvelot who was also known as “The Father of Landscape Painting in Australia”. In order to snuff out the dangers and strangeness in earlier paintings, he presented settled and gentle views of the land. Then in 1854, Australia’s first and most popular exhibition came into existence in Melbourne and it was renamed the National Gallery of Victoria in 1861. This gallery became special because it had an abundance of Australian and European art masterpieces along with an art school to nurture future artists.


The Heidelberg School played a very significant role in Australian art history as it helped in reshaping the magnificent Australian art. While recreating a true sense of Australian landscape’s light and color, the great European Artists including Frederick McCubbin, Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts, and Charles Conder formed an art camp outside Melbourne, this is why the Heidelberg School was named after this camp. The most famous approach followed by these great artists was Plein air and this approach has been deep-seated in Australia’s consciousness till the present. The themes around which the paintings of these artists revolved were conquering the land and an idealization of the rural pioneer. The people started to sing praises of these images of the rural landscapes by the 1890s.  


The Australian artwork has something in it that makes people invest their emotions in these alluring art masterpieces. The fear and insecurities faced by people between the great World Wars were divinely portrayed in Australian artwork and it became the vital reason for people to draw closer to these works. At that time, the art techniques were mainly derived from European expressionism, surrealism, and social realism. Also, the Australian myths and lifestyles were reflected in most of the Australian artworks. Creating Australian myths by taking inspiration from the Bible and capturing the locals refreshing themselves at Sydney beaches are some of the examples of the changing national identity of Australia over time. 

With the passage of time, it is highly believed that Australian artists will put forth plenty of masterworks to the world of art.  These artworks do not only let you peep into Australia’s rich culture and history but also helps to define Australia’s identity yourself.  

Written By
Alice Smith in Arts and Entertainment
11 Feb 2021