Australian contemporary art is what’s happening in Australia, especially for today’s art. This article discusses some things you should know about Australian contemporary art.
1. Contemporary art has been around for a long time
In Australia, contemporary art can be traced back to the oldest living culture on earth as seen on M Contemp. For example, the Indigenous populations of Australia have been creating complex figurative paintings with stories and symbols that tell an important part of their history for more than 18,000 years. In addition, it is possible to see traces of contemporary artistic practice in ancient rock art across the Australian continent. European settlers arriving from 1788 were also producing paintings and drawing in a modern style, depicting daily life in a new country.
2. Australia has a long history of artistic exchange with other countries
In addition to being home to world-renowned Indigenous art, Australia’s rich colonial heritage combined with immigration from many different parts of the world has created a diverse and multicultural society in which the arts play an important role in communicating ideas and experiences related to people and places. For example, Australian artists have been heavily influenced by French modernism, American pop culture, Indonesian batik, Aboriginal bark painting, and European landscape painting.
3. Australian art is culturally diverse
It isn’t easy to give one answer that describes all contemporary Australian art because many voices are being heard. To reflect the diversity of Australia today, these voices include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Immigrants from more than 200 different countries worldwide; women; men; young people aged 15-25 years old who number 1.7 million nationally – this is equivalent to 13 percent of the population, and people with disability who make up 10 percent of the population.
4. Contemporary Australian art is in private, public, and corporate collections throughout Australia and overseas
The National Gallery of Australia holds almost 28,000 works by more than 3,000 artists, which means that they own one in five Australian artworks created since European settlement. In addition to the NGA, state galleries throughout Australia hold significant collections, including Artbank, which has over 23,000 works available for loan, representing 1% of the total existing stock of contemporary art in Australia.
5. Contemporary Australian artists receive support from the Australia Council for the Arts
The Australia Council is responsible for allocating Government funding to support working artists and practitioners in four key areas: literary arts, music; visual arts; and performing arts. In 2015-16 it distributed $161 million to 1660 individual projects across these categories. In addition, there are biennial grants that provide funds of between $20-$50,000 to curators/producers who are working on major art projects – one example being the Sydney Biennale which received over $1Million for its 2016 event. There are also small grants available to individual artists and art organizations.
6. Contemporary Australian art has its awards
There are several prestigious contemporary art awards worth noting: Wynne Prize for landscape painting; Sulman Prize for subject/genre painting; Dobell Drawing Prize; Archibald Portrait Painting Prize; Blake Prize for Religious Art Wallace Art Awards, which may include categories such as Best New Work; Moran Portrait Prize; and, The Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship which has been running since 1992 and is offered to one runner up in the Archibald Prize.
Contemporary Australian art is an exciting and vibrant subject to research. Its diversity of subject matter, mediums, and styles make it a rich source of material that can be enjoyed while at the same time providing opportunities for further research by academics or students who wish to undertake more in-depth analysis. More on here.