‘Better to make history than to write about it. What is needed is a brotherhood of some kind, compact, devoted, with a colourful title . . .’ Bernard Smith, letter to Robin Boyd, 1957
Bernard Smith’s ‘brotherhood’ was to become the famous group of Australian artists called The Antipodeans, and Smith was to write their manifesto.
‘The Antipodeans’ exhibition in 1959 was a watershed moment for Australian art. The exhibition included work by Charles Blackman, Arthur Boyd, David Boyd, John Brack, Robert Dickerson, John Perceval, Clifton Pugh and, of course, Bernard Smith. But this is just one of Smith’s significant contributions to the history of Australian art, and one of many instances where he sought to highlight the importance of contemporary Australian art and communicate its role in society. Palmer says, ‘Bernard was emphatic that Australian artists had to retain their autonomy, their difference.’ And Bernard is someone who understood the value of a different perspective, having begun his life as a ward of the State. He would go on to be considered the father of Australian art history. Through years of interviews and exclusive access to Smith’s papers and library, Palmer’s biography reveals the unique character of this exceptional man.
Book launches will be held on Thursday 16th June 2016 at the National Library of Australia, Canberra with apublic talk by Sheridan Palmer and on Wednesday 20th July 2016 Art Gallery of NSW to coincide with Terry Smith’s lecture. See the Power Publications website for further information: http://www.powerpublications.com.au/hegels_owl_bernard_smith/