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First major gallery retrospective of Australian artist Sydney Long opens at the National Gallery of Australia
Sydney Long, Dawn 1918. Watercolour. Mildura Arts Centre Collection. Reproduced with the kind permission of the Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia.
CANBERRA.- The National Gallery of Australia opened Sydney Long The Spirit of the Land, the first major gallery retrospective of this important Australian artist. Sydney Long is Australia’s foremost Art Nouveau artist and created a highly distinctive style which often depicted the Australian landscape as haunting and mysterious, and sometimes populated with mythical nature sprites. The exhibition is on display in Canberra only.

Sydney Long worked in the imaginatively stimulating atmosphere in Sydney in the 1890s and 1900s when he was a central figure in the Symbolist movement. He later became a leading painter-etcher of the 1920s and 1930s. This exhibition displays over 115 paintings, watercolours and prints from collections around the country as well as from the National Gallery of Australia’s own collection. Many of the works in the exhibition have not been displayed publicly before.

“Sydney Long’s work holds a unique and iconic presence in the canon of Australian art. Using a distinctive and lyrical Art Nouveau aesthetic, Long portrayed the Australian landscape in a manner that had never been seen before. We are proud to display this exquisite exhibition that will no doubt entice and seduce a new generation of viewers with the singular creative vision of one of Australia’s most admired artists”, said Ron Radford AM, Director of the National Gallery of Australia.

One of the surprises of the exhibition is Long’s delightful watercolours, painted in both Australia and Britain. Working with soft muted colours, he used his own sensuous and elegant approach to create evocative images.

“Sydney Long: The Spirit of the Land presents the vision of a major Australian artist. Long’s distinctive poetic landscapes have become embedded in the Australian psyche. His memorable Symbolist Art Nouveau landscapes are much sought after. Indeed, he is one of the best known Australian artists of the 1890s, along with the legendary Australian artists, Tom Roberts, Frederick McCubbin and Arthur Streeton”, said Anna Gray, exhibition Curator and Head of Australian Art at the National Gallery of Australia.

Esteemed art critic and author Robert Hughes observed that Sydney Long’s Pan ‘…is as good a Salon painting as anything that came out of European Art Nouveau, with the exception of the Viennese school and Gustav Klimt’.





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