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No place like home: Australian art history and contemporary art at the start of the 1970s

Author(s): Heather Barker | Charles Green

Journal: Journal of Art Historiography
ISSN 2042-4752

Volume: 4;
Start page: 4;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: Contemporary art | Australian art | Terry Smith | Color-Form painting | Australian art history | Art criticism

This paper looks at Australian art criticism at the start of the 1970s and at the emergence of a short-lived art journal 'Other Voices' featuring a young art critic and art historian, Terry Smith. The essay argues that writing on art by scholars from the emergent discipline of Australian art history was significant in contemporary art’s innovations. But, it is argued, Australian art history also distorted the course of Australian art. The art historians’ false consciousness of nation remained central within Australian art history. Emergent generations of young art writers and art historians could not participate in the establishment of a sustainable and sustained discourse on contemporary art without participating, within the context of Cold War politics, in a reification of the categories of 'Australian' in opposition to the idea of 'International' art, no matter how hard they tried. Young art critic Terry Smith’s pessimistic evaluation, even before his sojourn in New York, of the implications of provincial status marked the point at which Australian art history’s interest began to shift away from the formulation of strategies to overcome the disadvantages of distance.
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