Heide Circle By Haese, Richard
The group of avant-garde Australian artists and their supporters, now identified as the Heide Circle, evolved over three decades, from the pioneering modernism of the early 1930s through the post-war era of the mid-1960s. These Melbourne-based artists constituted the essential core of radical Australian modernism; the early phase including, most notably, Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker, Arthur Boyd, John Perceval, and the Russian-born émigré Danila Vassilieff. The work of these pioneering artists demonstrated a highly original antipodean response to European expressionist, cubist, and surrealist movements, together with a new fascination with untutored and naïve art. The group shared personal and institutional support from the art collectors and patrons John and Sunday Reed, whose semi-rural home called ‘‘Heide‘‘ on the outskirts of Melbourne became the focus of the movement. In 1938, the Reeds spearheaded the establishment of the Contemporary Art Society (CAS) in order to promote the modernist movement in Australian art. Along with the young poet Max Harris, the Reeds also began publishing the key cultural journal Angry Penguins, which was dedicated to championing radical art and literature. These initiatives eventually collapsed in 1947. However, the revival of the CAS in 1953 initiated a second phase of the Heide circle, together with a new generation of artists.