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The Antipodeans Group By Moore, Catriona

DOI: 10.4324/9781135000356-REM151-1
Published: 09/05/2016
Retrieved: 14 July 2024, from


The Antipodeans was the title of a group exhibition of figurative painters at the Victorian Artists’ Society in August 1959. Signatories to the exhibition catalogue (the notorious Antipodean Manifesto) were the Melbourne artists Charles Blackman (b. 1928), Arthur Boyd (1920–1999), David Boyd (1924–2011), John Brack (1920–1999), Bob Dickerson (b.1924, a Sydney artist), John Perceval (1923–2000), and Clifton Pugh (1924–1990). The influential art historian and critic Bernard Smith (1916–2011) was the Manifesto’s author and co-signatory. Many had been active members of the radical Melbourne Branch of the Contemporary Art Society through the war years, and were associated with other figurative artists, such as Sidney Nolan (1917–1992), Albert Tucker (1914–1999), and Russell Drysdale (1912–1981). The Antipodeans was a tactical intervention into post-war cultural debate, railing against the perceived uncritical following of European and United States models of abstraction and the superficial gestures of neo-Dadaist play. In contrast, the Manifesto held that the artist should create significant images and narratives for a “young country yet to make its own myths.” In this, the group was firmly committed to the modern figurative image: “[T]he image, the recognisable shape, the meaningful symbol, is the basic unit of [the artist’s] language... It is born of past experience and refers back to past experience — and it communicates. It communicates because it has the capacity to refer to experiences that the artist shares with his audience.”

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Moore, Catriona. The Antipodeans Group. Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism, Taylor and Francis,

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