Public Lecture – War and Peace: Australia and Germany 1860 – 2000

WHEN : 22nd May, 5:00 - 6:00pm
WHERE : University of Queensland Art Museum

On the eve of the centenary of World War I, a war that pitched Australia against Germany, it might be salutary to reflect upon the history of artistic interaction between the two countries. We might begin with the arrival here of several German or German-trained artists in the 19th century (John Lindt, Eugene von Gérard and George Follingsby), who helped make “Australian” art. We might then think of a generation of “Australians” who trained in Germany (Bessie Davidson, Margaret Preston and Frank Weitzel). We should recall the impact of the rise of Nazism and World War II (Lionel Lindsay’s anti-Semitism, Theo Scharf becoming a Nazi propagandist), but also the arrival of refugees from Germany (Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack, the artists aboard the SS Dunera). The history of Aboriginal art too is in a way inseparable from German Lutheranism. Finally, we conclude our history with a survey of a younger generation of Australian artists studying in Germany in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. What this long history of artistic interaction between the two countries reveals is that Australia and Germany were never “at war” artistically. Indeed, attention to the real as opposed to imagined history of art points to a kind of cosmopolitanism that goes against the “national” construction of art that we see in both Australia and Germany at several moments throughout the 20th century.

The lecture will be delivered by Rex Butler, Associate Professor and Reader in Art History at The University of Queensland.

The exhibition Conflict: Contemporary responses to war, curated by Samantha Littley, continues until 7 September.

Image :
Joan Ross
BBQ this Sunday, BYO 2011 (video still)
digital animation, edition 17/20
5:01 min
Collection of The University of Queensland, purchased 2014
Reproduced courtesy of the artist and Bett Gallery, Hobart