Art in Australia – Art Journal comes to life at the National Library of Australia


The impressive early twentieth-century art magazine

Art in Australia has been made permanently available online through Trove as a result of a joint project between the University of Wollongong Library, the University of New South Wales Library and the National Library of Australia. It is the first time that the full publication has been made freely available online in high resolution.

Art in Australia Issue 1 cover

Art in Australia will appeal to followers of early twentieth-century art and the wonderful aesthetics of those years. It contains articles by or about significant Australian artists. Norman Lindsay and Margaret Preston contributed articles as well as featured in issues. Their works are often displayed as exquisite high-quality plates.

Pen drawing by Norman Lindsay

The advertisements in Art in Australia are artworks in themselves, reflecting the superior quality of the publication and the aspirations and lifestyles of its readers.

An example of the quality of artwork in the advertisements of the publication

Art in Australia is a major resource for Australian art history. It promoted modern ideas at a time when Australia was experiencing significant societal shifts in the aftermath of the First World War. The period saw the adoption of new technologies such as electricity and motor cars.

Modern trends and technology was promoted

Art in Australia offers a unique, historical aspect into both Australian art and artists and the development of prominent art collections in Australia. It placed special value in female artists and embodied a recognition of Indigenous art beyond its anthropological value.

The Japanese Screen by Florence Rodway. Pastels

Launched in 1916 by artist and publisher Sydney Ure Smith (1887-1949), this pioneering publication was modelled on high-quality European art publications such as The Studio and sought to nurture a national tradition in Australian art and design. These sentiments are evident in his editorials, which demonstrate his deep commitment to advocacy for Australian art and artists. In his introduction to the third issue in 1917, he wrote: “It is our desire to extend the appreciation of Australian Art and help to remove the disadvantage for which it still suffers by reason of the failure of Australians to recognise its merit adequately”.

Sydney Ure Smith photographed by Max Dupain in 1948

The collaborating libraries were pleased to give this historic and beautiful Australian art publication a ‘second life’ through the collaborative digitisation program. The free and openly available online format enables everyone—researchers, students, and the whole community—to enjoy the benefits.

The Crevice by Julian Rossi Ashton
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