NGV Australia, Federation Square
27 Apr 18 – 26 Aug 18
OPEN 10AM–5PM DAILY
Regarded as a landmark exhibition in Australian art history, The Field opened the National Gallery of Victoria’s new premises on St Kilda Road in 1968. The inaugural exhibition was a radical presentation of seventy-four works by forty artists, around half aged under thirty, who were primarily producing art that was flat, abstract, patterned, geometric or in the colour field style. With its silver foil–covered walls and geometric light fittings, The Field opened to much controversy and helped launch the careers of a generation of Australian artists, including Sydney Ball, Peter Booth, Janet Dawson and Robert Jacks. Eighteen of the exhibiting artists were under the age of thirty, with Robert Hunter the youngest at twenty-one years of age.
The Field catalysed debate in the late 1960s regarding the course of Australian art – the exhibition was divisive and its reception varied. For many, it seemed odd to open the Gallery’s new premises with such a narrowly focused exhibition, particularly for those who were accustomed to the prevailing style of figuration. Some artists were unhappy that they were not included and felt the inaugural exhibition should have instead highlighted the achievements of Australian art history. However, the NGV’s selection of predominantly emerging artists, proposed a new direction for the Gallery, one that was committed to the avant-garde.
The Field Revisited is accompanied by a reprinted version of the rare and highly collectable 1968 exhibition publication alongside a new publication which reflects the importance of this exhibition over the past fifty years.