Collection Online
oil and enamel paint on composition board
92.1 × 121.9 cm
Accession Number
Australian Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1950
© National Gallery of Victoria
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of The Vizard Foundation
Gallery location
Not on display
About the work

Central Australia 1949 is one of a series of landscapes that follow an intense period of travel by Sidney Nolan across Australia. This aerial view of the central desert, which demonstrates the influence of photography, depicts the long ridges of the Macdonnell Ranges painted in dull red and brown in contrast to the light blue sky. While the painting has a documentary-like quality, the apparent endlessness and the monotony develop into a dreamlike world where it appears that no human could exist.

Using red ochre oil and synthetic polymer paint on composition board, Nolan employed a dry brush technique and finger painting. He swept the paint over a white ground, the broken parts revealing some of the underpainting. This gives the mountain range a feeling of changing light and reveals the geography of the landscape, against which Nolan contrasts the opaque pink central Australian sky.