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John Brack The bar 1954

The bar 1954

While the history of art remained an important touchstone and source of inspiration for John Brack throughout his career, The bar is one of few examples of his work in which there is a direct connection to an artistic precedent. Here he restates the subject of Édouard Manet’s famous painting A bar at the Folies-Bergère, 1882, in a very contemporary guise, replacing the opulence of 1880s Paris with the dour austerity of 1950s Melbourne. Under the watchful eyes of the stern barmaid, a band of near-identical workers urgently drink their fill before the six o’clock closing that was enforced in Melbourne pubs until 1966.

Visit this work on Level 2 at NGV Australia.