Cover image of the review
Marco Fusinato, *The Infinitive 3*, 2015, white UV halftone ink on black aluminium, 250 x 625 cm, courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne.)

The Shape of Things to Come

31 Mar 2018
Buxton Contemporary 9 Mar - 24 Jun 2018

“Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world historical facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”

In 1885, some thirty-years after Marx wrote these well-known words, the first Buxton Art Gallery opened on Swanston Street as a centre of Melbourne’s most self-conscious political and artistic avant-garde. The revolutionary ideas it fostered sought a sharp break from the public taste of the time. A young, dynamic generation of “native” born (as they called themselves) attacked the rearguard elite of British diaspora and their academic art, ensconced nearby in the National Gallery and its art school (then at the State Library up the road). The Australian Artists Association formed and first met in 1886 at the Buxton Art Gallery, as did the Australian Natives Association, who spearheaded federation and fought for the rights of the white native born against the cosmopolitan apparatchiks of Empire. Entries into the competition for the design of Australia’s first national flag were even exhibited at Buxton Art Gallery, but the exhibition for which the gallery is most remembered is the 9 by 5 Impression Exhibition of 1889. It shocked the good burghers of Melbourne’s elite and, as The Argus art critic James Smith then complained, was cause for “one to despond with respect to the future of art.”

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