Cover image of the review
Nora Heyson, *London breakfast*, 1935, oil on canvas, 47.0 h x 53.5 w cm, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. © Lou Klepac.

Hans and Nora Heysen: Two Generations of Australian Art

21 Jun 2019
8 Mar - 28 Jul 2019

I was quite prepared to come to Hans and Nora Heysen: Two Generations of Australian Art like a Countess blogger. Yet again the pairing of Nora Heysen with her father Hans, as though her story could only be told through him. Yet again the “Australianising” of Australian art history when this is also a German story and, when Nora goes overseas to study at the Central School in London, an English story.

Why not break with precedent and give Nora her own show (there have been plenty of Hans')? Why not try in some way to de-nationalise the Heysens, to see Hans not as the inheritor of the Heidelberg School and precursor to Albert Namatjira, but as an artist who spent time overseas and at least in the early part of his career essayed a variety of European approaches to the landscape? Why not see Nora as even more shaped by her education and experience overseas and, like so many Australian women artists, fundamentally uninterested in a “national” art?

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