Cities within cities: Australian and New Zealand art in the 20th century

Butler, Rex and Donaldson, A. D. S. (2011) Cities within cities: Australian and New Zealand art in the 20th century. Journal of Art Historiography, 4: 1-15.

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Author Butler, Rex
Donaldson, A. D. S.
Title Cities within cities: Australian and New Zealand art in the 20th century
Formatted title
Cities within cities: Australian and New Zealand art in the 20th century
Journal name Journal of Art Historiography   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 2042-4752
Publication date 2011-06
Sub-type Article (original research)
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Issue 4
Start page 1
End page 15
Total pages 15
Editor Jaynie Anderson
Place of publication Glasgow, U.K.
Publisher University of Glasgow
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Formatted abstract
In this paper, as the necessary complement to the expatriate story, we want to write a brief history of New Zealand art taking place in Australia, the immigrant story. This would be part of our more general argument – but one that is always specific, always rooted in historical circumstances, that in a way cannot be generalised – that art is always translocal, metropolitan, caught up in a movement between places. Art is never ultimately a matter of countries but always of cities, whether that city be Paris or Yuendumu; and, more than that, it is always a matter of cities within cities. In Latin, we might say that it is always a matter of partes extra partes rather than of genius loci. And in our UnAustralian history we reverse the perspective of the usual national histories, which are always written from the inside out, and write instead from the outside in. We ask not how other places seem from here but how we might appear from other places. And thus to write a history of New Zealand art from the point of view of Australia is also to write an UnNew Zealand history of art from the point of view of New Zealand. For if from the perspective of Australian art history New Zealand immigrants to Australia are excluded, so from conventional New Zealand art history are those New Zealand emigrants to Australia also rendered invisible. We only have to recall the concluding words to the most recent attempt to write a synoptic history of New Zealand art – Hamish Keith’s The Big Picture: A History of New Zealand Art from 1642 (2007) – to realise that nationalist New Zealand art history is constructed in exactly the same way as the Australian. Keith writes in the chapter ‘The Braided River’: ‚There is no escaping the one simple fact that runs through all of this story. The art made here or influenced by this place is the only art that speaks to us directly about our experience‛.

In the space that remains, then, we wish to outline briefly some of the interconnections between Australian and New Zealand art in the 20th century.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2012 Collection
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