NGV seeks public assistance to recreate 1968 landmark exhibition The Field

James Doolin, Artificial landscape 67/5 1967 (detail)On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) will restage the 1968 exhibition The Field, opening in May 2018 at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia. The NGV is seeking public assistance to find artworks from what is considered one of the most influential art exhibitions ever held in Australia.

The Field is regarded as a landmark exhibition in Australian art history – a radical showcase of 74 abstract and conceptual, colour field, geometric and hard edge paintings and sculptures. Influenced by the American origins of abstract art, the exhibition opened to much controversy at the NGV in 1968 with its silver foil-covered walls and geometric light fittings, boldly launching the careers of a generation of young Australian artists including Sydney Ball, Peter Booth, Janet Dawson and Robert Jacks.

Following a year-long search by the NGV, across Australian and international galleries, collections and auction houses as well as seeking out the artists and their families, the curators have determined the fates of 60 of the 74 original works. The NGV is now seeking public assistance to locate the remaining 14 works – 8 paintings and 6 sculptures.

Found works have so far been dispersed across the country in both public and private collections and institutions, from Perth to Canberra, including three paintings held in the NGV Collection. Other works are known to have been destroyed, and some will be re-created by artists from The Field, including Normana Wight and Col Jordan, whom the NGV has commissioned especially to recreate their original works for The Field Revisited.

“When The Field opened in the newly built NGV building in 1968, it caused an incredible sensation by showing daring, abstract contemporary works by emerging Australian artists,” said Tony Ellwood, Director NGV. “By restaging the exhibition fifty years on, we hope to re-examine its impact and significance in Australian art history and allow a whole new generation to experience it for themselves.”

“We have exhausted all avenues in searching for the remaining 14 works, which include sculptures by Clement Meadmore and paintings by Peter Booth and Sydney Ball. If members of the public have any connection to these artworks, I encourage them to get in touch and assist the NGV in restaging this landmark exhibition.”

Members of the public can email: findthefield@ngv.vic.gov.au if they have any information on the missing artworks or were associated with the 1968 exhibition. A full list of the sought works can be viewed online at: ngv.melbourne/findthefield.

The Field Revisited will be accompanied by a reprinted version of the rare and highly collectible 1968 exhibition catalogue. The Field Revisited will open in May 2018 at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia. For more information, visit: www.ngv.vic.gov.au for details.

Image: James Doolin, Artificial landscape 67/5 1967 (detail). synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 129.6 x 101.8 cm. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Purchased, 1969. © Courtesy of the artist

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