Clarice Beckett: The present moment

AAR-AGSA-Clarice-Beckett-The-red-sunshade-1932The Art Gallery of South Australia will present the most comprehensive retrospective ever staged of Clarice Beckett, one of Australia’s most enigmatic and admired modernist painters. Clarice Beckett: The present moment will see nearly 130 works by the artist on display as part of the 2021 Adelaide Festival in February 2021.

“The Art Gallery of South Australia is thrilled to stage this important exhibition which was initiated following the significant acquisition of 21 paintings by Clarice Beckett early in 2020, made possible thanks to the extraordinary generosity of Alastair Hunter OAM,” said AGSA Director, Rhana Devenport ONZM.

Associated with a legendary story of rediscovery, Clarice Beckett is today celebrated for her ethereal, atmospheric landscape paintings that capture the commonplace. In 1935 Clarice Beckett died at the age of forty-eight, and for the next thirty-five years her work vanished from art history before being rescued by Dr Rosalind Hollinrake.

Hollinrake salvaged 369 of the artist’s neglected canvases from a remote, open-sided shed in rural Victoria. Hollinrake’s extensive research and promotion led to Beckett’s recognition as a major force in Australian modernism.

The present moment includes many of the salvaged paintings, as well as her master works drawn from national public collections as well as private collections including Russell Crowe and Ben Quilty.

Misunderstood in her lifetime, The present moment presents Beckett as a visionary mystic that saw nature as all powerful and as an artist driven by spiritual impulses rather than worldly success.

Her timeless and incidental everyday scenes have been curated to chart the chronology of one single day. The present moment exhibition will take visitors on a sensory journey from the first breath of sunrise, through to the hush of sunset and finally a return into the enveloping mists of nightfall.

“Audiences experience an affinity with the art of Clarice Beckett. On one level Beckett represents the triumph of the spirit over adversity and certainly the ideal of an artist driven by something beyond worldly success,” said AGSA Curator of Australian Art, Tracey Lock.

“On a deeper level they sense a profound humanity, something that has united the world in such adversity over the past year. There is a certain magnetism to her paintings: an experiential quality of sound, sight or feeling that transcends language.”

“Enveloped in diffused light and exuding peacefulness, her paintings invite a sense of stillness that points to a healing, spiritual quality,” said Tracey Lock.

Clarice Beckett: The present moment
Art Gallery of South Australia, North Terrace, Adelaide
Exhibition: 27 February – 16 May 2021
Admission fees apply

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Clarice Beckett, Australia, 1887 – 1935, The red sunshade, 1932, Melbourne, oil on board; Gift of Alastair Hunter OAM and the late Tom Hunter in memory of Elizabeth through the Art Gallery of South Australia Foundation 2019, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.