Light + Shade: Max Meldrum and his followers

Art-Gallery-of-Ballarat-Clarice-Beckett-The-beach-circa-1930Showcasing the influential artworks of Max Meldrum, the Australian 20th century painter who created the Tonalist movement one of the quintessential in the development of Australian Modernism, the Art Gallery of Ballarat presents Light + Shade: Max Meldrum and his followers on display until 15 October 2022.

Meldrum and his followers make up the Tonalist movement, which flowed through the art world from the early to mid 20th century. Tonalism is identifiable by muted tones, ‘misty’ appearance and restricted colour palette.

As a painter and teacher, Meldrum was adored and reviled in equal measure – his controversial outlook on painting brought him a dedicated following of ‘Meldrumites’ who admired his theories, methods and ideas.

Clarice Beckett, who is arguably Meldrum’s most famous student, is considered one of the great successes in Tonalism.

Her art focuses on the arrangement of forms and surfaces, using soft and hazy palettes, was recently celebrated at the Art Gallery of South Australia’s major exhibition Clarice Beckett: Present Moment.

Beckett had a strong connection to Ballarat, where she went to school and she also later painted the Ballarat Botanical Gardens.

This exhibition showcases works from the Art Gallery of Ballarat Collection, bringing together paintings by Max Meldrum, Clarice Beckett, Colin Colahan, Alma Figuerola, Jock Frater, Harry Harrison, Percy Leason and other ‘Meldrumites’.

The exhibition features some important recent acquisitions by the Gallery as well as work collected since the 1920s, demonstrating the extraordinary strength of the Gallery’s Collection.

Light + Shade: Max Meldrum and his followers casts a light on Max Meldrum and his followers, whose artwork stands the test of time and contributes to Australia’s art history evolution.

It includes still life paintings, landscapes and interiors that use limited tonal variation to define variations of shade and light in paintings. The exhibition will feature Melbourne landscapes, such as Colin Colahan’s oil on canvas painting of Elizabeth Street, and beach scenes and other landscapes.

The Art Gallery of Ballarat is the oldest, largest and most engaging regional art gallery in Australia. Established in 1884 by the citizens of Ballarat, the Gallery is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register and by the National Trust of Victoria.

Light + Shade: Max Meldrum and his followers
Art Gallery of Ballarat, 40 Lydiard Street North, Ballarat
Exhibition continues to 15 October 2022
Free entry

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Clarice Beckett, The beach, circa 1930. oil on board. Maud Rowe Bequest, 1937. Frame conserved with funds from the U3A History of the Art Gallery class, 2017. Collection of the Art Gallery of Ballarat