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Isobel Crombie on Brave New World at the NGV, Melbourne

The 1930s in Australia was a tumultuous time as the Depression hit, then receded, politics rumbled across the left and right, and consumerism and a new body consciousness emerged as technological advances were made. Australian artists reacted to these changes in commercial art, architecture, fashion, industrial design, film and dance. The artistic styles that emerged were both progressive and conservative.

Brave New World: Australia 1930s now at the National Gallery of Victoria’s Federation Square gallery, looks at “celebrating technological progress and its antithesis in the nostalgia for pastoralism; the emergence of the ‘New Woman’ and consumerism; nationalism and the body culture movement; the increasing interest in Indigenous art against a backdrop of the government policy of assimilation and mounting calls for Indigenous rights; the devastating effects of the Depression and the rise of radical politics; and the arrival of European refugees and the increasing anxiety at the impending threat of the Second World War. Brave New World: Australia 1930s presents a fresh perspective on the extraordinary 1930s, revealing some of the social and political concerns that were pertinent then and remain so today”.

In the short video below, Isobel Crombie, the co-curator of the exhibition, explains the thinking behind the show. Daily Review will publish an interview with Crombie next week.


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