‘The Field’ was the first show at Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria’s when it opened its new gallery on St Kilda Road in 1968. A new generation of artists had been let loose with their colour field painting and abstract sculpture heavily which was influenced by American artists of the ‘50s and ‘60s.
The NGV is calling the 50th anniversary tribute show ‘The Field Revisited’. The plan is to recreate the original exhibition – but rather oddly at NGV Australia at Federation Square.
Inside, it will “reassemble” as many of the 74 original artworks as it can get access to. The show is co-curated by Tony Ellwood, the director of the NGV and Beckett Rozentals, its curator of Australian Painting, Sculpture and Decorative Arts to 1980.
In a media statement the NGV announced:
“The Field boldly launched the careers of a generation of young Australian artists, including Sydney Ball, Peter Booth, Janet Dawson and Robert Jacks, many of which were influenced by American stylistic tendencies of the time. Eighteen of the exhibiting artists were under the age of 30, with Robert Hunter the youngest at 21 years of age.
“As a number of works from the original 1968 exhibition are known to have been destroyed, and the fate of six paintings and six sculptures still remain unknown, the NGV commissioned a number of artists, including Garrey Foulkes, Col Jordan, Emanuel Raft, Trevor Vickers and Normana Wight, to recreate their original works for The Field Revisited.
“The remaining works from the original exhibition that are absent from the 2018 exhibition will be commemorated through a specially-designed silhouette on the gallery walls, their physical space marked out throughout the exhibition space to reinforce their importance and place in the 1968 exhibition. Where possible, the fate of these missing works will be noted in the exhibition wall text, allowing visitors an invaluable insight into the recent history of these works.
“When The Field opened it caused an incredible sensation by showing daring, abstract contemporary works by emerging Australian artists. 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,”said Tony Ellwood.
The Field Revisited is on display from April 27– August 26, 2018 at Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square. Entry is free.