9 Contemporary Australian Art Facts

  • By Jacqui Thomas
  • 1 comment

9 Contemporary Australian Art Facts

There are plenty of legendary and hysterically crazy ‘facts’ that have come from art history globally.

Just for fun there’s the claim that Gustav Klimt used his cat’s urine as a fixative and the fact that Salvadore Dali designed the original Chupa Chups logo.

Gustav Klimt and his cat, The kiss, Salvadore Dali Chupa ChupGustav Klimt with his cat, "The Kiss" by Gustav Klimt 1908, Salvadore Dali and the modern day Chupa Chups

But what about some fun Art-facts from the Australian contemporary art world. Well, this week I did a bit of research and uncovered some interesting bits and pieces of info to brighten up your day.

Art-fact #1. A Picture tells a thousand words

If a picture tells 1000 words, then Australian Museums, which house around 3 million artworks would tell a story that is 3,000,000,000 words long. That is over 5000 times the number of words in Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace

Art-fact #2. Aboriginal Art

Australian Aboriginal people have no written language of their own. Aboriginal art is based on story- telling. Symbols are used as an alternate method of writing down stories of cultural importance and transmitting knowledge on matters of survival and land management. Aboriginal artists inherit rights to paint certain cultural stories. Artists need authority and permission to paint traditional stories, and this authority is vested in the custodians of the knowledge of these stories. 

Aboriginal art storytelling traditional australian artArtworks from Japingka Aboriginal Art 

Art-fact #3. Sandrew Art Collection

In 2014, Sandra Powell and Andrew King from St Kilda, put their collection of 90 iconic Australian works including nine Becketts, 5 Hester’s and Nolan’s on the market to inject the funds into acquiring street art and organising local and international exhibitions.  You can follow them on instagram and twitter @sandrewmelbs

Art-fact #4. The Global Art Market

The global art market is about 150 times larger that the Australian Art Market - come on Aussies, where’s your sense of competition? - and China is emerging as the largest. This is based on auction sales in 2011.  Sorry the info is a little outdated.

Art-fact #5. Mona

Mona - Museum of old and new art - in Tasmania is Australia’s largest private museum. Mona’s owner, David Walsh has described it as a "subversive adult Disneyland”. The collection includes everything from ancient Egyptian mummies to some of the world's most infamous and thought-provoking contemporary art.

Mona Museum of old and new art tourism tasmania david walshMona - Museum of Old and New Art

Art-fact #6. Art versus Aussie Rules

In 2009 -10 Art galleries attracted more visitors than Australian Rules football, but only just - approx. 11 million to 10 million

Art-fact #7. Aelita Andre

Born in 2007, at just 4 years of age Aelita Andre, an Australian abstract expressionist artist  sold $30000 worth of paintings at a NY art show. Artist Website 

Aelita andre child prodigy abstract expressionism'Blue Butterfly' 2011 by Aelita Andre

Art-fact #8. Sir Sidney Nolan

Sir Sidney Nolan (1917 - 1992) was born in Melbourne. With little formal art training, he turned to painting at 21 after varied experiences as a racing cyclist, cook, and gold miner. 

Art-fact #9. Margaret Olley and the Archibald Prize

One of Australia’s great artists, Margaret Olley (1923 - 2011) was the subject of 2 winning entries to the Archibald prize.

Ben Quilty won the prize in 2011 for his portrait of Margaret Olley.

In 1948, 2 artist depicted Olley. Russell Drysdale and William Dobell. Dobell won but it is said that Olley claimed that she preferred the Drysdale. She was also painted for the prize in 2003 by Danell Bergstrom.

Margaret Olley, Ben Quilty, William Dobell, Russell Drysdale, Archibald PrizeMargaret Olley as depicted by Ben Quilty, William Dobell and Russell Drysdale for the Archibald Prize



Sydney Morning Herald

Australia Council

Discover Tasmania


Art Gallery NSW

Japingka Aboriginal Art

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