French and Australian Impressionists, Contemporary Aboriginal Female Artists, and Australia’s leading Speculative Designers Headline National Gallery of Victoria’s 2021 Season
Season includes major international collaborations as well as exhibitions that showcase the museum’s expansive Australian and international collections
The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), the oldest and largest museum in Australia, has announced a dynamic schedule of exhibitions exploring far-ranging topics including Impressionism, Contemporary Aboriginal Art, twentieth-century fashion design, and climate change. With its 2021 Season, NGV continues to assert itself as a global leader with a program that rethinks the canon of international art and design while showcasing new voices in contemporary art, design, and architecture from Australasia and beyond. Timely and responsive, NGV’s distinct program advances its unique position as an advocate for Australian art and design, while reinforcing itself as the Australian home for international art.
As one of the world’s leading museums, NGV focuses on establishing opportunities to think creatively and critically about Australian art and design within a global context. The 2021 season also includes exhibitions of contemporary art and design that highlight important social issues such as climate change and the legacy of colonialism. Three large scale exhibitions will be dedicated to the work of contemporary Aboriginal female artists who reclaim their histories and revive dormant cultural practices through their art. In addition, the 2021 season will also include two shows that address climate change: one through contemporary art that reflects the traditional wisdom of Aboriginal and Indigenous communities, and a second through an exploration of speculative design projects.
Under director Tony Ellwood, NGV has had a renewed focus on contemporary art and design, realizing these ambitions most prominently with NGV Triennial and most recently with the launch of NGV Contemporary, for which an Australian-first design competition launched in early 2021. When complete, NGV Contemporary will be the largest museum of contemporary art and design in Australia, comparable to the size of London’s Tate Modern. Many of the 2021 season shows feature commissions and acquisitions that will enhance the NGV’s growing collection.
“Throughout history, artists and designers have pushed the boundaries of convention in order to discover new and exciting modes of expression,” said Ellwood. “From the radical work of the Impressionists, to the transformative impact of design on daily life, the Gallery’s exhibitions in 2021 are a celebration of the revolutionary spirit that powers human creativity.”
National Gallery of Victoria – 2021 Exhibitions Highlights
Celebrating Female and Contemporary Aboriginal Artists
Maree Clarke: Ancestral Memories, June 25, 2021 – February 6, 2022
Playing a pivotal role in the reclamation of south-east Australian Aboriginal art and cultural practices, Maree Clarke’s first retrospective at the NGV showcases the artistic output of a three-decade multidisciplinary practice and includes photography, sculpture, jewelry, and more with works made from possum-skin and kangaroo teeth (recovered from roadkill animals). Maree Clarke: Ancestral Memories reflects her desire to continue to affirm and reconnect with her cultural heritage by reviving lost practices and learning traditional methods of object-making. The exhibition facilitates dialogue between older traditional works and newer replicated works by displaying her contemporary artworks alongside key loans of historical material from Museum Victoria, highlighting her deep engagement with and reverence for the customary ceremonies, rituals, objects, and language of her ancestors.
Found and Gathered: Rosalie Gascoigne | Lorraine Connelly-Northey, October 30, 2021 – February 20, 2022
Uniting two important Australian artists for the first time, Rosalie Gascoigne | Lorraine Connelly-Northey brings attention to the shared materiality at the heart of the practices of both Rosalie Gascoigne (1917–1999) and leading Aboriginal artist Lorraine Connelly-Northey (b. 1967) and their transformative use of found and discarded objects to create surprising and beautiful works of art. This focused thematic presentation highlights each artist’s unique place within Australian art, while also illuminating the synergy between the two artists’ aesthetics and sensibilities.
Bark Ladies, 22 December 2021 – 25 April 2022
Bark Ladies celebrates the NGV’s extraordinary collection of bold works by Yolngu women artist from the Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre (Buku) in Northwest Australia. According to Buku, under Yolngu Law the ‘Land’ extends to include sea, and both land and sea are connected in a single cycle of life for which the Yolngu hold their songs, scared designs, and art. These women are known for channeling this world view into daring and innovative works of art that demonstrate their mastery over the organic and unique medium of bark. With an increasing audience nationally and internationally, this important exhibition shares their important stories.
She-Oak and Sunlight: Australian Impressionists, April 2, 2021 – August 22, 2021
Featuring over 250 works from the NGV collection and private collections across Australia, She-Oak and Sunlight: Australian Impressionists is a large-scale exhibition that highlights many celebrated works by Australian impressionists, including Tom Roberts, Jane Sutherland, Clara Southern, Iso Rea, May Vale, Jane Price, and Ina Gregory. These works are shown in surprising contexts, exploring the impact of personal relationships, international influences, and the importance of place on the trajectory of the movement. The exhibition also considers the broader global context, personal relationships, and artistic synergies of Australian Impressionists and those working internationally, juxtaposing Australian artworks with those by Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, and others drawn from the NGV Collection.
French Impressionism from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, June 25, 2021 – October 3, 2021
In partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the NGV will present an exhibition of more than 100 masterworks by French Impressionists, including Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, and Mary Cassatt, as well as 79 works that have never-before-been exhibited in Australia. These important loans from the MFA’s iconic collection provide the rare opportunity to see a significant grouping of Impressionist masterworks in Australia. In conversation with She-Oak and Sunlight: Australian Impressionists, French Impressionism will chart the trajectory of the late-nineteenth century artistic movement, highlighting the key milestones and figures at the center of this period of experimentation and revolution in modern art.
Goya: Drawings from the Prado Museum, June 25, 2021 – October 3, 2021
Goya: Drawings from the Prado Museum is a world-exclusive exhibition featuring more than 160 works on paper by Francisco Goya, including 44 drawing on loan from the Prado Museum in Madrid, and is the largest group of the artist’s drawings ever seen in Australia. Ranging from bold ink to delicate red chalk drawings, the works on display have been selected by the Prado especially for this NGV presentation. They include examples from the artist’s earliest albums of social satires through to the enigmatic visions and dreams recorded in his late drawings. The works from the Prado collection are complemented by 120 etchings from Goya’s renowned print series drawn from the NGV Collection with works on loan from the Art Gallery of South Australia. This rich and diverse selection of drawings showcases the breadth of Goya’s drawing practice, as well as offering a rare insight into the artist’s image-making process.
Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto, December 5, 2021 – April 25, 2022
Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto is the first exhibition in Australia to exclusively focus on the significant contributions of Gabrielle Chanel (1883–1971). This major exhibition is presented in partnership with the Palais Galliera and is curated by Miren Arzalluz and Véronique Belloir, respectively Director and Head of Collections of the preeminent fashion museum in Paris. First presented at the Palais Galliera in fall 2020, the exhibition makes its international debut at NGV and will feature exceptional loans from the Direction du Patrimoine de CHANEL, the fashion house's heritage department. Highlights include early examples of Chanel’s use of black to connote modernity and chic; delicate lace gowns; wool jersey and tailored tweed suits; dazzling beaded garments; and bold costume jewelry. With over 100 garments that trace Chanel’s remarkable career, the survey offers audiences an unprecedented opportunity to appreciate the legacy of her designs in contemporary culture.
Art & Design on Climate Change
Big Weather, March 12, 2021 – February 6, 2022
The ravage of the 2020 Australian wildfires laid bare humanity’s vulnerabilities. For millennia before “climate change” became a buzzword, Indigenous communities in Australia and globally used their knowledge of the natural world to protect their communities and environments. Honoring the sophisticated understanding of weather systems within Indigenous cultural knowledge, the exhibition shares stories that illustrate the formation of sacred landscapes and unique interpretations of Ancestral spirit beings who bring the rain, hail, and storms that feed into rivers and nourish wildlife. Spanning across painting, photography, weaving, and sculpture, and featuring artists from diverse Indigenous communities, the exhibition also highlights the role of artists in sharing this ancestral knowledge, ensuring it survives for future generations.
Sampling The Future, TBC (NGV reopening) – February 6, 2022
Sampling the Future is a presentation of new projects by Australia’s leading speculative designers who are experimenting with new possibilities for a reimagined tomorrow. Highly visual – with large-scale installations and thought-provoking objects – this exhibition will draw from the NGV Collection and feature newly commissioned works that bridge design, technology, and science. Designers include Alice Springs-based Elliat Rich, Sydney-based duo Kyoko Hashimoto and Guy Keulemans, and Melbourne duo Georgia Nowak and Eugene Perepletchikov, among others.