Spirituality & Immorality in Early Sydney Modernism
University of Sydney
Thomas Gibbons has written of the early twentieth century that, 'In the face of ... supposed ·evolutionary deterioration, a utopian abstract art was intended to further humanity's proper (ie. spiritual) evolution into an exalted condition of universal brotherhood and cosmic consciousness'.1 In this paper, I argue that while some modernist artists strove to depict a spiritual essence in their work, early modernist painting in Australia was largely seen, not as a cure for evolutionary deterioration, but as part of the problem; and that this view was closely allied with aspects of gender.
The University of Sydney acknowledges that its campuses and facilities sit on the ancestral lands of Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander peoples, who have for thousands of generations exchanged knowledge for the benefit of all.