Spirituality & Immorality in Early Sydney Modernism


  • Heather Johnson 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.

Author Biography

Heather Johnson, University of Sydney

University of Sydney