Spirituality & Immorality in Early Sydney Modernism

Heather Johnson

Abstract


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.

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