The National Gallery of Australia in Canberra is showcasing a retrospective exhibition of one of Australia’s foremost Art Nouveau painters. Sydney Long was born in Goulburn in 1871, with his works first coming to prominence in the late 19th century.
Long studied in Sydney before he became a central figure in the Symbolist movement.
Long’s exhibition The Spirit of the Land is on now at the National Gallery, displaying over 115 of Long’s paintings, watercolours and prints ::::
NGA Curator Anne Gray says Long’s painting – By Tranquil Waters – which depicts nude bathers, created a furore when it went on show in 1894.
“It caused a scandal at the time because at that time you weren’t allowed to go nude bathing, and people were saying how dare the Art Gallery of New South Wales buy that painting with these wicked nude bathers,” she said.
Long created haunting scenes of the Australian landscape – often featuring mythical creatures.
“A lot of people just love the Art Nouveau designs of his work, the silhouettes of the trees, the mythical nature of the paintings and the sensitive, subtle colours in his works,” she said.
“Often he depicts nymphs, or Pan playing an instrument and entrancing the birds with the music, and I really don’t think there’s anybody who does anything like that else in Australia.”
Gallery director Ron Radford says Long’s works have a timeless quality.
“We are proud to display this exquisite exhibition that will no doubt entice and seduce a new generation of viewers with a singular creative vision of one of Australia’s most admired artists,” he said.
Long also painted more than 30 images of flamingos throughout his career and there is an entire room dedicated to them at his exhibition.