Defining Moments: Object and Idea

National Gallery of Victoria Curator Brian Finemore saw the 1973 exhibition Object and Idea as a smaller conceptualist sequel to the 1968 exhibition The Field. But one invited artist, Ian Milliss, declined to participate having already moved on to working with trade unions and resident action groups rather than exhibitions, galleries and art audiences. At Finemore’s request Milliss wrote a catalogue essay titled New Artist explaining his thinking, the beginning of a politicised cultural activism that was really only accepted by the art world many decades later with the rise of relational aesthetics and social practice.


What are the landmark exhibitions that have shaped Australian art? From 2019 to 2020, ACCA’s Lecture Series, Defining Moments: Australian Exhibition Histories 1968–1999, takes a deeper look at the moments that have shaped Australian art since 1968. In this two-year series, sixteen guest lecturers analyse the game changers in Australian art, addressing key contemporary art exhibitions staged over the last three decades of the twentieth century and reflecting on the ways these exhibitions shaped art history and contemporary Australian culture more broadly.

Ambitious, contested, polemical, genre-defining and genre-defying, contemporary art exhibitions have shaped and transformed the cultural landscape, along with our understanding of the very nature of what constitutes as art. This program traces the legacies of artists and curators, addresses the critical reception of select significant projects, and reflects on a wide range of exhibitions and formats; from artist run initiatives to institutions, as well as interventions in public space and remote communities.

© Modern Art Projects Blue Mountains (MAPBM)

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