Australian Art: A History by Sasha Grishin

This is an important and good-looking contribution to the understanding of Australian art. Covering ground from the earliest rock art to the twenty-first century, Sasha Grishin presents an engaging and comprehensive narrative that sheds light on our cultural history, attitudes and influences. Grishin took a collaborative approach and sought the input of a ‘council of elders’ to critique his manuscript, and when it came to discussing the more recent history of Australian art, he cast a wide net among artists and art professionals. With 68 artist and 42 art professional respondents he had a breadth of information and opinion to cross reference and inform his own text.

Illustrated with hundreds of quality colour images, sections cover pre-white settlement, the first fleet and the art of convicts and settlers, the goldfields, pastoralism and colonialism,Tom Roberts and the squattocracy, the Boyds and Murrumbeena, as well as the well-known Heide circle. I was happy to see the beautiful works of Bea Maddock included in a later section, along with Tracy Moffatt, Fiona Hall and Bill Henson, to name a few. This is a small sample as the book is very diverse and looks at architecture, graphic arts and applied arts as well as painting, sculpture and photography. I have thoroughly enjoyed dipping in and out of this new history and will continue to do so for years to come.

Margaret Snowdon is the Art & Design Buyer for Readings Carlton.