Queensland Art Gallery
QAG: History, Permanent Collection Highlights.

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Queensland Art Gallery,
Stanley Place Entrance.

Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) Brisbane


Permanent Collection
- Early Indigenous Australian Art
- Queensland Heritage Art
- Australian Art to 1975
- Contemporary Australian Art
- Asian Art
- Pacific Art (Contemporary)
- International Art
Opening Hours
Contact Details
Australia's First Indigenous Art

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The Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) in Brisbane, is one of the best art museums in Australia with a significant collection of some 16,000 items embracing many different types of art, including painting and sculpture, prints, decorative art, multimedia installation art, and a strong collection of fine art photography from around the world. Founded in 1895, the QAG - along with its sister arts venue the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) - is part of the Queensland Cultural Centre located in the South Bank precinct of Brisbane. The QAG receives more than 1.2 million visitors annually, which makes it Australia's second most popular art museum (after the National Gallery of Victoria), and the 47th most popular one in the world. Other important art museums in Australia include the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney), the Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA), the Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA), the Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney) and the National Gallery of Australia (Canberra).


The gallery was established by the state government in 1895 as the "Queensland National Art Gallery", following representations by British-born artists Isaac Walter Jenner (1837-1902) and R. Godfrey Rivers (1858-1925). It began life in temporary accomodation with a collection which included 38 pictures, one marble portrait bust, and 70 engravings. In fact, the QAG did not have a permanent home until the completion of its $28 million architecturally-acclaimed South Bank building in 1982 - the first phase of the huge Queensland Cultural Centre, designed by Robin Gibson and Partners. A second South Bank arts venue, the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), opened nearby in December 2006, catering for arts and crafts of the 20th and 21st centuries.


Permanent Collection

The permanent collection of the Queensland Art Gallery (and the Gallery of Modern Art) encompasses works by Old Masters (c.1500-1800), as well as modern art and the newest forms of postmodernist art of the late 20th century up to the present. It is divided into the following areas:

- Early Indigenous Australian Art
- Queensland Heritage Art
- Australian Art to 1975
- Contemporary Australian Art
- Asian Art
- Pacific Art (Contemporary)
- International Art

Early Indigenous Australian Art

This collection includes a diverse range of works exemplifying art from Cape York and Queensland's far north, contemporary urban-based indigenous art, Torres Strait Islander art, Desert painting, the Hermannsburg School of watercolour landscape painting, as well as arts and crafts from Arnhem Land and northern Australia. The QAG is committed to strengthening its holdings of early Australian art and artifacts, so as to reflect the visual traditions of Queensland's Indigenous peoples in all their rich variety.

Selected Highlights

- Corroboree (1880s) by William Barak
- Finke River Gorge, Entrance to Glen Helen (1945-53) by Albert Namatjira.
- Tjapaltjarri Bush Tucker Story (1972) by Mick Namarari.
- Poyarri (1988) by Sunfly Tjampitjin.
- Sacred Ground Beating Heart (1989) by Judy Watson.
- Mardayin and Wongkurr (1994) by John Mawurndjul.
- Black Velvet (1996) by Fiona Foley.
- Forced Into Images (2001) by Destiny Deacon.
- Thap Yongk (Law poles) (2002) by Joe Ngallametta.
- Napangardi Sandhills, Kintore area (2003) by Lilly Kelly.
- Yawkyawk (2004) by Lena Yarinkura.
- Bell's Theorem (Trikky Dikky and friends) (2005) by Richard Bell.
- Neither Pride nor Courage (2006) by Vernon Ah Kee.
- Sorry (2008) by Tony Albert.
- The Island V (2008) by Brook Andrew.
- Dibirdibi Country (2008) by Sally Gabori.

Queensland Heritage Art

This collection aims to establish a distinctive identity for Queensland by showcasing works in all media, both historical and contemporary, by artists who chronicled the early development of the state, or who embody the cultural endeavours of Queensland at a national level.

Selected Highlights

- Forest, Cunningham's Gap (1856) by Conrad Martens.
- Under the Jacaranda (1903) by R. Godfrey Rivers.
- Monday Morning (1912) by Vida Lahey.
- Construction of Story Bridge, Brisbane (1939) by Geoffrey Powell.
- North of Capricorn (1956–57) by Arthur Evan Read.
- Sunrise, Albion Hotel, Normanton (1962) by Ray Crooke.
- Ernestine Hill (1970) by Sam Fullbrook.
- Interior IV (1970) by Margaret Olley.
- Large Vase with Pinjarra Plum glaze (1980) by Carl McConnell.

Australian Art to 1975

A major priority for QAG continues to be the collecting of works by Australian artists. The first acquisitions were gifts from Brisbane artists at the turn of the century. After this, came works of Australian Impressionism - a style embodied by painters like Charles Conder (1868-1909), Fred McCubbin (1855-1917), Tom Roberts (1856-1931) and Arthur Streeton (1867-1943) - followed by traditional landscapes, portraits and watercolour paintings.

The collection also contains major works by Edwardian expatriate artists including John Russell (1858-1930), Rupert Bunny (1864-1947) and E. Phillips Fox (1865–1915). As the century progressed, Australian artists developed their own forms of modernist landscape painting and portrait art. Important figures in this regard include Russell Drysdale (1912-81), Sidney Nolan (1917-92), Ian Fairweather (1891-1974) and William Robinson (b.1936).

- Still Glides the Stream... (Sketch) (1895) by Arthur Streeton.
- Calm Sea at Morestil Point (1901) by John Russell.
- Bathers (1906) by Rupert Bunny.
- Bathing Hour (L'Heure de Bain) (1909) by E. Phillips Fox.
- On the Beach (1909) by Ethel Carrick Fox.
- Exterior, St Brigid's Church, Red Hill (1916) by Lloyd Rees.
- The Bridge under Construction (1928) by Roland Wakelin.
- Australian Rock Lily (1933) by Margaret Preston.
- The Cypriot (1940) by William Dobell.
- Man Feeding his Dogs (1941) by Russell Drysdale.
- Church Interior (1941–42) by Grace Cossington Smith
- In the Foothills (1942) by Dorrit Black.
- Mrs Fraser (1947) by Sidney Nolan.
- City Lights (1952) by Charles Blackman.
- Kite Flying (1958) by Ian Fairweather.
- Journey into the you beaut country no. 2 (1961) by John Olsen.
- Coffee Table (1964) by Janet Dawson.
- Opus 247, metal construction 1965-68 (1969) by Robert Klippel.

Contemporary Australian Art

A clear indication of the Gallery's growing reputation as a specialist in contemporary art, this collection features a diverse range works by some of the top contemporary artists in Australia, and includes including avant-garde forms such as "found objects", multi-media video art and installations, as well as traditional disciplines like painting, sculpture and printmaking. The Gallery also showcases contemporary crafts and design art, notably in the area of jewellery art, glass, metalwork and ceramic art, with works by Julie Blyfield, Susan Cohn, Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, Carl McConnell and Tom Moore. Australian postmodernist artists represented in the collection include Ian Burn, Aleks Danko and Peter Tyndall. Meanwhile the QAG also has a large number of works by Queensland artists, such as Gordon Bennett, Eugene Carchesio, Robert MacPherson, Tracey Moffatt, Scott Redford, William Robinson and Judith Wright, among others.

Asian Art

The Gallery's collection of Asian art includes ancient pottery - notably Japanese Jomon Pottery and Imari porcelain, as well as examples of Chinese Pottery, including examples from the era of Tang dynasty art (618–907), Yuan dynasty art (1279–1368) and Ming dynasty art (1368–1644), together with a selection of Chinese porcelain from the Qing dynasty (1644–1912). Chinese lacquerware is also represented.

Collection highlights also include examples of Ukiyo-e Woodblock Prints (c.1670-1900) from 19th century Japanese art, as well as dramatic ink and wash landscapes featuring the Chinese poet–scholars Li Bai and Lin Bu by Unkoku Toeki (1591–1644). Miniature painting is also represented, from the Mughal and Rajput courts in India. For more, see Mughal painting and also Rajput painting (both, 16th-19th century).

The QAG's contemporary Asian collection is one of the largest in the world, contains some 1,000 works from the 1960s onwards, and features installations, videos, photographs and works on paper - as well as calligraphy, painting and sculpture - from nearly all parts of Asia.

QAG's collection of contemporary Asian art includes a masterpiece of video art by the Korean artist Nam June Paik (1932-2006), entitled: "TV Cello" (2000 version).

Pacific Art (Contemporary)

The QAG's contemporary Oceanic art collection covers painting, printmaking and drawing, sculpture, photography, textiles and weavings, body painting and adornment, plus video and film, and focuses mainly on works created after 1970. Works come from Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia, and in particular New Zealand. The latter area is represented by Maori and Pacific Islander artists including Shane Cotton, John Pule, Michel Tuffery, Lisa Reihana, Sofia Tekela-Smith and Robin White. Contemporary photography from New Zealand is exemplified in works by photographers like Peter Peryer, Laurence Aberhart, Boyd Webb, Mark Adams, Anne Noble, Lisa Reihana, Fiona Pardington, Yvonne Todd, Michael Parekowhai and Gavin Hipkins.

International Art

The QAG's International collection features works by Old Masters such as Giambologna (1529-1608), Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641), Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), Tintoretto (1518-94), plus Dutch Baroque Art by Alexander Coosemans and Jan Breughel the Younger; plus portraitists like Joshua Reynolds (1723-92) and Angelica Kauffmann (1741-1807). Modern artists represented include Pre-raphaelites like Edward Burne-Jones (1833-98), Impressionist painters like Renoir (1841-1919) and Degas (1834-1917), Post-Impressionist painters like Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958) and Englishman Walter Sickert (1860-1942).

The collection also includes modern works by some of the world's top 20th century painters, including Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) (La Belle Hollandaise 1905), Willem de Kooning (1904-97), Bridget Riley (b.1931), Joan Miro (1893-1983), Yves Tanguy (1900-55), Chaim Soutine (1893-1943) and Stanley Spencer (1891-1959); works deriving from the Fluxus Art movement of the 1960s, and top contemporary artists like the Neo-Expressionist George Baselitz (b.1938) and Gilbert and George (Gilbert Proesch b.1943; George Passmore b.1942). The contemporary collection also includes works by artists from Central and Eastern Europe, Central and Southern America, Africa and the Middle East. Twentieth century sculptors in the collection include famous modernists like Jacques Lipchitz (1891-1973) and Anthony Caro (1924-2013), plus postmodernists like Turner prize-winners Rachel Whiteread and Richard Long, as well as Gabriel Orozco, Ron Mueck and Olafur Eliasson, to name but a few.

Fine art photography occupies a significant place in the collection, with works by some of the world's greatest photographers, including: Bernd and Hilla Becher (1931-2007; b.1934), Thomas Ruff, Frank Thiel (Germany) and Beat Streuli (Switzerland), among others.

Opening Hours

Daily: 10:00AM - 5:00PM

Closed on Christmas Day and Good Friday
Open Anzac Day 12 noon - 5.00pm

Contact Details

Queensland Art Gallery (QAG)
Stanley Place
South Bank
Te: (07) 3840 7303

Queensland Art Gallery (QAG)
PO Box 3686
South Brisbane
Queensland 4101
Tel: (07) 3840 7303

Australia's First Indigenous Art

The recent dating of Sulawesi Cave art (Indonesia) to 37,900 BCE represents a major archeological discovery, with huge potential for sites of ancient art in Australia, of which the following are the most important.

Ubirr Rock Art (30,000 BCE)
Kakadu National Park, Arnhem Land, Northern Territory.

Nawarla Gabarnmang Charcoal Drawing (26,000 BCE)
Arnhem Land, Northern Territory.
Oldest Stone Age art in Australia to be carbon-dated.

Burrup Peninsula Rock Art (30,000 BCE)
Pilbara, Western Australia.

Kimberley Rock Art (c.30,000 BCE)
Kimberley Plateau, Western Australia.

Bradshaw Paintings (c.15,500 BCE)
Kimberley, Western Australia.

Koonalda Cave Art (18,000 BCE) Aboriginal Finger-fluting
Nullarbor Plain, South Australia.


• For more details about 20th century Australian art, see: Homepage.

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