Sunday, November 3, 2019

Arthur Streeton and Art Theories

Julian Ashton remembered that his friend Arthur Streeton (Australian, 1867-1943) didn't want to argue about art theories:
Arthur Streeton 1895 “Sunlight (Cutting on a hot road)” - oil on canvas
(Height: 305 mm; Width: 458 mm; National Gallery of Australia.
"He was cheerful and fond of company, and seemed to be quite uninterested in theories about art, but preoccupied with the task of representing in terms of paint the beauty of the scenes before him. If an argument about art started in the camp, Streeton would make a jest of it, walking up and down and shouting: 'Apples, Oranges and Lemonade.' He joined with [Tom] Roberts and myself in many a fierce bout with the old Art Society in the hope of widening its point of view, but he never lost his temper over them as many of us did. Indeed, it seemed to me that he never felt that theories about art, or the administration of art societies, really mattered. His nature was that of a fresh, breezy, care-free youth who revelled in the beauty of his country, and whose highest ambition was to paint it as faithfully as he could."

1 comment:

David Briggs said...

When Julian Ashton was sacked from teaching the classes of the "Art Society of New South Wales" (now the Royal Art Society) for exhibiting with Streeton and Roberts' competing "Society of Artists" he set up his own art school (now the Julian Ashton Art School), taking all of the Art Society students with him including the young George Lambert. The resulting grudges lived on for decades, and may even have echoes today!
James, the original source of your quote is an essay in a special issue of Art in Australia that can be downloaded from at