Art Gallery of South Australia: World-Class Art in Adelaide

Date:

  • Address: North Terrace, Adelaide SA 5000, Australia
  • Galleries open 10am to 5pm, every day except Christmas Day.10am to 4.45pm, every day except Christmas Day.
  • AGSA_eat 10am to 4.30pm, every day except Christmas Day.
  • Phone: You can contact the gallery at +61 8 8207 7000.
  • info@artgallery.sa.gov.au
  • Visit the The Art Gallery of South Australia Website

The Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA), established as the National Gallery of South Australia in 1881, is located in the centre Adelaide on North Terrace. It is the most significant visual arts museum in South Australia and houses one of Australia’s most diverse art collections, with a collection covering Australian, International, and Asian art.

The gallery’s collection consists of almost 47,000 works of art, making it one of the largest art museum collections in Australia. The collection spans over 2000 years of art history, encompassing a wide range of artistic styles, periods, and mediums including paintings, sculpture, prints and drawings, photographs and videos, textiles and clothing, ceramics, glass, metalwork, jewellery and furniture.

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New works are constantly being added to the collection

To date approximately 46% of collection records are available to view in the online collection with regular updates through research and documentation.

Australian Art

The Elder Wing of Australian Art at AGSA presents a renewed display of Australian art, curated with a focus on major moments in Australian history. This includes a comprehensive exploration of Aboriginal art, colonial art, Australian Impressionism, and Modernism, offering visitors a fresh methodology for seeing and experiencing the flexibility of identity and the fluidity of belonging within the Australian context​​.

AGSA’s Australian art collection, starts from around 1800 onwards. It includes colonial art, with a strong representation of nineteenth-century works, including silverware and furniture, as well as Australian Impressionist (often referred to as the Heidelberg School) paintings. There is also a large collection of South Australian art, which features 2,000 drawings by Hans Heysen and a significant collection of photographs.

hans_heysen-flinders_ranges
Hans Heysen didn’t paint the Flinders Ranges until later in life

The twentieth-century Modernist art collection at AGSA is notable for including the work of many female artists.

Notable Australian artists such as Sidney Nolan, Tom Roberts, and others like Charles Conder, Arthur Streeton, Russell Drysdale, Arthur Boyd, Margaret Preston, Bessie Davidson, James Ashton, and Jeffrey Smart, are well-represented in the gallery’s collection.

AGSA became the first Australian gallery to acquire a work by an Indigenous artist in 1939 and now holds a large and diverse collection of both older and contemporary works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists​​. The gallery is heavily involved in enacting a Reconciliation Plan and working closely with Traditional owners. AGSA Kaurna yartangka yuwanthi. AGSA stands on traditional Kaurna land.

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Reconciliation is high on AGSA’s agenda. (Apologies unknown artist)

The gallery has also focused on contemporary Australian artists such as Barbabra Hanrahan, Tracey Moffatt, Albert Namatjira, Bessie Ellen Davidson, Sidney Nolan, Ben Quilty, Margaret Dodd, Ethel Carrick Fox, Trevor Nickolls, Judy Watson, Ali Gumillya Baker, Doreen Goodchild, Dorrit Black, Schulim Krimper, Gareth Sansom, and Maud Baillie. These artists are celebrated for their diverse techniques, themes, and mediums, ranging from traditional watercolours to modernist sculptures and contemporary installations

Tracey_Moffatt_Narratives_Installation_AGSA
Tracey Moffatt Narratives Installation AGSA

International Art

The international collection showcases European and North American art dating from ancient Rome to the present. There is a large collection of modern British paintings, more than 3,000 European Old Master prints and paintings, 2,000 pieces of decorative art and twenty bronzes by Modernist sculptor Auguste Rodin.

Genres and influences are varied including couture by Iris van Herpen and digital video work by Russia’s AES+F and Japan’s teamLab, sculptures and installations by the Young British Artists, painting by Sean Scully, sculpture by Thomas Hirschhorn. Highlights on display at the time of writing include Berlinde de Bruyckere’s confronting We are all Flesh and Chiharu Shiota’s monumental string work Absence Embodied.

we_are_all_flesh_berlinde_de_bruyckere
We are all flesh Berlinde de Bruyckere

There are notable works from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, highlighting the artistic advancements in perspective, human anatomy, and the dramatic use of light and color that characterize these eras. The gallery also features a significant selection of Impressionist art, focusing on capturing the transient effects of light with vibrant colors and quick brushstrokes, with pieces by Claude Monet exemplifying this movement’s essence.

Modernism is well represented in the AGSA’s European collection, showcasing the departure from traditional techniques towards innovative uses of color, form, and perspective by artists like Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso.

Asian Art

The Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) has a diverse collection of Asian art, which began in 1904. This collection spans across various regions, focusing on the pre-modern art of Japan, Southeast Asia, India, and the Middle East. The collection is comprehensive, encompassing stone, wood, and bronze sculptures, ceramics, textiles, paintings, and decorative arts such as lacquerware. One of the unique aspects of AGSA’s Asian collection is its dedicated galleries, including Australia’s only permanent display of Islamic art. A highlight within the contemporary Asian art section is a series of textiles by Indonesian artist Eko Nugroho​​.

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Works by Indonesian artist Eko Nugroho

Additionally, the gallery celebrated the remarkable contributions of South Australian barrister Michael Abbott, AO KC, through the exhibition “Interwoven Journeys: The Michael Abbott collection of Asian art.” This exhibition, which ran from December 2022 to July 2023, highlighted Abbott’s fascination with textiles and their cultural significance across South Asia and Southeast Asia. It featured Balinese, Sumatran, and Javanese textiles, including the oldest known complete Indonesian batik textile​​.

In the realm of ceramics, the “Pure Form: Japanese Sculptural Ceramics” exhibition at AGSA offered a glimpse into Japan’s dynamic ceramics culture, showcasing works by Japan’s first generation of female ceramic artists and members of avant-garde groups like Shikōkai and Sōdeisha. This exhibition included monumental sculptures by leading ceramicists, reflecting the limitless pursuit of technical innovation and perfection in Japanese ceramic

Changing Displays

Please note that the Art Gallery of South Australia is continuously expanding, updating its collection and rotating it’s displays. The gallery’s future ambition is to make the entire collection accessible online, allowing visitors to search and explore over 20,000 works online.

Visit the The Art Gallery of South Australia Website

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