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2020 exhibition program announced

Thursday 24 October

Henri Matisse The sorrow of the king (La tristesse du roi) 1952 gouache on paper, cut and pasted, mounted on canvas, 292 × 386 cm Centre Pompidou. Musée national d’art moderne AM3279P Photo © Philippe Migeat – Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI /Dist RMN-GP © Succession H Matisse/Copyright Agency, 2019

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is thrilled to announce its 2020 exhibition program. Next year’s program presents new perspectives on defining moments in art history and celebrates new work from local and international artists, while partnerships with the Centre Pompidou, Paris and the Biennale of Sydney bring unmissable exhibitions to life.

Director of the Art Gallery of NSW, Dr Michael Brand said 2020 presents the diversity of the Gallery’s programming, beginning with three centuries of phenomenal beings and fantasy in Japanese art and concluding with the greatest single exhibition of Matisse masterworks ever to be seen in Sydney.

“This summer Japan Supernatural provides audiences an encounter with another realm as they immerse themselves in the wildly imaginative tradition of the supernatural in Japanese art. Our Sydney International Art Series presents original and compelling exhibitions, which will be evident again next summer when we present the work of one of the world’s most innovative and influential artists in Matisse: Life & spirit, Masterpieces from the Centre Pompidou, Paris,” Brand said.

Developed with the Centre Pompidou and enriched by a selection of additional key loans from major institutions, Matisse: Life & spirit, showcases six decades of Matisse’s work with over 100 works. Highlights include the exceptionally important early work Le Luxe I 1907; the mid-career masterpiece Decorative figure on an ornamental ground 1925; and the majestic self-portrait, The sorrow of the king 1952, one of the largest of the famous cut-outs that the artist created in his late career and never before seen in Australia.

“Our partnership with the Centre Pompidou has sparked additional collaborations with contemporary artists, so the Gallery will also present Matisse alive, a whole-gallery summer festival, including sensational solo exhibitions by Nina Chanel Abney (USA), Sally Smart (Australia), Angela Tiatia (Samoa/New Zealand/Australia) and Robin White (New Zealand) that celebrate the ongoing inspirational legacy of Matisse,” Brand said.

Continuing in January 2020 are Quilty the first major survey exhibition in a decade of one of Australia’s most acclaimed contemporary artists, Ben Quilty and Belonging an exhibition of two important artist-initiated projects.

Quilty presents a portrait of a socially engaged artist, a critical citizen, who wields paint to draw attention to our responsibility as human beings in an increasingly fraught world. Developed by the Art Gallery of South Australia and concluding its national tour at the Art Gallery of NSW, the exhibition reveals the scope and energy of Quilty’s engagements across fifteen years of impassioned art making.

Belonging presents two artist-initiated projects that put the voices and experiences of young people front and centre. The first project, Home: drawings by Syrian children, makes visible the thoughts, memories, hopes and fears of young people displaced by the conflict in Syria. These drawings were brought together by artist Ben Quilty following his visits to refugee camps and transit centres in Lebanon, Greece and Serbia.

The second project added to the exhibition is co-created by Colombian-born Sydney artist Claudia Nicholson and young people from families seeking asylum in Australia. Building on a series of workshops exploring the idea of ‘belonging’ at the Asylum Seekers Centre in Newtown and students from Fairfield Public School, Nicholson’s project will be the first time an artwork realised through the Gallery’s engagement programs has been exhibited in the building.

Spring 2020 brings the major exhibition Streeton, a comprehensive and revealing study of one of the country’s best known and celebrated landscape painters, Arthur Streeton. It is the most significant retrospective of the Australian impressionist ever held and features over 150 works from public and private collections, including some not exhibited for over 100 years.

Streeton is led by the Gallery’s original research, presenting a fresh look at Arthur Streeton’s much-loved landscapes and enriched by works from his international career in England, Italy, Egypt and WWI France.

Streeton will also reveal the artist’s environmental activism which led to paintings that are hauntingly prescient of the current debates on ecological issues and climate change,” added Brand.

First Nations artists take centre stage in the 2020 program with NIRIN: Biennale of Sydney. Developed by one of Australia’s most distinguished artists, Brook Andrew, and connecting local communities and global networks. This expansive exhibition of contemporary art will transform key collection spaces within the Gallery, inviting new insights and challenging dominant narratives.

The poetic and political stay in the spotlight with Under the stars, marking the 250th anniversary of Captain James Cook’s landing in Australia, this exhibition presents approaches to star gazing and mapping from Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists over the centuries. At the heart of Under the stars is an artist-led program focusing on Aboriginal astronomy, navigation and cultural ownership.

Indigenous art will also be profiled in Joy an exhibition of Central Desert works that celebrate the joy of making and sharing culture and life together; while The Purple House marks the 20-year anniversary of the Western Desert Dialysis appeal. The Purple House is an Aboriginal, community-controlled health service that was established in 2000 through the efforts of leading Pintupi artists, the Gallery and other organisations.

In April 2020, Some mysterious process an exhibition that considers the past fifty years of the Gallery’s collecting of international contemporary art will be curated by director Michael Brand.

Some mysterious process reveals the alchemy of planning and serendipity, curation and philanthropy that shape a public art collection and provides a platform for thinking about future collecting for the Sydney Modern Project.

“Inspired by a quote from American artist Philip Guston, the title of this exhibition reflects on how a public art museum collects the products of such mysterious human activity – that of making art,” Brand said.

Opening in June 2020 is the first dedicated retrospective of the work of pioneering modernist sculptor Margel Hinder. Revealing one of the most dynamic and underrated sculptural practices to have developed in Australia during the mid-20th century, Margel Hinder: the motion of the modern highlights Hinder’s unique contribution to modern sculpture in this country and includes an immersive installation that reconstructs in life scale several of her most significant works.

Also in June, Sydney artist Khaled Sabsabi will collaborate with the Gallery to present Organised confusion, featuring Sabsabi’s newly acquired 8-channel HD video installation. Then in October the 2020 edition of the Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial, Real worlds presents the work of eight contemporary Australian artists who create extraordinary new worlds in drawings of great complexity and invention.

2020 brings other fresh and exciting opportunities to engage with the breadth and depth of the Gallery’s collection and new acquisitions; such as Shadowcatchers which examines the way shadows, body doubles and mirrors haunt photographic images, and more intimate collection focused exhibitions featuring the influential John Brack and unorthodox Pat Larter, as well as the enduring influence of Classicism.

At the Brett Whiteley Studio, Lavender Bay focuses on the allure of harbour and home for artist Brett Whiteley, followed by Australia which presents works based on the central desert, Far North Queensland, Byron Bay and the central west of NSW.

Highlights of the Gallery’s significant touring exhibition program include the much-loved and highly anticipated Archibald Prize 2020; Mervyn Bishop celebrating the six-decade career of the Aboriginal photographer and Fieldwork which surveys the outdoor painting that artists undertook west of Sydney between the late 19th and mid 20th centuries. Specifically designed to tour to select venues within Greater Western Sydney and regional NSW, Fieldwork forms a relationship between the icons of Australian art from the Gallery’s collection, and the people and places of the region.

2020 is the 20-year anniversary for the Gallery’s film program which will celebrate two decades of showing free films. This summer the film program will present Dark Arts x Studio Ghibli, in association with the exhibition Japan supernatural, featuring witches, folk creatures, ghouls and a magical Czech cat in a global survey of supernatural cinema. Throughout 2020 the program will offer Projections, a monthly platform for emerging and established artists who have transformed ways of thinking about the moving image, this series premieres new projects and rediscovers trailblazing works. The winter film program, Choreomania celebrates the twin arts of cinema and choreography, spanning iconic Hollywood musicals, Jean Painlevé’s underwater ballets, Bollywood spectaculars and more.

For the full Art Gallery of New South Wales 2020 exhibition program please see below.


Japan supernatural | 2 Nov 2019 – 8 Mar 2020 | TICKETED | Curator: Melanie Eastburn
Quilty | 9 Nov 2019 – 2 Feb 2020 | Curator: Lisa Slade (AGSA) | Justin Paton (AGNSW)
Shadow catchers | 22 Feb – 17 May 2020 | Curator: Isobel Parker Philip
NIRIN: Biennale of Sydney 2020 | 14 Mar – 8 Jun 2020 | Curator: Brook Andrew (BOS) | Isobel Parker Philip (AGNSW)
Under the stars | 21 Mar – 20 Sep 2020 | Curators: Cara Pinchbeck + Jackie Dunn
Some mysterious process collecting art 1970-2020”: | 18 Apr – 16 Aug 2020 | Curator: Michael Brand
Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2020 | 9 May – 6 Sep 2020 | Curator: Anne Ryan
Margel Hinder: the motion of the modern | 13 Jun – 20 Sep 2020 | Curator: Denise Mimmocchi
Khaled Sabsabi: Organised confusion | 13 Jun 2020 – 2021 | Curator: Matt Cox
Streeton | 26 Sep 2020 – 14 Feb 2021 | TICKETED | Curator: Wayne Tunnicliffe
Matisse alive | 20 Oct 2020 – 20 Mar 2021 | Curators: Justin Paton + Jackie Dunn
Matisse: life & spirit, masterpieces from the Centre Pompidou, Paris | Nov 2020 – Mar 2021 | TICKETED | Curators: Aurélie Verdier (Centre Pompidou) | Justin Paton + Jackie Dunn (AGNSW)


Walking with gods | On now until January 2020 | Curator: Matt Cox
In one drop of water | On now until Dec 2020 | Curator: Natalie Seiz
Dora Ohlfsen and the facade commission | On now until March 2020 | Curator: Jackie Dunn
Brett Whiteley: Lavender Bay | Fri-Sun only 25 Oct 2019 – May 2020 | Curator: Wendy Whiteley
ARTEXPRESS 2020 | 6 Feb – 26 Apr 2020 | Curator: Louise Halpin
Classicism | 28 Mar – 21 Jun 2020 | Curator: Wayne Tunnicliffe
Brett Whiteley: Australia | Fri-Sun only, 22 May 2020 – Feb 2021 | Curator: Wendy Whiteley
Joy | 4 Jul – 5 Oct 2020 | Curator: Coby Edgar
John Brack: the austere everyday | 11 Jul – 1 Nov 2020 | Curator: Anne Ryan
Real worlds: Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial 2020 | 24 Oct – 2021 | Curator: Anne Ryan
The Purple House project | 24 Oct 2020 – 2021 | Curator: Cara Pinchbeck
Pat Larter: get arted | 21 Nov 2020 – 2021 | Curators: Lisa Catt + Claire Eggleston


Archibald Prize 2019 regional tour
Tarrawarra Museum of Art VIC | On now until 5 November 2019
Gosford Regional Art Gallery, NSW | 16 Nov 2019 – 12 Jan 2020
Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre | 26 Jan – 8 Mar 2020
Bank Art Museum Moree, NSW | 21 Mar – 2 May 2020
Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, NSW | 15 May – 28 Jun 2020
Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery, NSW | 4 Jul – 15 Aug 2020

Archibald Prize 2020 regional tour
Cairns Art Gallery | 18 Sep 2020 – 1 Nov 2020
Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre | 13 Nov 2020 – 3 Jan 2021
Penrith Regional Gallery & Lewers Bequest | 15 Jan 2021 – 28 Feb 2021
Shoalhaven City Arts Centre | 12 Mar 2021 – 26 Apr 2021
Griffith Regional Art Gallery | 7 May 2021 – 20 Jun 2021
Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery | 2 Jul 2021 – 15 Aug 2021

Mervyn Bishop | Curator: Coby Edgar
Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery | 1 Feb – 12 April 2020

Fieldwork | Curator: Nick Yelverton
This exhibition will tour to venues in Western Sydney and regional NSW throughout 2020

FILM PROGRAM | Curator: Ruby Arrowsmith-Todd

Summer film program: Dark Arts x Studio Ghibli | Nov 2019 – Feb 2020
Projections | Monthly, 2020
Winter film program: Choreomania | Jun – Sep 2020