Another impressive building of the architectural Brutalist style is the National Gallery.
“The National Gallery building is in the late 20th-century Brutalist style. It is characterised by angular masses and raw concrete surfaces and is surrounded by a series of sculpture gardens planted with Australian native plants and trees.
The geometry of the building is based on a triangle, most obviously manifested for visitors in the coffered ceiling grids and tiles of the principal floor. Madigan said of this device that it was “the intention of the architectural concept to implant into the grammar of the design a sense of freedom so that the building could be submitted to change and variety but would always express its true purpose”. This geometry flows throughout the building, and is reflected in the triangular stair towers, columns and building elements.” (Wikipedia)
Another sparkling Canberra day so before going inside we go round to explore the sculpture garden.
It is a magnificent display of sculptures in a setting of beautiful Australian natives on the edge of Lake Burley Griffen. A perfect photo opportunity and we spend a pleasurable hour trying to capture the feeling of tranquillity.
A very unusual sculpture, that fascinated me, was the “Fog Sculpture” jets of mist swirling around the Casuarina trees and across a small pond. It was cold, damp and eerie. Then I noticed the heads in the pond.
This sent shivers down my spine.
Time to find the restaurant for lunch.
Sitting in the sun with the view of the sculpture garden through the windows was a good place to enjoy lunch.
Now to see what is on offer in the gallery.
Unfortunately photographs are not allowed in the gallery, which is a shame as I would love to take photos of the interior of this huge, impressive building. I struggle to find words to describe it. In some ways it feels like an industrial building, the walls soar up to the ceiling and banks of lights, beams and geometric designs dominate the space above your head. It is spacious, the art work is not crowded and can be savoured and appreciated piece by piece. The gallery staff, all smartly dressed in dark suites and ties, stroll round unobtrusively, but when approached with a question are knowledgeable and friendly.
I did see “Blue Poles” the controversial centrepiece of the gallery painted by Jackson Pollock.
“Never had such a picture moved and disturbed the Australian public,” said renowned art historian Patrick McCaughey, one of the experts invited to address the symposium.
At the time Blue Poles was acquired for the Australian National Gallery (now the NGA) the gallery did not even have a building.
Then director James Mollison was determined to build a collection worthy of a national institution.
The gallery did not have the authority to sign off on purchases of over $1 million, so the purchase was referred to the Federal Government, and approved by then prime minister Gough Whitlam.
Going against political advice, he decided that the price paid for the artwork should be made public.
And so, a political ruckus was ignited.
‘$1.3m for dribs and drabs,’ raged one newspaper headline.
‘Barefoot drunks painted our $1 million masterpiece’, read another.” (Stroke of genius : The Blue Poles)
Bought for $1.3 million estimates of its current value range from $20 million to $100 million
I stood in front of it for quite a while and couldn’t really make my mind up about it, especially how much it is worth. I did like the colours, but would I put it on my wall? I don’t think so…
In 2 hours we had only seen 2 of the 4 levels but time to head home and take Millie for her walk. We will be back again to see the other levels.