Modern times: the untold story of modernism in Australia

Modern times: the untold story of modernism in Australia

Jeff Carter photograph oft the Pasha nightclub
At the Pasha nightclub, Cooma, late 1950s. Photo by Jeff Carter. Collection: Powerhouse Museum.

Australia Square,
Australia Square, 1968. Photo by
Max Dupain. Courtesy Max Dupain
and Associates.

View of the elevated restaurant,
View of the elevated restaurant, Centenary Pool, Brisbane. Photo:
James Birrrell.

Touring schedule
Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne
Until 19 July 2009

State Library of Queensland
August to November 2009

Modern times reveals how modernism transformed life in Australia across five tumultuous decades from 1917 to 1967. The exhibition traces for the first time the impact of modernism on all aspects of Australian culture — from art, design and architecture to advertising, photography, film and fashion.

Modernism sought to build a better future in the aftermath of World War I. An international movement, modernism encapsulated the possibilities of the 20th century. It celebrated the romance of cities, the healthy body and the ideals of abstraction and functionalism in design.

Modern times looks at how modernism defined a new cosmopolitan culture in Australia, highlighting stories of avant-garde experiments. The exhibition also explores the city and its skyscrapers, milk bars and swimming pools, where modernism profoundly reshaped Australian life.

Bringing together over 400 artworks and artefacts, Modern times focuses on a series of major interdisciplinary exchanges between modern architects, artists and designers. It features paintings by Grace Cossington Smith, Sidney Nolan and Margaret Preston; photographs by Max Dupain, Wolfgang Sievers and Jeff Carter; designs by Clement Meadmore, Douglas Annand, Robert Klippel, and Grant and Mary Featherston; as well as models and designs by architects Harry Seidler, Robin Boyd, Roy Grounds and Jorn Utzon.

This project has been supported by
Gordon Darling Foundation
Australian Research Council


Education materials
pdf icon Teachers notes

Powerhouse Publications
link Modern times: the untold story of modernism in Australia



Share your images of modernism with our Flickr group
The Museum wants your photographs of 'modernism in Australia'. We have set up a group on Flickr where you can post contemporary photos that represent 'modernism' to you. They could be architectural, city spaces, furniture, interiors, fashion and design - we want to see how you interpret this era today. more...

Slideshow of Modernism group images

linkA collaborative map of modernism in Australia created by Dan Hill and collaborators on GoogleMaps.