Biennale of Sydney 2010 – History (1973-2010)

Biennale of Sydney 2010 – History (1973-2010)

Since 1973, the Biennale of Sydney exhibitions have presented the work of 1355 artists from 82 countries.

Most of these artists were also brought to Sydney by the Biennale, which often facilitated their travel and coordinated their professional engagements in a national outreach program to art schools and universities across Australia.

From the beginning, the Biennale of Sydney has acted as a catalyst for cultural development and discussion. It has created unique opportunities for direct contact between artists, writers, and curators from other countries – as well as collectors and gallery directors – with their counterparts in Australia.

This outreach program has involved hundreds of educational and cultural institutions and as a result, has invigorated artists, students and educators alike.

Over three decades, the Biennale of Sydney’s regular importation and commission of major works of art have offered rare collecting opportunities to many public institutions across Australia. Works of substantial scale by artists of international renown, and which would otherwise have been out of the reach of local collections, became accessible. The cumulative impact of the Biennale of Sydney on the holdings in public collections probably remains little known today, but is another example of the Biennale’s enduring contribution to Australian art and culture.

Following is a very detailed summary of each Biennale of Sydney’s philosophy and activity …

2010 – THE BEAUTY OF DISTANCE, Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age

David Elliott, Artistic Director

David Elliott is a British-born art gallery and museum curator.

After studying history at the University of Durham, and History of Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art Elliott worked as an exhibitions officer at the Arts Council of Great Britain, after which he served as director of the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford from 1976 to 1996. Elliott’s programme at Oxford included exhibitions of art from Latin America, Asia, South Africa, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

Elliott was then Director of the Moderna Museet (Museum of Modern Art) in Stockholm from 1996 to 2001. Between 2001 and 2006 Elliott was the director of Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum, a large privately-endowed museum devoted to contemporary – particularly Asian – art, architecture and design.

innoportune by Cai Guo-Qiang

2008 – Revolutions, Forms That Turn

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Artistic Director

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev is a writer and curator based in Rome, Turin and New York. She is currently Chief Curator at the Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art in Italy. Previously, she organised exhibitions as an independent curator in Europe and was Senior Curator at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center – a MoMA Affiliate from 1999 to 2001. In 2001, she was a jury member of the 49th Venice Biennale.

In 2005, she co-curated with Francesco Bonami The Pantagruel Syndrome. T1 TorinoTriennaleTremusei, a project which opened in November 2005 and which explored excess, conceptual gigantism and the fragility of our pantagruelian world, through two solo exhibitions (Takashi Murakami and Doris Salcedo) and a city-wide group exhibition of works by 75 younger artists from around the world, including Tamy Ben-Tor, Fernando Bryce, Sebastián Díaz Morales, Jin Kurashige, Araya Radsjamroensook and Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

Christov-Bakargiev graduated Magna cum Laude from the University of Pisa, Faculty of Letters and Philosophy, in 1981, majoring in literature and art history. Her master thesis was on the relation between contemporary poetry and painting.

Novacento… a stuffed horse, by artist Maurizio Cattelan at the MCA

2006 – Zones of Contact

Charles Merewether, Artistic Director & Curator

85 artists from 44 countries

Senator Helen Coonan opened the exhibition

The 15th Biennale of Sydney, Zones of Contact, featured the work of 85 artists and collaborations from 44 countries in 16 venues. Visitors saw a wide range of work, including painting, photography, fabric, sound and voice, light and projected works, drawing, video, film, performance, sculpture and installation. Site-specific works were exhibited in various locations in and around Sydney, including the spectacular heritage-listed Pier 2/3, Walsh Bay.

Zones of Contact dealt with events, ideas and concerns that shape our lives today, as well as our sense of both past and future. It explored the zones people live in and move between, and the merging and separation of public areas and private territories, places where people make contact with one another.

Participating countries / Albania France Lebanon Spain Argentina Germany Malaysia Sweden Australia India Mexico Switzerland Bahrain Indonesia Netherlands Taiwan Benin Iran New Zealand Thailand Brazil Israel Palestine Turkey Canada Italy Philippines Uganda China Japan Poland United Kingdom Cuba Kazakhstan Romania USA Egypt Kuwait Russia Ethiopia Laos Saudi Arabia Finland Latvia Serbia & Montenegro

Dr Charles Merewether is an art historian, writer and curator who has worked in Australia, Europe and the Americas. He was Collections Curator at the Getty Center in Los Angeles from 1994-2004. Between 2004-2006, he was Artistic Director & Curator of the 2006 Biennale of Sydney and Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Cross Cultural Research, Australian National University.

A record of 316,811 visits were recorded over all venues. The festival included a wide range of works and mediums including installation, sculpture, performance, video, sound, photography and painting.  The festival also featured three two-day symposia, over 50 talks, education programs and an ‘Art Walk’ along the harbour foreshore between principal exhibition venues.

British artist Antony Gormley’s Asian Field, an installation of 180,000 hand-sized clay figurines.

2004 – On Reason and Emotion

Isabel Carlos, Curator

51 artists from 32 countries

Luca Belgiorno-Nettis, Paula Latos-Valier, Isabel Carlos made preview speeches

On Reason and Emotion, inspired by neurologist Antonio Damasio, brought together sophisticated concepts and artworks that demanded that the viewer use all their senses, and be challenged to think and feel. The close proximity of venues allowed the Biennale of Sydney exhibition to lead the viewer through the city of Sydney, creating a walkable circuit between venues.

Much of the exhibition was sited within Sydney’s major art museums and galleries, however, a number of new projects were created for specific sites at outdoor locations within the city, such as the Royal Botanic Gardens and the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House.

Participating countries / Angola Denmark Japan Scotland Australia Finland Korea Singapore Austria France Mexico South Africa Belgium Germany Netherlands Spain Brazil Great Britain New Zealand Sweden Bulgaria Greece Norway Switzerland Canada Ireland Portugal USA China Italy Russia Venezuela

Isabel Carlos is a Lisbon-based freelance curator, writer and art critic. She was the founder and Deputy Director between 1996 and 2001 of the Instituto de Arte Contemporânea (IAC) for the Ministry of Culture, Portugal where she ran the international collection. No stranger to biennales, Ms Carlos also organised the Portuguese representation at the Venice Biennale (2001), the London Art Biennale (2000), Sao Paolo Biennale (1996 and 1998) and was advisor for the selection of Portuguese artists in the 1997 and 1999 Istanbul Biennials. Carlos also participated in the conference of the first Melbourne International Biennial (1999).

It featured the work of 51 artists from 32 countries. Much of the exhibition was sited within Sydney’s major art museums and galleries, however a number of new projects were created for specific sites at outdoor locations within the city, such as the Royal Botanic Gardens and the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House.

Jimmie Durham’s “Still Life with Stone and Car

2002 – (The World May Be) Fantastic

Richard Grayson, Artistic Director

56 artists from 22 countries

Lord Mayor Frank Sartor, Andrew Refshaugie, Luca Belgiorno-Nettis made preview speeches

This city-wide event encompassed eight venues, including a vacant commercial building in Orwell Street, Potts Point. The exhibition focused on artists who use fictions, fakes, invented methodologies and experiments as a basis for their work. The projects celebrated the potential of the creative act to generate alternative worlds, suggesting that our everyday belief systems may be constructed, hallucinatory and changeable.

The exhibition was the first ever curated by a practicing artist [with ‘advice’ from artists/curators Susan Hiller, Ralph Rugoff and Janos Sugar]. Highlights included Mike Nelson’s fake Reptile House in Kings Cross and Simon Paterson’s in-flight instructional video. The downside was a huge array of fake libraries and unwanted references to Borges and Italo Calvino.

Over 245,000 people visited the exhibition, exceeding all previous attendance records.

Participating countries / Australia France Mexico Slovenia Belgium Korea Netherlands Sweden Britain Germany New Zealand USA Canada Hong Kong Norway Vietnam China Ireland Portugal Finland Japan Poland

His art practice encompasses installation, video, painting and performance. His work investigates ways that narratives shape our understandings of the world.

Grayson was a founder member of the Basement Group (1979–1984) in Newcastle upon Tyne. The Basement group was an artists collective that focused on experimental time based and performance art practices. It has been described as “unique in this country [the United Kingdom] in combining two functions: it is an ‘exhibiting society’ for a group of six artists working in time based media (mostly performance and video), and it has up to the present provided a venue for any performing artist wishing to present work [in Newcastle].”

Between 1992 and 1998 he was Director of the Experimental Art Foundation in Adelaide, Australia.

The 2002 Biennale of Sydney investigated ‘artists and practices using fictions, narratives, invented methodologies, hypotheses, subjective belief systems, modellings, fakes and experiments as a means to make works.’.

keep your eyes on the rabbit 2002

Cang Xin performance at Casula Powerhouse

2000 – Sydney 2000

Nick Waterlow, Artistic Director

48 artists from 23 countries

NSW Premier Bob Carr opened the exhibition

This city-wide event encompassed six venues and also included a number of affiliated exhibitions and satellite events throughout the greater Sydney area. Unlike previous Biennales, an International Selection Committee, comprised of internationally distinguished directors and curators and chaired by Nick Waterlow, selected works for the 2000 exhibition.

Fumio Nanjo, ISC member, said of the final selection: ‘The participants of the Biennale of Sydney 2000 are artists who express and question their vision of reality in works which embrace changes and the possibility of change.’ This was one of the most popular of all Biennale exhibitions, attracting over 200,000 visitors.

The Biennale of Sydney in 2000 was called Biennale of Sydney 2000 making it a lot easier to spot and produced a well remembered ‘greatest hits’ Biennale that surveyed everything that had happened since 1973.

Participating countries / Australia China Italy Russia Austria Congo Japan Spain Belgium France Mali Switzerland Brazil Korea Netherlands Ukraine Britain Germany New Zealand USA Canada Iran Philippines

The Biennale raised questions that go to the heart of its mission: what does Sydney accomplish by importing foreign contemporary art to its shores ? And conversely, how well does the Biennale expand the profile of Australian artists in the global art world ?

Yoko Ono

1998 – Every Day

Jonathan Watkins, Artistic Director

101 artists from 28 countries

NSW Premier Bob Carr and Lord Mayor Frank Sartor opened the exhibition

This city-wide event encompassed 10 venues, including heritage finger wharf Pier 2/3 and Goat Island. Numerous site-specific works were created in Sydney in response to new locations and public sites.

The exhibition examined notions of the temporal and spatial ‘every day’ and artists’ works came from inspiration closer to home, using simpler expressions and materials.

It is mainly remembered as the Biennale Martin Creed, 2001’s Turner Prize Winner, came to Australia to fill up a room on Goat Island with balloons. The title of the ‘98 BOS also had an unfortunate and startling similarity to the tag line to ads promoting the then just-opened Australia’s Wonderland [“Escape the every day”] leading visitors to expect rides, balloons and beer.

Participating countries / Australia China Israel Russia Belgium Cuba Italy Spain Benin Denmark Ivory Coast Sweden Brazil Finland Japan Switzerland Cameroon France Korea Thailand Canada Germany Mexico United Kingdom Chile Iceland New Zealand USA

Watkins is an English curator, and is currently Director of the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham.

Watkins emigrated to Australia with his family in 1969 and studied Philosophy and History of Art at the University of Sydney, where he later taught. He was curator of the Chisenhale Gallery in London during which period this relatively small local gallery became an internationally known centre of excellence – many of the Artists shown at that time later going on to major acclaim including a number of Turner Prize winners, Watkins later moved to the Serpentine Gallery from 1995 to 1997 and worked in a freelance capacity as curator of the Biennale of Sydney in 1998.

Watkins now lives in Birmingham, England. He currently directs the Ikon Gallery, and recently unveiled plans for a new museum of modern art in Birmingham. In 1999 he was appointed to his current role as Director of the Ikon Gallery, and has since worked as a guest curator at the Castello di Rivoli in Turin, the Venice Biennale and the Hayward Gallery and Tate in London

Beat Streuli’s people in the street photographs on a building hoarding

1996 – Jurassic Technologies Revenant

Dr Lynne Cooke, Artistic Director

48 artists from 24 countries

Senator Helen Coonan opened the exhibition

Preceded by the Biennale of Ideas in 1995, the 10th Biennale of Sydney presented a re-appraisal of older reproductive technologies, including photography, film and print media. The politics of identity, memory versus history, the fantastic and Gothic were key themes.

Participating countries / Australia France Ivory Coast Sweden Austria Germany Japan Switzerland Belgium Indonesia Mexico Thailand Canada Iran New Zealand Ukraine Cuba Ireland South Africa United Kingdom Finland Italy Spain USA

Born in Geelong, Australia, Ms. Cooke received a B.A. from Melbourne University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in art history from the Courtauld Institute, London University, and has taught and lectured regularly at the University College London, Syracuse University, Yale University, Columbia University, and the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College. She was a co-curator of the Venice Biennale in 1986, the Carnegie International in 1991, and was artistic director of the Biennale of Sydney in 1996.

The concept for Jurassic Technologies Revenant evolved in response to issues that were being addressed by contemporary artists, and in relation to the exhibition being presented in Sydney where a lot of contemporary art isn’t frequently seen. I thought the audience might find the theme interesting given that, historically, Australian culture has been very dependent on reproductive technology, for information, for entertainment, and for a view of contemporary developments elsewhere.

The BOS of 1996 is sometimes referred to as The Quiet Biennale because no one went. Under the direction of Lynne Cooke, JTR had a title no one understood, featured artists no one wanted to see and was held in galleries no one visited.

Restricting the Biennale to 40-plus artists was a very deliberate decision for two reasons. Firstly, there are literally hundreds of contemporary artists currently discussed in magazines and seen in a wide range of shows, both nationally and internationally. By restricting the number of artists, each could be given more space. In addition, if there are one hundred or more artists the viewer is overwhelmed; it is difficult to remember anything.

1992/93 – The Boundary Rider

Tony Bond, Artistic Director

126 artists from 33 countries

NSW Minister for the Arts, Peter Collins opened the exhibition

The 9th Biennale reflected a shift away from Europe and the USA and over 90 per cent of the artists had not been seen in Australia before. Work of controversial artists such as Orlan, examined transgressions of conceptual and cultural boundaries. An extensive program of film, lectures and symposia explored the issues raised in this exhibition.

Participating countries / Australia Czechoslovakia Japan Spain Austria Denmark Mexico Sweden Belgium France Netherlands Switzerland Brazil Germany New Zealand Thailand Cameroon Ghana Norway United Kingdom Canada Haiti Philippines USA Colombia Hungary Poland Croatia Israel Russia Cuba Italy South Africa

Tony Bond is General Manager, Curatorial Services, and Head Curator of International Art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. He was Artistic Director for the Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art in the United Kingdom from 1998 to 1999 and Artistic Director of the Biennale of Sydney in 1992.

When I started working on The Boundary Rider in 1990, two years before the exhibition, it was a very interesting time: boundaries were collapsing, the Iron Curtain was coming down, and there was a shift in the economic balance away from Wall Street towards South East Asia. ‘Shifting boundaries’ was the current theory. It was the buzzword that included physical borders as well as those to do with gender and difference and also psychological boundaries.

Itwas held over the long hot summer of December-January 1992 and 1993 and featured non-European/American artists and assorted Australian trouble-makers. The press went wild for Orlan and her brand of garish, tasteless performance art in which she attempted to transform her body via plastic surgery into a facsimile of features from famous art historical sources.

The largest number of countries to date in the 1992-93 Biennale, about 35, many of which had never been represented before in Australia. I included mainstream figures alongside emerging artists from beyond the traditional centres. If you’re dealing with ‘breaking boundaries’, you need to expand the understanding of Internationalism

Large book 1992 Vinyl billboard version of photograph from series ‘Second Nature’. Bond Store

koons puppy at the mca

1990 – The Readymade Boomerang: Certain Relations in 20th Century Art

René Block, Artistic Director

NSW Minister for Health & the Arts, Peter Collins opened the exhibition

The 8th Biennale examined the distinctive historical connections of the ‘readymade’ from the early 1900s to the 1980s, based on the work of Duchamp, Man Ray and Picabia. A comprehensive satellite program of music, performance, lectures, symposia and workshops at various Sydney venues, complemented the exhibition

Australia East Germany Japan Spain Belgium Finland Korea Sweden Brazil France Netherlands Switzerland Canada Hungary New Zealand United Kingdom Chile Iceland Norway USA Czechoslovakia Israel Poland West Germany Denmark Italy Russia Yugoslavia

Rene Block established his first gallery in 1964 when he was 22 years old featuring the early work of important artists such as Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, Joseph Bueys, Wolf Vostell and Nam June Paik

In 1974 he launched a gallery in New York with a Joseph Bueys performance I love America and America loves me. During the 1970s working as an independent curator Block organised numerous notable exhibitions across Europe and in New York including Downtown Manhattan: Soho in 1976 and For the Eyes and Ears in 1980. In 1982 Block commenced work on Berlin’s celebrated Resident Artists program.

Since the 1980s Block has been director/curator of a number of international Biennials including the Readymade Boomerang 8th Biennale of Sydney (1990), Orient/ation 4th Biennale of Istanbul (1995) and Europe and Africa, Kwangju Biennale, Korea (1999).

Since 1997 René Block has been Director of the Kunsthalle Fridericianum in Kassel, Germany.

The development of western art has often been regarded as a linear process. The developments are like the annual rings on a tree trunk which differ according to colour. The colours reflect different styles in art. And just as the colours repeat themselves after a few years, so artists constantly return to earlier developments. One series of rings reflects emotionally intensive painting from Expressionism to the present day. Other rings represent Constructive art movements. Still others, Object and Concept Art. These cycles became the theme of my Biennale – for example, the Ready-made from its invention and pure use by Duchamp, to its resurgence in Nouveau Realism, Pop Art, and Fluxus of the 60s, all the way to new versions by young contemporary artists.

I view a biennale as a workshop, a specific place where artists from different countries come together, show their works, and find out about the works of fellow artists. Something like a fair of ideas. Originally, this workshop atmosphere was to be supplemented by a well-curated historical exhibition on the topic of the ready-made. However, constant budget cuts forced me to merge the two into a single exhibition, which turned out okay in the end.

1988 – From the Southern Cross: A View of World Art c1940 – 1988

Nick Waterlow, Artistic Director

127 artists from 15 countries

Governor General Sir Ninian Stephen opened the exhibition

The exhibition featured key early works of artists such as Leger, Klein, Balthus and Beckmann. Produced in association with the national Bicentennial Authority, the exhibition was shown in both Sydney and Melbourne.

The show toured in its entirety to Melbourne for the first and last time. Huge in scope, masterful in execution, hardly anyone went distracted as we were by fire works and Bicentennial ships.

For the second time Pier 2/3 (a heritage finger wharf at Walsh Bay) became a central venue for the exhibition and the site for a spectacular Aboriginal piece involving 200 traditional burial posts.

aboriginal holllow log tombs 1988

Tthe Aboriginal Memorial of 200 painted tree trunks commemorated all the indigenous people who had died between 1788 and 1988 defending their land against invaders.

A special section on Japanese contemporary and performing art was presented.

Participating countries /Australia France New Zealand USA Austria Italy Poland West Germany Canada Japan Switzerland Yugoslavia East Germany Netherlands United Kingdom.

1986 – Origins Originality + Beyond

Nick Waterlow, Artistic Director

123 artists from 21 countries

Federal Treasurer Paul Keating opened the exhibition

The exhibition questioned the concept of what constituted originality in the work of artists as diverse as Malcolm McLaren, Eric Fischl and Carlo Maria Mariani. It explored the origins, death and resurrection of form and imagery, as well as the transition of modernism to post modernism.

Origins Originality + Beyond investigated parody, irony and the burgeoning connection between visual art and Buffalo Girls. To this end, Malcolm McLaren visited Sydney and “tagged” a wall at the Art Gallery of NSW.  He almost cleared an auditorium of students at Sydney College of the Arts when he opened a lecture tour with the emphatically-delivered words: “To be an artist in the late 20th century, you have…to be…a thief.”

Only those distracted by Glenn Baxter’s amusing comic strips survived this deeply embarrassing event.

It was also an opportunity to see the work of rising late-80s NYC art stars such as Eric Fischl.

Participating countries / Argentina Czechoslovakia New Zealand USA Australia France Papua New Guinea West Germany Austria India Poland Yugoslavia Canada Italy Spain Chile Japan Switzerland Cuba Netherlands United Kingdom

Eric Fischl

1984 – Private Symbol: Social Metaphor

Leon Paroissien, Artistic Director

66 Artists from 20 countries

Prime Minister Bob Hawke opened the exhibition

The fifth Biennale focussed on the expression of private views and obsessions, as well as broader political statements in the work of a diverse group of artists.

1984 was swept up in giddy post modernity and instigated the still vital trend for random colons in exhibition titles. Private Symbol: Public Metaphor featured big names from the US like Cindy Sherman and Barbara Kruger and good-time guys Gilbert & George from the UK.

Paroissien, who would later go on to share the direction of the fledgling Museum of Contemporary Art, is also remembered as the guy who got a Biennale happening every two years.

Participating countries / Australia Colombia Italy Switzerland Austria Denmark Japan United Kingdom Belgium France Netherlands USA Canada Hong Kong New Zealand West Germany Chile Ireland Poland Yugoslavia

Leon Paroissien AM is adjunct professor of design and architecture at the University of Canberra, and chairman of Object: Australian Centre for Craft and Design. He was the founding director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, and of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei. He has been active in professional museum organisations in Australia and abroad for over three decades and has recently contributed to international publications of essays on museum governance and museum architecture

gilbert and george

1982 – Vision in Disbelief

William Wright, Artistic Director

209 artists from 17 countries

NSW Premier Neville Wran opened the exhibition

Celebrating the return to painting and more traditional forms of art, the exhibition also included separate performance, sound and video sections. The event was broad-based and included an extensive public program of lectures and conferences, as well as a dynamic satellite program of independent but related exhibitions.

Vision in Disbelief  set the standard for the mega-Biennale. VID featured 209 artists and was spread out across the city. Including international pop stars turned artists like Laurie Anderson and Brian Eno, the B.O.S. got the punters in… and the Vice Squad cops who raided the exhibition, confiscating Juan Davila’s Stupid As A Painter

Participating countries / Argentina Finland New Zealand West Germany Australia France Poland Yugoslavia Bangladesh Italy Spain Canada Japan United Kingdom Colombia Netherlands USA. 

juan davila – the kiss 1982

1979 – European Dialogue

Nick Waterlow, Artistic Director

Governor General Sir Zelman Cowan opened the exhibition

Featuring 131 artists from 19 countries, European Dialogue questioned the predominance of New York as the centre of the international contemporary art world. The exhibition explored the direct links between Europe and Australia and the influence of European art on Australian art.

Participating countries / Australia France Netherlands United Kingdom Austria Greece New Zealand USA Belgium Hungary Poland West Germany Czechoslovakia Iceland Spain Yugoslavia East Germany Italy Switzerland

 1976 – Recent International Forms in Art

Thomas G. McCullough, Artistic Director

80 artists from 10 countries

Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser opened the exhibition

The Biennale was exhibited at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, which has remained a major venue for all subsequent exhibitions. It included 80 artists from 10 countries and focussed on new forms in sculpture, including performance, mail art and video works, as well as more traditional forms.

After a three year interval the second Biennale exhibition was held in 1976. It took place against a backdrop of heated political debate concerning the dismissal of the Whitlam government. The opening ceremonies, presided over by the new Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, met with an artists’ walkout.

This was the first Biennale held at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, which was to become the primary venue for the exhibition over the next two decades.

The 1976 exhibition was also the first with a clearly articulated curatorial theme developed by one artistic director. The decision to allow a single curator to determine the theme and the selection of artists became the hallmark of the Sydney Biennale and is perceived to be one of its enduring strengths.


The work in the 1976 exhibition explored new forms in sculpture including video, performance and mail art, each of which tested the basic definition of sculptural form. Much of the work selected by Thomas McCullough caused considerable debate in the community. People were confronted by the non traditional mediums of Stelarc, an artist who suspended his body from hooks piercing his skin, to Fujiko Nakaya whose fog piece which filled the Domain Park at the entrance to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, was literally a sculpture with no substance. In all, eighty artists from ten countries participated in the second Biennale, which was strongly focused on recent work from the Pacific Rim

Participating countries / Australia Japan New Zealand West Germany France Korea United Kingdom Italy Netherlands USA

1973 – The Inaugural Biennale of Sydney

Anthony Wintherbotham, Coordinator

37 artists from 15 countries

Prime Minister Gough Whitlam opened the exhibition

The newly opened Sydney Opera House was the location for the predominantly Asian and Pacific region exhibition of 37 artists, focussed on contemporary architecture and new dimensions in sculpture and painting. The inaugural Biennale of Sydney was staged in 1973 to provide an international showcase for contemporary art. Its aim was to develop and present a program that challenged traditional thinking and encouraged new levels of enthusiasm for innovative creative expression.

The Biennale of Sydney was created in 1973 as an international showcase for contemporary art. Conceived, invented and financially supported by Franco Belgiorno-Nettis, it grew out of the Transfield Art Prize for contemporary Australian art, an acquisitive prize which reached its peak in the 1960s. It operated for about a dozen years before Transfield decided to transform what was a local initiative into an international exhibition.

Participating countries / Australia, Bangladesh, Germany (West) Great Britain, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Spain, Thailand, USA

1979 daniel spoerri’s “eat art”

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