Collage & Painting 1940-1976

Exhibition dates: Tue 21 February to Sat 10 March 2012
View the artworks
Print Artist CV

Previous Exhibitions

“I was never part of the subconscious/Freudian manifesto, but its influenced the twentieth century; life itself is surreal. Its essential quality has always appealed. Not as a style but an attitude.”
– Carl Plate

Before setting off for London in 1935, Carl Plate was introduced, through copies of Minotaure magazine, to the new world of Dada & Surrealism. The immediate affinity he felt germinated ideas about the ability of art to go beyond reality.

The works in this exhibition date from 1940, with a work painted near the home of friend and mentor Arthur Wheen, Librarian at the Victoria & Albert Museum, who introduced Plate to modern artists including Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth and to Herbert Read and T.S. Eliot. Plate has said, “In London I was able to somehow chrystallize a feeling I’d had here – an abstract feeling that something exists beyond the material evidence.’” This exhibition presents work unique to Plate’s inimitable style; his surreal eye, his mysterious and poetic way of remaking the way you perceive what you see. “As soon as you use an image as a direct reference you are placing that thing in somebody’s area of recognition, and so limiting its possibilities.” (Carl Plate, AGNSW catalogue, 1977)

Part of the process of moving beyond representation involved collage, with its radical ability to rearrange reality. “He had long been attracted to surrealism, and seems to have dwelt on the paradoxical nature of surrealist imagery, where forms may yield multiple and contradictory significances.” (Peter Pinson, 1980)

Describing Plate’s mid-70s collages, A.D.S. Donaldson writes, “Any original image has become unrecognisable, and in this work Plate recombined and reoriented his sources and evinced a fantastic post-pop new image order. […] We have a feeling of pleasure engendered by Plate’s ability to at once disorient us, to take us away from the source of the image, and to return us happily to a new place, a new world even; Plate’s world.”

Plate’s final paintings in this exhibition are at once a return to an earlier engagement with illusionistic space and a leap into a new and startlingly original place.

Carl Plate: 1909, Perth, Western Australia – 1977


1930-34 East Sydney Technical College
1935 -1940 St Martins School & Central School of Arts & Crafts, London

Solo exhibitions

2010 Carl Plate: 60s & 70s Paintings & Collage – Damien Minton Gallery, Sydney and Charles Nodrum Gallery, Melbourne (with William Rose & Godfrey Miller)2009Carl Plate: Collage 1938-1976 – Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Art Museum, NSW
Carl Plate, Painting and Collage, Eva Breuer Art Dealer, Sydney
2006Carl Plate: works from the collection – Art Gallery of New South Wales
Carl Plate, Paintings from the 50s, 60s and 70s – Eva Breuer Art Dealer, Sydney
1987Carl Plate, Painters Gallery, Sydney
Carl Plate Works on Paper 1939-1957 – Niagara Galleries, Melbourne
1984Carl Plate – Niagara Galleries, Melbourne 1981Carl Plate: Paintings, Paris 1970-1 – David Jones’ Art Gallery, Sydney 1979David Jones’ Art Gallery, Sydney 1978David Jones’ Art Gallery, Sydney
Zanders Bond Gallery, Melbourne
1974Town Gallery, Brisbane 1972Macquarie Galleries, Canberra 1971Bonython Gallery, Sydney 1969The Johnstone Gallery, Brisbane 1968Bonython Gallery, Sydney 1967Lewers Gallery, Emu Plains, NSW 1965Hungry Horse Gallery, Sydney 1964Gallery A, Melbourne 1963Hungry Horse Gallery, Sydney 1962Knapic Gallery, New York 1961Terry Clune Gallery, Sydney 1960The Macquarie Galleries, Sydney
Terry Clune Gallery, SydneyMuseum of Modern Art, Melbourne (with Elwyn Lynn)
1959Leicester Galleries, London 1958David Jones Art Gallery, Sydney; Newcastle City Gallery, Australia 1956Gallery of Contemporary Art, Melbourne
The Macquarie Galleries, Sydney
1954The Johnstone Gallery, Brisbane; The Macquarie Galleries, Sydney 1953Peter Bray Gallery, Melbourne 1952The Johnstone Gallery, Brisbane; The Macquarie Galleries, Sydney 1951The Macquarie Galleries, Sydney
John Martins Gallery, Adelaide
Stanley Coe Gallery, Melbourne
1941Notanda Gallery, Sydney

Selected group exhibitions

2010Planned for Progress – Reserve Bank of Australia, Sydney2009Cubism and Australian Art – Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne2008Australian Surrealism, The Agipatos/Wilson Collection – National Gallery Australia1999Antipodeans: Challenge & Response in Australian Art 1955-65 – National Gallery Australia1991New Directions 1952-1962 – Penrith Regional Gallery & Lewers Bequest1986Pure Abstraction – Painters Gallery, Sydney1980Abstract Expressionism in Sydney, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney1968Australian Painting – India & Pakistan 1967Australian Painting – Expo ’67, Montreal, Canada1964-65Australian Painting Today – Australian States & Europe1962Commonwealth Art Today – London
Australian Painting, Tate Gallery, London
1961Recent Australian Painting – Whitechapel Gallery, London
Australian Art – Los Angeles, São Paulo Biennale
Survey 1: Sydney Avant-Garde Exhibition – Farmers Blaxland Gallery
9 Sydney – David Jones Gallery, Sydney
Gallery A, Melbourne
1959Matson Lines Exhibition of Australian Art (San Francisco and Pacific)1956Contemporary Australian Painting (Pacific tour)1951-60Society of Artists exhibitions1940-66Contemporary Art Society exhibitions

Major Collections

National Gallery of Australia
Art Galleries of New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia
Universities of Sydney, NSW, Melbourne, Canberra, ANU
Art Bank
Reserve Bank of Australia