• Offered by School of Art and Design
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Classification Transitional
  • Course subject Art History
  • Areas of interest American Studies, Art History, Australian Studies, International Relations, Visual Arts

Across the Pacific: Australian Interactions with American Art and Art-Worlds will provide an introduction to Australia's engagement with American Art with a particular focus on exhibition history within the two countries. Through the provision of theoretical, social, political and historical contexts the course will include an introduction to key art theorists such as Clement Greenberg, Harold Rosenberg, Sol Lewitt, Rosalind Krauss, Ian Burn and others whose ideas had an impact on Australian artists. Topics may include: Two Decades of American Painting (1967) The Field exhibition and its legacy (1968) and Kaldor Art Projects (1969 onwards). The political context for these exhibitions will also be discussed, particularly in relation to the purchase of Blue Poles by the NGA in 1973 and the promotion of American art internationally during the Cold War period. Through an examination of the relationship between exhibitions and theory, the second part of the course will focus upon developments in performance art, womens art, conceptual art and environmental art. The course will provide a vital introduction to American-Australian art and theory from the 1940's onwards.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. identify, analyse and evaluate different artworks and exhibitions related to the interaction between Australian and American art from 1941 onwards;
  2. utilise appropriate primary and secondary sources to craft scholarly arguments;
  3. demonstrate an advanced understanding of the cultural, political, historical and theoretical contexts informing the production of Australian art influenced by American art and theory; and
  4. present sophisticated, critically informed written and oral arguments about the relationship between American and Australian art with a focus upon exhibition history.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Participation (10) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  2. Tutorial presentation, 10 minutes (20) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  3. Extended Research Essay, 3000 words (40) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  4. Visual analysis drawing upon a theoretical approach, 2000 words (30) [LO 1,3,4]

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

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130 hours of total student learning time made up from:

a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: lectures, seminars and tutorials; and

b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed ARTH2175 (Aus-American Art Interactions).

Prescribed Texts

No textbook required

Preliminary Reading

Barrett, Lindsay. The Prime Minister's Christmas Card: Blue Poles and Cultural Politics in the Whitlam Era, Sydney: Power Publications, 2001.

Curley, John J. Global Art and the Cold War, London, Laurence King, 2019.

Green Charles. Peripheral Vision: Contemporary Australian Art 1970-1994, Craftsman House: Sydney, 1995.

Green, Charles and Heather Barker. 'No Place Like Home: Australian art history and contemporary art at the start of the 1970's', Journal of Art Historiography, Vol. 3, no.1, 2011.

Green Charles and Heather Barker. 'The watershed: Two Decades of American Painting at the National Gallery of Victoria', Art Bulletin of the National Gallery of Victoria, no 50: 64-77, May, 2011.

Guilbaut, Serge.  How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art: Abstract Expressionism, Freedom and the Cold War, Chicago: University of Chicago Press,1983.

Harrison, Charles and Paul Wood. Art in Theory 1900-1990, An Anthology of Changing Ideas, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 1994.

Krauss, Rosalind. 'Sculpture and the Expanded Field' in October, Vol. 8, Spring 1979, 30-44.

Luck, Ross. K. The Australian painters, 1964-1966 : contemporary Australian painting from the Mertz collection, Washington: Corcoran Gallery of Art, 1967.

Mendelssohn, Joanna. Catherine De Lorenzo, Alison Inglis, Catherine Speck, Australian Art Exhibitions, Opening Our Eyes, London: Thames and Hudson, 2018.

National Gallery of Victoria, The Field, Melbourne: NGV, 1968.

National Gallery of Victoria, Two Decades of American Painting, Melbourne: NGV, 1967.

Smith, Terry. 'The Provincialism Problem', Artforum, vol. XIII, no. 1 (September 1974): 54-9. 

Speck, Cathy and Joanna Mendelssohn. 'The 1970s: Curators Framing the Avant Garde in Writing and Rewriting Art History', Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art, 17:1, 97-112.

Saunders, Frances Stonor. Who Paid the Piper?: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War, London: Granta, 1999.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $3570
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $5460
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
7403 26 Jul 2021 02 Aug 2021 14 Sep 2021 29 Oct 2021 In Person View

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