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Bernard Smith

1916 – 2011

Bernard Smith (born 1916) has been Australia's most important twentieth-century art historian and an influential cultural commentator. His book 'Place, Taste and Tradition' (1945) was one of the earliest general histories of Australian art. His subsequent publications include the highly acclaimed 'European Vision and the South Pacific' (1960), 'Australian Painting' (first published in 1962) and 'Imagining the Pacific' (1992). His critical writings and art historical commentaries span over fifty years, his most recent book being 'Modernism's History: A Study in Twentieth-Century Art and Ideas' (1998).

Smith played an important role in the short-lived Anitpodean group, writing the controversial manifesto that accompanied the exhibition in defence of figurative painting in 1959. He has been art critic for the 'Age' (1963-66), Reader in Fine Arts at the University of Melbourne (1964-66) and Professor of Contemporary Art and Director of the Power Institute of the Arts, University of Sydney (1967-77).

Updated 2018