Making HistoryThe Angry Penguins
Included with Museum Pass
From the time they settled at Heide in 1935, John and Sunday Reed welcomed experimental artists, writers, poets and musicians into their lives, establishing a pattern of mutual support and stimulation that continued across the decades. This exhibition celebrates the extraordinary years of the 1940s, when the Reeds were at the forefront of endeavours to establish a progressive national culture.
As champions of new and testing developments in art, they helped to launch the careers of Sidney Nolan, Joy Hester, Albert Tucker, Danila Vassilieff, John Perceval and Arthur Boyd—all now highly acclaimed figures in the canon of Australian art. Collectively these artists are known today as the Angry Penguins, after the fanciful title of the literary journal produced by the Reeds and the poet Max Harris when they were partners in the avant-garde publishing house, Reed & Harris, from 1943–46.
Displayed in Heide I, the long-term home of the Reeds, and drawn from the museum’s collection and archives, Making History: The Angry Penguins features iconic works created by the artists of the Heide circle during this watershed period, from Boyd’s and Tucker’s surrealist Melbourne street scenes to Nolan’s innovative responses to the rural landscape. These are presented alongside a range of Angry Penguins journals—including the notorious Ern Malley edition which set in train a controversial literary hoax—and other Reed & Harris publications, which together offer insight into a groundbreaking period of Australian modernism.
“Our perception of Australian art is based on these artists”