In their new book, UnAustralian Art: Ten Essays on Transnational Art History, Rex Butler and A.D.S. Donaldson radically rethink Australian art history. Instead of isolating some distinctive national sensibility, they show that Australian artists have always been engaged in exchanges with the rest of the world—that Australian art has long been porous and globalist.
Examining Australian art history from the outside in, they open it to a multitude of previously excluded stories. As Helen Hughes explains: ‘There is a political point at stake here. Reclaiming the term “unAustralian” from the conservative former prime minister John Howard, who popularised it as a pejorative in the 1990s, Butler and Donaldson seek to open, not seal, Australia’s highly politicised borders’.
For the Brisbane launch of UnAustralian Art, Butler will deliver his and Donaldson’s new paper on gay Australasian artists in Britain before and after World War II. UnAustralian Art is published by Power Publications, Sydney.
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Dr Rex Butler is an art historian, writer and professor (Art History & Theory). His research interests include Australian art and art criticism, Post-War American art and Critical Theory. He has recently completed a book, UnAustralian Art, with ADS Donaldson, to be published by Power Publishing, University of Sydney, and another, Stanley Cavell and the Arts, for Bloomsbury Publishing, London. He is currently editing two collections, one on the Japanese fashion designer Rei Kawakubo and another on the documentary film-maker Joshua Oppenheimer.
He is the author or editor of eleven books, including What is Appropriation? (1996), Jean Baudrillard: The Defence of the Real (1999), A Secret History of Australian Art (2002), Slavoj Zizek: Live Theory (2005), Radical Revisionism(2005), Borges’ Short Stories: A Reader’s Guide (2010) and Deleuze and Guattari’s What is Philosophy?: A Reader’s Guide (2015).