Dorrit Black
The Bridge

Gallery 4

About this work of art

Audio description of the work of art

The Bridge by Australian artist Dorrit Black is a landscape format oil painting on canvas. Painted in 1930, it is 60 cm high and 81 cm wide.

The painting depicts the water, the bridge and the shoreline of Sydney Harbour in the late 1920s when the bridge was still under construction.

Created with minimal details in a cubist style, the artist has simplified the scene into geometric coloured shapes.

The bridge, in the upper third of the painting, is dark grey against a blue, white and grey coloured sky.

The two halves of the incomplete bridge, stretching out from opposite peninsulas of land are yet to meet, leaving an open gap against the sky in the upper centre of the painting.

In the upper left is the road and deck, the triangular-grid of reinforcing steel and the pylon of the left side of the bridge, depicted simply by a horizontal line, criss-crossed fine lines, and a trapezium. Atop the pylon is the half-constructed metal structure of a crane, finely painted criss-crossed lines.

The arch of the bridge is depicted by two thicker grey lines, slightly curved and almost parallel, from the right of the pylon and ending in the sky in the upper centre of the painting. Steel girders, a grid of finer painted lines criss-cross between them.

In the upper right of the painting, mirroring the shape and scale of the left side, the right side of the bridge is depicted as a horizontal rectangle that merges the road, deck, girders and pylon into its solid mass. The right arch faces, but does not meet, its companion on the other side, only its upper half is criss-crossed with gridded painted lines.

Across the lower third of the painting, buildings, sunlit vegetation and grassy hills form the closest shoreline.

In the lower left, round, verdant bushes cluster around a telegraph pole. In the lower centre, are two pink buildings with high triangular gables and brown rooves. One building has a white chimney, a green door and two narrow windows. The other building is lower down with only the roof in view.

Between the foreground vegetation and buildings, and the distant bridge, are the waters of the harbour. Curving lines divide the water into sail-like blue and green shapes, and wriggly horizontal lines signify ripples.

Peninsulas of land edge into the water. On the right a jetty and a low green hill. On the left a rounded green hill and a small pink rectangular boathouse, the location near the bridge where the construction of the Opera House would start in 1958.

A sailing ship, a brown and black hull, five parallel vertical masts but no sails, sits low in the water in the middle left of the painting.

The painting is signed at the lower left, ‘Dorrit Black’.