During the 1920s and 1930s Clarice Beckett surrendered to the sensory impressions of her everyday world with such intensity that the force of her painted observations created an entirely new visual language. The extreme economy of her painting tested her Australian audiences, and yet distinguished her as working at the avant-garde of international modernism. Drawn from national public and private collections, highlights include the artist’s famed ethereal images of commonplace motifs such as lone figures, waves, trams and cars.

Driven by spiritual impulses beyond worldly success, she was a visionary mystic that saw nature as all powerful. Through veils of natural light she captured the eternal in the temporal. Accordingly, the 130 paintings in The present moment will be thematically displayed around shifts in time that chart the chronology of one single day. The exhibition will take visitors on a sensory journey from the first breath of sunrise, through to the hush of sunset and finally a return into the enveloping mists of nightfall.

The Art Gallery of South Australia is renowned for collecting, displaying and publishing the work of modern Australian women artists. Clarice Beckett: The present moment showcases Alastair Hunter OAM’s recent support of the acquisition of 21 Clarice Beckett paintings and proudly announces the AGSA’s ongoing commitment to the promotion and celebration of the work of great Australian women artists.

Curator

Tracey Lock, Curator of Australian Paintings and Sculpture

Tickets

$20 adult, $17 concession, $15 AGSA member, $40 family (2 adults + 3 children), $12 student (13+), $10 child (5-12). Free entry for ages 0-4.
$50 members season pass - available to purchase in-Gallery only. Please present your members ID.

Guided Tours

Due to the overwhelming popularity of the exhibition from Saturday 8 May there will no longer be guided tours.

For schools

School Bookings K-12 $40 per class, $20 equity​​​. Guided and self-guided visits available.

Spotify playlist

Listen to our Clarice Beckett spotify playlist

Principal Donor
  • Neilson Foundation
In Association With
  • Adelaide Festival
Exhibition Partner
  • Yalumba
  • Jansz

Clarice Beckett, Australia, 1887 - 1935, Spring morning, c1925, Melbourne, oil on canvas on composition board, 56.0 x 49.5 cm (board); Ledger Gift, 1988 Benalla Art Gallery, Victoria.

Morning

Throughout her career Clarice Beckett was interested in the poetic possibilities of early morning.

Clarice Beckett, Australia, 1887 - 1935, Sandringham Beach, c1933, Sandringham, Melbourne, oil on canvas, 55.8 x 50.9 cm; Purchased 1971 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

Daylight - the Beach

Painting in the middle of the day presented Clarice with opportunities to record groups of people at work and play.

Clarice Beckett, Australia, 1887 - 1935, Morning shadows, c.1932, Beaumaris, Melbourne, oil on canvas board, 49.5 x 60.0 cm (sight); South Australian Government Grant 1980, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.

Daylight

Clarice Beckett demonstrates a technical prowess in her responses to the visibly changeable lighting and weather conditions presented during daylight hours.

Clarice Beckett, Australia, 1887 - 1935, Still life with fish, plate and bottle, c1919, Melbourne, oil on board, 39.0 x 33.0 cm; Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth, photo: Robert Frith.

The Kitchen

During her lifetime Clarice Beckett was denied the use of a dedicated painting studio.

Clarice Beckett, Australia, 1887 - 1935, Summer fields, 1926, Naringal, Victoria, oil on board, 24.5 x 34.5 cm; Gift of Alastair Hunter OAM and the late Tom Hunter in memory of Elizabeth through the Art Gallery of South Australia Foundation 2019, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.

Naringal

For six months in 1926, Clarice Beckett painted a body of work distant from her coastal home environment at Beaumaris.

Clarice Beckett, Australia, 1887 - 1935, Wet sand, Anglesea, 1929, Anglesea, Victoria, oil on board, 29.3 x 39.0 cm (sight); Gift of Alastair Hunter OAM and the late Tom Hunter in memory of Elizabeth through the Art Gallery of South Australia Foundation 2019, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.

The setting sun

In Wet sand, Anglesea, she turns her viewpoint to capture the visual splendour of the sunset glow against the ochre cliffs and its sparkle on the wet sand.

Clarice Beckett, Australia, 1887 - 1935, Evening, after Whistler, c.1931, Melbourne, oil on board, 29.0 x 33.5 cm; Gift of Alastair Hunter OAM and the late Tom Hunter in memory of Elizabeth through the Art Gallery of South Australia Foundation 2019, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.

Moonlight

Using the magnifying effects of the horizon’s dense atmosphere, Clarice Beckett’s sun and moon discs appear to loom large and luminous as the light refracts.

Clarice Beckett, Australia, 1887 - 1935, Motor lights, 1929, Melbourne, oil on board, 28.3 x 35.2 cm; Gift of Alastair Hunter OAM and the late Tom Hunter in memory of Elizabeth through the Art Gallery of South Australia Foundation 2019, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.

Motor lights

With great economy Beckett creates the sensory feeling of movement, sound and the chill of winter.

Clarice Beckett, Australia, 1887 - 1935, Lights, St Kilda, c1931, Melbourne, oil on canvas on board, 35.0 x 39.8 (image); Gift of Lady Drysdale 2001 Newcastle Art Gallery, New South Wales, photo: Tobias Spitzer.

Nocturnes

Clarice Beckett found beauty in the dark hours of night.

The Rescue

The majority of Beckett’s most experimental paintings, executed between 1930 and 1934, were burnt following her sudden death.

Special Events

Clarice Beckett, Australia, 1887 - 1935, Wet sand, Anglesea, 1929, Anglesea, Victoria, oil on board, 29.3 x 39.0 cm (sight); Gift of Alastair Hunter OAM and the late Tom Hunter in memory of Elizabeth through the Art Gallery of South Australia Foundation 2019, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.

Clarice Beckett, Australia, 1887 - 1935, Beach scene, c.1932, Beaumaris, Victoria, oil on canvas on board, 24.2 x 29.5 cm (sight); Gift of Douglas and Barbara Mullins 2003, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.

New members see it free

Receive a complimentary ticket when you join or renew your existing membership for (2 years or more). Conditions apply.

Clarice Beckett, Australia, 1887 - 1935, Beach scene, c1932-33, Melbourne, oil on canvas, 52.1 x 62.0 cm; CBUS Collection of Australian Art, as advised by Dr Joseph Brown AO OBE Latrobe Regional Gallery Collection, Victoria.

Education Resource

An introduction to the world of Clarice Beckett with over 60 making and responding suggestions linking to the themes of Beckett's work.

Clarice Beckett, Australia, 1887 - 1935, Beaumaris seascape, c1925, Beaumaris, Melbourne, oil on cardboard, 50.0 x 49.0 cm; Purchased 1971 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

A Suite of Soundscapes

Learn more about musician Simone Slattery's delicate scores created especially for the exhibition.

Photo: Nat Rogers.

Dine with Clarice

Indulge in a petit breakfast or high tea at Art Gallery Food + Wine