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The blot on the landscape: Fred Williams and Australian art history

Keith Broadfoot
2014 Journal of Art Historiography  
A defining shift in Australian art historiography occurred with the publishing of Bernard Smith's 1980 Boyer Lecture series, The Spectre of Truganini. Seeing the exclusion of an Aboriginal presence in Australian art through the ideas of Freud, the history of Australian art, Smith proposed, was a history of repression. After Smith, Ian McLean has developed the most detailed account of the history of Australian art according to this methodology. This essay examines the work of the modern
more » ... the modern Australian artist Fred Williams in relation to both Smith and McLean's understanding of the history of Australian art but to expand on their work I argue that, rather than Freud alone, it is Lacan's refiguring of Freud that offers us the most insight into Williams's work. Further, insofar as I argue that the history of Australian art is the very subject matter of Williams's work, his work stands in for a wider project, the understanding of the history of Australian art according to Lacan's proposal of a foundational split between the eye and the gaze.
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