Daniel Thomas

Recent past: writing Australian art


Editors Hannah Fink and Steven Miller have worked closely with Daniel Thomas over a number of years to select the 73 writings which cover over sixty years and range from discussions of single works of art and artists to broader discussions on people, institutions, art forms and critics.


ISBN: 9781741741506 Category:


… over the course of half a century, Daniel has asked and answered the questions that no one else has thought of. Originality, curiosity, generosity and intellectual precision have always been at the heart of his work. Andrew Sayers, former director of the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra

No one knows more about Australian art than Daniel Thomas. Over the past sixty years, he has shaped Australian art history, championing women artists such as Grace Cossington Smith and extending the appreciation of art beyond museum walls to include performance and environmental art. Daniel’s exhibitions and purchases – as the first museum professional at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, inaugural curator of Australian art at the National Gallery in Canberra, and director of the Art Gallery of South Australia – have defined our national canon of art.

Covering the period from 1958 to 2020, Recent past: writing Australian art is the first anthology of Thomas’s writings and presents an overview of Australian art, at once authoritative and idiosyncratic, bringing alive both old and new art.

Daniel life’s work has been to make art more widely understood and enjoyed. Yet most of his writings have appeared in specialist publications which are often now difficult to source. This book celebrates Daniel’s contribution to Australian art and will introduce his writings to new generations of art enthusiasts.

Additional information

Weight 1886 g
Dimensions 22.3 x 29.4 cm
Publisher name Art Gallery of New South Wales
Publication date 1 December 2020
Number of pages
Format Hardback
Contributors Edited by Hannah Fink and Steven Miller, Foreword by Michael Brand, Text by Daniel Thomas
Dimensions 22.3 x 29.4 cm
Weight 1886 g


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Hannah Fink is former editor of Art and Australia and Art AsiaPacific magazines. Her most recent book is Bronwyn Oliver: strange things (Piper Press, 2017).

Steven Miller is chief librarian and archivist at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. He has published widely on art, his most recent books are Awakening: Four Lives in Art (Wakefield Press, 2015) with Eileen Chanin and Dogs in Australian art (Wakefield Press, 2013/revised edition 2016) and his book Degenerates and perverts: the 1939 Herald exhibition of French and British contemporary art with Eileen Chanin won the NSW Premier's Australian History Award in 2006.