Kiffy Rubbo: curating the 1970s

Scribe Publications

How one woman helped to shape the Australian art world

Kiffy Rubbo was a dynamic and unique force in Australian art in the 1970s. It was the time of ‘the personal is political’, of the Vietnam War and the draft, of Indigenous rights and feminism. It was under Kiffy Rubbo’s leadership — and at a time when the artistic community was increasingly seen as an alternative to the mainstream political rhetoric — that the George Paton Gallery, at the University of Melbourne, would become known as a vital, nationally recognised centre for contemporary art.

Through Kiffy’s visionary and progressive approach, the gallery was transformed into a hub for ideas and discussion, and art-political activism. It became the home for feminist enterprises such as the Women’s Art Movement and the Women’s Art Register, as well as fostering publications such as the Art Almanac and Arts Melbourne. Many major contemporary artists, such as Elizabeth Gower, Stelarc, Peter Tyndall, and Lyndal Jones, were early exhibitors there.

Featuring contributions by significant curators, artists, and critics, Kiffy Rubbo: curating the 1970s explores for the first time Rubbo’s enduring legacy — and the immense role that she played in nurturing Australian visual-art culture at such a crucial time in its history.


‘It is hard not to feel that the culture of the past 35 years has been the poorer without Kiffy Rubbo’s ongoing contribution. But this book testifies to what she gave in her time.’ The Saturday Age

‘A reminder of what an extraordinary time the seventies was … I was amazed by what she achieved.’ Readings Monthly

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About the author

Janine Burke is an author, art historian, curator, and novelist. She has published twenty books including Australian Gothic: A Life of Albert Tucker (2002), The Heart Garden: Sunday Reed and Heide (2004), The Gods of Freud: Sigmund Freud's Art Collection (2006), and Nest: The Art of Birds (2012). Janine won the 1986 Victorian Premier's Award for Fiction. She has been the recipient of residencies and grants including an Australia Council for the Arts Established Writers Grant (2014). Janine is Honorary Senior Fellow, Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne.

Helen Hughes is Research Curator at Monash University Museum of Art, Assistant Lecturer in Art History and Curatorial Practice, Monash University, and is a co-founder and co-editor of the contemporary art journal, Discipline.

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Additional Information

Scribe Publications
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Published on
Oct 31, 2016
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Art / Art & Politics
Art / Film & Video
Art / Museum Studies
Art / Sculpture & Installation
Art / Techniques / Drawing
Art / Techniques / Painting
Biography & Autobiography / Artists, Architects, Photographers
Biography & Autobiography / Cultural Heritage
Biography & Autobiography / Entertainment & Performing Arts
Biography & Autobiography / Historical
Biography & Autobiography / Literary
Biography & Autobiography / Social Activists
Biography & Autobiography / Women
History / Australia & New Zealand
History / General
History / Social History
Literary Collections / Letters
Performing Arts / Film / General
Political Science / Political Freedom
Social Science / Feminism & Feminist Theory
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