the moment for the acutalizationj of this history has always been forestalled or disavowed. The pioneering constructivists (Balson Crowley, Hinder) were at the time ignored ... the so-called father of Australiaan art history Bernard Smith argued in the first edition of Australian painting that a 'truly non-figurative constructive tradition cannot be said to hacve existed prior to 1965'. The well-known and much discussed 'The Field' exhibition was largely passed over at the time, and was soon to be superseded by the conceptual art and happenings of the 1970s and the pop-based and neo-expressionist styles of the 1980s.
Butler adds that even today a generation of museum curators abd critics remain largely unaware of the abstract tradition in Australia, preferring to see the work of the local practitioners in terms of more recent concerns or as deriving from overseas.
We do have the 1998 Geometric Painting in Australia 1941-1997 shown at the University Art Museum, University of Queensland, Brisbane. This exhibiton was premised on the curator's exclusion of paintings that derive their inspiration not from the medium of painting, but from something external to it. David Pestorious, the curator, limited the exhibition to paintings that were about the materials of painting itself---colour, shape, form--- and it was concerned to explore the internal development of these cut off from all outside influences.
It was an attempt by Australian modernists to define painting's own specificity by excluding all that was not proper to the medium. This is about flatness, purity and aesthetic autonomy.