Arnold Shore, Forest Gums, Flowerdale 1959
Oil on composition board
Benalla Art Gallery Collection. Ledger Gift 1980
Born Melbourne 1897, died Melbourne 1963
Arnold Joseph Victor Shore (1897-1963), artist and critic, was born on 5 May 1897 at Windsor, Melbourne. At aged 12 he joined a Melbourne firm of glass merchants where he worked for more than twenty years, principally as a designer of stained glass. Also working at the same firm was the artist William Frater, who became a lifelong friend.
Shore attended the evening drawing class at the National Gallery school from 1912-17 where he was instructed by Frederick McCubbin. From 1917 Shore attended Max Meldrum’s classes and was strongly influenced by that artist’s tonal methods. From 1924 his work increasingly showed the influence of Post-Impressionist and contemporary European artists. During the 1920s Shore and Frater (and their associates Horace Brandt and Isabel Tweddle) were the only Melbourne artists to display these influences in their work, and Shore’s August 1929 one-man exhibition at the Athenaeum Gallery is argued to be the first modernist exhibition in Melbourne.
In 1932 Shore and George Bell opened the Bell-Shore school of painting, then the only Melbourne school purporting to teach modernist principles. Many painters who later achieved distinction passed through the school, but Bell’s influence on them was stronger than Shore’s. The partnership was dissolved in 1936.
During the 1930s Shore’s reputation grew and by 1940 he had won several important art prizes. The self-portrait awarded the 1938 Crouch prize now hangs in the Ballarat Art Gallery.
In 1938, Shore moved to Mount Macedon for eight years. From the flowerpieces on which he had concentrated, his interest now turned to landscape. At Macedon he developed a richly textural style of portraying the bush which formed the basis of his subsequent work.
In 1949 he became art critic for the Argus and painted very little from 1950 until 1957 when the Argus closed.
Shore has traditionally been seen as a pioneer modernist. His works from the Macedon period and from his last years are his most original, and have contributed directly to the development of a recognisably Australian view of the landscape.
He wrote an account of his life and philosophy of art, Forty Years Seek and Find (1957), a monograph on Tom Roberts and numerous newspaper articles. He is represented in the National Gallery of Australia and in all State and many regional gallery collections.
A monograph by Dr Rob Hayson titled Arnold Shore Pioneer Modernist was published by Macmillan in 2009.