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Janet Dawson

Coffee Table

Janet Dawson | Australia NSW/VIC b.1935 | Coffee table c.1964 | Laminex plastic sheet on composition board; metal legs | Base: 61 x 61 x 35.5cm (2.5cm square tubing); top: 122 (diam.) x 3cm | Acc. 2010.427 | Gift of James Mollison, AO, through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 2010. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program

Coffee Table C.1964

In late 1960 Janet Dawson returned to Australia from Europe. She developed a distinctive approach to abstraction, often working in acrylic paint and later on shaped composition boards. Dawson developed her ‘Living Art’ table top series in 1964, at the invitation of Laminex. Made by Steven Davis in Melbourne, the tables demonstrate her innovative thinking and the remarkable crossing of disciplinary boundaries enabled by the Gallery A scene in Sydney, where she worked. Both arresting abstract works and a critical commentary on the use value of abstraction, Dawson’s tables are singular in Australian art: they oscillate between design and art. Her use of Laminex’s strong flat colours echoes contemporary American abstraction, particularly Jasper Johns’s late 1950s ‘Target’ paintings and Frank Stella’s ‘Protractor series’ of the 1960s.