John Brack and the Allegorical Still Life

In May 1979, following the acquisition of one of his recent paintings by Monash University, John Brack penned a letter of thanks to the professor of Visual Arts. Brack admitted it was a puzzling canvas. Titled Crossing, the composition represents a company of scrivener’s ink pens (the “dipper” variety once common in offices and schools) and sharpened graphite pencils which are gathered on two steeply tilted table tops. The pencils and pens, which are standing upright, appear to be moving unassisted from one table to the other by crossing a thread stretched between the two like a tightrope. At a…

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