Arnold Shore in c.1940s. Photo : Castlemaine Art Museum
Arnold Shore in c.1940s. Photo : Castlemaine Art Museum

Arnold Joseph Victor Shore (5 May 1897, Windsor, – 22 May 1963, Melbourne) was an Australian painter, teacher and critic.


Shore was the youngest of seven children of John Shore, a coachsmith, and his wife Harriett Sarah, née McDonough.[1] He left Prahran West State School at age 12 and with the help of his brother was apprenticed at Brooks, Robinson & Co. Ltd, North Melbourne, designers and makers of stained glass. Soon, when his artistic talent was recognised, he became a designer and worked there for more than twenty years, supporting his widowed mother.

There he befriended fellow worker, the artist William Frater. Together they are acknowledged as among the first to experiment with modernism in Melbourne.[2][3]

In 1938 after his mother's death, Shore sold the family home in Windsor and moved to Mount Macedon, and painted in its surrounding landscape.[4]

After a long-term relationship with an older woman and mourning her death,[4] he married Agnes Vivien Scott in 1950 and they moved to suburban Hawthorn.


From 1912 Shore studied under Frederick McCubbin in evening classes at the Victorian National Gallery School until 1917, and that year joined the Victorian Artists' Society, which he quit the following year in accord with Max Meldrum, with whom he also trained.[1]


In the 1950s he was to return to the VAS, and was its president 1958–61. After Meldrum's school closed in 1923, Shore joined the Twenty Melbourne Painters exhibiting with them for many years. From 1924 he abandoned Meldrum's tonalism and though he never left Australia and knew them only from reproductions,[5] adopted Post-Impressionist and styles of contemporary European artists.[1][6] He exhibited, in a solo show at the Atheneum, one of the earliest displays of modern art in the city.[5] In 1932 he was a foundation member of the Contemporary Art Group, with A. E. Alsop, Rupert Bunny, George Bell, Ian Fairweather, William Frater, Daryl Lindsay, Ada May Plante, Evelyn Syme, C. S. Powers, Isobel Tweddle and Eric Thake, a forerunner of Melbourne's Contemporary Art Society. He joined the Group in three annual exhibitions, two in Melbourne and one in Sydney.[7] In 1937 his second solo show was at Macquarie Galleries in Sydney, a critical and commercial success. His work was purchased by Colonel Aubrey Gibson, whose collection was shown at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1969.[8][9]


With George Bell in 1932 he established the Bell-Shore School in an upstairs studio on the corner of Bourke and Queen Streets, Melbourne in which they taught modern painting, with Shore running it alone when Bell traveled overseas.[10] After Bell's return, disagreements caused them to separate. Shore became a foundation member of, and exhibited with, Robert Menzies' anti-modernist organisation, the Australian Academy of Art.[11] while Bell was vehemently opposed to its conservatism and set up the Contemporary Art Society in competition, to foster modernism.[12] In 1947 Shore moved to Sydney, but the following year he returned to Melbourne where he was employed as Guide Lecturer, introducing visitors to the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria until 1957.

Art critic

Shore was art critic on The Sun News-Pictorial, Melbourne replacing the regular critic, George Bell over 1934–35, on the Argus from 1949 to 1958,[1] and on The Age 1950 and 1957–63.[13] He was judge in 1950 for Geelong Art Gallery's annual competition for the McPhillimy prize for a painting in oils, an award he had himself won in 1938.[14] He wrote two books; a brief autobiography;[15] and a monograph on Tom Roberts, which was posthumously published in 1964 by Oxford University Press.[16][17]

Style and reception

Shore painted in a spontaneous post-impressionist style to depict the Australian bush, still-life, and some portraits. McCulloch[18] identifies a "freshness of colour, atmosphere and light and the lush texture of roughly laid on paint" as characteristic of his work, which featured prominently in the exhibition Classical Modernism: The George Bell Circle, at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1992. Patrick McCaughey identifies Shore as a pioneer of Australian modernism, and one of "the wave of post impressionists in the 'twenties and 'thirties," with William Frater, George Bell and Adrian Lawlor, who "rediscovered" the "impetus of the modern".[19][20] Robert Haysom in his monograph demonstrates the influence of Van Gogh on Shore.[4]


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  1. ^ a b c d Serle, Geoffrey (1988). Australian dictionary of biography. Volume 11, 1891-1939. Nes-Smi. Melbourne University Press: Carlton, Vic. ISBN 978-0-522-84380-4. OCLC 1078951280.
  2. ^ Rees, Ann (2010). "Mary Cecil Allen: Modernism and Modernity in Melbourne 1935-1960". Electronic Melbourne Art Journal (5). doi:10.38030/emaj.2010.5.1. ISSN 1835-6656.
  3. ^ Burdett, Basil (1936). "A Note on Arnold Shore". Art in Australia. 64: 63.
  4. ^ a b c Haysom, Rob; Shore, Arnold (2009). Arnold Shore: pioneer modernist. Melbourne: Macmillan Art Pub. ISBN 978-1-921394-24-9. OCLC 461291600.
  5. ^ a b Kerr, Joan; Mendelssohn, Joanna (2011). "Arnold Shore biography". Design and Art Australia Online. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  6. ^ Arnold, V.H.; Australian Bureau of Statistics Victorian Office (1964). "Victorian Year Book 1964". Victorian Year Book. OCLC 225240326.
  7. ^ Frater, William (16 July 1964). "Letters to the Editor : First group of modern art". The Age. p. 2.
  8. ^ McCaughey, Patrick (29 July 1969). "Art : For This Showing We Give Thanks". The Age. p. 2.
  9. ^ Stringer, John (1969). The Aubrey Gibson Collection, 28 July – 17 September 1969. National Gallery of Victoria. OCLC 221947884.
  10. ^ Eagle, Mary; Minchin, Jan (1981). The George Bell School: students, friends, influences. Melbourne; Sydney: Deutscher Art ; Resolution Press. ISBN 978-0-908180-05-9. OCLC 1057918431.
  11. ^ Australian Academy of Art First Exhibition, April 8th-29th, Sydney : Catalogue (1st ed.). Sydney: Australian Academy of Art. 1938. Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  12. ^ Helmer, June (1985). George Bell : the art of influence. Greenhouse Publications. OCLC 707445575.
  13. ^ HETHERINGTON, John Aikman (1964). Australian Painters. Forty profiles. Portrait drawings by Louis Kahan. [With illustrations. Angus & Robertson: London; North Clayton, Victoria, printed. pp. 67–72. OCLC 560122479.
  14. ^ "Art Competition Prize Winners". The Age. 5 October 1950. p. 2.
  15. ^ Shore, Arnold (1950). 40 years: seek and find. Melbourne: publisher not identified. OCLC 220392720.
  16. ^ Shore, Arnold (1964). Tom Roberts. Melbourne; New York: Oxford University Press. OCLC 894934650.
  17. ^ Bell, Alan (16 September 1964). "Latest paperbacks : The missing art class". The Age. p. 14.
  18. ^ McCulloch, Alan; McCulloch, Susan; McCulloch Childs, Emily (2006). The new McCulloch's encyclopedia of Australian art. Fitzroy, Vic.; Carlton, Vic.: Aus Art Editions ; in association with the Miegunyah Press. p. 882. ISBN 978-0-522-85317-9. OCLC 1135181250.
  19. ^ McCaughey, Patrick (10 July 1967). "After the art boom". The Age. p. 43.
  20. ^ McCaughey, Patrick (20 August 1966). "Art : Frater and Lawler". The Age. p. 61.
  21. ^ "ART OF ARNOLD SHORE". The Age. 7 August 1940. p. 5. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  22. ^ "NEWS IN BRIEF". The Age. 30 August 1940. p. 8. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  23. ^ "Art exhibition at Hawthorn". The Age. 2 December 1943. p. 4.
  24. ^ a b c d "Sudden Death of Leading Artist". The Age. 23 May 1963. p. 5.
  25. ^ Pendlebury, Scott (12 June 1963). "Letters to the Editor : Artist and art critic". The Age. p. 2.
  26. ^ Shore, Arnold (1935). "Gladioli explosion". National Gallery of Australia. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  27. ^ "Ravel's Bolero, 1931 by Arnold Shore". Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  28. ^ "Arnold Shore". AGSA - Online Collection. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  29. ^ "Arnold Shore". Art Gallery WA Collection Online. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  30. ^ Shore, Arnold. "13 Works". National Gallery of Victoria online collection.
  31. ^ Shore, Arnold (1937). "Banksias 1937". Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  32. ^ Shore, Arnold (1935). "Nude study". Castlemaine Art Museum Collection Online. Retrieved 11 March 2022.