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POLES APART: The Blue Poles Controversy

Year: 2001

Classification: Exempt - Ronin Recommends: G

Runtime: 52 min

Produced In: Australia

Directed By: Judy Rymer

Produced By: Judy Rymer, Paul Warren, Robert Dein

Language: English Language

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Vimeo on demand

POLES APART places the acquisition by the Whitlam government of Jackson Pollock's 'Blue Poles' in all the turbulence of its social and political context.

The year was 1973. A reforming Labor government swept into power determined to change the direction of the country. In an act of unprecedented daring the Whitlam government paid the highest price ever for an American painting for its planned National Gallery. The painting was Jackson Pollock's "Blue Poles".

'Drunks did it' screamed the tabloid press. Journalists, politicians and cartoonists had a field day, while everybody, but everybody, across the nation had an opinion.

Today painter Jackson Pollock's masterpiece is unquestionably one of the most famous painting in Australia. It has become a symbol of our independence, signalling the departure from our British roots and entry into a brave new world.


"Should be compulsory viewing for under-35s to persuade them that Australians were once radical." - The Sun-Herald.

Principal credits:

Narrator – Robert Alexander
Directed by Judy Rymer
Produced by Judy Rymer, Robert Dein, Paul Warren
Written by Judy Rymer and Robert Dein
Cinematography by Paul Warren
Sound – Mark Blackwell
Editor – Dana Hughes
Music composer – Jan Preston
A Rymer Bayley Watson Production

Developed with the assistance of the Australian Film Commission
Produced in association with SBS Independent
Financed with the assistance of the Australian Film Finance Corporation

© Rymer Bayly Watson Pty Ltd, 2000