Summary

Bronze art medal titled 'World Co-operation I' by Melbourne sculptor Michael Meszaros, 1970. In 1969 Meszaros received a Churchill Fellowship to study medal art in Italy at La Scuola Dell 'Art Della Medaglia, attached to Rome's main mint.

His final assignment was a double-sided medal on 'World Co-operation', a theme that reflected contemporary interest in international political issues as the European Economic Community (Common Market) was preparing to expand into the European Union.

Upon his return to Melbourne he created two one-sided medals from the designs, both of which are in the Museum's collection. Their soft relief with gently defined edges is a product of the materials he used in Rome to produce the design; he would later develop a sharper, more precise style.

Physical Description

Bronze medal with obverse design of 8 naked figures in a circle with arms across each other's back.

Obverse Description

Group of naked figures standing in a circle with arms around each other's shoulders. Around right side, 'MICHAEL MESZAROS' [incised family symbol - abstracted unicorn bull looking backwards over its shoulder] 1970.

Reverse Description

Circle of outreached arms reach to centre and pour in grain. Text around outside edge.

Significance

This is one of 44 art medals in the Museum's collection by Michael Meszaros, dated from 1960 through to 1987, which chart the evolution of a new phase of the medal tradition in Australia. While Australian medals have previously largely been commissioned works associated with official commemorations or major awards, these are personal artworks. In addition to their aesthetic value, they document nearly two decades of Australian life from a personal and popular point of view, drawing on cultural trends, sporting and leisure, and emerging issues such as environmentalism. This is a modern development in Australia, but it harks back to the European tradition, developed in the Renaissance, of medals as artistic works.

For over half a century, sculptors Andor (1900-1973) and Michael (1945- ) Meszaros have created medals that reflect the high points of life in Australia. From major awards and portraits of eminent Australians to artwork celebrating popular culture and the natural world, these objects illuminate our culture and history. Grounded in a centuries-old European art tradition, the medals create connections across disciplines and link such diverse subjects as scientific advances, religious themes, sport, the performing arts and motherhood. Through their public and private commissions and their personal artworks, the Meszaros sculptors have defined the modern Australian medal.

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