Arts Centre c1966–67
pen, pastels, and marker on paper
Dimensions (H x W x D)
26 x 37.5 cm
obverse: ART CENTRE
City of Melbourne Art and Heritage Collection
Born in Berlin, Ernest Marcuse (1900–85) studied at the Berlin School of Interior Design & Cabinetmaking and at the Reimann School before working as a freelance commercial artist, specialising in architectural, industrial and figurative drawing. With the rise of Nazism in 1933, Marcuse’s ability to work freely in Germany was curtailed due to his Jewish heritage, and he soon left for Britain, where he met his wife. He arrived in Australia as a refugee in October 1939, but unlike many refugees during wartime he was not interned. His artistic talent recognised, he was allowed to pursue employment, and within a month he was creating illustrations for ‘The Argus’, focusing on war themes and events. From 1942 to 1945 he was in the Australian Army at Bonegilla (Vic.) and at Woodside (SA), where he created artwork and layouts for officer training manuals, work for which he was much praised by his superiors. Following the war, until 1969, he was a freelance commercial and graphic artist.
Both during his career and after, Marcuse painted many landmark locations around Melbourne, including the construction of key projects such as the West Gate Bridge and the National Gallery of Victoria, shown here. Marcuse’s technical training is evident in his artistic iterations of such architectural projects, with perspective, volume and form carefully represented. Made around 1966–67, this drawing shows the building of the St Kilda Road venue of the gallery’s two exhibition buildings. The imposing bluestone modernist edifice was designed by Roy Grounds and opened in 1968.