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Collins St., 5p.m.

One of the best-known images of a Melbourne city streetscape was painted in 1955-56 by John Brack. The picture has since become a cultural icon partly because it is seen to encapsulate a popular idea of Melbourne life in the 1950s as being dull, conservative and stiflingly conformist. Brack's bleak view of city office workers trudging joylessly along Collins Street at evening peak hour before commuting to the suburbs was informed by his reading of T.S. Eliot's poetry dealing with the theme of urban alienation. The artist skilfully presents a range of general types in the figures while retaining a specific sense of place in the background architecture.

Leigh Astbury

Engberg, Juliana, 'Collins Street, 5pm: John Brack's enduring cultural icon', Art and Australia, vol. 34, no. 4, 1997, pp. 513-17. Details