Recent Sydney Morning Herald

Dolce and Gabbana, Spring-Summer 2007 from the collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. Photo: Jean Tholance - Les Arts Décoratifs

Fashion Icons

December 13, 2014

“We invent nothing,” said Christian Dior, the man who revolutionised fashion in the twentieth century, “we always start from something that has come before.” This refreshing admission seems an appropriate place to begin discussing the round of fashion shows dominating Australia’s art museums this summer. The essential exhibition is Fashion Icons: Masterpieces from the Collection … More

Posted in: Sydney Morning Herald Column

Gosia Wlodarczak at the AGNSW (2014)

Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial 2014

December 6, 2014

One cannot travel very far in any discussion of drawing without coming across a famous statement from the great Neo-classicist, Jacques-Auguste-Dominique Ingres: “Drawing is the probity of art.” “Probity’ means both ‘correctness’ and ‘goodness’, but also ‘moral integrity’, which allows us to imagine Ingres was saying: “to thine own self be true.” This Shakespearean motto … More

Posted in: Sydney Morning Herald Column

Matthew Barney's 'River of Fundament' (film still).

Matthew Barney

November 29, 2014

“If you read Ancient Evenings for the story,” wrote Harold Bloom, in an insightful review of Norman Mailer’s most notorious novel, “you will hang yourself.” Having ground my way through 150 pages of this flawed magnum opus I can see exactly what he means. Mailer spent ten years on a sprawling story of ancient Egypt … More

Posted in: Sydney Morning Herald Column

Chuck Close, Self Portrait, (2004).

Chuck Close

November 22, 2014

Chuck Close has always denied being a “photorealist”, even when he was making huge black-and-white heads rendered in painstaking detail. It’s a mark of our complacency as viewers that we tend to see anything rendered in a precise, recognisable manner as “realist.” Chuck Close: Prints, Process and Collaboration at the Museum of Contemporary Art is … More

Posted in: Sydney Morning Herald Column

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From the blog

Zhang Huan, 'Skin', (1997), performance.

Zhang Huan

December 20, 2014

Zhang Huan is one of today’s most acclaimed artists but he will always be known for a 1994 performance piece called 12 sq. metres, in which he sat naked, drenched in fish oil and honey, in a filthy public toilet in Beijing’s East Village artists community. Flies swarmed over the artist for an hour while … More

Posted in: Blog

Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler, River of Fundament, 2014, production still, photo

Matthew Barney

December 6, 2014

For a man who has masterminded some of the largest, most outrageous artistic events of all time, Matthew Barney is strangely unassuming. Trim, casually dressed, with pale blue eyes that give nothing away, he pauses to reflect before answering every question. His replies are precise and thoughtful, but never exhaustive. Raised in rural Idaho, Barney … More

Posted in: Blog

Ross Laurie, 'Walcha II', (2013).

Drawing

November 22, 2014

French poet and essayist, Paul Valéry, said that drawing required “a sustained act of will” – but any child can pick up a pencil and draw with pleasure. The act of drawing, which keeps growing less definable, is both simple and hard. Simple because anyone can make a mark, hard because it requires unstinting practice … More

Posted in: Blog

Acut-Misfortun

The Acute Misfortune of Adam Cullen

October 18, 2014

Adam Cullen’s brief but eventful career was one long exercise in attention-seeking behaviour. My habitual reaction to such antics is to ignore them – to refuse to provide the oxygen of commentary, criticism, indignation that feeds self-obsession. Now that it’s all over, and Erik Jensen has immortalised the artist in a small, tragic memoir titled … More

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