Recent Sydney Morning Herald

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

Roy Lichtenstein’s In the Car (1963). Photograph: estate of Roy Lichtenstein

Pop to Popism

November 15, 2014

“Witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, big business…” all these terms were part of the definition of Pop Art put forward by British artist, Richard Hamilton, in 1957. The manifesto preceded the movement, as the term “Pop Art” wasn’t in general usage until the 1960s. There is no agreement about who invented the name or when the … More

Posted in: Sydney Morning Herald Column

'Transitions', 1975, oil and wax on canvas, 175 x 256.8 cm, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, purchased through the C. H. and C. E. Waddell Trust, 1975

Robert Jacks

November 8, 2014

It’s hard to be objective about Robert Jacks who passed away in August at the untimely age of 71. Jacks once told me he couldn’t say whether his paintings were any good or not, but he always knew how to put together a good exhibition. It’s pleasing that the National Gallery of Victoria have done … More

Posted in: Sydney Morning Herald Column

Jiang Jin, 'The Orphan Files', (2004)

White Rabbit: Commune

November 1, 2014

In the words of the Chinese philosopher, Mencius, “we survive in adversity and perish in ease and comfort.” This thought may be universally applicable but it is especially relevant to China today, as the horrors of the 20th century recede into the mists. It has been almost 40 years since the end of the Cultural … More

Posted in: Sydney Morning Herald Column

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From the 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

Posted in: Blog

Image courtesy Art Month Sydney

Philanthropy and art: why Australia’s wealthy don’t invest in culture

September 22, 2014

Last week found me at a function in Brisbane, discussing the state of philanthropy and patronage with art dealer, Philip Bacon – one of the few gallerists who can afford to be a philanthropist in his own right. The familiar talking point was: “Why do so few corporations and wealthy individuals sponsor the visual arts?” … More

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Giambattista Tiepolo
Italian 1696–1770, worked in Spain 1762–70
The Immaculate Conception (L’Immacolata Concezione) 1767–69
oil on canvas
281.0 x 155.0 cm 
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid (P00363)
Spanish Royal Collection

The Prado and the World

May 24, 2014

In 1982 I paid my first visit to the Museo del Prado in Madrid. Spain was still in the process of awakening from the Franco era, which ended with the dictator’s death in 1975, and its museums were poor and neglected. The Prado was a cold, austere place with a stupendous collection. In a single … More

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