General Art Essays

Robert Hughes, 1938 – 2012

August 19, 2012
Screen shot 2012-08-19 at 9.53.55 AM

When Robert Hughes died last week, I spent much of the day on the telephone. Inevitably, the passing of this great, controversial figure was a media event of the first order. Among the mass of small comments I had to produce, the Sydney Morning Herald asked for a quick 500 words. The following day the … More


Growing up with Goannas

June 23, 2012
Mark Tedeschi,  Corey Payne, NRL player for Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

A few months ago I advised a friend not to labour over her blog, but to write smaller, more spontaneous pieces and publish more frequently. Unfortunately, it seems I’m completely incapable of following my own good advice. The perennial gap between theory and practice – or should that be good intentions and reality? – has begun … More


Euan Macleod: The Shadow Line

May 22, 2012
Screen shot 2012-06-27 at 12.16.43 AM

Euan Macleod may be a landscape painter but it often seems as if the physical world is not his principle focus. Although he may stand for hours painting en plein air; although his pictures may reflect the recognisable features of a particular place, Macleod’s true subject is to be found within his own mind. The … More


The Clock, Marking Time

May 12, 2012
The Clock, 2010 single-channel video, 24 hours, photo by Christian Marclay

Switzerland gave us the cuckoo clock, and Swiss-American artist, Christian Marclay, has created the most preposterous time-piece in the history of art. The Clock is such a unique artifact it defies all but the most impressionistic responses. This is obvious from Zadie Smith’s essay in the brochure published for the work’s showing at the Museum … More


Last Days

March 16, 2012
Laith McGregor, Drunken Boat

“Hurry, hurry, last days!” Margaret Olley used to say, when she felt the pinch of old age. Her final show, completed in fairy tale fashion on the day she died, reveals an artist who knew she did not have much time left. The paintings in the exhibition, The Inner Sanctum, hosted by Philip Bacon in … More


Sunset over Cottesloe

March 13, 2012
Paul Caporn, dump, Cottesloe 2012

As half of the Sydney art world celebrated the launch of Art Month, and the other half clinked glasses at a valedictory show of Margaret Olley’s work, I was on Cottesloe Beach watching the sun set over the Indian Ocean. It was the eighth incarnation of Sculpture by the Sea in Western Australia, and I … More


Parallel Collisions: The 2012 Adelaide Biennial

March 10, 2012
Tim Silver, 'Untitled' (object), 2011-12.

“We love language,” confessed the curators of Parallel Collisions: the 12th Adelaide Biennial. This may not sound controversial – for the purposes of communication it’s very useful. It was only as I read through the boxed, brick-heavy catalogue for this exhibition that I began to feel Natasha Bullock and Alexie Glass-Kantor may love language not … More


Fred Sandback; Wim Delvoye; Abstract Canvas; Philip King

February 18, 2012
Wim Delvoye: Dump Truck (scale model 1:4,75), 2010 lasercut corten steel 200 × 47 × 69cm

Over the years Andrew Jensen has edged his way north, starting in Christchurch, moving to Wellington, on to Auckland, and last year crossing national lines and arriving in Sydney. What makes the Jensen Gallery unusual is that the exhibition program consists of 70-80 per cent international art – the kind of art we normally only … More


Matisse: Drawing Life

December 17, 2011
Henri Matisse, Henri Matisse gravant (Henri Matisse etching), Drypoint on wove paper, 1900–03

Henri Matisse was almost certainly the finest colourist in modern art but the bulk of his work contained no colour at all. Although the mention of his name conjures up thoughts of The Red Studio, The Joy of Life, or perhaps the kaleidoscopic Woman with a Hat, over the course of a long career Matisse … More


Picasso – In Living Colour

December 15, 2011
Pablo Picasso, Trois figures sous un arbre (Three figures under a tree) 1907–08

Pablo Picasso never travelled to Australia. He never even visited the United States, where his reputation as the leading artist of the twentieth century was set in stone. It’s a different story for those works Picasso loved best, which have recently been seen in Madrid, Helsinki, Moscow and St. Petersburg; before crossing the Atlantic, to … More


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