International Art

18th Biennale of Sydney

July 7, 2012
Liu Zhuoquan: Where are you? (2012) MCA installation

“Between belief in Nature and belief in politics, one has to choose,” writes French sociologist, Bruno Latour, in the stand-out essay in this year’s Biennale catalogue. We have a perfect demonstration of this principle in the hysterical debate about a carbon price. While Nature is forever, politics is an exercise in short-term, strategic thinking that … More


Theatre of the World

June 30, 2012
Screen shot 2012-07-28 at 7.45.16 PM

For many people museums are uncomfortably similar to mausoleums – repositories of dead animals, dead art, dead ideas. Even those of us who spend their lives in these institutions experience moments when everything feels too dull or predictable. At heart, museums are educational organisations, competing for attention with an ever-increasing range of distractions. But the … More


AGNSW: A new hang

June 23, 2012
Screen shot 2012-07-06 at 6.06.32 PM

A new hang of a gallery’s permanent collection was once a routine affair, but nowadays it has taken on the status of an event. This is partly because the rising costs of doing exhibitions combined with the dwindling budgets of public galleries have forced all institutions to draw more heavily on the works they already … More


Not the Way Home, Damaged

June 16, 2012
Elisabeth Cummings Creek Bed Fowlers Gap 2011 oil on canvas 115 x 130cm

In recent years there has been a spate of projects in which a group of artists are taken to some far-flung location and invited to respond to a new environment. The end result is a group exhibition that gathers together works made on the spot, and those created afterwards in the studio from memories, sketches … More


Down the Rabbit Hole

June 9, 2012
Screen shot 2012-06-22 at 3.46.56 PM

Last year, according to The New York Times, 395 museums were built across China. As with most things in this vast, mysterious country, the statistics give only a superficial glimpse of the complexities involved. Firstly one might question the Chinese definition of “museum”, which may be a grandiose word for a lot of small-scale enterprises. … More


Masami Teraoka, Migration

June 2, 2012
Masami Teraoka: New Wave Series / Christine at Hanauma Bay 1992 watercolour on paper 56.5 x 75.0 cm

One of the strangest developments in the Sydney art scene is the sudden upsurge of galleries showing and selling high priced international art. This is surprising, given the fact that these are dismal times for retail and the art business is essentially retail with delusions of grandeur. There are only two explanations: either there are … More


The Second Mona Lisa

May 19, 2012
Conservators at the Museo del Prado in Madrid recently discovered that this copy of the Mona Lisa was painted by a pupil working alongside Leonardo da Vinci.

  Leonardo da Vinci died in 1519 but he is still one of the world’s great celebrities. The recent Leonardo retrospective at the National Gallery in London attracted the longest queues ever seen in Britain. Mention his name and reporters come running, as if the latest Hollywood starlet just flew into town. Add a reference … More


Modern Woman

April 21, 2012
Edgar Degas, France 1834–1917 Seated dancer leaning forward, massaging her left foot c.1881–83 Pastel, brown paper backed with cardboard 62 x 49cm

Rather like its subject, Modern Woman is one of those exhibitions that must be approached with no fixed expectations, for it has the capacity to instill both disappointment and delight. Any event that includes names such as Degas, Bonnard, Renoir, Manet, Pissarro, Millet, Rodin, Vuillard and Toulouse-Lautrec, would seem to have ‘blockbuster’ written all over … More


Thomas Demand, Gonkar Gyatso

April 14, 2012
Thomas Demand, Daily #7, 2008, Dye Transfer Print, 84.7 x 77.7cm (framed)

There have been 24 previous Kaldor Public Art Projects in Sydney, but never anything so cool and oblique as Thomas Demand’s The Dailies 2012. The work is not installed in a gallery, but in the Commercial Travellers’ Association Club, in the MLC Centre, just off Martin Place. The unconventional venue is an essential part of … More


New MCA

April 7, 2012
Exterior of the new MCA on Circular Quay

A new Museum of Contemporary Art has been a long time coming. This weekend the public can take a first look and see if the wait has been worthwhile. My own verdict, after an intensive preview, is that it is a qualified success. Some would argue we have been waiting ever since John Wardell Power’s … More