Blog

Bill Henson: Oneiroi

April 8, 2016
In one image, the model drinks from an ancient gold cup. Photo: Bill Henson

Bill Henson has good reason to reflect on the differences between ourselves and the ancient Greeks. In a culture in which sexual relationships between men and boys were accepted as a normal rite of passage, it would have been unthinkable to vilify an artist for merely portraying the nude bodies of teenagers. In his new … More


Biennale of Sydney: First Impressions

March 23, 2016
Lee Mingwei, Guernica in Sand, 2006/2015, mixed-media interactive installation; sand, wooden island, lighting, 1300 x 643 cm. Courtesy of JUT Museum Pre-Opening Office, Taipei. Photograph: Taipei Fine Arts Museum

If the previous Biennale of Sydney gave the impression that artists were selected almost at random, the latest incarnation of Australia’s premier international art exhibition sends out the contrary message. Director, Stephanie Rosenthal, has so many reasons for every part of this show that one is left reeling. The theme this year is The future … More


Kim McKay

March 11, 2016
The former entry reimagined, now hosting the Wild Planet exhibition. Photo Stuart Humphreys

Nobody seems to have told Kim McKay that the casting for the new Wonder Woman movie is over. In less than two years at the helm of the Australian Museum she has built a new entrance for $4 million, completely rehung the galleries devoted to natural history and indigenous Australia, dropped entrance charges for children, … More


El Anatsui non-lunch

February 4, 2016
Lunch with El Anatsui at the Old Clare Hotel

For an artist acclaimed as a ground-breaking pioneer for an entire continent, El Anatsui is amazingly laid-back. It may be because international fame and fortune didn’t arrive until 2004, when he was already 60 years old. It may be because he hails from a part of the world in which time is not always snapping … More


Tom Roberts: Bailed Up

January 14, 2016
Tom Roberts, 'Bailed Up' (1895, 1927)

Tom Robert’s Bailed Up has been described by historian, Patrick McCarthy, who has written a book on the painting, as “probably Australia’s best known work of art”. The chief competition for this imaginary title would be Roberts’s other popular masterpiece, Shearing the Rams (1890). Few would dispute Roberts’s status as the pre-eminent Australian painter of … More


The Greats

October 30, 2015
Joshua Reynolds, 'The Ladies Waldegrave' (1780-81)

Entering The Greats: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland, I felt like a thirsty man in the desert who had stumbled across an oasis. It’s been a very, very long time since the Art Gallery of NSW had an exhibition of such indisputable quality. It is not only the names that are well known, … More


Peter Godwin

September 12, 2015
Peter Godwin. Photography Stephen Oxenbury

It’s not what the artist does that counts, but what he is. Cézanne would never have interested me a bit if he had lived and thought like Jacques-Émile Blanche, even if the apple he painted had been ten times as beautiful. What forces our attention is Cézanne’s anxiety – that’s Cézanne’s lesson. ” Pablo Picasso … More


Alex Gibney Lunch

June 13, 2015
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief

Meeting Alex Gibney for High Tea is almost too civilised. This is the fearless documentary maker who gave us a devastating portrait of a rogue multinational – Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. Since that ground-breaking film of 2005 Gibney has directed more than twenty feature-length documentaries and worked on many smaller projects. He … More


Australian Pavilion

May 16, 2015
The new Australian pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

Venice has been thrilled by the idea of a new Australian pavilion in the Giardini, where Biennales have been held since 1893. There has been a lot of press and many photos, the favourite one showing the great black cube leaning out over the canal that bisects the exhibition area. One approaches the new building … More


William Delafield Cook (1936-2015)

May 15, 2015
William Delafield Cook, A haystack, 1978

In an article of 1979, Bryan Robertson, a curator who did much to advance the cause of Australian art in London, wrote that William Delafield Cook’s paintings seemed to have “no discernible ‘Australian’ qualities.” Yet Cook, who spent much of his career living and working in Britain, remained devoted to the Australian landscape, never showing … More