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Body

December 2, 2016
Hans Bellmer, La demie poupée 1971, wood, paint and assemblage, Doll: 90.0 cm (height).
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney Purchased 1996 89.1996 
© Hans Bellmer. Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia.

Published in the SMH Art Column, 20 September 1997 Last Saturday, after a second look at the Art Gallery of NSW’s exhibition, Body, I spent much of the evening immersed in the catalogue. Having reached my limits, I sat down in front of the box to watch Roy and HG, only to find that their … More


David Hockney

November 24, 2016
Installation view of David Hockney: Current at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.© David Hockney Inc.

David Hockney is crazy about those tiny drawings Vincent Van Gogh would include in letters to his brother, Theo. “These days he’d be sending them on his iPhone,” says Hockney, who has emailed thousands of iPhone drawings to friends around the world. His romance with the iPhone continued until the iPad came along. In a … More


Vincent Van Gogh: The Lost Arles Sketchbook

November 18, 2016
BW 47 Field of Sunflowers August-September 1889, Saint-Remy from Vincent van Gogh: The Lost Arles Sketchbook by Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov.  © éditions du Seuil

Most people have dreamt of finding a valuable work of art in a junk shop or an attic, but the fantasies of art historians are much more modest. For Ronald Pickvance, who organised two legendary Van Gogh exhibitions for New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1984 and 1986, it was a career highlight to … More


LOUISE HEARMAN: AGAINST THE GRAIN

October 14, 2016
Untitled #1118, 2005, oil on composition board, Museum of Contemporary Art, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Michael Hawker, 2009

I think I surrendered obediently to the secret laws which led me to form, as best as I could, and following my dream, the things into which I have put my entire being.[1] Odilon Redon, To Myself Like Des Esseintes, the antihero of Huysmans’s cult novel of 1884, Against the Grain (À rebours), Louise Hearman … More


ARTHUR McDONALD 1933 – 2016: A Eulogy

September 16, 2016
Dad in his Prime c. 1963

Much of my childhood led me to believe that fathers came in two major categories: introverts and extroverts. In the afternoon on the way home from high school, I’d often stop at a friend’s house. His father – big, burly, taciturn – would invariably be sitting in front of the TV with a can of … More


Harold the Kangaroo: A Preface

August 19, 2016
Harold Thornton in front of The Bulldog coffeeshop in Amsterdam. He painted the whole facade of the building, depicting the adventures of the owner’s Bulldog. The painted facade can still be seen today.

Lord Byron gave the name ‘Harold’ a Romantic association in his famous poem, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1818), and Australian art had a true Romantic hero in Harold ‘The Kangaroo’ Thornton. Like many heroic figures Harold was largely unappreciated in his own country, although he became a Bohemian celebrity in Amsterdam. This book is an important … More


David Hockney

August 4, 2016
David Hockney
English 1937–
Barry Humphries, 26-28 March 2015
synthetic polymer paint on canvas
121.9 x 91.4 cm (each)
Selection of approximately 80 portraits, subject selection to be confirmed
Hockney Pictures
© David Hockney

“Los Angeles is an acquired taste,” says David Hockney, although he admits he fell for the city on his very first visit in 1964. After growing up in Yorkshire, Hockney was excited by the “eroticism” of L.A. It was like nothing he’d seen or imagined. To a young, gay artist from Britain’s gloomy north it … More


Jenny Sages

July 28, 2016
Jenny Sages, Totems - group shot, encaustic, pigment & oil on board @King Street Gallery

“As artists we’re not nearly as interesting as writers,” Jenny Sages once confessed. “We’re all just finger painting, but when someone gives me a sentence I can remember, it triggers something very strong inside me.” In one of her new works Sages quotes a poem by Anna Akhmatova, the words picked out in tiny perforations … More


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