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Harold the Kangaroo

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.

A Preface: 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 … 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


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


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