Blog

Philanthropy and art: why Australia’s wealthy don’t invest in culture

September 22, 2014
Image courtesy Art Month Sydney

Last week found me at a function in Brisbane, discussing the state of philanthropy and patronage with art dealer, Philip Bacon – one of the few gallerists who can afford to be a philanthropist in his own right. The familiar talking point was: “Why do so few corporations and wealthy individuals sponsor the visual arts?” … More


The Prado and the World

May 24, 2014
Giambattista Tiepolo
Italian 1696–1770, worked in Spain 1762–70
The Immaculate Conception (L’Immacolata Concezione) 1767–69
oil on canvas
281.0 x 155.0 cm 
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid (P00363)
Spanish Royal Collection

In 1982 I paid my first visit to the Museo del Prado in Madrid. Spain was still in the process of awakening from the Franco era, which ended with the dictator’s death in 1975, and its museums were poor and neglected. The Prado was a cold, austere place with a stupendous collection. In a single … More


Fukushima: Art & Disaster

March 15, 2014
Tokyo-based artist Kota Takeuchi.

Disaster haunts the Japanese psyche. Think of the great fires that have swept up Tokyo, or the major earthquakes that have struck the country at unpredictable intervals. Think of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and all the ways that nuclear energy has been portrayed in popular culture. This ranges from Tezuka Osamu’s popular cartoon hero, The Mighty … More


The Sins of the Director

February 22, 2014
'Blue Jasmine' star Cate Blanchett with the film's director Woody Allen.

At this year’s Academy Awards presentation all the talk will be about Our Cate. Will her chances of taking out the Oscar for Best Actress be damaged by that open letter to the New York Times in which Dylan Farrow claimed to have been molested at age seven by her stepfather, Woody Allen? “What if … More


Esteban Bedoya

January 11, 2014
ANCLAS & the Embassy of Paraguay present the book launch of:
“The Apocalypse According to Benedict”

A couple of weeks ago I met the Paraguayan ambassador to Australia, Esteban Bedoya, after having read his short novel, The Apocalypse Acording to Benedict. It seems to be a minor Latin America tradition to have diplomats who are also writers. Octavio Paz was Mexican ambassador to India, while Pablo Neruda was Chile’s ambassador in … More


2013: The Best & Worst of the Visual Arts

January 6, 2014
Installation piece: Xu Zhen's In Just a Blink of an Eye, in the 27th Kaldor Art Project 13 Rooms. Photo: Janie Barrett

My best art experience of the year happened on the other side of the planet, in a retrospective celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Edvard Munch. The show, divided between the National Gallery and the Munch Museum in Olso, revealed an unrelenting intensity of vision. It featured the most complete collection of paintings … More


Martin Sharp 1942-2013

December 5, 2013
Artist Martin Sharp at his Bellevue Hill home. Picture: Bob Barker. Source: News Limited

When the word Eternity was emblazoned on the Sydney Harbour Bridge for the turn of the new millennium, it served to remind Australians of the remarkable talents of Martin Sharp. This famous piece of graffiti was the trademark of the religious eccentric, Arthur Stace, who spent almost 30 years chalking it onto walls and streets, … More


Fiona Hall for Venice

December 5, 2013
Fiona Hall, A selection of intricate sculptures carved from sardine cans, Royal Academy, London

For more than 20 years Fiona Hall has been the obvious, dead-set, undeniable first choice to represent Australia at the Venice Biennale. It is a testimony to the acumen of our arts bureaucracy that in 2015 she will become the first artist to occupy a newly-built pavilion. Any other country might have rushed her into … More


The Art of Mining

November 29, 2013
COPE, the charitable agency that distributes prosthetic limbs to bomb victims.

Most of my travels are art-related – on the track of another Biennale or a major retrospective. Last month I undertook a very different trip, visiting Laos as a guest of the mining company, PanAust. There was an ostensible art excuse: PanAust had sponsored an artist’s residency for Peter Churcher, who came back with a … More


Bigger is Better

November 8, 2013
David Hockney, Yosemite I, October 16th 2011. iPad Drawing printed on six sheets of paper (71 3/4 x 42 3/4 inches each), mounted on six sheets of Dibond, 143 1/2 x 128 1/4 inches overall. © 2013 David Hockney

David Hockney broke all previous attendance records at the Royal Academy of Arts last year, with his show A Bigger Picture. The RA tells us that 650,000 people crowded through those galleries to see a show largely devoted to landscapes of Yorkshire, the artist’s birthplace. It sounds hard to believe, until one sees David Hockney: A Bigger … More


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