Sydney Morning Herald Column

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John Russell: Australia’s French Impressionist

August 10, 2018

If Australian art history were a jigsaw puzzle John Russell would be the piece that doesn’t quite fit. It’s now commonplace to talk of “Australian Impressionists” but Russell is the only artist who genuinely matches the description. Everybody else, from Streeton and Roberts to McCubbin and Fox, pursued a version of Impressionism that owed a … More


The Journey of Time

August 2, 2018

When James Abbott McNeill Whistler defended himself in court by saying that a dashed-off oil sketch represented the knowledge he had “gained in the work of a lifetime” he gave every lazy artist an excuse to feel important, and unwittingly established battle lines between art and craft. Nowadays it’s broadly accepted that one may create … More


John Mawurndjul: I Am the Old and the New

July 27, 2018

This year’s best exhibition title is: John Mawurndjul: I Am the Old and the New. A landmark retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the show demonstrates the paradox of bark painting: as one of the oldest forms of artistic expression and something completely new. This was inconceivable to the organisers of the Cologne Art … More


MoMA at NGV

July 23, 2018

Museums have an historical mission to preserve a cultural legacy and bring it before the public. It’s a goal shared by all such insititutions, big or small, but there are huge disparities between the leading international museums and their aspirational counterparts. For the art of the 20th century the Museum of Modern Art in New … More


Riyoji Ikeda & Daniel Buren

July 13, 2018

Artists are forever striving to show us the world in a new light but not many can claim to be “probing the fundamental structure of the universe.” This is the domain of science and, more specifically, of CERN – the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, located on the border of France and Switzerland. In 2014-15, … More


RAW: Wedderburn

July 5, 2018

There is no fixed definition of an ‘artists’ colony’ although there are numerous examples spread across the globe. Some are run like businesses, others are no more than clusters of like-minded Bohemians. The prototype of the modern artists’ colony is probably Worpswede, 28 kms from Bremen in northern Germany, which has been a haven for … More


Salon des Refusés 2018

June 29, 2018

After the Trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW have plucked the choicest morsels from the Archibald and Wynne buffet, it’s left to the Salon des Refusés to clean up the leftovers. This time there was less to choose from, as the Incredible Expanding Archibald Prize had swelled to 59 finalists, removing many good options … More


Patricia Piccinini: Curious Affection

June 15, 2018

In 2016 Patricia Piccinini became the most popular contemporary artist in the world – or so the statistics say. A free admission show in Rio de Janeiro attracted 444,425 visitors, propelling her to the top of the Art Newspaper’s annual rankings. It may be a moment to fly the Australian flag, but such statistics tell … More


White Rabbit: The Sleeper Awakes

June 8, 2018

H.G.Wells published his novel, The Sleeper Awakes, in 1910. The Russian uprising of 1905 had been put down, and the Revolution of 1917 was but a rumble on the horizon. It’s the story of a sleeper who wakes 200 years into the future – in 2100 to be precise – to find a world ruled … More


The Blake Prize 2018

May 31, 2018

It’s been seven years since I last wrote about the Blake Prize, which seemed to have reached a point where it couldn’t get any worse. The good news is that it hasn’t gotten worse: it’s just as bad as it was seven years ago. When it was founded in 1951 the Blake Prize was intended … More


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