Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /clientdata/zeus-dynamic-1/j/o/johnmcdonald.net.au/www/index.php:1) in /clientdata/zeus-dynamic-1/j/o/johnmcdonald.net.au/www/wp-config.php on line 53
Sydney Morning Herald Column | John McDonald

Sydney Morning Herald Column

<>20  30  40  

Archibald Prize 2016

July 15, 2016

For a severe case of cultural vertigo try spending three weeks in the museums of Europe gazing at portraits by Rembrandt, Rubens and Beckmann, before hurrying back to Sydney for… the Archibald Prize! If travel broadens the mind it’s a positive disadvantage when it comes to appreciating the charms of this great Australian institution. Faced … More


Sally Gabori

July 8, 2016

Indigenous art is never purely “abstract” but it comes mighty close in the works of Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori (c.1924-2015), the subject of a eye-opening retrospective at the Queensland Art Gallery. Gabori’s paintings may refer to Bentick Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria, where she lived until the age of 24, but to call her … More


Telling Tales

July 1, 2016

At the 1986 Adelaide Festival I attended a couple of evenings with American actor, Spalding Gray, who sat on a bare stage and delivered monologues. It sounds like a recipe for boredom but Gray’s performances were spell-binding – a revelation as to the power of simple, unadulterated story-telling. In tribal cultures the role of story-telling … More


Cindy Sherman

June 23, 2016

Some leading artists come across as would-be pop stars or super salesmen. There are those like Marina Abramovic, who are charm personified; others, such as Matthew Barney, immersed in their work to the point of distraction. Cindy Sherman is a study in normality. Small of stature, still fresh-faced at 62, put her in a group … More


The David Roche Foundation

June 17, 2016

David Roche (1930-2013) led an enviable life. Supported by the wealth of a property development firm started by his father, for most of his 83 years he never had to work at all. Instead he could but devote himself to two passions: collecting art and antiques, and breeding pedigree dogs. With the opening of the … More


Tang

June 10, 2016

Mention the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE) and I think of Robert Van Gulik’s character, Judge Dee – the Sherlock Holmes of ancient China. Di Renjie (c.630-c.700) was a real magistrate of the Tang period but became the fictionalised hero of a series of detective stories set in those times. The inspiration came from a story … More


Whistler’s Mother

June 3, 2016

In the recent Head On photo festival, one memorable picture showed a side-on view of a dominatrix in a shiny black jump suit sitting in a curved chair. On the grey wall behind the sitter was a framed photo of a muscle-man’s torso covered in leather straps. It was Whistler’s Mother for bondage fiends and … More


Arthur Streeton & Kevin Lincoln

May 27, 2016

“If we so choose we can yet be the elect of the world, the last of the pastoralists, the thoroughbred Aryans in all their nobility.” These words were penned by J.S.MacDonald in the special Arthur Streeton Number of Art in Australia, October 1931. At the time MacDonald was director of the National Art Gallery of New … More


White Rabbit: Heavy Artillery & Cang Xin

May 20, 2016

There has never been a centralised, authoritarian form of government that encourages diversity. This is why alarm bells should start ringing when our own leaders want to keep centralising power – amalgamating local councils under the leadership of unelected administrators; putting a town’s art gallery, museum and theatre under the jurisdiction of a single “cultural … More


Jan Senbergs

May 12, 2016

There is one painting in Jan Senbergs: Observation – Imagination at the National Gallery of Victoria that should strike a chord with every true artist. The Swimmer (1995) shows a small figure battling his way through dark, choppy waves, with no shoreline in sight. It conjures up those moments in the studio when inspiration disappears, … More


<>20  30  40