Sydney Morning Herald Column

Sydney Long

October 20, 2012

It’s difficult to get too worked up about Sydney Long (1871-1955). He was, at best, an intriguing minor painter known for a few striking images. He was also a curious personality. Like Oscar Wilde, he was almost certainly gay, but married – a not uncommon combination in Sydney, even today. He could be charming or … More


Go Figure! Contemporary Chinese Portraiture

October 13, 2012

There is a simple explanation as to why Chinese contemporary art is so relentlessly satirical: 27 years of ideological rectitude, including that final decade of Mao-induced madness known as the Cultural Revolution. From the time the Communist Party took over in 1949 there was nothing much to laugh about. The workers paradise had been achieved, … More


Ken Whisson: As If

October 6, 2012

Ken Whisson says he has always enjoyed being “outside of the awful mainstream”, but it may be that he is about to redefine what is mainstream and what is marginal. Ken Whisson: As If at the Museum of Contemporary Art, is the most fascinating retrospective since the National Gallery of Australia’s George Lambert survey of … More


Picasso to Warhol

September 29, 2012

Australia’s economy may be one of the most robust in the world, but our art markets, and attendances at public galleries, lag far behind Europe and the United States. It is a cultural problem: a general feeling that visual art is not an essential part of life, merely a sideline or a luxury. This is … More


White Rabbit – Double Take

September 22, 2012

Ever since Deng Xiaoping plunged China into the era of reforms in the late 1970s, with the legendary words: “To get rich is glorious”, the nation’s leaders have spent a great deal of time resolving – or ignoring – contradictions. Karl Marx himself would have had difficulty explaining the paradox of a communist country with … More


Bill Henson

September 15, 2012

No living Australian artist has a higher international profile than Bill Henson, but the esteem in which he is held overseas has not been matched at home. For a large part of the population his name conjures up the darkest, most terrifying associations. Ever since the furore of 2008, when Henson was accused of child … More


Atget

September 15, 2012

Eugène Atget (1857-1927) is often seen as a ‘primitive’ of the camera – photography’s equivalent to the Douanier Rousseau, but this is not a fair comparison. The Douanier was a simple soul, Atget was an equally lonely figure but also a sophisticated, skillful exponent of an art form still struggling for recognition. Although he never … More


David Boyd

September 8, 2012

If one had to nominate a director to make a movie about the Boyd family, it would be hard to go past Wes Anderson. After watching his new film, Moonrise Kingdom, I imagined what he might do with the eccentric childhood of David Boyd and his siblings at their Murrumbeena property, Open Country. One painting … More


Rollin Schlicht & Shaun Gladwell

September 1, 2012

Rollin Schlicht was a complex personality. Many people found him to be abrasive and self-centred, but he was also strikingly intelligent and could be charming if it suited him. Schlicht was born in 1936, and died of pancreatic cancer on 1 March, last year. He was by turns, both artist and architect. Torn between these … More


William Robinson, Aida Tomescu, Evelyn Kotai

August 25, 2012

Fred Williams used to say that if you can’t paint a portrait then your art is in trouble. He would have been surprised to see so many portraits included in his recent retrospective, as they were only ever a diversion from his landscape paintings. For an artist there is always the danger that one day … More