Sydney Morning Herald Column

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Gerhard Richter

November 10, 2017

For decades Gerhard Richter has been one of the world’s most successful living artists, with work in museums and leading private collections all over the planet. The current record price for one of his paintings stands at US$46 million. Now comes the the biggest test of a long and distinguished career: Can he make it … More


Tarnanthi 2017

November 2, 2017

Constitutional recognition for indigenous Australians is another one of those issues the government would prefer not to think about. Its proponents say it’s a matter of basic human rights but this term has been so weirdly politicised in recent years there are people who interpret a call for rights as opening the door to anarchy. … More


Sculpture by the Sea 2017

October 27, 2017

Sculpture by the Sea is 21 years old and everyone is invited to the party. From the moment the show opened last week the walk from Bondi to Tamarama was crowded with sightseers, school groups, and tourists speaking a confusion of languages worthy of the Tower of Babel. Cameras and mobile phones were clicking relentlessly. … More


Anri Sala: The Last Resort

October 20, 2017

Historians can never agree about the so-called “Age of Enlightenment”. The narrow definition has it beginning with the death of Louis XIV in 1715 and ending with the French Revolution in 1789. The long version begins somewhere in the late 1600s and fizzles out in 1815 with Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo. As the dates are … More


The House of Dior

October 13, 2017

Christian Dior was never one to boast about his achievements but he had very clear ideas about the importance of fashion. “I have always seen my profession as a kind of struggle against all that is depressing and mediocre in our age,” he once said. It’s a statement any couturier would be happy to own. … More


White Rabbit: Ritual Spirit

October 6, 2017

Last week I was in China meeting artists from each end of the contemporary art spectrum. In Suzhou I saw a breathtaking show of brush-and-ink painting by Li Huayi (b.1948) an artist who has divided his life between China and San Francisco. In Shanghai I visited Xu Zhen (b.1977), one of the most successful artists … More


Hilarie Mais

September 30, 2017

One could hardly imagine a greater contrast between exhibitions than the current offerings at the Museum of Contemporary Art. On level two viewers can sample the shapeless paintings of Jenny Watson, structured only by virtue of the artist’s whims. On the entrance level there is a single large gallery devoted to the work of Hilarie … More


Fred Williams in the You Yangs

September 21, 2017

Last year the Geelong Art Gallery held an exemplary survey of Arthur Streeton’s paintings made in Victoria’s Western Districts from 1920-32. The exhibition was a swansong for retiring director, Geoffrey Edwards. This year the gallery has marked the arrival of new director, Jason Smith, with a show of comparable importance: Fred Williams in the You … More


Sydney Contemporary 2017

September 15, 2017

It was both pleasing and wryly amusing to learn that sales at this year’s Sydney Contemporary Art Fair topped $16 million. For a commercial gallery sector feeling unloved and unvisited this figure represents a resounding endorsement. Nevertheless, before breaking out the champagne it’s worth putting that achievement into perspective with a glance at Day One … More


Jenny Watson

September 8, 2017

One imagines teachers at the Julian Ashton Art School sending their pupils across the road to the Museum of Contemporary Art, to see Jenny Watson: The Fabric of Fantasy. For the traditionally-minded it’s an object lesson in how not to make art. If there are any cynics among those students, they might say: “…nevertheless, it … More


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