Sydney Morning Herald Column

Lucian Freud 1922 – 2011

July 31, 2011

With the passing of Lucian Freud, British art has lost not only one of its great painters, but a legendary conversationalist. Perhaps it was a skill acquired while staring at people for hours in the studio, deciding whether or not to put a microscopic dab of paint on the end of a nose. Freud’s anecdotes, … More


Surrealism at GoMA

July 30, 2011

“This life is a hospital in which every patient is tormented by the yearning to move to another bed. – André Breton It’s probably been said many times, but Queensland is a highly appropriate setting for a Surrealism show. Not only does one meet the most surreal personalities north of the border, only a few … More


Margaret Olley 1923 – 2011: An Appreciation

July 25, 2011

“Hurry, hurry, last days!” Margaret Olley would cry when someone tried to involve her in another hopeful project. It usually involved Margaret making a donation of some sort, or simply gracing an event with her presence. At the end she found it easier to write a cheque rather than face a room full of people … More


Eugene von Guérard

July 23, 2011

In the entire history of Australian art, no painter has ever been through greater extremes of adulation and neglect than Eugene von Guérard (1811-1901). In the 1860s he was recognised as the finest landscapist in the colony, but by the 1870s his reputation was in decline. In the following century he was all but forgotten. … More


Tell Me Tell Me

July 22, 2011

This is an exhibition that generates a profound sympathy for those critics who had to review art in the 1970s. If the seventies was the decade fashion forgot, it was also a time that lost faith in art, seeing it as a specious commodity that had to be brought down from its pedestal and dragged … More


The Poetry of Drawing

July 15, 2011

Britain’s historic love of the written word has tended to overshadow all other cultural expressions. Shakespeare or Charles Dickens may be universally admired, but try to name a notable British composer for the period from the death of Henry Purcell in 1695, to the rise of Edward Elgar, (b. 1857). The visual arts have been … More


Unguided Tours

July 8, 2011

Having just returned from my own travels, I went straight to the Art Gallery of NSW to take another look at Unguided Tours: The Anne Landa Award for video & new media art. This is the fourth installment of this triennial exhibition, named in honour of the late Anne Landa, who was a lot more … More


Manet

June 30, 2011

Edouard Manet (1832-83) was the complete Parisian and Paris is the ideal place to see his work – and not only because so many of his greatest paintings are to be found in the Musée d’Orsay. A short stroll across the Pont Royal takes us to the Louvre, where Titian’s Fete Champetre (c.1509) provided a … More


Sculpture by the Sea, Denmark 2011

June 24, 2011

Spend a day walking around Copenhagen and it becomes apparent that the Danes are crazy about sculpture. The immaculate buildings of the ‘Golden Age’ (roughly 1800-50) are encrusted with heads, figures and other forms of sculptural decoration. There are statues galore, and the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek – one of the most elegant museums in Europe … More


54th Venice Biennale

June 17, 2011

Never has a more glamorous bag accompanied such a tawdry exhibition. A dazzling gold carry-all, advertising Hany Armanious’s installation in the Australian pavilion, was to be seen all over Venice during the vernissage of the 54th Biennale. The only more prominent bag may have been the bright red one with ‘Free Ai Weiwei’ emblazoned in … More