Archibald Prize

Archibald Prize 2014

July 19, 2014
Fiona Lowry, 'Penelope Seidler', acrylic on canvas,
225 x 185 cm

Imagine if the Archibald Prize banned all portraits that relied on photographs. The number of entries would drop from 884 to something less than 100, while the exhibition would be dominated by amateurs and unknown artists. Even the subjects would be strangers to most viewers because it’s unlikely that anyone mildly famous could spare the … More


Salon de Refusés 2013 & Jenny Sages

April 20, 2013
Jenny Sages, Irina Baranova (handing on the baton), 2007, oil and encaustic on board

This year’s Archibald Prize was one of the most even contests in decades, but also one of the least memorable. There have been pictures in previous competitions that would have romped home in this year’s field, but the luck and timing was with Del Kathryn Barton, not with the ghosts of Archibalds past. If there … More


The Archibald Prize 2013: A Review

March 23, 2013
Alexander McKenzie, Toni Collette, oil on linen, 244 x 197 cm

This column comes from Japan, where like a character in a horror story pursued by an implacable nemesis, I’m writing about… the Archibald Prize! This venerable portrait competition is an Australian institution that is simply incomprehensible to the rest of the world. To outsiders the popularity of the prize, and of portraiture in general, is … More


The Archibald Prize 2013: A Comment

March 22, 2013
Del Kathryn Barton, hugo, watercolour, gouache and acrylic on canvas, 200 x 180 cm

This year’s Archibald throws up one nagging question: “What’s that animal Hugo Weaving is holding?” Perhaps it’s something the special effects crew from the Matrix movies dreamt up. According to the news reports, Del Kathryn Barton, says the indefinable creature “demonstrates facets of the actor’s personality” – an explanation that raises more questions than it … More


Archibald Prize 2012

March 31, 2012
Martin Sharp, The thousand dollar bill, acrylic on canvas on plywood,183 x 153cm

At that dreaded time of year when the Archibald Prize rolls around, the Trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW strap on their armour and prepare to be criticised, condemned, lampooned and humiliated. Admittedly they often bring this fate on themselves by their choice of a show or a winner. The only difference this time … More


Margaret Olley 1923 – 2011: An Appreciation

July 25, 2011
margaret-olley-archibald

“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


The 2011 Archibald Prize

April 16, 2011
Ben Quilty, Margaret Olley, oil on linen, 170 x 150cm

It’s appropriate the Archibald Prize should coincide with Easter, because the Trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW have repented of their sins of last year and asked to be forgiven. Not in so many words, of course. They have simply chosen a better, more credible exhibition and tried to put the horrors of 2010 … More


Wilderness

April 17, 2010
sDel Kathryn Barton, Come of Things, synthetic polymer paint, gouache, watercolour and pen on polyester canvas, 2010

Looking at Wilderness, a new survey of contemporary painting, at the Art Gallery of NSW, I had the familiar suspicion that the artists had been chosen before the title. The procedure goes something like this: 1. Select a group of artists who seem to be cool enough to appeal to your peer group. 2. Think … More


Salon des Refuses, Wynne & Sulman Prize

April 3, 2010
Sam Leach, Proposal for Landscape Cosmos, oil on canvas, 2010

Nothing could make this year’s Archibald Prize exhibition look good, although the Salon des Refusés at the S.H.Ervin Gallery makes it more understandable. After examining those works rejected from the official hang one may feel a twinge of sympathy for the Trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW who had to work their way through … More


Archibald Prize 2010

March 27, 2010
Adam Chang, Two eyes - closing to open, oil on canvas, 200 x 350cm

No form of human activity nowadays comes without the possibility of therapy. Tiger Woods had to call in the specialists over his sex addiction, Michael Clarke has seen a psychologist to get his mind off his personal problems and back onto cricket. When Kevin Rudd apologised to the stolen generation, counselling services were reputedly made … More


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