Art Gallery of NSW

The Archibald Prize 2015

July 18, 2015
Winner: Archibald Prize 2015, Nigel Milsom, Judo house pt 6 (the white bird), oil on linen, 232 x 190 cm.

There was such a hullaballoo about the Packing Room Prize this year one might have thought that former Frenchman, Bruno Grasswill, had won both the Archibald and several versions of the Nobel Prize. In fact, he had won the kiss-of-death award, traditionally given to a picture of a good bloke or a good sort, as … More


Go East: The Gene & Brian Sherman Contemporary Art Collection

July 11, 2015
Zhang Huan, Family Tree, 2000, c-type prints, suite of 9 images, edition 2/3, 227 x 183 cm (framed). Image courtesy: The Gene and Brian Sherman Collection, and Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney. Photo: the artist.

Public galleries have always cultivated good relations with private collectors, but lately those ties have taken on a new importance. This is partly a result of governments wanting to palm off the responsibility for arts funding onto private sources. The logic is perfectly cynical: when spending cuts are required the arts are seen as a … More


William Delafield Cook (1936-2015)

May 15, 2015
William Delafield Cook, A haystack, 1978

In an article of 1979, Bryan Robertson, a curator who did much to advance the cause of Australian art in London, wrote that William Delafield Cook’s paintings seemed to have “no discernible ‘Australian’ qualities.” Yet Cook, who spent much of his career living and working in Britain, remained devoted to the Australian landscape, never showing … More


Colin Lanceley 1938-2015

March 7, 2015
Colin Lanceley, 'Songs of a summer night (Lynne's garden)' (1985)

Although he withdrew from the art scene suffering from declining health and a growing sense of disenchantment, Colin Lanceley’s work was one long chorus of joie-de-vivre. To look at his paintings from any period is to see an artist who believed, with Matisse, that art should be a celebration of life and beauty. In Lanceley’s … More


Colin Lanceley 1938-2015

February 7, 2015
Colin Lanceley (Australia, b.1938), 'Songs of a summer night (Lynne's garden)' (1985), oil, wood on canvas

Colin Lanceley was an artist of rare integrity who pursued his own ideals of beauty in an artworld that made a fetish of ugliness. He was a thinker, and a wonderfully articulate speaker who could address a large audience with the ease of a dinner party conversation. He was a dedicated advocate for causes such … More


Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial 2014

December 6, 2014
Gosia Wlodarczak at the AGNSW (2014)

One cannot travel very far in any discussion of drawing without coming across a famous statement from the great Neo-classicist, Jacques-Auguste-Dominique Ingres: “Drawing is the probity of art.” “Probity’ means both ‘correctness’ and ‘goodness’, but also ‘moral integrity’, which allows us to imagine Ingres was saying: “to thine own self be true.” This Shakespearean motto … More


Drawing

November 22, 2014
Ross Laurie, 'Walcha II', (2013).

French poet and essayist, Paul Valéry, said that drawing required “a sustained act of will” – but any child can pick up a pencil and draw with pleasure. The act of drawing, which keeps growing less definable, is both simple and hard. Simple because anyone can make a mark, hard because it requires unstinting practice … More


Pop to Popism

November 15, 2014
Roy Lichtenstein’s In the Car (1963). Photograph: estate of Roy Lichtenstein

“Witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, big business…” all these terms were part of the definition of Pop Art put forward by British artist, Richard Hamilton, in 1957. The manifesto preceded the movement, as the term “Pop Art” wasn’t in general usage until the 1960s. There is no agreement about who invented the name or when the … More


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


Theatre of Dreams, Theatre of Play

July 12, 2014
Details of Ko-omote mask, Edo period, 17th century

We’ve become accustomed to the idea that various species of animal are in danger of extinction and need to be preserved, but cultural forms are subject to analogous pressures. Commercial logic dictates that a species of theatre or performance will exist only when there is a paying audience. Many traditional forms owe their longevity to … More


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