Art Gallery of NSW

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


Bill Brown

May 3, 2014
Bill Brown, 'Canard' (2010), acrylic on canvas, 92 X 97cm. Photography: Mikaela Burstow

Many years ago, when I was still a baby art critic, I remember Bill Brown at a party bawling drunkenly that he was the best painter in Australia. Having never seen his work I was in no position to argue. Shortly afterwards, Brown had a solo exhibition at the old Macquarie Galleries. If he was … More


Afghanistan

April 26, 2014
Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul Ribbed bowl

“After Akcha,” wrote Robert Byron, in his legendary travel book, The Road to Oxiana (1937) “the colour of the landscape changed from lead to aluminium, pallid and deathly, as if the sun had been sucking away at its gaiety for thousands and thousands of years; for this was now the plain of Balkh, and Balkh … More


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