Art Gallery of NSW

John Russell: Australia’s French Impressionist

August 10, 2018

If Australian art history were a jigsaw puzzle John Russell would be the piece that doesn’t quite fit. It’s now commonplace to talk of “Australian Impressionists” but Russell is the only artist who genuinely matches the description. Everybody else, from Streeton and Roberts to McCubbin and Fox, pursued a version of Impressionism that owed a … More


The Archibald Prize 2018

May 11, 2018

Well I got it completely wrong this year, although Vincent Namatjira got a “highly commended” as runner-up. Yvette Coppersmith’s Archibald Prize winner: Self-portrait after George Lambert wouldn’t have been in my top 20. After due consideration, it still wouldn’t be in my top 20. It seems to me like a stiff, mannered picture that bears … More


The Lady and the Unicorn

April 20, 2018

Towards the end of Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll stages a furious battle between a lion and a unicorn. The fight is based on an old nursery rhyme, which plays on the Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, in which the lion stands for England, the unicorn for Scotland. The lion and … More


Rembrandt & the Dutch Golden Age

December 2, 2017

“There is one work by Vermeer, the undoubted superstar, and six by Rembrandt, including two from the NGV’s permanent collection. Three portraits by Frans Hals give some indication of this artist’s remarkable flair and dash. After that, it is a pot-pourri of genres and tendencies…” No, I’m not writing about Rembrandt & the Dutch Golden … More


Salon des Refusés 2017

August 3, 2017

Every year I nurture a dim fantasy of a Salon des Refusés bristling with masterpieces rejected from the Archibald and Wynne Prizes by the Trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW. Every year I relinquish this thought almost as soon as I step into the S.H.Ervin Gallery. The Refusés was a great idea when it … More


The 2017 Archibald Prize

July 28, 2017

By the usual Archibald Prize standards 2017 is a low key year. There are plenty of neat, correct entries, a touch of quirkiness, a bit of thick impasto, but nothing to get the pulse racing with delight or indignation. Unless, perhaps, you’re a lunatic right-winger who starts to foam at the mouth at the merest … More


O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Making Modernism

July 7, 2017

There are exhibitions that sound marvellous in theory but somehow fail to measure up when they make it to the gallery walls. O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Making Modernism at the Art Gallery of NSW is an almost perfect example. As one of those projects that puts Australian artists on equal terms with a better known … More


Body

December 2, 2016

Published in the SMH Art Column, 20 September 1997 Last Saturday, after a second look at the Art Gallery of NSW’s exhibition, Body, I spent much of the evening immersed in the catalogue. Having reached my limits, I sat down in front of the box to watch Roy and HG, only to find that their … More


Nude

December 2, 2016

When Justin Paton, head of International Art at the Art Gallery of NSW says that Nude: Art From the Tate Collection is not a package show, surely he means: “Not just any package show”, or “Not merely a package show”. If the term doesn’t apply to an exhibition in which 122 works out of 126 … More


Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial 2016

September 10, 2016

In its first incarnation the Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial concentrated on landscape. For the second Biennial, subtitled Close to Home, curator Anne Ryan has come up with something much cooler, namely “narrative based on memory and experience”. This must be why nobody could tell me the theme of this year’s show when I asked. “It’s … More