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Art Gallery of NSW | John McDonald

Art Gallery of NSW

Richard Goodwin

March 8, 2014

If you have driven along the Gore Hill Freeway you have already experienced the art of Richard Goodwin. The abstract patterns incised on the concrete, sound-baffling walls are taken from designs by architect, Walter Burley Griffin; the transcriptions of Aboriginal rock carvings pay homage to the area’s first inhabitants. It’s a typical Goodwin project: scrupulous … More


Sol LeWitt

March 1, 2014

“Soulless Twit!” was the verdict from one local art identity, when I mentioned Sol LeWitt: Your mind is exactly at that line, at the Art Gallery of NSW. It’s a harsh call because LeWitt may not be the most expressive of artists but his precise, geometric work has that appeal we associate with anything so … More


Sculpture City

February 15, 2014

As proven by the annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibitions sculpture enjoys a widespread popularity, but this doesn’t translate into a thriving market. It remains much harder to sell a sculpture than a painting, as private buyers tend to view sculptures as large, cumbersome objects that have no place in the domestic environment. The pieces … More


2013: The Best & Worst of the Visual Arts

January 6, 2014

My best art experience of the year happened on the other side of the planet, in a retrospective celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Edvard Munch. The show, divided between the National Gallery and the Munch Museum in Olso, revealed an unrelenting intensity of vision. It featured the most complete collection of paintings … More


America: Painting a Nation

November 23, 2013

“Thus in the beginning,” wrote the philosopher, John Locke in 1689, “all the world was America.” He was referring to a primitive state of social organisation being rapidly improved by British colonialism. Nowadays Locke’s words seem just as true, but it is because America has colonised the rest of the world. For much of the … More


Renaissance to Goya

September 21, 2013

Illustrious artists such as Velásquez, Zurbarán, Ribera, Tiepolo and Goya are advertised on a sign at the entrance to Renaissance to Goya at the Art Gallery of NSW. Unfortunately they are hidden in a long roll call of names that will be largely unknown to the general public. Not many Australian art lovers are hanging … More


Sydney Moderns

July 20, 2013

When an artist calls a work A Painted Picture of the Universe it means he’s thinking big. It’s rather a grand title for a small abstraction, even if it did take Roy De Maistre 14 years to complete this cosmological fantasy. De Maistre (1894-1968) is one of the central figures in Sydney Moderns: Art for … More


Anne Landa Award 2013: The Space Between Us

June 29, 2013

There must be a name for the sense of anxiety generated by an exhibition of new media art. Neomediaphobia? It’s a bit cumbersome. Even if the syndrome has yet to be titled its effects are very real. Having just taken twenty people into an exhibition of Contemporary Norwegian Video Art in Oslo, I’m in a … More


The Archibald Prize 2013: A Review

March 23, 2013

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

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