Art Gallery of NSW

The Mad Square

September 3, 2011
Rudolph Schlichter, Tingel tangel

It happens from time to time that I fail to distinguish a cabaret from a crematorium – Joseph Roth From its traumatic birth, at the end of World War One, the Weimar Republic was an unstable experiment. The historian, Eric Hobsbawm charts its rise and fall in an introductory essay for the catalogue of The … More

David Aspden

August 26, 2011
David Aspden untitled

Like Tom Roberts before him, David Aspden (1935-2005) was born in rural England and arrived in Australia around the age of fifteen. This is a time of life when the biggest part of one’s adult personality is already formed. Roberts, who grew up in the age of Empire, was never quite sure if he was … More

The last days of the Caponian empire

August 9, 2011
Locust Jones, News of the world

What a deathly year it has been for artists! In quick succession we have lost Cy Twombly, Lucian Freud, and now John Hoyland. The latter was especially disturbing, as I had just contributed a catalogue essay to his exhibition with Charles Nodrum in Melbourne. Logically there is nothing surprising about someone dying at a ripe … More

Edmund Capon & his legacy

August 3, 2011
Photo: Nick Moir, SMH

This won’t be the first or last time that someone declares Edmund Capon a hard act to follow. In his thirty-one years as director of the Art Gallery of NSW, Capon has taken a provincial, down-at-heel institution and turned it into a Grade-A showcase for Australian and international art. Yet he leaves at time when … More

The Poetry of Drawing

July 15, 2011
Edward Robert Hughes (1851-1914) ‘Oh, what’s that in the hollow, so pale, I quake to follow?’ ‘Oh, that’s a thin dead body, which waits the eternal term.’, 1893, Watercolour with gum and scratching-out on paper, Royal Watercolour Society

Britain’s historic love of the written word has tended to overshadow all other cultural expressions. Shakespeare or Charles Dickens may be universally admired, but try to name a notable British composer for the period from the death of Henry Purcell in 1695, to the rise of Edward Elgar, (b. 1857). The visual arts have been … More

A fine new space for a somewhat muddled collection

May 18, 2011
Photo: Edwina Pickles

First impressions of the new galleries devoted to the John Kaldor Family Collection are all good. This vast, clean, well-lighted space is an ideal environment for showing large works of contemporary art. 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

Photography & Place & An Edwardian Summer

April 2, 2011
Screen shot 2012-06-30 at 9.52.29 PM

In 1975 the International Museum of Photography in Rochester, New York, hosted the exhibition: New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape. It is still talked about as one of the most influential shows of the modern era, with an index of its significance being that second-hand copies of the original catalogue now change hands for … More

Justin O’Brien

January 22, 2011
Justin O'Brien, Nativity c1949–50, oil on canvas, laid on cardboard

Thinking of Justin O’Brien my memory flies back to a day in Rome when I was taking “Justin’s tour” with his old friend and fellow expatriate, Jeffrey Smart. As we approached the church of Sant’Agostino, which contains works by Caravaggio and Raphael, we were met with a blast of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue. A funeral … More

David to Cézanne

October 16, 2010
Screen shot 2012-01-02 at 5.37.06 PM

“It is often said that true collectors have somewhat deranged minds,” writes Louis-Antoine Prat, in a magisterial essay for the catalogue of David to Cézanne: Master Drawings from the Prat Collection. The 101 works on display at the Art Gallery of NSW form an impressive testament to the obsessions of the collector and a source … More