Australian art

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John Mawurndjul: I Am the Old and the New

July 27, 2018

This year’s best exhibition title is: John Mawurndjul: I Am the Old and the New. A landmark retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the show demonstrates the paradox of bark painting: as one of the oldest forms of artistic expression and something completely new. This was inconceivable to the organisers of the Cologne Art … More


RAW: Wedderburn

July 5, 2018

There is no fixed definition of an ‘artists’ colony’ although there are numerous examples spread across the globe. Some are run like businesses, others are no more than clusters of like-minded Bohemians. The prototype of the modern artists’ colony is probably Worpswede, 28 kms from Bremen in northern Germany, which has been a haven for … More


John Mawurndjul: Bark Maestro

June 22, 2018

Here’s an art trivia question: “Who was the first Australian artist to be given a retrospective at two major European museums?” Answer: John Mawurndjul of western Arnhem Land, who in 2005-06 had his work shown at the Museum Tinguely in Basel, and the Sprengel Museum in Hannover. If you don’t remember seeing the exhibition when … More


Patricia Piccinini: Curious Affection

June 15, 2018

In 2016 Patricia Piccinini became the most popular contemporary artist in the world – or so the statistics say. A free admission show in Rio de Janeiro attracted 444,425 visitors, propelling her to the top of the Art Newspaper’s annual rankings. It may be a moment to fly the Australian flag, but such statistics tell … More


The Field Revisited

May 25, 2018

No exhibition of Australian art has been more mythologised than The Field. Indeed, its only historical competition might be the 9 by 5 Impression exhibition of 1889, in which artists such as Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton scandalised Melbourne by calling themselves “Impressionists”. The Field proved equally controversial when it launched the new St.Kilda Road … 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


Colony

May 4, 2018

If I seem to be constantly writing in praise of the National Gallery of Victoria this isn’t because the grass is always greener interstate. It’s because the NGV has been attending so well to the fundamental business of what a gallery should be doing. Arguably the most important task is to provide a vibrant program … More


The 2018 Adelaide Biennial: Divided Worlds

March 9, 2018

It’s a time-honoured tradition that large museum surveys of contemporary art should have titles so vague and all-encompassing as to be effectively meaningless. Yet it may be that with Divided Worlds, Erica Green, the curator of the 2018 Adelaide Biennial, has found a title that actually feels relevant. Two decades into the 21st century the … More


Harrie Fasher: The Last Charge

February 16, 2018

How many artists can look back on their careers and identify an ‘I have arrived’ moment? For Picasso that moment came in 1907 with Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, for Sidney Nolan, it was the first Ned Kelly series of 1946-47. Damien Hirst exhibited his dead shark in formaldehyde in 1991, the following year Jeff Koons showed … More


Intrepid Women

February 16, 2018

It’s an historical fact that women have almost always outnumbered men at Australian art schools but accounted for only a small proportion of works acquired for public collections. The times have been a-changing for the past few decades, with no gallery overtly discriminating against female artists, but there is still a debt to be paid … More


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