Australian art

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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


Guy Warren

February 2, 2018

Guy Warren is part of the landscape of Australian art, which may be the reason he has been so often overlooked. An exact contemporary of artists such as Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd and Jeffrey Smart, Warren has lived happily enough with a much lower profile. This is partly a reflection of his personality, which displays … More


Kathryn Del Barton: The Highway is a Disco

January 20, 2018

A friend in Melbourne thinks he’s found the key to the mysterious pictures of Del Kathryn Barton: Smarties. His theory goes that in the formative years of childhood Del had a desperate, unrequited desire for Smarties. As a result she has been compelled forever after to fill her paintings with these small, brightly coloured lollies. … More


Songlines

January 12, 2018

Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters is a show with a story – one of the oldest ever told in this country. It’s an R-rated tale of seven sisters being pursued by a lustful man who first appears in the Pilbara and follows them across the deserts of Western Australia to the very heart of the … More


Gareth Sansom: Transformer

December 30, 2017

Invited to nominate a masterpiece for a Radio National interview, Gareth Sansom decided to talk about Ingmar Bergman’s movie, The Seventh Seal (1957), which he first saw when he was 18 years old. Decades later he was still thinking about the film, making it the subject of large-scale paintings in 2007 and 2013. The Grim … More


Ray Hughes 1946 – 2017

December 15, 2017

With the death of someone truly unique it seems the only words that leap to mind are clichés. I’m already counting the number of times I’ve heard that Ray Hughes, who died last week at the age of 72, after a bout of pneumonia, was “larger than life”, a “legendary” art dealer. Such epithets may … More


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