Australian art

Jeffrey Smart: Master of Stillness

November 10, 2012
Jeffrey Smart, Labyrinth, 2011, oil on canvas, 100.0 x 100.0 cm

Over the years I’ve met two distinct types of person born and raised in Adelaide. The first believe Adelaide is the finest city on earth and could not imagine living anywhere else. The second claim to have never been there in their lives. Although he is not an out-and-out Adelaide denier, for as long as … More


Sculpture by the Sea 2012

October 27, 2012
Sir Anthony Caro, Eastern 1983/85, Bondi, 2012

Sculpture by the Sea owes much of its appeal to its outdoor setting but the exposed location brings its own hazards. There have been years in which the narrow walking trail from Bondi to Tamarama was nothing but a procession of dueling umbrellas. This year the installation was impeded by strong winds that made it … More


Sydney Long

October 20, 2012
Sydney Long, The West Wind, 1909, oil on canvas, 30.5 (h) x 51.0 (w) cm

It’s difficult to get too worked up about Sydney Long (1871-1955). He was, at best, an intriguing minor painter known for a few striking images. He was also a curious personality. Like Oscar Wilde, he was almost certainly gay, but married – a not uncommon combination in Sydney, even today. He could be charming or … More


Ken Whisson: As If

October 6, 2012
Ken Whisson, Post-abstract Jeu d’Esprit, 2/3/10, 20/12/10, oil on linen, 111 x 120cm

Ken Whisson says he has always enjoyed being “outside of the awful mainstream”, but it may be that he is about to redefine what is mainstream and what is marginal. Ken Whisson: As If at the Museum of Contemporary Art, is the most fascinating retrospective since the National Gallery of Australia’s George Lambert survey of … More


Bill Henson

September 15, 2012
Bill Henson, Untitled #8, 2011/2012, archival inkjet pigment print 127 × 180cm

No living Australian artist has a higher international profile than Bill Henson, but the esteem in which he is held overseas has not been matched at home. For a large part of the population his name conjures up the darkest, most terrifying associations. Ever since the furore of 2008, when Henson was accused of child … More


David Boyd

September 8, 2012
David Boyd's painting from his Murrumbeena series.

If one had to nominate a director to make a movie about the Boyd family, it would be hard to go past Wes Anderson. After watching his new film, Moonrise Kingdom, I imagined what he might do with the eccentric childhood of David Boyd and his siblings at their Murrumbeena property, Open Country. One painting … More


18th Biennale of Sydney

July 14, 2012
Sachiko Abe: Cut Papers # 13, 2012

One of the most striking images in the 18th Biennale of Sydney is that of Japanese artist Sachiko Abe, dressed in bridal white, sitting in a small brick building in Cockatoo Island, cutting paper. Visitors are asked to remain silent, so the only sound is the noise made by Abe’s scissors as she trims sheets … More


18th Biennale of Sydney

July 7, 2012
Liu Zhuoquan: Where are you? (2012) MCA installation

“Between belief in Nature and belief in politics, one has to choose,” writes French sociologist, Bruno Latour, in the stand-out essay in this year’s Biennale catalogue. We have a perfect demonstration of this principle in the hysterical debate about a carbon price. While Nature is forever, politics is an exercise in short-term, strategic thinking that … More


Theatre of the World

June 30, 2012
Screen shot 2012-07-28 at 7.45.16 PM

For many people museums are uncomfortably similar to mausoleums – repositories of dead animals, dead art, dead ideas. Even those of us who spend their lives in these institutions experience moments when everything feels too dull or predictable. At heart, museums are educational organisations, competing for attention with an ever-increasing range of distractions. But the … More


AGNSW: A new hang

June 23, 2012
Screen shot 2012-07-06 at 6.06.32 PM

A new hang of a gallery’s permanent collection was once a routine affair, but nowadays it has taken on the status of an event. This is partly because the rising costs of doing exhibitions combined with the dwindling budgets of public galleries have forced all institutions to draw more heavily on the works they already … More


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