Australian art

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Salon des Refusés 2017

August 3, 2017

Every year I nurture a dim fantasy of a Salon des Refusés bristling with masterpieces rejected from the Archibald and Wynne Prizes by the Trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW. Every year I relinquish this thought almost as soon as I step into the S.H.Ervin Gallery. The Refusés was a great idea when it … More


The 2017 Archibald Prize

July 28, 2017

By the usual Archibald Prize standards 2017 is a low key year. There are plenty of neat, correct entries, a touch of quirkiness, a bit of thick impasto, but nothing to get the pulse racing with delight or indignation. Unless, perhaps, you’re a lunatic right-winger who starts to foam at the mouth at the merest … More


Mad Love

July 22, 2017

Although we live in a world in which the ugliest forms of nationalism seem to be making a comeback there is one partial antidote: cultural exchange. As we become progressively more familiar with the art, music, film, fashion and cuisine of another country, the fear and suspicion of the Other is diminished. Japan, for instance, … More


Farewell Stills

July 15, 2017

Twenty-six years is a long time to be running a commercial gallery, let alone a gallery specialising in photography. When Kathy Freedman and her partners close Stills Gallery in mid-July, it will spell the end of a long adventure in convincing Sydney audiences that photography is art. Stills began life in a Paddington terrace house … More


Wendy Loefler 1950-2017

July 7, 2017

In the weeks leading up to her exhibition at Australian Galleries in Melbourne, Wendy Loefler emailed me about the work she had been doing over the past two years. “It’s fairly unusual and considerably more ambitious than my usual fare. I’m making one continuous immersive desert landscape in the round, on twelve abutting large canvasses.” … More


O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Making Modernism

July 7, 2017

There are exhibitions that sound marvellous in theory but somehow fail to measure up when they make it to the gallery walls. O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Making Modernism at the Art Gallery of NSW is an almost perfect example. As one of those projects that puts Australian artists on equal terms with a better known … More


Elisabeth Cummings

June 6, 2017

In the annals of Australian art Elisabeth Cummings was an almost invisible presence for the first 30 years of her career. The story would change in the early 1990s when she began to attract serious attention from private collectors, who are always quicker off the mark than public institutions. After a slow start, partly due … More


Tracey in Venice

May 13, 2017

Success at the Venice Biennale, the world’s biggest, most prestigious art event, may be measured in many different ways. One is the length of the queue that extends from the doorway of a national paviliion, making viewers wonder if they can bear to waste an hour standing in the sun. But hey, if so many … More


John Olsen: The You Beaut Country

October 7, 2016

John Olsen has always been larger-than-life – a quality that has fostered both adulation and irritation. In the 1950s when he was still searching for a direction, Olsen did some thinking about the nature of art. “If it’s not a game there’s something wrong,” he concluded. According to his biographer, Darleen Bungey, this would become … More


Jonathan Jones: Barrangal Dyara

September 22, 2016

Jonathan Jones’s Barrangal Dyara (Skin and Bones) is one of the most ambitious art projects ever seen in this city, and one of the most ephemeral. It acts as a massive aide-memoire to public consciousness, reminding us of what has been buried and forgotten within little more than a century. Yet the physical form of … More


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