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International Art | John McDonald

International Art

Venice Biennale 2017 – Viva Arte Viva

May 19, 2017

Ask people to name the most romantic city in the world, and Venice is usually at the top of the list – but there are dissenters. D.H. Lawrence said Venice was green, slippery and abhorrent, and he didn’t even have to contend with the crowds in the Giardini and Arsenale during the opening days of … More


Degas

July 28, 2016

Degas had a dread of publicity and an intense dislike of journalists. “Those people trap you in your bed,” he grumbled, “strip off your shirt, corner you in the street, and when you complain, they say: ‘You belong to the public.’” Almost a hundred years after his death, Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas (1834-1917) has become public property … More


Frida and Diego

July 22, 2016

When 22-year-old Frida Kahlo married 42-year-old Diego Rivera in August 1929, her parents described it as the union of a dove and an elephant. This may have been a fair description of the newlyweds’ physical attributes, but Diego was also an elephant in terms of his public profile while Frida seemed as quiet as a … More


2013: The Best & Worst of the Visual Arts

January 6, 2014

My best art experience of the year happened on the other side of the planet, in a retrospective celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Edvard Munch. The show, divided between the National Gallery and the Munch Museum in Olso, revealed an unrelenting intensity of vision. It featured the most complete collection of paintings … More


Yoko Ono

November 30, 2013

For an artist who has devoted her career to peace, love and understanding, Yoko Ono’s press call at the Museum of Contemporary Art was unpleasantly regimented. Journalists and photographers were herded from room to room like errant sheep, and it was made clear that questions about John Lennon would not be welcome. The only problem … More


Balthus: Cats and Girls

November 16, 2013

“Balthus is a painter of whom nothing is known. Now let us look at the pictures.” This was the formula proposed by this reclusive artist for the catalogue of his 1968 retrospective at the Tate Gallery, London. Whereas most artists are eager to have their lives and deeds discussed at length, Balthus (1908-2001) was a … More


Sculpture by the Sea 2013

November 9, 2013

It was not the best of times, it was not worst of times. The 17th annual Sculpture by the Sea (SxS) features the usual mix of pieces that might be described as ‘serious’ sculpture, and others that are little more than gimmicks. It has become a familiar recipe but seems to go down well with … More


Moscow Biennale 2013

October 5, 2013

Moscow will never be a contender for the title of ‘World’s Most Liveable City’. It is a place where puny human beings are overshadowed by the architectural juggernauts of Church and State. Even the famous Metro – each station an aesthetic marvel – is so deeply embedded in the earth that every train trip feels … More


Sculpture by the Sea, Aarhus

June 15, 2013

For the third time in six years Australia’s most popular exhibition has been transplanted to the coast of Jutland, drawing enormous crowds. Sculpture by the Sea first came to Denmark’s second city, Aarhus, in 2009, at the behest of Crown Prince Frederik and his Australian bride, Crown Princess Mary. Had the Danish Royal Family been … More


Venice Biennale 2013: The Encylopaedic Palace

June 8, 2013

Every Venice Biennale is a talk fest – a place for the beautiful people of the art world to exchange opinions and business cards at endless parties. Unfortunately most of the talk is of a very tawdry nature: “I just loved the Ruritanian pavilion!” “Oh yeah, I loved it too!”  And so on, ad infinitum. … More