modern art

Van Gogh and the Seasons

May 13, 2017
Vincent Van Gogh, A wheatfield with cypresses (1889)

When Vincent Van Gogh shot himself in a field near Auvers-sur-Oise in 1890 he was on the verge of a successful career. The tide had turned against Impressionism, which was felt to be too dry and rational in its methods. Up-and-coming critics such as Albert Aurier were championing the role of the imagination, and saw … More


Sydney Moderns

July 20, 2013
Herbert Badham, 'George Street, Sydney', 1934

When an artist calls a work A Painted Picture of the Universe it means he’s thinking big. It’s rather a grand title for a small abstraction, even if it did take Roy De Maistre 14 years to complete this cosmological fantasy. De Maistre (1894-1968) is one of the central figures in Sydney Moderns: Art for … More


Jim Dine & Sam Francis

November 17, 2012
Sam Francis, The East is Red, 1970, lithograph, 63.5 x 88.9 cm

Several friends have sent me the same article from The Guardian about American art critic, Dave Hickey, who says he is quitting the art business because it has become “calcified, self-reverential and a hostage to rich collectors.” This diagnosis is nothing but the unvarnished truth. If we’re shielded from the worst of it in Australia … More


New MCA

April 7, 2012
Exterior of the new MCA on Circular Quay

A new Museum of Contemporary Art has been a long time coming. This weekend the public can take a first look and see if the wait has been worthwhile. My own verdict, after an intensive preview, is that it is a qualified success. Some would argue we have been waiting ever since John Wardell Power’s … More


Modern Painting in 15 Easy Pieces: The past 100 years

August 15, 2003

All definitions of modern art are bound to end in failure, but that has not prevented artists and writers from making the attempt. In fact, one might see the entire twentieth century as an unbroken sequence of definitions and re-definitions, with each movement taking its cue from an earlier one, but striving to surpass and … More


Art & Politics

January 15, 2003
Mike Parr, Malevich (A Political Arm), performance for as long as possible

There was a period of about a decade, starting from the early-to-mid 1980s, when every major art event had to be accompanied by an extensive series of forums. These talk-fests were often boring, and always inconclusive. Some participants gave the impression of having done no preparation whatsoever, others had written papers of impenetrable, theoretical complexity. … More