National Gallery of Victoria

David Hockney

August 4, 2016
David Hockney
English 1937–
Barry Humphries, 26-28 March 2015
synthetic polymer paint on canvas
121.9 x 91.4 cm (each)
Selection of approximately 80 portraits, subject selection to be confirmed
Hockney Pictures
© David Hockney

“Los Angeles is an acquired taste,” says David Hockney, although he admits he fell for the city on his very first visit in 1964. After growing up in Yorkshire, Hockney was excited by the “eroticism” of L.A. It was like nothing he’d seen or imagined. To a young, gay artist from Britain’s gloomy north it … More


Degas

July 28, 2016
Edgar Degas
Group of dancers (red skirts) (Groupe de danseuses (Jupes rouges)) 1895–1900
pastel
77.0 x 58.0 cm
Lent by Glasgow Life (Glasgow Museums) on behalf of Glasgow City Council: from the Burrell Collection with the approval of the Burrell Trustees (35.243) © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection

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


Whistler’s Mother

June 3, 2016
James McNeill Whistler
American 1834–1903
Arrangement in grey and black no. 1: Portrait of the artist’s mother 1871 oil on canvas, 144.3 x 162.5 cm
Musée d’Orsay, Paris (RF 699) Photo : © RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Jean Schormans

In the recent Head On photo festival, one memorable picture showed a side-on view of a dominatrix in a shiny black jump suit sitting in a curved chair. On the grey wall behind the sitter was a framed photo of a muscle-man’s torso covered in leather straps. It was Whistler’s Mother for bondage fiends and … More


Jan Senbergs

May 12, 2016
Jan SENBERGS, Altered Parliament House 1, 1976, 
synthetic polymer paint and oil screenprint on canvas
182.5 x 243.5 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Presented by Mrs Adrian Gibson as the winner of the 1976 Sir William Angliss Memorial Art Prize, 1977
A25-1977 © Jan Senbergs/Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia

There is one painting in Jan Senbergs: Observation – Imagination at the National Gallery of Victoria that should strike a chord with every true artist. The Swimmer (1995) shows a small figure battling his way through dark, choppy waves, with no shoreline in sight. It conjures up those moments in the studio when inspiration disappears, … More


Andy Warhol – Ai Weiwei

January 7, 2016
Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei Exhibition @NGV

There are ideas for exhibitions that make luminous sense – once somebody has announced them. Andy Warhol – Ai Weiwei at the National Gallery of Victoria set off bells and whistles in my head when curator, Max Delaney, told me about it last year. It’s such an obvious match it seems remarkable someone in Europe … More


Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great

August 15, 2015
Alexander ROSLIN Swedish 1718–93 Portrait of Catherine II 1776–77 (detail) oil on canvas 271.0 х 189.5 cm. The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg (Inv. no. ГЭ-1316) Acquired from the artist, 1777

Following the death of Prince Grigory Potemkin in 1791, Catherine the Great wrote her own epitaph. Potemkin had not only been Catherine’s most trusted advisor, statesman and general, but the undisputed love of her life. Feeling her own mortality, she set down how she would like to be remembered. Catherine, by her own estimation, had … More


A Golden Age of China

May 30, 2015
Giuseppe CASTIGLIONE
Italian 1688–1766, worked in China 1714–66. Portrait of Qianlong Emperor in ceremonial court robe Qing dynasty, Qianlong period 1736 coloured inks on silk 238.5 x 179.2 cm (image and sheet). The Palace Museum, Beijing.

Imagine a painting titled: Tony Abbott admiring lotus while playing a zither, and you have glimpsed the cultural chasm that separates our world from that of the Qianlong Emperor. While the rulers of the Qing Dynasty (1644 -1911) were careful to surround themselves with symbols of conquest and martial prowess, they were equally assiduous in … More


Jean Paul Gaultier

January 24, 2015
William Baker
Kylie Minogue
Virgins (or Madonnas) collection, Immaculata gown
Jean Paul Gaultier, haute couture spring-summer 2007
net lace dress with large patterned embroidery and white linen cut-outs
© William Baker

There are fashion designers such as the enigmatic Martin Margiela who refuse to be photographed or to give interviews. Then there is Jean Paul Gaultier, the only designer to have hosted a weekly TV program, presented the MTV Europe Music Awards, and recorded a house music hit song called ‘Aow Tou Dou Zat’. Like Andy … More


Robert Jacks

November 8, 2014
'Transitions', 1975, oil and wax on canvas, 175 x 256.8 cm, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, purchased through the C. H. and C. E. Waddell Trust, 1975

It’s hard to be objective about Robert Jacks who passed away in August at the untimely age of 71. Jacks once told me he couldn’t say whether his paintings were any good or not, but he always knew how to put together a good exhibition. It’s pleasing that the National Gallery of Victoria have done … More


Italian Masterpieces

June 21, 2014
Corrado Giaquinto, 'The birth of the Sun and the Triumph of Bacchus' (La nascita del Sole e il Trionfo di Bacco) (1761)

Among the great art museums of the world, the Prado in Madrid may not have the biggest or most comprehensive collection, but it has an exceptional array of masterpieces. To view the greatest paintings by Velázquez, Goya and other Spanish old masters, a visit to the Prado is obligatory. It is also the place to … More