National Gallery of Victoria

Radiance: The Neo-Impressionists

January 19, 2013
Georges Seurat, The Seine at Courbevoie, 1885, oil on canvas, 81.4 x 65.2 cm

Georges Seurat is a member of that small, unfortunate group of artists who were destined for greatness but died prematurely. When Seurat was carried off by malignant diphtheria in 1891, at the age of 31, modern art lost one of its most remarkable innovators. It is a loss that bears comparison to that of Masaccio, … More


Vienna: Art & Design

August 31, 2011
Egon Schiele, Self-portrait with hands on chest

In that period known as the Belle Époque, from the end of the nineteenth century to the outbreak of the First World War, Europe went through a prodigious burst of creativity. Modernity had arrived in full force, and no centre, with the obvious exception of Paris, was more dynamic than Vienna. Both cities were melting … More


Eugene von Guérard

July 23, 2011
Eugene Von Guerard NGV

In the entire history of Australian art, no painter has ever been through greater extremes of adulation and neglect than Eugene von Guérard (1811-1901). In the 1860s he was recognised as the finest landscapist in the colony, but by the 1870s his reputation was in decline. In the following century he was all but forgotten. … More


Gustave Moreau

January 15, 2011
Gustave Moreau, The Sirens, Oil on Canvas, 89 x 118 cm

In Hollywood’s version of the past the critics were always hostile and blinkered, while the misunderstood genius struggled for a recognition that it is now given freely. We’d like to believe that a great artist is always ahead of his or her time, making work for future generations, but this romantic idea rarely survives close … More


European Masters

July 10, 2010
Klinger Max, Portrait of a Roman woman on a rooftop in Rome, 1891, oil on canvas

It must be easier to promote an international blockbuster when magical words such as “Paris” or “New York” appear in the title. Matters become more complicated when the city of origin is Frankfurt, known as a centre of commerce rather than culture, even though it has at least three major art museums. One of the … More


Ron Mueck

February 27, 2010
Ron Mueck, ‘Old Woman in bed’, (detail) 2002

There is no place in the upper echelons of contemporary art for a reasonable person: to be a success one has to be an extremist. There are artists whose work is so sloppy it might have been thrown together the day before an opening, and those with an obsessive eye for detail. Many curators and … More


Misty Moderns

November 21, 2009
Clarice Beckett, Taxi Rank, 1931, oil on canvas on board, 58.5 x 51.0 cm

Max Meldrum did not paint masterpieces. This alone is enough to distinguish him from the ranks of Australia’s most celebrated modern artists, who will be forever associated with a few iconic works. Think of Nolan for instance, and one thinks inevitably of Ned Kelly. Think of Drysdale and the image that springs to mind is … More


Salvador Dalí

September 26, 2009
Salvador Dalí, Soft Construction with Boiled Beans: Premonition of Civil War, 1936, oil on canvas, 100×99cm

There was a sublime moment in Matthew Collings’s successful TV series, This is Modern Art, when he showed footage of Salvador Dalí camping it up and singing the praises of money. “I love tremendously money and gold!” Dalî expostulates. And again, switching to the third person: “Dalí sleep best after one day of work receive … More


Andy Warhol

March 1, 2005

What happens when art history has run its course? What happens when every last innovation has been tried and tried again? One answer is that the business of art becomes the art of business. This distinction was pioneered by Andy Warhol (1928-1987), who was talking about “business art” in the 1970s – a decade in … More