National Gallery of Victoria

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