painting

Salon des Refusés 2014

August 9, 2014
Nick Stathopoulo, Ugly, Portrait of Robert Hoge, acrylic and oil on linen

So much has already been written about Sydney’s $9.3 million public sculpture proposals that I’m in two minds whether to comment or leave it alone. Nevertheless, it’s an issue that won’t go away. It’s depressing that the very idea of a city council spending money on art brings out the philistine in a large proportion … More


Archibald Prize 2014

July 19, 2014
Fiona Lowry, 'Penelope Seidler', acrylic on canvas,
225 x 185 cm

Imagine if the Archibald Prize banned all portraits that relied on photographs. The number of entries would drop from 884 to something less than 100, while the exhibition would be dominated by amateurs and unknown artists. Even the subjects would be strangers to most viewers because it’s unlikely that anyone mildly famous could spare the … 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


Head On, Michael Johnson & Eva Breuer

May 31, 2014
Deborah Paauwe,
'Crown of Roses', 2013 @ Michael Reid Gallery

Moshe Rosensveig is the Dr. Frankenstein of Australian photography – Head On, the photo festival he started five years ago, has become a certified monster. There are no fewer than 37 ‘featured’ exhibitions and almost 70 ‘associated’ exhibitions spread across the city, involving an estimated 900 artists. The program also boasts 150 events, including workshops, … More


The Prado and the World

May 24, 2014
Giambattista Tiepolo
Italian 1696–1770, worked in Spain 1762–70
The Immaculate Conception (L’Immacolata Concezione) 1767–69
oil on canvas
281.0 x 155.0 cm 
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid (P00363)
Spanish Royal Collection

In 1982 I paid my first visit to the Museo del Prado in Madrid. Spain was still in the process of awakening from the Franco era, which ended with the dictator’s death in 1975, and its museums were poor and neglected. The Prado was a cold, austere place with a stupendous collection. In a single … More


Sam Fullbrook

May 17, 2014
Sam Fullbrook / Northwest landscape with Aborigines (detail) 1955 / Oil on canvas/ Gift of Mrs Anthea Wieneke 1984 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery/ © The artist /

When Matisse suggested that if you want to be an artist you must first cut out your tongue, he was acknowledging a fundamental truth: artists spout a lot of rubbish when they talk about their work. Rare indeed is the painter who can discuss his or her pictures in a calm, pragmatic manner, but Sam … More


Genius and Ambition: The Royal Academy

April 5, 2014
"A souvenir of Velazquez 1868" (detail) by Sir John Millais.

If there is one issue that divides the art of the past from the art of today it is how we assess quality. A primary motivation for the founding of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1768 was to establish standards of excellence by which artworks may be judged. The members of the R.A. formed … More


Georges Braque

October 12, 2013
Georges Braque, À tire d’aile, 1956–61

“Painting is not an art where anything goes.” Georges Braque. In 1977 the Fraser government struck a lethal blow to Australia’s reputation as an art-collecting nation when it torpedoed the purchase of Georges Braque’s painting, Nu debout (1908) (AKA. Grand Nu). The National Gallery of Australia had a price – $1.5 million – and an … More


Windows to the Sacred

September 14, 2013
Aleister Crowley, The Hierophant (study for Tarot), 1921

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law,” was the personal motto of Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) once known to the headline writers as “the Great Beast” and “The Wickedest Man Alive.” It was a philosophy that would endear him to the counter-culture of the sixties and make him a hero for rock … 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


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