photography

Annie Leibovitz: a preview

November 20, 2010
Annie Leibovitz's family snaps: My brother Philip and my father, Silver Spring, Maryland, 1988

Every aspiring amateur should find inspiration in the Annie Leibovitz exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, for it suggests that one can be the most famous, most highly paid photographer in the world, and rarely produce anything that might be called a masterpiece. Leibovitz is known for her portraits of celebrities, and by the ineluctable … More


Annie Leibovitz at the MCA

November 19, 2010
Annie Leibovitz, Patti Smith with her Children, Jackson and Jesse, St. Clair Shores, Michigan 1996

Every aspiring amateur should[JM1] find inspiration in the Annie Leibovitz exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, for it suggests that one can be the most famous, most highly paid photographer in the world, and rarely produce anything that might be called a masterpiece. Leibovitz is known for her portraits of celebrities, and by the … More


Alfred Stieglitz

July 24, 2010
Alfred Stieglitz ‘City of ambition’, 1911, photogravure, 33.9 x 26.0

In his poem, On the Manner of Addressing Clouds, Wallace Stevens describes those billowing masses as “gloomy grammarians in golden gowns”. Passing through the skies, clouds elicit high-minded tributes from poets and artists, yet drift on indifferently. Clouds are ephemeral, yet monumental. The work of art aspires to permanence and monumentality, yet it too is … More


Bill Henson David Aspden

May 15, 2010
Bill Hensen, Untitled #7, 2008/2009, archival inkjet pigment print

How fleeting and fickle are the excitements generated by the media. In 2008 it seemed as though Australian civilisation was on the brink of disaster because Bill Henson had exhibited photographs of nude teenagers. It made little difference that he had been doing this for almost thirty years already, with the works being shown in … More


Fiona Tan, Jon Lewis & Kate Geraghty

May 1, 2010
Fiona Tan, Disorient (still), 2009.

Fiona Tan is almost the perfect multicultural artist. Born in Indonesia of Australian and Chinese parents, brought up in Melbourne, she now resides in the Netherlands. Last year she was the Dutch representative at the Venice Biennale, where her video, Disorient, was one of the best received exhibits in a largely disappointing show. Would it … More


Dennis Hopper & the New Hollywood

April 10, 2010
Dennis Hopper working on The Last Movie, 1971

When Dennis Hopper read the script of David Lynch’s 1986 film, Blue Velvet, he is reputed to have called the director and said: “You have to let me play Frank Booth because I am Frank Booth.” Nobody who has seen Blue Velvet could ever forget Hopper’s performance: a blue-eyed psychopath puffing pure oxygen from a … More


Maitland Regional Art Gallery & Danny Huynh

August 22, 2009
Graham Kuo, Black and White with Colour Lines, 2009, ink and pastel on paper, 27cm x 57cm each

Having grown up in the coalfields of the Hunter Valley, I never thought I’d see the day when those prosaic towns would manifest a love of art. That was before last weekend when Maitland confounded all expectations by opening a spectacular new gallery. The Maitland Regional Art Gallery is a clever meshing of old and … More


Photography as Art

December 31, 2001

“Photography is the art of comparison,” says the garrulous, omniscient narrator in Murray Bail’s novel, Eucalyptus, who sounds suspiciously like the author. “Anyone can take a photograph. The ‘art’ has already been composed by the subject itself, even when it’s a brick wall – really, the word ‘art’ here is an amazing pretension, since it … More


Pride and Passion – Photographic Portraits of Fairfield by Danny Huynh

March 19, 2001

Multiculturalism isn’t folk dancing, it’s the stoning of adulterers. Anthony Daniels. ‘Multiculturalism’ is one of the most contested terms in our modern liberal democracy. For some commentators it represents a sentimental dream of folk dances, national costumes and ethnic cuisine. Others see it as a mask for religious extremism and intolerance, age-old vendettas, and barbaric … More


From Bondi to Broken Hill

May 1, 1998

It was in the middle of a London winter that I first became aware of the great, abiding seductiveness of Sydney. The occasion was a trip to the movies on one of those typically grey days when a little watery sunshine appears at about 10 o’clock and is gone by half-past three. The air was … More