portraiture

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Archibald Prize 2014

July 19, 2014

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


Bigger is Better

November 8, 2013

David Hockney broke all previous attendance records at the Royal Academy of Arts last year, with his show A Bigger Picture. The RA tells us that 650,000 people crowded through those galleries to see a show largely devoted to landscapes of Yorkshire, the artist’s birthplace. It sounds hard to believe, until one sees David Hockney: A Bigger … More


Salon de Refusés 2013 & Jenny Sages

April 20, 2013

This year’s Archibald Prize was one of the most even contests in decades, but also one of the least memorable. There have been pictures in previous competitions that would have romped home in this year’s field, but the luck and timing was with Del Kathryn Barton, not with the ghosts of Archibalds past. If there … More


The Archibald Prize 2013: A Review

March 23, 2013

This column comes from Japan, where like a character in a horror story pursued by an implacable nemesis, I’m writing about… the Archibald Prize! This venerable portrait competition is an Australian institution that is simply incomprehensible to the rest of the world. To outsiders the popularity of the prize, and of portraiture in general, is … More


The Archibald Prize 2013: A Comment

March 22, 2013

This year’s Archibald throws up one nagging question: “What’s that animal Hugo Weaving is holding?” Perhaps it’s something the special effects crew from the Matrix movies dreamt up. According to the news reports, Del Kathryn Barton, says the indefinable creature “demonstrates facets of the actor’s personality” – an explanation that raises more questions than it … More


Impressions: Painting Light & Life

February 4, 2012

A survey of portraiture by Australian artists of the late nineteenth century would seem to be long overdue. Despite the institutional obsession with all things contemporary, the works of the so-called Australian Impressionists – Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Fred McCubbin and Charles Conder – remain the most popular drawcards in our public collections. The problem … More


Salon des Refuses, Wynne & Sulman Prize

April 3, 2010

Nothing could make this year’s Archibald Prize exhibition look good, although the Salon des Refusés at the S.H.Ervin Gallery makes it more understandable. After examining those works rejected from the official hang one may feel a twinge of sympathy for the Trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW who had to work their way through … More


Archibald Prize 2010

March 27, 2010

No form of human activity nowadays comes without the possibility of therapy. Tiger Woods had to call in the specialists over his sex addiction, Michael Clarke has seen a psychologist to get his mind off his personal problems and back onto cricket. When Kevin Rudd apologised to the stolen generation, counselling services were reputedly made … More


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