self-portraiture

Salon des Refusés 2016

August 5, 2016
Glenn Morgan's 'Self-portrait in shed'.

Émile Zola gave us a vivid, barely-fictionalised account of the first Salon des Refusés, in his novel, L’Oeuvre (AKA. The Masterpiece): “He could see the visitors’ mouths gaping, their eyes narrowing, from the moment they passed the door; across the room, a group of young people were staggering back against the archway as if someone … More


Frida and Diego

July 22, 2016
Frida Kahlo Diego on my mind (Self-portrait as Tehuana) 1943 The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of Mexican Art © 2016 Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico DF

When 22-year-old Frida Kahlo married 42-year-old Diego Rivera in August 1929, her parents described it as the union of a dove and an elephant. This may have been a fair description of the newlyweds’ physical attributes, but Diego was also an elephant in terms of his public profile while Frida seemed as quiet as a … More


Archibald Prize 2016

July 15, 2016
Winner: Archibald Prize 2016, Louise Hearman, Barry, 2016

For a severe case of cultural vertigo try spending three weeks in the museums of Europe gazing at portraits by Rembrandt, Rubens and Beckmann, before hurrying back to Sydney for… the Archibald Prize! If travel broadens the mind it’s a positive disadvantage when it comes to appreciating the charms of this great Australian institution. Faced … More


Salon des Refusés 2015 & Stars + Stripes

August 8, 2015
Paul Trefry, 'Homeless still human', silicone, fiberglass, horse hair, and polyester resin

Archibald season demands to be taken seriously because it’s the only time of the year most of the public feel motivated to visit the Art Gallery of NSW and associated venues. During the Archibald Prize the AGNSW is full of people – a surge in visitation that has become more crucial than ever. With both … More


A Retrospective of Chinese Archibald Finalists

August 1, 2015
Song Ling, 'My name is Fartunate – self-portrait', (2011), acrylic on canvas, 198 x 198cm

When the Archibald Prize was first awarded in 1921 it was a strictly Caucasian affair. There was not much colour to the artists or their paintings – mostly brown pictures of men in suits. The riotous creations currently lining the walls at the Art Gallery of NSW would have seemed like bad jokes to the … More


The Archibald Prize 2013: A Review

March 23, 2013
Alexander McKenzie, Toni Collette, oil on linen, 244 x 197 cm

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
Del Kathryn Barton, hugo, watercolour, gouache and acrylic on canvas, 200 x 180 cm

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


The Portia Geach Memorial Award

October 29, 2011
Sophie Cape, Master and Commander. Mixed media on canvas, 208 x 286cm.

One of the small paradoxes of colonial Australian art is the question as to why there were so few notable female artists at a time when women art students continually outnumbered their male counterparts. Looking at photos of the graduating classes of the National Gallery of Victoria School in the late 1800s, there is always … More