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Sydney Morning Herald Column

Artemisia Gentileschi

July 20, 2021

History tells us any socially progressive idea that at first seems unthinkable has a good chance of becoming an orthodoxy. Look, for instance, at Feminism, which no longer attracts the overtly misogynist comments directed at ‘women’s libbers’ in the 1970s. There may be plenty of battles still to be won but few males today would […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Archie 100

June 29, 2021

Over the past few years there have been times when the Art Gallery of NSW was so empty of visitors it gave the impression someone had just shouted “Fire!”. Right now the opposite applies: the joint is packed to the rafters, with people waiting patiently in queues to see the Archibald Prize. For many this […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

John Olsen: Goya’s Dog

June 22, 2021

Only a few weeks ago the Olsen family featured in dual episodes of the ABC’s Australian Story, clearing some skeletons out of the closet. The main storyline concerned Tim Olsen’s battles with drink and drugs, and his efforts to get his life back on-track. There was no disguising that Tim’s problems began with his relationship […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Archibald Prize 2021

June 15, 2021

It’s now history that Peter Wegner has won the centenary  Archibald Prize with a portrait of centenarian artist, Guy Warren. Wegner wasn’t the ony one to have that idea – by Guy’s reckoning he sat for “four or five” portraits in the lead-up to this year’s prizes, but here’s little doubt the Archibald winner was […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Hayden Wilson: Fake Truths

June 8, 2021

Art can never be ‘fake news’ – it is by definition a work of the imagination, but that doesn’t mean it can’t imitate reality, can’t indulge in forms of masquerade and impersonation. It’s this twilight zone between truth and fiction that fascinates Hadyn Wilson, the 2020 artist-in-residence at the State Library of NSW. The fruit […]

FEATURED

Sydney Morning Herald Column August 3, 2021

Jean-Honoré Fragonard

Art is long but lockdowns are short – even if they seem interminable. With museums and galleries closed, or open by appointment only, this presents a rare opportunity to trawl back over the history of art looking for subjects that illuminate the present. We often hear that a great work of art is “timeless”, meaning […]

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Film Reviews

Black Widow

July 30, 2021

Over the years I’ve never found it a hardship to watch a movie that stars Scarlett Johansson, but with Black Widow any lingering spark of male fantasy went under the   steamroller. Every time I sit through one of these superhero flicks I find myself asking: “Is it me, or is it the rest of the […]

Film Reviews

How to Become a Tyrant

July 17, 2021

Politics is a fascinating game, but hard to win. Under the yoke of a tyrant people clamour for democracy but after generations of democratic rule they hanker for a strongman to come and make all their decisions for them. As we watch the United States careening towards a complete crack-up, with millions of people obsessed […]

Film Reviews

Charlie Chaplin: The Kid

July 9, 2021

“A picture with a smile – and perhaps, a tear,” The Kid was the first full-length feature directed by Charlie Chaplin. The film’s centenary is being celebrated with a progressive Chaplin retrospective that will unfurl in Australian cinemas for the rest of this year and into 2022, continuing a pandemic-era trend of revisiting classic movies […]

Film Reviews

Elvis Presley: The Searcher

July 2, 2021

There are many different Elvises, from the young hillbilly who set the music world alight with his very first recording to the bloated, drug-addled superstar, squeezed into a white jumpsuit with cape, playing to packed houses in Las Vegas casinos. In a week in which it’s impossible to get to the movies in many parts […]

Blog

Diana: Back in Bronze

July 17, 2021

If the British Royal Family wished to underline their status as an antiquated institution, out of touch with the present day, they could hardly do better than commission a larger-than-life-size bronze statue of Diana, Princess of Wales. The bronze monument of The Great Man (and occasionally, Woman) is a throwback to Victorian times which implicitly […]

Blog

Salon des Refusés 2021

June 11, 2021

When the Art Gallery of NSW moved the opening of the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes from September to June, it was bound to have consequences for the quality of the exhibitions. The 2021 Archibald season kicks off this weekend, less than five months after the closure of last year’s shows on 10 January. This […]

Blog

Archibald of Archibalds

If we imagine the history of the Archbald Prize for portraiture as one big competition featuring every winner from 1921 to the present, which painting would emerge on top? It may sound tantalising but as with most of the competitions I’ve seen, it’s quite easy to pick. For sheer painterly bravura, for a unique blend […]

Blog

Archibald & Others: The results are in

June 8, 2021

It’s tempting to say justice was done this year with Peter Wegner’s portrait of 100-year-old artist, Guy Warren, taking out the 100th Archibald, but it was a virtual inevitability. Had the Trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW decided to do something daring and different they may have been lynched by an angry mob of […]