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Sydney Morning Herald Column

White Rabbit: Hot Blood

June 13, 2019

When the Chinese Defence Minister recently told us the government had been “correct” in its response to the Tiananmen Square protests he said a lot about China today. For the past three decades the Party has kept silent about Tiananmen and obliged its citizens to follow suit. To suddenly come out and portray the massacre […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Salon des Refusés 2019

June 7, 2019

If Friedrich Nietzsche hadn’t come up with his theory of the Eternal Return in the late 19th century, a few visits to the Salon des Refusés at the S.H.Ervin Gallery would have planted the idea in the mind of any latter-day philosopher. For Nietzsche the thought that everything in life would repeat on an endless cycle was […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Monet: Impression Sunrise

Most museum exhibitions proceed like a piece of music steadily rising to a crescendo. Viewers trace the growth of an artist’s talent from humble beginnings to eventual triumph. Art movements begin with groups of poor but talented Bohemians scheming in cafés, and end by dominating the museums of the world. That’s pretty much the story […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Alexander Calder: Radical Inventor

May 30, 2019

“Playful” is the word on everyone’s lips as they go around the National Gallery of Victoria’s Alexander Calder survey. Yet for Sandy Rower, the artist’s grandson, who manages the Calder Foundation in New York, the term is completely taboo. Rower argues that to imagine Calder (1898-1976) was “playful” is to completely misjudge his character. Based […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Archibald Prize 2019

May 23, 2019

May has been the month of miracles. This was the way our highly devout Prime Minister described his election victory, which arrived on the back of three years of dysfunctional government and a campaign devoid of policies. It was also the way Tony Costa responded to his victory in this year’s Archibald Prize, for a […]

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Sydney Morning Herald Column June 20, 2019

The Essential Duchamp

When Marcel Duchamp arrived in New York in June 1915, he was already famous – or rather, notorious – as the creator of Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2 (1912). The painting had been the sensation of the Armory Show of 1913, the first major exhibition to bring European modern art before the American public. Today […]

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Film Reviews

Never Look Away

Gerhard Richter’s official biography, written by Dieter Elger, curator of the artist’s archive, is a very dull book. This is partly because Richter, a micromanager of his own career, is famously protective about the details of his life. In Never Look Away it is director, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s achievement to have recognised a powerful set of […]

Film Reviews

Sydney Film Festival 2019 & Tolkien

June 13, 2019

Week two of the Sydney Film Festival rolls on but most of the interesting features are due to get local releases. As I’m reluctant to write too much about a movie that deserves a review in its own right, I’ll talk briefly about the festival, then segue to the new bio pic of J.R.R.Tolkien, which […]

Film Reviews

Sydney Film Festival 2019: A First Look

June 7, 2019

It’s time scientists studied the link between major arts events in Sydney and rainfall. All it takes to break the drought is the opening of Sculpture by the Sea, or Vivid, or, last week, the Sydney Film Festival. Admittedly one only gets damp en route to the Film Festival, and can spend the rest of the […]

Film Reviews

Rocketman

May 30, 2019

Dexter Fletcher may well be the new Ken Russell. In Bohemian Rhapsody, and now in Rocketman, he reveals a taste for overheated theatricality that hasn’t been seen since Russell turned Franz Liszt into a teen idol. The difference is that this much-anticipated bio pic of Elton John never departs too far from formula, no matter […]