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Sydney Morning Herald Column

Know My Name Part 2

During lockdown I had another look at Kenneth Clark’s groundbreaking TV series, Civilisation (1969), and was struck by how frequently this most urbane of art historians said things that are now taboo. Clark wasn’t trying to be insensitive, but our criteria of acceptability have become so rigid – dare I say, paranoid – that statements […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Tarnanthi 2021

December 21, 2021

If there’s an image that stays in the mind after seeing Tarnanthi at the Art Gallery of South Australia, it’s a pale, ghostly Wandjina by Angelina Karadada Boona. This mysterious spirit figure, whose origins disappear in the mists of prehistory, has been reinvented as an elusive portrait. It’s here and not-quite-here; captured in the act […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Claire Healy & Sean Cordeiro: Post-haste

December 14, 2021

Dromology, according to its inventor, French philosopher, Paul Virilio, is “the science (or logic) of speed”. The idea is that the speed at which something happens changes the nature of the phenomena, our perceptions and expectations. In warfare this once meant an army might gain an advantage through a forced march in the middle of […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Les Sculptures Refusées 2021

Of all the art events stifled by the pandemic, Sculpture by the Sea must be among the hardest hit. Until last year the annual stroll along the shore between Bondi and Tamarama had become part of Sydney life and a reliable tourist magnet. At its peak SXS has posted attendances of more than 500,000, a […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Doug Aitken: New Era

November 30, 2021

Doug Aitken, born and based in California, is one of the most globalised of all contemporary artists. He once told an intervewer that “home can be motion” and his work sets out to prove that proposition. His projects are often conceived on a grand scale, requiring teams of collaborators. He makes video, photography, sculpture, performance, […]

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Film Reviews January 14, 2022

The House of Gucci

Shakespeare allegedly set tragedies and comedies in Italy because the stereotype of the excitable Italian was engraven on the Elizabethan mind. One finds the same view at the end of the 18th century in the memoirs of playwright, Vittorio Alfieri, who, caught in an adulterous affair with an English woman, was astonished by the calm, […]

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Blog

2021: The Year in Art

January 6, 2022

Looking back on 2021 it would require more space to list the exhibitions we didn’t see rather than the ones we did. So many shows were cancelled, cut short or handicapped by the pandemic it’s not hard to remember the highlights. The first notable event of the year was the NGV Triennial, a massive survey […]

Blog

Jeffrey Smart: A First Look

December 14, 2021

Jeffrey Smart often felt betrayed or let down by Australian art museums. A promised survey at the Art Gallery of South Australia in 1982 failed to materialise but was rescued by the Art Gallery of NSW. When the Australian National Gallery opened in the same year, he attended the ceremonies but was disappointed by his […]

Blog

Jeffrey Smart: Sketch for a Portrait

December 7, 2021

When an artist is said to be “traditional and progressive at the same time,” he can only be a great individualist. When this description comes from the director of the National Gallery of Australia, in his foreword to the catalogue of a major Jeffrey Smart exhibition, it suggests a good deal of uncertainty about where […]

Blog

Matisse: A First Look

November 22, 2021

Henri Matisse burst onto the French art scene like a bombshell at the 1905 Salon d’Automne. Faced with paintings in vibrant colour, the public was scandalised. The 36-year-old Matisse and his colleagues were christened “les Fauves” – the wild beasts – and accused of being madmen and confidence tricksters. Although the show was an act […]