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Sydney Morning Herald Column

The Met: Art Museums in a Changing World

September 7, 2021

While New South Wales lockdowns roll on, Queenslanders can go to Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art and view the blockbuster exhibition, European Masterpieces from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. It’s almost certainly the most impressive show to reach our heavily barricaded shores this year but the pandemic has made it hard to imagine […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

The Real Thing

August 31, 2021

In the 1970s Coca-Cola had tremendous success with the advertising slogan, ‘It’s the Real Thing’. The idea behind the campaign may have been to distinguish Coke from its chief competitor, Pepsi, but the company was also responding to research that found “young people seek the real, the original and the natural as an escape from […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Hilma af Klint

August 27, 2021

Hilma af Klint (1862-1944) may be the biggest thing to come from Sweden since Abba but she was anything but an overnight success. Originally known as a painter of relatively conventional landscapes, portraits and botanical pictures, af Klint led a double life. Her posthumous claim to fame rests on a remarkable series of spiritualist works […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Cool and Hot Artists: The Case of Poussin

August 26, 2021

Every era of art is defined by its divisions and contrasts and we each have our preferences. Is it possible to love Beethoven and Mozart equally? Can one feel the same admiration for Tolstoy and for Dostoevsky? What about Picasso and Matisse? In the visual arts the age-old distinction is between line and colour. Commentators […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Art and Sport

August 17, 2021

After the Tokyo Olympics the boredom of the lockdown is set to move onto a whole new plane. Even without spectators the Olympics has confirmed its status as the world’s supreme global spectacle, with the power to keep millions of people glued to the box day after day. What do we do now that it’s […]

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Sydney Morning Herald Column September 14, 2021

Flattery & Kitsch

“Only art and science can raise men to the level of gods,” wrote Ludwig van Beethoven, in a typically grand pronouncement. For music lovers of the late 19thcentury there was no greater Divinity than Beethoven himself. Wagner may have had a cult following, but Beethoven (1770-1827) was the centre of a full-blown religion. One true […]

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Film Reviews

The Chair

September 10, 2021

University life in America today is worthy of a stupendous black comedy series but The Chair ain’t it. To do justice to such a theme would require a writer as scabrous as Michel Houellebecq and a director as fearless – and surreal – as Luis Buñuel. Amanda Peet and Annie Julia Wyman, the creators of […]

Film Reviews

Chapelwaite

September 3, 2021

Chapelwaite is based on Jerusalem’s Lot, a 1978 short story by Stephen King, America’s veteran monarch of horror pulp. Like most best-sellers King is a patchy writer but this hasn’t prevented his books from being turned into an endless stream of Hollywood movies, some of them as good as Carrie (1976) or The Shining (1980). […]

Film Reviews

Nine Perfect Strangers

August 27, 2021

“Wellness” is one of humanity’s oldest pursuits but the word dates from only 1950, when an American doctor, Halbert Dunn, combined “wellbeing” and “fitness” to create a neologism that now denotes a billion dollar industry. In the eight-part Hulu series, Nine Perfect Strangers, we follow a disparate group of people who have booked themselves into […]

Film Reviews

Top Secret UFO Projects Declassified

August 19, 2021

On 6 April, 1966, a UFO appeared in the Melbourne suburb of Clayton South. The saucer-shaped craft caused a stir among students of Westall High School who watched it fly overhead then land behind a nearby clump of trees. Shortly afterwards it ascended again at high speed and disappeared. Channel Nine sent a team to […]

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 […]