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Sydney Morning Herald Column

Archibald Prize 2024

June 18, 2024

In Dante’s Inferno there are nine circles of Hell, each reserved for a different kind of sinner. The lustful get thrown about by storms, the gluttonous wallow in icy slush, heretics are trapped in flaming tombs… But try as I might, I’ve never been able to locate the particular niche in which the sinner is […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Cutting Through Time: Cressida Campbell, Margaret Preston and the Japanese Print

June 2, 2024

Cutting Through Time is an artful title for an innovative exhibition at the Geelong Art Gallery that explores affinities between Cressida Campbell, Margaret Preston, and the great Japanese printmakers of the Ukiyo-e school. It’s yet another instance in which a Victorian gallery is surveying the work of artists firmly associated with Sydney. At the opening, […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

King Crimson

May 26, 2024

Until Gina Rinehart stole the headlines last week by complaining about that “unflattering” likeness by Vincent Namatjira, Jonathan Yeo’s His Majesty King Charles III was the only portrait that had the world talking. It’s a distinctly unorthodox kind of royal portrait. A detailed, realistic rendition of the King’s face and hands emerge from a field […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Sally Robinson

May 18, 2024

Sally Robinson came from England at the age of eight, trading a childhood in Surrey for a life in the harsh Australian sunlight. She may not have had a language barrier to overcome, but the culture shock – or perhaps the weather shock – must have been profound. Eight is an impressionable age, a time […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Nicholas Mangan: A World Undone

May 11, 2024

Few artists are so well informed as Nicholas Mangan in diverse fields of knowledge. In Mangan’s survey exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, A World Undone, one can’t help but be impressed by the breadth of his interests and the thoroughness with which he pursues them. In the first essay in the catalogue, Amelia […]

FEATURED

Sydney Morning Herald Column June 22, 2024

Pharaoh

Until the Eiffel Tower came along in 1889, the Great Pyramid of Giza, built by the Pharaoh, Khufu (c.2,600 BCE), was the tallest building on earth. Not many world records have stood for 4,000 years, and no great civilisation lasted so long as Pharaonic Egypt. It began with the reign of Narmer (c. 3,000 BCE), […]

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Film Reviews

The Sitting Duck

June 21, 2024

As we’ve recently seen with Iranian director, Mohammad Rasoulof having to flee his native land to avoid imprisonment and a flogging, the cinema still has the capacity to send tremors down the corridors of power. Although films on social justice issues are not much appreciated in authoritarian states, those same regimes recognise the immense propaganda […]

Art Essays

Midnight Oil: The Hardest Line

June 18, 2024

When a rock band enjoys a career of 45 years and sells more than 20 million albums, they probably qualify as legends. They may also be overdue for a documentary, an omission that has now been supplied by director, Paul Clarke, who has spent the past seven years making Midnight Oil: the Hardest Line, which […]

Film Reviews

The Three Musketeers

June 8, 2024

Why did I wait so long to read Alexandre Dumas? One of literature’s all-time best-sellers, he had to be doing something right. The grandson of a French nobleman and a African slave, Dumas (1802-70) was as unlikely as one of his own plots, and no less successful. He spent money as fast as he made […]

Film Reviews

High & Low: John Galliano

June 2, 2024

In December 2010, John Galiano, one of the most celebrated British designers of all time, murdered his own career with a drunken anti-Semitic tirade in a Paris café. Kevin Macdonald’s feature-length documentary, High & Low: John Galliano, features footage of Galliano’s meltdown, and it’s not a pretty sight. The same could be said of Galliano’s […]

Blog

Laura Jones is the Winner

June 8, 2024

This year’s Archibald Prize announcement will remain etched in my memory for the peculiar way one of the speakers pronounced the name of the venue. Forget about “Naala Badu”, from now on I shall always think of the place as the Art Gallery of Nudist Whales. The other striking memory will be director, Michael Brand, […]

Blog

I Know Where I’m Going

May 6, 2024

I Know Where I’m Going, made during the last year of World War Two, was a film between films. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger had been working together since 1939, when the Hungarian emigré was asked to help with rewrites for Powell’s The Spy in Black. Four years and three films later, Pressburger would be […]

Blog

Climate Artists: Franziska Furter & Julian Charriere

April 16, 2024

“My interest in the weather started twenty years ago in Edinburgh,” says Swiss artist, Franziska Furter. “It was my first overseas residency, and I was so surprised. You wake up and it’s raining. You have a shower, the sun is shining. You have breakfast, it’s snowing. Then you go out and it’s raining again. I […]

Blog

Jacobus Capone

February 22, 2024

In 2007, at the age of 21, Jacobus Capone took a scoop of water from the Indian Ocean, walked across Australia, and emptied it in the Pacific. The journey took five-and-a-half months and killed off any relationship he ever had with his native country. “That was my last university project,” he recalls. “I was very […]

John McDonald

For over thirty years he has been one of Australia’s best-known critics. He writes a weekly art column for the Sydney Morning Herald, a weekly film column for the Australian Financial Review, and contributes to a wide range of local and international publications.

Journals

Jeffrey Smart, ‘The Bather, Bondi’ (1962)

June 16, 2023

JEFFREY SMART (1921-2013) The Bather, Bondi 1962 oil on board 49.0 x 72.0 cm signed lower left: JEFFREY SMART Provenance: South Yarra Gallery, Melbourne, 1962 Jean Parker (formerly Ramsey), Melbourne Estate of the above Amanda Addams Auctions, Melbourne, 13 April 2008, lot 285 Private collection, Melbourne Exhibited: Jeffrey Smart, South Yarra Gallery, Melbourne,11-24 November 1962, cat.7 […]

Journals

John Olsen, ‘Lake Alexandrina and Dirt Roads’ (1997-98)

JOHN OLSEN Lake Alexandrina and Dirt Roads 1997-98 oil on canvas 199.0 x 183.0 cm signed and dated lower right: John/ Olsen/ 97-98 signed and inscribed verso: Dirt Roads & Lake John/ Olsen Provenance: Savill Galleries, Sydney Private collection, Melbourne Exhibited: John Olsen: Recent Work 1995-1998, Olsen Carr Art Dealers, Sydney, 7-25 April 1998, cat.13 (illus. […]

Journals

Jeffrey Smart: ‘Petrol Station’ (1975)

March 10, 2023

JEFFREY SMART Petrol Station 1975 oil on canvas on board 34.5 x 39.5 cm signed lower left: JEFFREY SMART   Provenance: South Yarra Gallery, Melbourne (label attached verso) Private collection, Melbourne Leonard Joel, Melbourne, 4 November 1981, lot 25 Private collection, Melbourne   Exhibited: (Probably) Jeffrey Smart, South Yarra Gallery, Melbourne, 3 April 1975 (Or) Jeffrey Smart, South […]