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Sydney Morning Herald Column

Matisse & Picasso

January 10, 2020

Two boxers circling each other in the ring: a favourite image used to describe the relationship between Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. One wonders if it inspired those notorious promotional photos of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat as boxers in the 1980s. Indeed, it says a great deal about the evolution of the art market […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Water

January 7, 2020

As Australia burns it seems almost callous to call an exhibition Water. When this show was being planned the  curators at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art could hardly know it would coincide with one of the worst bushfire seasons of all time. They were more likely motivated by the drought that has dragged on since […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Robert Klippel: Assembled

December 31, 2019

It’s hard to believe it’s been 18 years since Bob Klippel died, and 17 years since his definitive retrospective at the Art Gallery of NSW. At the time it was commonplace to hear Klippel (1920-2001) described as “Australia’s greatest sculptor” – a title that generated a good deal of grumbling and dissent among his peers. […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Keith Haring Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines

December 19, 2019

Some artists are shooting stars, others get their names carved into the annals of art history. The trick is to distinguish one from the other. Disgusted by the rampant commercialism of the New York art scene of the 1980s, Robert Hughes wrote a mock-epic poem, The SoHoiad, in which included throwaway references to “Keith Boring” […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Singapore Biennale 2019

December 12, 2019

Irony is not a concept one associates with Singapore but when the theme of the Biennale is: “Every step in the right direction” it implies a sense of conformity that would have delighted Lee Kuan Yew. Needless to say this is entirely contrary to what Artistic Director, Patrick Flores, had in mind. The subtitle is […]

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Film Reviews January 24, 2020

Australia Cinema: A Decade to Forget

Opening night at last year’s Sydney Film Festival drew the usual crowd of special invitees – many of them unlikely to attend another session. The film chosen to launch the festival was Rachel Ward’s Palm Beach, which chronicles the mid-life crises of a group of old friends who have come together to celebrate the lead […]

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Film Reviews

Bombshell

January 16, 2020

 It’s commonly believed that hatred pays a higher “psychological dividend” than peace, love and understanding. This debatable insight, which assumes the bleakest view of human nature, seems to be borne out by the success of Fox News. The formula pioneered by Murdoch svengali, Roger Ailes, was to turn the news into an adversarial contest with […]

Film Reviews

Little Women

January 10, 2020

One can groan about the debased state of Hollywood but despite the relentless assembly line of blockbusters there are always new productions that shore up one’s faith in the cinema. The big surprise is that some of these films are re-makes of beloved golden oldies. I say “some” because the 2012 remake of Paul Verhoeven’s […]

Film Reviews

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker & Cats

January 7, 2020

In the last weeks of 2019 the big studios generously served up two Christmas turkeys. Judging by the reviews I wasn’t the only person yawning through Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, or wondering how Tom Hooper’s weirdly sexualised Cats ever secured a G rating. Both films are self-conscious ‘blockbusters’ intended to appeal to a […]

Film Reviews

Jojo Rabbit

December 31, 2019

There’s something irresistible about a movie that flirts with a great taboo – a comedy about the Nazis. Mel Brooks did it with The Producers (1967), in which a Broadway show designed to offend and crash became a smash hit. Roberto Benigni made an attempt with Life is Beautiful (1997), although the humour was swallowed […]

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Films of the Decade 2010-2019

December 19, 2019

Looking back over the past decade I was struck by the total disconnect between the highest-grossing films of the year and – for want of a better word – films of quality. Inevitably, the biggest box office hits are superhero movies, kids’ films, or franchises such as Harry Potter, James Bond or Star Wars. It’s […]

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Matisse & Picasso: A First Look

It must have been tempting to call this exhibition Matisse v. Picasso, a bit like Batman v. Superman. The Australian public responds well to healthy competition, as demonstrated by the perennial mania for art prizes. Instead the National Gallery of Australia settled on the more dignified Matisse & Picasso as the title of its summer […]

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A Model Collector

November 29, 2019

What happens to the rest of your life when Tom Wolfe declares you “Girl of the Year” in 1964? It’s a hard act to live up to, and even harder to sustain as time rolls by in its remorseless fashion. Fifty-five years later, “Baby Jane” Holzer is unfazed. I’m talking with this celebrated model, property […]

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Japan Supernatural: A First Look

November 2, 2019

Curators will often describe an exhibition as a labour of love, but Japan Supernatural is more like a labour of fun. Melanie Eastburn has enjoyed working on the show for about a year-and-a-half, but has been carrying the idea around for much, much longer. Over the past few decades the Japanese fascination with ghosts, demons […]