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Sydney Morning Herald Column

Alphonse Mucha: Spirit of Art Nouveau

July 13, 2024

It’s sheer coincidence the Art Gallery of NSW is hosting Alphonse Mucha: Sprit of Art Nouveau while the National Gallery of Australia is showing Gauguin’s World: Tōna Iho, Tōna Ao. Mucha and Gauguin were friends in Paris during that period we call the Belle Époque, but it would be difficult to imagine two more different […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Gauguin’s World: Tōna Iho, Tōna Ao

July 5, 2024

Paul Gauguin was both master and monster. This was the view of the French writer, Victor Segalen, who arrived in the Marquesas to make an inventory of the late artist’s belongings. In the excellent catalogue for Gauguin’s World: Tōna Iho, Tōna Ao, at the National Gallery of Australia, two essayists remind us of Segalen’s verdict, […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Salon des Refusés 2024

June 30, 2024

This year, it’s the proud boast of the Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW, that “for the first time there are more works by Aboriginal artists than non-Aboriginal artists.” Surely it’s entirely inappropriate to celebrate a preponderance of one group over another when it’s the artists’ work, not their ethnicity that is being […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Pharaoh

June 22, 2024

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), […]

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 […]

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Sydney Morning Herald Column July 20, 2024

Wilder Times: Arthur Boyd and the mid-1980s Landscape

In July 1983, Arthur Boyd received the kind of commission that artists dream about and dread: to create two large paintings and a suite of smaller works for the new Arts Centre Melbourne. It was a rare privilege to have one’s pictures on permanent display in the halls and foyers of a major public building, […]

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Film Reviews

Fly Me to the Moon

July 19, 2024

It’s said that Marguerite Duras’s brief for Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) was to script a love story that would not appear inconsiderable alongside the dropping of the Atomic bomb. She succeeded so well with this unthinkable task that Alain Renais’s film is recognised as a cinema classic. Scriptwriter, Rose Gilroy, seems to have been given […]

Film Reviews

The Bikeriders

July 12, 2024

Assuming that much of the hooning around on motorbikes in The Bikeriders was done by stunt doubles, Austin Butler’s major contribution to this film is to look pretty and stare blankly at everyone else, and the camera. In his role as the young hoodlum, Bennie, the new Hollywood heartthrob has relatively few lines, even though […]

Film Reviews

Kinds of Kindness

July 5, 2024

Yorgos Lanthimos is the supreme example today of an arthouse director who has made his way into the mainstream on the back of a couple of popular successes. The period romp, The Favourite (2018), and last year’s Poor Things, propelled him from the shadows into the bright lights of the Oscars. With his new film, […]

Film Reviews

A Silence & Spanish Film Festival 2024

June 30, 2024

A Silence doesn’t announce that it’s Based on a True Story, but its origins are not hard to find. In this film by Belgian director, Joachim Lafosse, the crime that looms in the background is that of  paedophile, rapist and serial killer, Marc Dutroux, who kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured a series of young girls from […]

Blog

How the ancient Egyptians found an afterlife in the British Museum

July 18, 2024

In terms of sheer longevity, writes Egyptologist, Toby Wilkinson, the 3,000-year reign of the Pharaohs represents “the greatest political and religious system the world has ever known.” It was, however, a fiercely hierarchical affair that bestowed wealth and luxury on the king and the elites, while condemning the poor to a life of drudgery. Ramses […]

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 […]

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 […]