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Jeffrey Smart: Sketch for a Portrait

Tuesday, December 7th, 2021 Blog,

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 […]

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Matisse: A First Look

Monday, November 22nd, 2021 Blog,

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 […]

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Banksy: Love is in the Bin (Again)

Thursday, October 14th, 2021 Blog,

It may seem ridiculous that anyone would pay £1.04 million (AUD $1.95 million), for Banksy’s Balloon Girl in 2018, but it’s slightly nauseating that a half-shredded version, rechristened Love is in the Bin, should be selling for £4-6 million in 2021. One might go even further and say Banksy’s entire career is a gravity-defying absurdity, […]

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The NGA gives itself a birthday present

Monday, September 27th, 2021 Blog,

Lest we forget, the price paid for Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles, was $1.3 million in 1973. A world record at the time, it was viewed as one of the keynote extravagances of the Whitlam government. Nevertheless, when the National Gallery of Australia opened in 1982 the painting was a major drawcard. It has since become […]

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Diana: Back in Bronze

Saturday, July 17th, 2021 Blog,

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 […]

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Salon des Refusés 2021

Friday, June 11th, 2021 Blog,

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 […]

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Archibald of Archibalds

Friday, June 11th, 2021 Blog,

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 […]

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Archibald & Others: The results are in

Tuesday, June 8th, 2021 Blog,

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 […]

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Packing Room Prize & more

Monday, May 31st, 2021 Blog,

In this ever changin’ world in which we’re livin’, as Paul McCartney sang, it’s reassuring that some things remain the same. One of those fixed points is the annual Archibald Prize for portraiture which comes around with mind-numbing regularity, sometimes looking a little better, sometimes a little worse. Godzilla has a son and so too […]

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The Past Returned in a Perfume Bottle

Thursday, April 22nd, 2021 Blog,

A small, brown, glass perfume bottle with a neat gold trim is causing excitement at Sydney’s Jewish Museum. This piece, recently donated by heritage consultant, David Logan, becomes the first artwork in the museum that was taken from a Jewish private collection by the Nazis and subsequently restored to its rightful heirs some 80 years […]