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Destination NSW vs. Yoko Ono

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019 Blog,

Not many Australian bureaucrats would qualify as art experts but apparently this is no impediment to making pronouncements. And so we have Sandra Chipchase, the Chief Executive of Destination NSW, telling Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art that Yoko Ono is “a well-known celebrity” but not much of an artist. It’s a perfect example of that […]

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How the Yolngu Do It

Friday, August 16th, 2019 Blog,

One hot August night in Darwin, every year, all the tribes gather on the lawn of the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards. Most of those tribes are overwhelmingly white: the dedicated collectors of Aboriginal art, the curators and gallery directors, the art […]

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David Goldblatt: Photography & Truth

Friday, August 9th, 2019 Blog,

David Goldblatt will always be known as the photographer who exposed the evils of Apartheid to the world, but to characterise him as a ‘political’ artist is to diminish the breadth of his achievements. This is something Goldblatt has in common with all great photographers who have found their subjects in war, poverty, hatred and […]

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Danie Mellor

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019 Blog,

NATSIAA may not be the most mellifluous of acronyms but it generates an incredible amount of excitement, as finalist Danie Mellor can attest. In 2009 Mellor won the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, which is held every year at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, in Darwin. It’s good […]

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Overshadowing the Empire

Thursday, June 27th, 2019 Blog,

Cai Guo-Qiang gives the impression of being a truly happy man. Tall and lean, he has the crew cut favoured by the marines, but unlike those artists who need to appear terribly earnest, he is quick with a smile and a laugh. Why wouldn’t he be happy? Cai was born in 1957 in Quanzhou, a […]

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Monet: Lasting Impressions

Thursday, June 20th, 2019 Blog,

“A catastrophe seemed imminent to me,” wrote Louis Leroy in a notorious exhibition review of April, 1874, “and it was reserved for M. Monet to contribute the last straw.” That last straw was a painting called Impression Sunrise, a grey, misty view of a harbour wth the silhouettes of two small boats in the foreground, […]

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Sandy Rower, Calder’s grandson

Thursday, April 11th, 2019 Blog,

Sculpture just sat around waiting to be admired until Alexander Calder (1898-1976) came up with the idea of the mobile– a set of forms suspended in mid-air that move gently as viewers walk past. On the eve of the first-ever Australian exhibition of this revolutionary artist’s work at the National Gallery of Victoria, I visited […]

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Edmund Capon 1940-2019

Friday, March 22nd, 2019 Blog,

Death was certainly not in Edmund Capon’s plans when he retired as the longest-serving Director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales at the end of 2011. For the following six years he kept up a busy schedule of public speaking, leading tours, and being generally open to all possibilities. When we met for […]

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Fang Lijun: Facial Recognition

Friday, March 8th, 2019 Blog,

A shaven head sends a message but it’s an ambiguous one. The shaven heads of prisoners or monks tell us they belong to an order of humanity removed from the social mainstream. The shaven head of a soldier, a footballer, or indeed a football hooligan, is a badge of aggressive intent. When a businessman shaves […]

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Charles Blackman 1928-2018

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018 Blog,

It’s a cliché when the death of an artist also represents ‘the end of an era’, but the death of Charles Blackman draws a line under a heroic generation of Australian figurative painters. Although it represents only a small episode in a long career, Blackman was the last of The Antipodeans – a group brought […]