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Sydney Morning Herald Column

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Sydney Ball

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

For over a century each new artistic style or movement was viewed as a momentous historical breakthrough, but when everyone started doing it or buying it, the same stuff became mere “fashion”. As the pioneering sociologist, Georg Simmel, noted in 1895, with fashion, the moment of mass circulation spells the end of a particular look, […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

The Art of the Spanish Flu

Tuesday, August 4th, 2020 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

Anyone who thinks COVID-19 has claimed a huge number of lives should look at the Spanish flu of 1918-20. In Pale Rider (2017), a compelling history of that earlier pandemic, Laura Spinney writes: “Between the first case recorded on 4 March 1918, and the last sometime in March 1920, it killed 50-100 million, or between […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Wollongong Art: eX de Medici, Hana Orszulok, Pamela Griffith

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

Earlier this year French President, Emmanuel Macron, announced a €7 billion support fund, largely intended to help small companies and independent artists. It’s a far cry from the $250 million Scott Morrison is sprinkling on the arts sector in Australia. To think of the arts in France is to think of the Opéra Garnier and […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

John R. Walker, Elisabeth Cummings, Ian Grant, Maria Kontis

Saturday, July 18th, 2020 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

After months in lockdown memories of this season’s bushfire crisis have already begun to fade. People are so fixated on the moment, so ready to focus on present circumstances and forget past vexations, that the fires might have happened in ancient times rather than a mere six months ago. For our beloved Prime Minister that […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Tom Gleghorn

Thursday, July 9th, 2020 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

Robert Hughes once explained his reasons for leaving Australia by saying that if he’d stayed he would have ended up as the world expert on Tom Gleghorn. It wasn’t a swipe at one particular artist so much as an airy dismissal of Australian provincialism, but it left me with a lingering impression of Gleghorn as […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Shadow catchers

Thursday, July 2nd, 2020 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

In Adelbert von Chamisso’s gothic tale, Peter Schlemihl, the hero sells his shadow to the devil in exchange for a purse perpetually filled with gold, but all the wealth in the world is not enough to compensate for the horror he inspires when his lack of a shadow is noticed. For “shadow” we might read […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Captain Cook and the New Iconoclasm

Thursday, June 25th, 2020 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

At the end of the Cold War, Moscow created an impromptu memorial to the Soviet Union in a park alongside the Tretyakov Gallery. It was the dump of choice for statues of Bolshevik heroes torn from their pedestals by mobs celebrating the demise of the communist system. Looking around one could see the battered and […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

White Rabbit: And Now

Thursday, June 18th, 2020 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

As art in Sydney creeps back into the light, White Rabbit Gallery is embarking on its second decade. Over its first ten years, Judith Neilson’s private museum of contemporary Chinese art has charted the social, political and cultural changes in a turbulent country. The collection now includes more than 3,000 works by 700 artists, all […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Back to the galleries

Thursday, June 11th, 2020 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

One can look at a million artworks on-line but there’s no substitute for the real thing. It may sound obvious but it’s a point worth emphasising in a world in which the COVID-19 lockdown has transformed public and private galleries into digital showcases. Last week many of the commercial galleries began opening their doors again, […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Some Mysterious Process

Friday, June 5th, 2020 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

When an art museum celebrates 50 years of its own collecting with an exhibition called Some Mysterious Process, it doesn’t suggest a highly developed sense of irony. One might imagine such a show would stress the insights and knowledge of the curators, the strategic planning involved in tracking and purchasing key works. To say it’s […]