Sydney Morning Herald Column

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Frida & Diego: Love & Revolution

Saturday, July 8th, 2023 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

Diego Rivera must have had extraordinary charisma. A fat man who wore his trousers Harry Highpants style, with a face regularly compared to a frog, (even by himself), Rivera was a legendary womaniser. His list of conquests included a long line of celebrated beauties – actresses, artists, writers – they all succumbed to his charm. […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Francis Giacco

Tuesday, July 4th, 2023 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

Controversy is the constant companion of the Archibald Prize, but not always because it has been awarded to some wild and crazy picture. In 1994, when only 32 works were hung, the winner was an elaborate group portrait that owed a greater debt to Vermeer than to any artist of the past three hundred years. […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Rembrandt – True to Life

Tuesday, June 27th, 2023 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

When the exhibition, Rembrandt: A Genius and His Impact, was shown in Melbourne at the end of 1997, viewers were surprised by the quality of the loans. It was widely assumed that leading museums would never lend us major works by the Dutch Master, but this did not take into account the negotiating skills of […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column


Tuesday, June 20th, 2023 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

Matisse and Picasso, those twin towers of modern art, had one serious point of disagreement: Pierre Bonnard. In her tell-all memoir, Life with Picasso, Françoise Gilot recounts her former husband’s scathing opinion of Bonnard: “That’s not painting, what he does. He never goes beyond his own sensibility. He doesn’t know how to choose… The result […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Ramsay Art Prize 2023

Tuesday, June 13th, 2023 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

To the best of my knowledge, until late last month there had never been a major Australian art prize awarded to   a performance piece. It had to happen eventually, and the breakthrough moment came at the Art Gallery of South Australia, where local girl, Ida Sophia, took out the $100,000 Ramsay Art Prize, for her […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Dobell Drawing Prize 2023

Tuesday, June 6th, 2023 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

There is a painting by Philip Guston called The Line (1978), in which a red, veiny hand descends from the clouds, and draws a line with a stick of charcoal held between two fingers. God is drawing a line and daring us to step over it. He is also establishing His credentials as the first […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Philip Guston Now

Tuesday, May 30th, 2023 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

We are forever hearing about artists whose work is “challenging” and “subversive”, usually in the context of some prestigious museum survey. In the pageant of contemporary art, the oppositional artist has become a stock figure. He, she, or they know exactly what buttons to push to win the esteem of institutions that passionately need to […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

The Wynne Prize 2023

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2023 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

Although the Wynne Prize for landscape (and very occasionally, figurative sculpture) is twenty years older than the Archibald Prize, the portrait show gets all the headlines. It seems local audiences agree with Clement Greenberg, the champion of late modern Abstraction, who said landscape was “overrated”. Not being an Aussie, he did not proceed to transfer […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Salon des Refusés 2023

Tuesday, May 16th, 2023 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

With more than 900 entries in this year’s Archibald Prize competition, one might imagine there would be a surfeit of masterpieces left over for the Salon des Refusés. Yet somehow, despite the obligatory breathless enthusiasm the Archibald generates in press and public, those great paintings never seem to show up, either at the Art Gallery […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Archibald Prize 2023

Friday, May 5th, 2023 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

Of all the Archibald Prizes I’ve seen and reviewed, this year’s version is the most difficult to pick. it’s usually easy to spot the winner within five minutes – even when, as is often the case, it may not be the best picture. This year I confess myself bamboozled. One feels a certain sympathy for […]