Tag: National Gallery of Australia

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Shock Therapy

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

When he opened his Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart in January 2011, David Walsh warned visitors they would be shocked and offended by what they saw, but the greatest shock proved to be the almost universal enthusiasm of those first day crowds. From Wim Delvoye’s poo-making machine to Greg Taylor’s plaster casts […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Matisse & Picasso

Friday, January 10th, 2020 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

Two boxers circling each other in the ring: a favourite image used to describe the relationship between Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. One wonders if it inspired those notorious promotional photos of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat as boxers in the 1980s. Indeed, it says a great deal about the evolution of the art market […]


Matisse & Picasso: A First Look

Thursday, December 19th, 2019 Blog,

It must have been tempting to call this exhibition Matisse v. Picasso, a bit like Batman v. Superman. The Australian public responds well to healthy competition, as demonstrated by the perennial mania for art prizes. Instead the National Gallery of Australia settled on the more dignified Matisse & Picasso as the title of its summer […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Indonesia: Contemporary Worlds

Thursday, July 11th, 2019 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

When the Reformasi era began in 1998 Indonesian art burst out like a tightly-coiled spring released from its bonds. It wasn’t just artists that rejoiced in their newfound freedom – the entire population was now able to imagine itself as a citizenry of the world rather than subjects of Suharto’s corrupt, oppressive regime. Matters would grow […]


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, […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Monet: Impression Sunrise

Friday, June 7th, 2019 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

Most museum exhibitions proceed like a piece of music steadily rising to a crescendo. Viewers trace the growth of an artist’s talent from humble beginnings to eventual triumph. Art movements begin with groups of poor but talented Bohemians scheming in cafés, and end by dominating the museums of the world. That’s pretty much the story […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Love & Desire: Pre-Raphaelite Masterpieces from the Tate

Friday, February 8th, 2019 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

Exhibition titles are of the same order of marketing as those advertisements that claim by signing up for some course you can make millions or learn to speak another language in two weeks. Naturally if you don’t succeed it’s always your own fault. So when we come across a show titled Love & Desire: Pre-Raphaelite […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Hyper Real

Thursday, January 25th, 2018 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

Hyper Real at the National Gallery of Australia is one of those exhibitions that must have seemed like a great idea at the time. Realism may appear to be the most obvious approach to making art, but it has been the exception rather than the rule throughout different cultures and epochs. The Seated Scribe of […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Defying Empire

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

During the Howard years we were constantly hearing about the Culture Wars – a term borrowed from the United States, pertaining to the battle between conservative and liberal values. In Australia the conflict became fixated on whether this continent had been taken by force from its original inhabitants, and what reparations were due. It was […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column


Friday, February 17th, 2017 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

In Roberto Rossellini’s film of 1966, The Taking of Power by Louis XIV, there is a scene in which the King appears in an outrageous red outfit, all frills and flounces, designed to his own specifications. He explains that with this clownish costume he is setting a dress code to keep his nobles poor, and […]