Heather Johnson

This book, a tale of Stephen Scheding’s search for the artist of ‘a small unsigned painting’ he was unable to resist buying at an art auction, has already been warmly reviewed by others as an excellent read, a sleuth story that captures the frustrations and joys of research while holding its reader in a state of suspense worthy of the best whodunnit. I heartily agree and warmly recommend the book to anyone, amateur or art professional, looking to while away a pleasurable and interesting few hours.

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In his 1980 bibliography of Bernard Smith’s published works, Australian Art and Architecture (1980), Tony Bradley lists, exclusive of books, well over 200 articles, book reviews, and other miscellaneous items. Allowing for articles written after 1980 and four previously unpublished, The Critic as Advocate contains sixty works from Bradley’s list. Previous collections of Smith’s essays, The Antipodean Manifesto (1976) and The Death of the Artist as Hero (1988) each contains about twenty republished essays – leaving Smith still with over a hundred for future recycling. If this is to be the case it is perhaps well to look at the value or otherwise of this type of enterprise.

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