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David Hansen

David Hansen

David Hansen was Associate Professor of Art History & Art Theory at the ANU, and spent twenty-five years as a public art gallery director and curator, in Warrnambool, Mt Gambier, Melbourne, and Hobart. His essay ‘Seeing Truganini’ was co-winner of the 2010 Calibre Essay Prize and winner of the Alfred Deakin Prize for an Essay Advancing Public Debate in the 2010 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. His essay ‘Death Dance’, an account of the imagery of the early colonial Indigenous leader Bungaree, was commended in the inaugural Calibre Essay Prize in 2007. He published a history of Australia’s regional galleries in HG:60, the Hamilton Gallery’s 60th anniversary publication. He died in January 2024.

David Hansen reviews ‘Juan Davila with Guy Brett and Roger Benjamin’ by Juan Davila

November 2006, no. 286 09 January 2024
Juan Davila is a major figure in contemporary Australian art. His fluent appropriations of other artists’ styles and motifs (all neatly numbered and labelled), combined with an assertive iconography of sexual desire and transgression (all bare thighs and thrusting tongues and mutant genitalia), made him one of the most interesting painters of his generation – the postmodern, theoretical, Art a ... (read more)

David Hansen reviews 'Robert Dowling: Tasmanian Son of Empire' by John Jones

July–August 2010, no. 323 01 July 2010
The settler art history of Australia is not a long one – not much more than two hundred years – so it is all the more surprising that the literature of its first century should remain so riddled with holes. It is a sad reflection on the priorities of the academic and curatorial professions that (certainly as far as concerns that conventional, fundamental professional resource, the monographic ... (read more)

David Hansen reviews 'The Exhibitionists: A history of Sydney’s Art Gallery of New South Wales' by Steven Miller

March 2022, no. 440 22 February 2022
The Western, colonial, patriarchal hegemony having eroded somewhat in recent years, the purposes and methods of art and of museum management and curatorship are undergoing fundamental change. Formerly unchallenged Anglophone-transatlantic canons and practices have been undermined by broader international perspectives, by the impact of digital technologies, and by the politics of identity – in et ... (read more)

Māori markings: Tā moko (National Gallery of Australia)

ABR Arts 25 March 2019
The traditional Western art museum is struggling a bit. Its former role as a repository of national values, as reified and aestheticised in paintings, sculpture, and the decorative arts, is today challenged if not assaulted on multiple fronts: ranging from economic, political, and social globalisation, to digital technology, to commercial popular culture. Increasingly, art museums’ collection di ... (read more)

2007 Calibre Prize (commended): 'Death Dance' by David Hansen

April 2007, no. 290 01 April 2007
I am at the exhibition ‘National Treasures from Australia’s Great Libraries’. I have come to see a picture of a man named Bungaree. I am standing in front of him, but I am distanced. The painting is glazed, low-lit, hung on a wall on the far side of quite a deep display case. If I stand up straight he is in focus, but too far away for me to see the details. As I incline my torso forward to e ... (read more)

2010 Calibre Prize (Winner): 'Seeing Truganini'

May 2010, no. 321 01 May 2010
Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.       Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus   (1922) For what it is worth, my own view is that in contemporary Australia the dialectical quest for truth about the indigenous culture, by open argument and counter-argument, is no less important than about the culture of the invaders and oppressors. Bot ... (read more)