Christopher Menz

Although most of the ten million annual visitors to the Louvre think of it as an art museum and former royal palace, for much of its history it has performed other functions. The Louvre has also played a defining role in many events in French history. Its raison d’être in the Middle Ages was as a fortification in the then most westerly part of Paris. Transformed into a royal palace during the sixteenth century, it has undergone more than twenty different extensions and renovations under successive rulers and administrations, emerging as the behemoth we know today. Surprisingly for a building that so much embodies Paris and feels so permanent, much of the Louvre was created during the third quarter of the nineteenth century under Napoleon III, when it was almost doubled in size and given its external ‘dizzying opulence’, as James Gardner describes it in this new book.

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On May Day 1955, two years after his death, a colossal memorial to Joseph Stalin was unveiled on a prominent site north of central. Towering above the city and containing 14,000 tons of granite, it was the largest statue of the dictator ever created. Stalin was depicted at the head of a representative group of citizens, dubbed by some as a bread queue. Otakar Švec, a prominent Czech sculptor, had won the commission in 1949. After the work’s stressful gestation, he killed himself shortly before the work was unveiled; there had been constant interference and police surveillance, and his wife committed suicide in 1954.

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Amid all the hoopla surrounding the centenary in 2019 of the Bauhaus – naturally more pronounced in Germany – it is gratifying to see such a fine Australian publication dealing with the international influence of this short-lived, revolutionary art and design teaching institute. Bauhaus Diaspora and Beyond – written by Philip Goad, Ann Stephen, Andrew McNamara, Harriet Edquist, and Isabel Wünsche – explores the Bauhaus and its influence in Australia.

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This year is huge for the Opéra National de Paris. It celebrates the 350th anniversary of the founding of Académie Royale de Musique in 1669, the thirtieth anniversary of the inauguration of the Opéra Bastille in 1989, and the 150th anniversary of the death of Hector Berlioz. Les Troyens (The Trojans) opened the ...

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Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Baronet, (1833–98) to give him his full entitlement, is an artist who polarises people. Some relish his otherworldly and imaginative narrative subjects, the rich and saturated palette, the sumptuous decorative surfaces. Others respond in the same way as one of the ‘vivid young moderns’ overheard by ...

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Grant Featherston (1922–95), the most prominent and successful furniture designer working in postwar Australia, is noted for his moulded, upholstered plywood modernist chairs from the 1950s, which combined comfort and style and which resembled work by Charles Eames ...

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Rayner Hoff, the most significant sculptor to work in Australia between the wars, is most admired for his sculptures in the Anzac war memorials in Sydney and Adelaide. His work was in the classical figurative tradition in which he had trained. While never part of the international avant-garde, he remained modern for ...

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The Oxford Companion to Cheese is an impressive undertaking with masses of fascinating and informed writing, and many illustrations on a delicious subject. It takes us from the origins of cheese – seventh millennium BCE – to the most recent technological developments. The scope is broad: as Catherine Donnelly notes in her introduction, there are 325 con ...

To highlight Australian Book Review’s arts coverage and to celebrate some of the year’s memorable concerts, operas, films, ballets, plays, and art exhibitions, we invited a group of critics and arts professionals to nominate some favourites.

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Formerly only known to historians and specialists, either in the original German or the author's abridged translation, Friedrich Gerstäcker's Australian travelogue (1854), based on ...

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