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Daniel Thomas

Daniel Thomas

Daniel Thomas, now based in Tasmania, was from 1958 to 1990 an art-museum curator and director in Sydney, Canberra, and Adelaide.

Daniel Thomas reviews ‘Exiles and Emigrants: Epic journeys to Australia in the Victorian era’ by Patricia Tryon Macdonald

March 2006, no. 279 01 March 2006
This exhibition book from the National Gallery of Victoria is enthralling. It presents the imagery of British emigration, hitherto unstudied; fifteen million people fled during Queen Victoria’s reign (1837–1901). There is a mix of art history with social history: major and minor paintings and popular-culture prints; memorabilia and relics. A wedding ring salvaged from the dreadful 1857 wreck o ... (read more)

Daniel Thomas reviews 'Sidney Nolan' by Barry Pearce

March 2008, no. 299 01 March 2008
Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly (1946), and the Ramingining artists’ Aboriginal Memorial (1988), are the only two Australian works in a new and highly commercial picture book, 30,000 Years of Art: The Story of Human Creativity across Time and Space. The Ramingining installation of 200 painted hollow-log poles, the kind used as containers for human bones, was categorised as ‘Aboriginal Culture’. N ... (read more)

Daniel Thomas reviews 'Through Artists’ Eyes: Australian Suburbs and their Cities, 1919-1945' by John Slater

August 2004, no. 263 01 August 2004
The tempting cover leads to a feast of 164 colour pictures, which you will fall upon with delight. Despite the title, almost all are of Melbourne and Sydney, places most Australians know well enough to enjoy pleased shocks of recognition. There are two highly specific Perth roofscapes, but a futurist speeding tram in Adelaide could be anywhere, and so could the industry at Yallourn, or sexual and ... (read more)

La Trobe University Essay | 'Sweet Profusion: The National Gallery of Victoria renewed' by Daniel Thomas

March 2004, no. 259 01 March 2004
The art collections are the main thing in an art museum, not the special exhibitions or other programs necessary for present-day credibility and fundraising. Special exhibitions can be easy fast-food showbiz, or else they can be too authoritarian, over-theorised, and bullying. Collections, the bigger the better, are where you can drop in, any day of the year, for a bit of reinvention. It’s good ... (read more)

Daniel Thomas reviews 'The Oil Paintings of Arthur Streeton in the National Gallery of Australia' by Mary Eagle

August 1994, no. 163 01 August 1994
This is now the best book on one of Australia’s best – and best-loved – artists: Arthur Streeton, who worked in Melbourne, Sydney, Cairo, Canada, and London, and exhibited from 1884 to 1943. The National Gallery owns forty-six oil paintings, from 1884 to 1934, some being his best and most characteristic, others interesting oddities or minor pot-boilers. Of course, many of his most famous wor ... (read more)

Daniel Thomas reviews 'Australian Pastoral: The making of a white landscape' by Jeannette Hoorn

November 2007, no. 296 01 December 2007
First impressions are unfavourable. The cover is ugly, and too cute: human-headed sheep, male and female, wait motionless for a drought to end while wearing prime ministerial bush-visit hats. We have read Frank Campbell’s rebuke in the Australian: the author Jeanette Hoorn did not know a fox’s tail from a dingo’s. Inside, however, there is a cheering profusion of illustrations, placed in unu ... (read more)

Daniel Thomas reviews 'Encounters with Australian Modern Art' by Christopher Heathcote, Patrick McCaughey and Sarah Thomas

February 2009, no. 308 01 February 2009
Eva Gandel and Marc Besen Married in Melbourne in 1950 and soon began collecting current art. After the closure of John Reed’s privately established but short-lived ‘Museum of Modern Art & Design of Australia’, they bought a few of its de-accessioned possessions, paintings by John Perceval and Sidney Nolan. In the 1970s they added works by recentlydeceased Sydney artists William Dobell, ... (read more)

Daniel Thomas reviews 'Australian Painting 1788-2000' by Bernard Smith

April 2002, no. 240 01 April 2002
Bernard Smith gave us Australian art. Before him, the subject was not part of our cultural discourse. We knew and could place the work of Michelangelo and Monet but not that of Eugene von Guérard, Tom Roberts or Grace Cossington Smith. In 1945 Smith’s Place, Taste and Tradition: A Study of Australian Art since 1788 was the first book to contextualise Euro-Australian art within European art move ... (read more)

Daniel Thomas reviews 'Paths to Abstraction 1867–1917' edited by Terence Maloon

November 2010, no. 326 01 November 2010
The Mondrians in Paths to Abstraction 1867–1917, Terence Maloon’s beautiful, refined exhibition held at the Art Gallery of New South Wales from June to September this year, and the Gauguins in Ron Radford’s more spectacular Masterpieces from Paris that closed at the National Gallery in April, were drawcards. We last saw a group of Mondrians in 1961; Gauguin had never been properly seen in Au ... (read more)

'It should be so, it must be so' by Daniel Thomas

June 2011, no. 332 24 May 2011
David Walsh is a tease; he enjoys wordplay. The founder and owner of the Museum of Old and New Art (he prefers Mona, not MONA) concedes that his private playground is entirely a matter of self-gratification, like ‘the sin of Onan’. Hence the cheeky titles ‘Monanism’ for his inaugural exhibition of some 460 works, and Monanisms for the beautifully produced picture book of 115 selections fro ... (read more)