Patrick McCaughey

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, Ralph Balson, and Tony Tuckson. These were perceived ‘gaps’ in a collection of recent Australian art. Perhaps the systematic history of Australian art then profusely displayed in the private collection formed by their relative Joseph Brown, and first published in 1974 as Outlines of Australian Art, had inspired the Besens to be more systematic. Hitherto, they had mostly encountered local work by living artists.

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Assembled: The Art of Robert Klippel

Patrick McCaughey
Tuesday, 10 March 2020

TarraWarra Museum of Art’s (TWMA) summer exhibition Assembled: The Art of Robert Klippel can only reinforce his reputation as Australia’s foremost modern sculptor. Yet he lacks the public reputation of his contemporary painters – John Olsen, Fred Williams, John Brack, and so on. Klippel (1920–2001) is known largely, if not exclusively, to the world of art. This exhibition may right that historic injustice. Thoughtfully curated by Kirsty Grant, it brought the three basic streams of his art – the drawings, the metal sculpture, and the monumental wood works of his final phase – into a crisp and clear narrative.

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2019 Arts Highlights of the Year

Robyn Archer et al.
Thursday, 24 October 2019

To celebrate the year’s memorable plays, films, television, music, operas, dance, and exhibitions, we invited a number of arts professionals and critics to nominate their favourites. 

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'September 11: A Symposium'

Monday, 23 September 2019

Never far from one’s mind these days, the events of September 11, 2001, and their direct aftermath in Afghanistan and elsewhere, had to be prominent in this month’s issue of ABR, such is their complex resonance and ubiquitous iconography. To complement Morag Fraser’s essay in this issue on the consequences of ‘September 11’ for civic ...

Manet and Modern Beauty

Patrick McCaughey
Monday, 23 September 2019

Five years ago, the J. Paul Getty Museum acquired Édouard Manet’s Jeanne (Spring), 1882, for US$61 million – a record for the artist. It was a bold acquisition, for later Manet – he died in 1883 – has never enjoyed the critical esteem of the earlier. Absurdly so, if you recall that the incomparable Bar at the Folies Bergère ...

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Philip Johnson – lagging well behind the founding fathers – may not be the most profound architect of the twentieth century. Nor does he have the resonance of Louis Kahn or the form-changing genius of Frank Gehry, among his contemporaries. Yet the pattern of twentieth-century architecture cannot be fully understood without him ...

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The Golden Age on St Kilda Road

Patrick McCaughey
Thursday, 16 May 2019

A shift in the European mind is taking hold. The stable democracies of Germany and the Netherlands contrast sharply with an unstable France and a demagogic Italy. The northern tier has an increasing authority, politically and culturally. Art historically, the Amsterdam–Berlin axis challenges the hegemony of the Paris–Rome accord ...

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Some time ago I appeared on a morning radio program with a prominent guru of Australian culture who roundly declared that Andy Warhol was ‘a one trick pony’. Neither remonstration nor persuasion could help the guru out of his imperturbable complacency. He had summed up Warhol in a sentence – what more need be said?

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The geography of art post 1945 has a boringly settled look and needs disturbing. This engaging and readable book makes a useful starting point. The standard view begins with the switch of the centre from Paris to New York, and so it remained for the next fifty years or so until ...

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Barry Hill’s collection of essays from the last four decades is commanding and impressive. Few could match his range of subjects: from Tagore to John Berger, Lucian Freud to Christina Stead – all, for the most part, carried off with aplomb. He catches the ‘raw’ edge of Freud’s studio – ‘worksite’ as Hill calls it ...

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