Patrick McCaughey

Cy Twombly: Making past present edited by Christine Kondoleon with Kate Nesin

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April 2021, no. 430

If you were fortunate enough to take Franz Philipp’s course in Medieval and Renaissance Art at the University of Melbourne in the 1960s – the old Fine Arts B – you would have quickly encountered Erwin Panofsky’s masterpiece, Renaissance and Renascences in Western Art (1960). It set forth authoritatively the argument that from the Carolingian revival in the eighth century through the Ottonian and Romanesque survivals, culminating in the Italian Renaissance of the quattrocento and cinquecento, Western art was haunted by the spectre of antiquity. Admiration for its mighty surviving works throughout western Europe turned steadily towards emulating them.

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This week our subject is Cy Twombly, one of the most celebrated artists of the twentieth century. A new major exhibition of his work, Cy Twombly: Making Past Present, organised by the MFA in Boston and the Getty Museum in LA, surveys Twombly's immense debt to antiquity. Patrick McCaughey reviews the related catalogue for our upcoming April issue. In this wide-ranging conversation with Peter Rose, he also talks about the plight of US museums during the pandemic, the vexed question of de-accessioning, and the diaries of Fred Williams, which he is currently editing.

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Assembled: The Art of Robert Klippel

TarraWarra Museum of Art
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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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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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Manet and Modern Beauty

Getty Center
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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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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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