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Vivien Gaston

Vivien Gaston

Vivien Gaston is an art historian, curator, and writer. She has published on subjects ranging from sixteenth-century Italian painting to eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century British and Australian portraits. She has curated two major exhibitions The Naked Face: self-portraits (National Gallery of Victoria, 2011) and Controversy: the power of art (Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, 2012). A third exhibition, Sublime Sea: rapture and reality, is forthcoming in 2019. She has been a lecturer in art history at the University of Melbourne and Monash University and is currently a Fellow in the School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne.

Vivien Gaston reviews 'Perils of the Studio: Inside the artistic affairs of Bohemian Melbourne' by Alex Taylor

March 2008, no. 299 01 March 2008
Like the theatre backstage, the artist’s studio has the look, sound and smell of the creative moment. For romantics, this is the place where genius ignites invention, where the down-to-earth mess of paints, brushes and canvas is transformed by an inspiring atmosphere. For historians such as Alex Taylor, however, the myth masks a different kind of reality: the social manoeuvring, economic strateg ... (read more)

Vivien Gaston reviews 'Voyage and Landfall: The Art of Jan Senbergs' by Patrick McCaughey

May 2006, no. 281 01 May 2006
Jan Senbergs’ art is not easy to like. Sombre, brutal, austere in colour, it nevertheless represents one of the most sustained meditations on the industrial landscape in Australian art. Patrick McCaughey, well-known gallery director, academic and critic, has written about the artist and his work in a way that deliberately blurs biography, autobiography and visual critique. The result is an engag ... (read more)

Vivien Gaston reviews 'Unstill Life: Art, politics and living with Clifton Pugh' by Judith Pugh and 'Self-Portrait of the Artist’s Wife' by Irena Sibley

May 2008, no. 301 01 May 2008
Marry an artist? Never! So I always thought, and reading these autobiographies does nothing to change my prejudice. Married to artists, both Judith Pugh and Irena Sibley spend a good deal of their time cooking and, even more, socialising. Not that they mind. Judith declares that ‘cooking was my deep pleasure’, essential to the story of her life with Clifton (‘Clif’) Pugh. Irena concedes fa ... (read more)

Vivien Gaston reviews 'An introduction to Pontormo' by Jonah Jones

September 2018, no. 404 25 June 2018
Having crossed the bustling Ponte Vecchio in Florence, the visitor soon encounters a small piazza with a shaded entrance to the church of Santa Felicita and gladly enters the cool grey stone interior. On the right, behind an iron gate, a painting of Christ’s Deposition 1526–28 illuminates a side chapel, beaming colours of neon intensity, aqua blue, raspberry, and lime green. Christ’s body is ... (read more)

Vivien Gaston reviews 'Brett Whiteley: A sensual line 1957–67' by Kathie Sutherland

November 2010, no. 326 16 November 2011
What to do with Whiteley? Forget the gutsy audacity and visual energy; in Bernard Smith’s estimation he was ‘egocentric, pseudo-profound and self-pitying’ (Australian Painting 1788–2000). Smith could not abide Whiteley’s ‘incapacity for detachment’; his cult of personality, poured into every last crevice of his work. With the hegemony of the social and theoretical construction of art ... (read more)