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National Gallery of Australia

I find myself going to view Nan Goldin’s legendary series of photographs, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, with trepidation. Lying at the heart of these works is a renowned image, Nan after being battered, 1984. Taken by her friend, Suzanne Fletcher, it shows a youthful Goldin with big 1980s hair, dangling silver earrings, a necklace of pale beads. She gazes into the camera, her left eye swollen and bloodshot, her right eye framed by a half-healed bruise.

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When George Lambert returned to Sydney in 1921, he was celebrated as the most successful Australian painter of his time. With his cosmopolitan charm and forceful personality, he was in demand both socially and as a leader in contemporary art circles. For the previous two decades in London, he had exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy and the Chelsea Arts Club, rubbing shoulders with prominent British artists including William Orpen, Augustus John and William Nicholson, whose linear style and subject matter were not dissimilar to his own.

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Joan Mitchell: World of Colour

National Gallery of Australia
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15 March 2021

The American Joan Mitchell is one of a legion of celebrated twentieth-century artists with a ghost presence in this country. Since her death in 1992, her vibrant, energetic paintings have become increasingly appreciated, and now her star is rising again. This year Mitchell is the subject of a major retrospective in the United States, which will also be seen in Paris in 2022. The National Gallery of Australia’s current exhibition is part of the year-long Know My Name suite of projects. An outcome of the NGA’s long relationship with master printmaker Kenneth Tyler, Joan Mitchell: World of Colour, led by emerging curator Anja Loughhead, is the first exhibition anywhere to focus solely on Mitchell’s prints, which were made in two concentrated bursts with Tyler, in 1981 and again in 1992, just before the artist’s death.

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Botticelli to Van Gogh

National Gallery of Australia
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04 March 2021

It is hard not to marvel at the logistical challenges that must have faced the production of the National Gallery of Australia’s current blockbuster exhibition, Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London. Amid a global pandemic that has effectively brought international travel to a halt, the NGA has made it possible for Australians to view some of the most important paintings in the history of Western art – paintings only ever seen in London. Without having to board an aeroplane, this exhibition transports the visitor to the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square, which is currently closed. Visitors to Botticelli to Van Gogh are given the precious opportunity to stand – socially distanced, of course – in front of sixty-one works by artists such as Titian, Hals, Velázquez, Turner, and Monet.  

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Hugh Ramsay

National Gallery of Australia
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03 December 2019

It is with the artist John Longstaff’s words of condolence, quoted above, that the Hugh Ramsay exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra draws to a close. Ramsay (1877–1906) was a promising Australian Edwardian painter who lived and worked for a time in Europe at the start of the twentieth century. His works constitute some of the most innovative and visually arresting examples of early-twentieth-century painting in Australian collections, while his sketches and illustrated letters tell of the experiences of youth and travel in the exuberant period that preceded the Great War.

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Monet: Impression Sunrise

National Gallery of Australia
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12 June 2019

What makes this Monet exhibition different from any other Monet exhibition? This was the question at the forefront of my mind as I approached the National Gallery of Art’s exhibition Monet: Impressionism Sunrise. As one would expect, it is an exhibition about painting – colour, brushstroke, the rendering of light and dark by artists who ...

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The National Gallery of Australia’s current Pre-Raphaelite survey exhibition, co-curated by Carol Jacobi from Tate and Lucina Ward from the NGA, feels like a family reunion. John Everett Millais’s Ophelia (1851–52) and John William Waterhouse’s The Lady of Shalott (1888) have made the long voyage from ...

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We are used to modern science being conducted as a collaborative effort involving teams of researchers in laboratories, but imagine a huge research project requiring thousands of researchers and covering every corner of an entire continent (and beyond) being organised successfully with no telephone or Internet.

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Symbolist art has received an unusual amount of attention recently. First there was Denise Mimmocchi’s Australian Symbolism: The Art of Dreams at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (which Jane Clark reviewed in the September 2012 issue of ABR). Now Sydney Long: The Spirit of the Land celebrates Australia’s foremost exponent of the movement. Sydney Long (1871–1955) was born in Goulburn, so the National Gallery in Canberra can claim him as a local talent. More importantly, they have staff with relevant expertise to mount this major retrospective. Anne Gray, the exhibition’s curator, is an authority on Edwardian Australian art. Ron Radford, the NGA director, was one of the first to look seriously at Art Nouveau in Australia; he curated a landmark exhibition on the subject as far back as 1981.

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The initial idea was for a new front door at the National Gallery of Australia. At least that is how Ron Radford, director of the Gallery, presented it to the one thousand or so guests in his remarks at the official opening of Andrew Andersons’ and PTW Architects’ Stage One ‘New Look’ at the NGA on Thursday, 30 September. Clearly, for the money involved and ...

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