Lightness and clarity

by Christopher Menz


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 ...

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 Australia. The exhibitions and the related books together amounted to a superb and very up-to-date two-part lesson in the history of modernism.

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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, the actual person of the artist has been an increasing problem for art critics. Whiteley’s work, driven by personality and fuelled by sensation, is easily viewed as a romantic indulgence.

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‘I kept thinking: if his face looks like this, what must his balls look like?’ David Hockney’s assessment of the craggy countenance of W.H. Auden is clipped and convenient, but I suspect Auden would have been far more interesting on the subject of sitting for Hockney. Given the concentration and quality of the encounters between English portrait painters or sculptors and their subjects, it is slightly odd that more writers have not published accounts of the experience of sitting for their portrait.

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Patrick McCaughey reviews 'The Donald Friend Diaries' by Ian Britain

Patrick McCaughey
Wednesday, 16 November 2011

For some sixty years Donald Friend kept a diary, making his final entry just days before his death in 1989 at the age of seventy-four. The National Library of Australia published them in four massive volumes between 2001 and 2006. They were intractable. You needed an axe to cut through the stream of consciousness which flowed from an uncensoring pen ...

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Dust from a distant sun

Brenda L. Croft


Desert Country
by Nici Cumpston with Barry Patton
Art Gallery of South Australia, $80 hb, 216 pp, 9781921668043


Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route
by National Museum of Australia ...

Carol Jerrems

Natalie King
Wednesday, 16 November 2011

‘Love is the key word’

by Natalie King


There is so much beauty around us if only we could take the time to open our eyes and perceive it. And then share it. Love is the key word.
(Carol Jerrems, A Book About Australian Women)

In 1973, Carol Jerrems photographed a little girl, ...

Peter Galassi: Henri Cartier-Bresson

Helen Ennis
Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Decisive moments

Helen Ennis


Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century
by Peter Galassi
Thames & Hudson and the Museum of Modern Art, $140 hb, 367 pp, 9780500543917



Everyone, I suspect, has a favourite photograph by Henri Cartier ...

Contextualising the expatriate Bunny

Jane Clark


Rupert Bunny: Artist in Paris
by Deborah Edwards, with Denise Mimmocchi, David Thomas and Anne Gérard
Art Gallery of New South Wales, $65 pb, 224 pp, 9781741740479


For those who saw the recent Rupert ...

Maria Zagala: A Beautiful Line

Justin Clemens
Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Adelaide’s impressive collection of prints

Justin Clemens


A Beautiful Line: Italian Prints from Mantegna to Piranesi
by Maria Zagala
Art Gallery of South Australia, $45 pb, 490 pp, 9781921656705


One of the notable things about living in a small c ...