January-February 2015, issue no. 368

Mary Eagle reviews 'Strange Country' by Patrick McCaughey

Mary Eagle

The cover assembles the book’s title and author’s name (writ very large) with a photograph of him, in an art gallery, before a wide yellow landscape by Fred Williams. Turning to the viewer, Patrick McCaughey is about to launch into a story that will satisfy the curiosity teased by the name of the book, Strange Country: Why Australian Painting Matters.

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Christopher Menz reviews 'History of Design', edited by Pat Kirkham and Susan Weber

Christopher Menz

The Bard Graduate Center, long known for its ground-breaking studies in the decorative arts, has taken the ambitious leap of presenting a comprehensive history of decorative arts and design from 1400 to 2000, covering Asia, the Islamic world, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. (Coverage of Australia and Oceania is planned for future editions.) At over 700 pages, this ... More

Christopher Menz reviews 'Visions of Colonial Grandeur' by Charlotte Smith and Benjamin Thomas

Christopher Menz

Not many substantial private collections of art and decorative arts in Australia have remained intact from the nineteenth century. John Twycross (1819–89) was one of Melbourne’s early art collectors, and his collection has proved to be an exception. Twycross, lured there by the gold rush, made his money as a merchant in Melbourne in the middle of the nineteenth ... More

Ian Britain reviews two titles on Walter Spies

Ian Britain

‘Spellbinding’ is an apt word to sum up the effects created by Russian-born German artist Walter Spies in his phantasmagoric, darkly glowing landscapes and figure paintings, particularly those that he fashioned when living in Java and Bali between 1923 and 1941. Tropical luxuriance has other superlative renderers in art – Gauguin, ‘Le Douanier’ Rousseau, D ... More

Peter Rose on Erik Jensen

Peter Rose
Peter Rose reviews Erik Jensen’s unusual memoir of his relationship with the troubled artist Adam Cullen.

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Colin Golvan on 'Behind the Doors: An Art History from Yuendumu'

Colin Golvan

The painting of the Yuendumu doors in 1984 by Warlpiri artists, whose country is north-west of Alice Springs, represented an extraordinary moment in Australian art and modern art generally. In the 1980s some Aboriginal elders painted the doors in the Yuendumu School building to prompt students to show respect for their school and as a marker of their culture. It was ... More

Peter Hill: The fecundity of Lucian Freud

Peter Hill

He painted Kate Moss naked. The Kray twins threatened to cut off his painting hand over bad gambling debts. He was officially recognised as father to fourteen children by numerous partners, but the unofficial tally could be as high as forty (three were born to different mothers within a few months). He is Lucian Freud, grandson of Sigmund Freud, born in Berlin on 8 ... More

Australia’s tartan army

Fiona Gruber

I have been looking at the world through tartan frames recently, thanks to the current exhibition ‘For Auld Lang Syne: Images of Scottish Australia from First Fleet to Federation’ and its accompanying catalogue. Actually, to call it a catalogue doesn’t do it justice; its 330 pages ransack dozens of different angles of the Caledonian experience, with essays by ... More

Patrick McCaughey visits the Rijkmuseum

Patrick McCaughey

The Rijksmuseum used to be the dullest of the major European collections. It looked as though Ursula Hoff had painted all the pictures. An air of dowdiness hung over the massive building and crowded collections where the good and the great indiscriminately mixed in with the mediocre in warren-like galleries with an over-supply of the decorative arts.

After y ... More

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