Tag: Exhibition Review

Exhibition Review | ‘Exposing Thomas Clark: a colonial artist in Western Victoria’. Reviewed by David Hansen.

Exposing Thomas Clark: a colonial artist in Western Victoria David Hansen The exhibition runs at Hamilton Art Gallery 21 September – 17 November 2013 At a small but intensely stimulating symposium hosted by the University of Melbourne in November last year, a variety of curators, scholars and writers met to share experiences, insights and ambitions relating to exhibitions of Australian colonial art. Coffee breaks and plenary sessions were particularly interesting in articulating outstanding desiderata for monographic shows: Mary Morton Allport, Thomas Baines, Ludwig Becker, Louis Buvelot, J. H. Carse, Augustus Earle, S. T. Gill, Thomas Wainewright … . Nobody mentioned Thomas Clark, because everyone at the conference knew that Danny McOwan was already working on that one. Had been for quite some time, in fact. Well, that long-anticipated exhibition has finally made it onto the newly and smartly plastered, sky-blue…

Exhibition Review | Australia at the Royal Academy of the Arts. Reviewed by Sheridan Palmer

Australia Sheridan Palmer The exhibition is on at the Royal Academy of the Arts from 21 September–8 December 2013. Entering the grand Georgian courtyard of Burlington House, flanked by the Society of Antiquaries, the Linnaean Society and the Society of Geographers, a large banner with Sidney Nolan’s iconic 1946 Ned Kelly greets the visitor at the steps of the Royal Academy. It is a foretaste of things to come; Kelly is seen from the back riding off into a sandy, sparse scrub, shotgun in hand, a lone outlaw in black iron armor. Inside the Royal Academy Shaun Gladwell’s video Approach to Mundi Mundi (1997) is projected onto black walls (Fig. 1). A black leather-clad motor cyclist, a dawn rider with arms out-stretched reminiscent of Anthony Gormley’s Angel of the North, rides along double white lines on an outback bitumen road,…

Exhibition Review | Australian Impressionists in France. Reviewed by Caroline Jordan

Australian Impressionists in France Caroline Jordan The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) has offered a number of Impressionist blockbusters over 2012-13: Monet’s Garden, Radiance: the Neo-Impressionists and now Australian Impressionists in France. Given its present ubiquity in our state gallery, it is well to remember that when Impressionism debuted in France in the 1870s and 1880s it was considered to be beyond the pale of official patronage. Impressionism offended by rejecting the mythological, classical or historical subject matter of academic painting, replacing it with such unimportant things as dance halls, picnics, cabbage patches, haystacks, stretches of beach and random scenes of the street. Spurning the studio, the Impressionists ventured outdoors to paint direct from the motif, daubing slashes and spots of pure, bright colour onto white-primed or bare canvases. Impressionist compositions were similarly innovative, drawing on the novel influences of…

Review | The New Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Reviewed by Arnold Witte.

The New Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam In April, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam was reopened to the public, after almost ten years of restoration and rebuilding. What started out in 2004 as a four-year enterprise to liberate the landmark building, built in 1885 by the Dutch Neo-Gothic architect Pierre Cuypers, from its later additions, turned out to be a lengthy and very expensive story of endless delays and complications. This led to heated discussions in the national media on several issues. The Spanish architects of the refurbishment, Cruz y Ortiz, were especially astonished about the debate on the use of the public passage under the museum by cyclists, which complicated the issue of where the entrance to the museum should be located. Although officially the cyclists’ lobby seemed to have won, and the passage is now open to traffic, it remains closed…

Exhibition Review | Monet’s Garden at the National Gallery of Victoria. Reviewed by David R. Marshall

The latest NGV exhibition is, again, sourced largely from a secondary French museum (the Musée Marmottan Monet, henceforth MMM). Monet exhibitions have traditionally draw large crowds, and are much loved by gallery directors needing to feed the political machines to which they are beholden that equate numbers with success. But if ‘Monet’ is the brand of brands for art exhibitions, for organisers there is the problem of finding new ways to give a Monet show intellectual credibility and thematic coherence, while marketeers may feel the need to enrich a brand that runs the risk of becoming stale. And, given the economics of international exhibitions in Australia, the bulk of the works need to come from a single source. Hence Monet’s Garden.

‘Monet’s Garden’ is an idea rich in possibilities: it connects cultural tourism (a trip to Giverny) with high-art glorification of artistic genius. While previous NGV exhibitions have emphasised, through videos, places associated with the objects on display (notably the Musée Moreau in the Moreau exhibition and Malmaison with Napoleon), Monet’s Garden takes the place/artwork nexus one step further. I once taught a subject in art history on the history of gardens called Visions of Paradise: Art of the Garden, a title stolen from a picture book by Marina Schinz, and did a week on Monet and Giverny. One of the essay questions was whether Monet was a better gardener than painter. This generated some interesting responses. By asking this question one is forced to look at his Giverny paintings differently: as topographical painting, subordinate to the place represented, rather than a this-is-a-work-of-genius painting. It is quite intriguing, after studying the now well-known colour photos of Monet in his garden nearest the house (e.g. pp. xxiv-xxv of the catalogue) (Fig. 1), to be able to identity what the paintings actually represent. The strength of Impressionism was that it accepted the facts and went from there, so that its underpinning of visual factuality is there if you choose to look. A visit to the waterlily pond at Giverny makes you realise that his Nymphéas paintings are much more realistic than you had thought when you saw them in a gallery (Figs. 3, 14). This helps us to see Monet differently: as the last of the estate topographers, rather than as a wannabee modernist abstractionist.

Exhibition Review | The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Death and Disaster. Reviewed by Katrina Grant

The ‘Four Horsemen’ exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria draws together a rich, varied and evocative selection of images of death: the horseman crushing rich and poor alike beneath the hooves of his skeletal horse; the shadowy figure stalking the young and the beautiful; the horrors of war; the terrors of the final Apocalypse.

Exhibition Review | J.W. Power: Abstraction – Création Paris 1934. Reviewed by Sheridan Palmer

 J.W. Power: Abstraction – Création Paris 1934 Reviewed by Sheridan Palmer J.W. Power: Abstraction – Création Paris 1934, Sydney University Art Gallery, open now until January 26th, 2013. On the fiftieth anniversary of the J. W. Power bequest to the University of Sydney, an exhibition and catalogue produced by the University Art Gallery and Power Institute revives Power the artist, who in Australia has until now been largely eclipsed by his philanthropy. The Power Bequest, at the time close to £2,000,000, was initially announced in 1961 and was intended to support the study of the Fine Arts and in particular the understanding of contemporary art. It came with a remarkable archive including Power’s papers — now held at the National Library of Australia — and some 1170 of Power’s own works of art. These range from his more juvenile Edwardian studies executed…

Exhibition Review | Sydney Long: The Spirit of the Land. Reviewed by Caroline Jordan.

Sydney Long: The Spirit of the Land Reviewed by Caroline Jordan Only at the National Gallery of Australia, 17 August—11 November, 2012, with a catalogue by Anne Gray and Roger Butler. Exhibition is closed but the website and image galleries are still available on the NGA website here. Sydney Long is one of the painters I like to visit when I go to Sydney. The AGNSW holds some of his iconic works: the pale-skinned boys river bathing in By Tranquil Waters (1894) (Fig. 1), the nymphs and satyrs gambolling in the Austral twilight in Pan (1898) (Fig. 2), an Aboriginal maiden playing a pipe to a flock of magpies in The Music Lesson (1904) (Fig. 3), and the swirling decorative panel Fantasy (Fig. 4). Add to this Brisbane’s blithe nymph leading on a flock of brolgas in Spirit of the Plains…

Exhibition Review | Radiance: The Neo-Impressionists. Reviewed by David R. Marshall

Radiance. The Neo-Impressionists Reviewed by David R. Marshall Radiance: The Neo-Impressionists. National Gallery of Victoria, 16 November 2012 – 17 March 2013 Impressionism was killed by theory, the theory that gave the Neo-impressionists their identity. Neo-Impressionist theory picked up on Impressionism’s naturalism and acute observation of outdoor light effects (coloured shadows and so forth) and married them to contemporary colour theory. The result was a pseudo-scientific artistic practice that proved to have interesting artistic possibilities wholly at odds with the theory that underpinned it. The science was the idea of optical mixing of colours and the theory of complementary contrasts. These were set out by in a book published forty years earlier by Michele-Eugène Chevreul, who had been director of the Gobelins tapestry works. Optical mixing derived from the practice of tapestry workers of twisting differently coloured threads together to…

Review | Love and Devotion: From Persia and Beyond. Reviewed by Adam Bushby

Love and Devotion: From Persia and Beyond Reviewed by Adam Bushby Love and Devotion: From Persia and Beyond, State Library of Victoria, Keith Murdoch Gallery, until 1 July 2012. Illustrated manuscripts from Persia, Ottoman Turkey and Mughal India are rare treats in Melbourne. Love and Devotion: From Persia and Beyond presents a modest but varied collection of manuscripts drawn mostly from the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, covering the period between the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries. The subject matter is both profane and sacred, familiar secular stories such as One Thousand and One Nights giving way to stories of love and illustrations of the natural world representing the divine. I suspect that most viewers, like me, approach these manuscripts tentatively, because the images they contain appear so different from those one is accustomed to meeting in traditional art histories. For…

Exhibition Review | Monumenta 2012: Daniel Buren, Excentrique(s). Reviewed by Victoria Hobday

Monumenta 2012: Daniel Buren, Excentrique(s) Reviewed by Victoria Hobday Monumenta 2012: Daniel Buren, Excentrique(s). Paris, Grand Palais, 10 May–21 June 2012. Each year an artist of international stature is invited to create a work for the hugely successful Monumenta installation project in the Grand Palais in Paris. The Grand Palais is an enormous space 45 metres high and covering 13,500 square metres. Last year it was the turn of Anish Kapoor, who created Leviathan, an enormous inflated aubergine-coloured curved form that fully occupied the space. Its organic curves, suggesting some overgrown vegetable, contrasted with, while complementing, the greenhouse-like form of the Grand Palais (Figs. 1–4). Its interior came as a breathtaking surprise. After being ushered in through a revolving door one entered an intimate space, surrounded by the womb-like inversion of the outside shape and where light from the outside…

Exhibition Review | Adventure and Art: The Fine Press Book from 1450 to 2011. Reviewed by John Weretka

Adventure and Art: The Fine Press Book from 1450 to 2011 Reviewed by John Weretka Adventure and Art: The Fine Press Book from 1450 to 2011 Curated by Alan Loney. Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne. Closes May 27th, 2012. More exhibition information available on the Baillieu website. So many of us live with so many books so much of the time that it is frequently difficult to take the book seriously as an object. Adventure and Art, curated by fine-press book maker Alan Loney, gathers around 50 examples of the fine-press book from the Gutenberg Bible to very recent examples of this art and, in so doing, makes a strong case not just for the persistence of this art form but for its often extraordinary beauty, in many cases transcending the information content of the words themselves. On show in…

Exhibition Review | Neon: Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue at La Maison Rouge Paris -Victoria Hobday

Neon: Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue La Maison Rouge Paris, 17 February–20 May 2012 Review by Victoria Hobday Neon has a long association with the streets, with commercial culture and with Paris. In 1902 Georges Claude, one of the founders of the company Air Liquide, discovered that the process of extracting gases such as helium and oxygen from air left behind a number of rare gases. Amongst these gases was neon and argon that when they are contained in a vacuum and an electric current is passed through them produces a glowing red and electric blue light respectively. The first neon sign was erected on the rooftop of a building on the boulevard Champs-Elysées in 1912 and spelt out the word ‘Cinzano’ the first of many signs to illuminate the streets of Paris. The lights attracted photographers in the…

Exhibition Review | Guercino: A Passion for Drawing – The Collections of Sir Denis Mahon and the Ashmolean Museum by David Packwood

Guercino: A Passion for Drawing – The Collections of Sir Denis Mahon and the Ashmolean Museum Ashmoleon Museum, Oxford, 11th February 2012 to 15th April 2012 Reviewed by David Packwood Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, better known as Guercino (1591-1666) because of his squint, was one of the most prolific draughtsmen of the seicento. Many of his drawings survive, attesting to his industry, commitment and unwavering belief in his art. Born in Cento—mid way between Bologna and Ferrara—the biographers say that he drew from the age of six. Beckoned by the flourishing Carracci academy in Bologna, Guercino went there to study their art, but had the confidence to set up shop on his own. With the election of a Bolognese pope from the Ludovisi family in 1621, Guercino found artists from that region favoured, and so he graduated to painting ceilings of palaces…