Detail from Gerhard Richter’s Reader (804), 1994 Oil on canvas. 72 x 102cm. Collection: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, USA Purchase through the gifts of Mimi and Peter Haas and Helen and Charles Schwab, and the Accessions Committee Fund: Barbara and Gerson Bakar, Collectors Forum, Evelyn D. Haas, Elaine McKeon, Byron R. Meye

Art

Gerhard Richter: The Life of Images is an unmissable show

A relief at the ancient Persian city of Persepolis (now in modern Iran), including inscriptions in cuneiform, the world’s oldest form of writing. Diego Delso/Wikimedia

Ancient writing

Friday essay: the recovery of cuneiform, the world’s oldest known writing

Cuneiform was used for over 3,000 years in the Ancient Near East, but was only decoded in the 19th century. The writing form is still revealing amazing stories, from literature to mathematics.
John Fead, Shakespeare and his contemporaries, 1851. Wikimedia

Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s lost playhouse – now under a supermarket

The first recorded performance of the theatre company that Shakespeare co-founded was at a playhouse south of the Thames, but was lost to historians for centuries. Now we know where it lies.
Ern McQuillan, Tuna Fishing at Eden, New South Wales, 1960. National Library of Australia

Gone fishing

Plenty of fish in the sea? Not necessarily, as history shows

The history of fisheries exploitation in Australia reveals a staggering natural bounty, which has been alarmingly fragile without proper management.
Giotto’s Last Judgment in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, inspired by Dante Alighieri’s vision of heaven and hell. Wikimedia

Literature

Guide to the Classics: Dante’s Divine Comedy

The gates to hell in Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy tell us to "abandon all hope, yet who enter here". Despite its unfunny premise, 'La Commedia' ends well, with its protagonist Dante reaching heaven.
Robbie ‘Bones’ McGhie after playing in the 1973 Grand Final, in which his team, Richmond, won. Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive

Footy

‘Bones’ McGhie, a cigarette and nostalgia for a greater game

Football has changed dramatically in the 35 years since Richmond last had a chance at the Grand Final. But while footy is now 'an industry', the arrival of the first women's league is to be celebrated.
Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy magazine, has died age 91. EPA/DAL ZENNARO

Obituary

Hugh Hefner, Playboy, and being a man during the Cold War

Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy magazine, has died age 91. While many have pointed to Playboy's problematic relationship with women, when it first appeared in 1953 the magazine was a challenge to Cold War men.
A sacred paperbark tree at Djiliwirri, the most sacred homeland of the Indigenous elder and public intellectual, Dr Joe Gumbula, in 2004. Aaron Corn

Friday essay

Friday essay: Dr Joe Gumbula, the ancestral chorus, and how we value Indigenous knowledges

Dr Joe Gumbula was a master-singer of Manikay, the exquisite Yolŋu tradition of public ceremonial song. While the songs contain incredible knowledge, scholars have rarely treated them as an intellectual tradition.
Detail from a statue of the Virgin Mary cradling the body of Jesus (15th-century Slovenia). For many centuries, the pain that could accompany dying was seen as punishment for sin and ultimately redemptive.

History

When a ‘good death’ was often painful: euthanasia through the ages

For centuries, in Western societies, 'euthanasia' referred to a pious death, blessed by God. The pain that could accompany dying was seen as ultimately redemptive.
Peter Cummins as Monk O’Neill in the 1972 Australian Performing Group production of A Stretch of the Imagination. Photographer unknown.

Theatre

The Great Australian Plays: Williamson, Hibberd and the better angels of our country’s nature

David Williamson and Jack Hibberd tower over Australian drama. Williamson's The Department and Hibberd's A Stretch of the Imagination both showcase the strange yet compelling detachment of these playwrights' visions.
Waiting for my lunch 2014. What happens when we start noticing the white noise of ‘non places’? Julie Shiels

Daydreaming

Waiting: rediscovering boredom in the age of the smartphone

We constantly use electronic devices to distract ourselves from the tedium associated with waiting. Yet being bored can be a creative activity.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono wrote Give Peace a Chance in a ‘bed-in’ in Montreal. Nationaal Archief/Wikimedia

Music

Giving peace a chance? Music can drive us apart as much as it unites

Ahead of International Peace Day celebrity musicians like Yoko Ono have released music for peace. But the same qualities that bring us together around music can also inflame conflict, from the Yugoslav civil wars to Northern Ireland.
An F/A-18 Hornet breaking the sound barrier. Wikimedia Commons

Sound

Riverfire, sonic awe and the pornography of war

Fly-bys by RAAF Super Hornets and army helicopters are a noisy finale to the Brisbane Festival. While many find this sound awe-inspiring, what of those with lived experience of war?
Art and Seek Workshop participants examining locks of Keats’s hair and the painting P.B. Shelley in the Baths of Caracalla by Joseph Severn. A. Frances Johnson

Poetry

Courageous quests: Keats, art and refugees

Was John Keats a refugee in his day? A workshop for refugees, migrants and artists took place recently at Keats-Shelley House and the story of the great Romantic poet's life and death hit a nerve.
David Bowie performs on his 1974 Diamond Dogs world tour. Hunter Desportes/Flickr

Music

My favourite album: David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs

David Bowie was the tasteful thief and practised faker, and his 1974 album Diamond Dogs borrowed from everything to create a sublime post-apocalyptic soundscape.
Gil Birmingham (Cory) and Jeremy Renner (Martin) in Wind River: grieving fathers who come together in the realm of the dead. Production Co: Acacia Filmed Entertainment, Film 44, Ingenious Media

Myths on screen

Friday essay: journeys to the underworld – Greek myth, film and American anxiety

American cinema mines Greek myth most strongly at times of profound social anxiety. In the age of Trump, we are already seeing key political battlegrounds framed as underworld quests in film.

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