Articles on Australian art

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Ben Quilty, Australia, born 1973. Margaret Olley 2011. Oil on linen / 170.0 x 150.0 cm. Collection of the artist. Courtesy the artist. Photograph: Mim Stirling

‘Are you one of us or one of them?’ Margaret Olley, Ben Quilty and a portrait of a generous friendship

Margaret Olley was known not only for her paintings, but her generosity. An exhibition of her work is currently on in Brisbane, alongside a survey of the work of Ben Quilty, her mentee and friend.
Detail from Fiona Foley Native Blood Type C photograph x cm Edition copy. Fiona Foley

For Aboriginal artists, personal stories matter

Art historians argue that the life of the artist should be viewed independently of their art but, for most Aboriginal artists, art is a cultural expression that encompasses their lives.
Nora Heysen, Self-portrait 1934 oil on canvas 43.1 x 36.3 cm. National Portrait Gallery, Canberra Purchased 1999 © Lou Klepac

Friday essay: Nora Heysen, more than her father’s daughter

Nora Heysen was the first woman to be awarded the Archibald Prize, but for most of her life she was defined not by her art, but by her relationship to her famous father, the artist Hans Heysen.
Dorrit Black, The Bridge, 1930. Oil on canvas on board, 60.0 x 81.0 cm. Bequest of the artist, 1951, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.

How our art museums finally opened their eyes to Australian women artists

Dorrit Black, Grace Cossington Smith and Grace Crowley were some of many talented modernist women artists. But only with the advent of second wave feminism in the 1970s was their work properly acknowledged.
Visitors look at Blue poles (1952) during its trip to London for an abstract expressionism exhibition in 2016. Andy Rains/EPA

Blue poles 45 years on: asset or overvalued drip painting?

The 1973 purchase of Jackson Pollock's abstract expressionist painting – at a record price for the time – was a controversial moment in Australian art. Was it worth it?
S.T. Gill, Kangaroo Hunting, The Death, from his Australian Sketchbook (1865). Colonial hunting clubs were established across Australia in the 1830s and 1840s. National Library of Australia

Friday essay: the art of the colonial kangaroo hunt

In the mid 19th century, kangaroo hunting was a sport. Colonial hunting clubs were established across Australia and everyone from Charles Darwin to Anthony Trollope tried their hand at shooting roos.
Detail from Brett Whiteley. Sacred baboon 1975 brush and ink, wood stain, watercolour, gouache and cut printed colour illustration on cardboard 81.6 x 67.6 cm National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased, 1978 (A23-1978) © Wendy Whiteley

An ape in anguish: Brett Whiteley’s Sacred baboon

Throughout his life, Brett Whiteley made images of apes and monkeys. He found much in their character and physiognomy to identify with.
Mirka Mora sitting surrounded by her colourful doll and soft sculpture creations and tapestries in 1978. Courtesy of the Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive, State Library of Victoria.

Au revoir Mirka Mora, your joie de vivre will live on

Mirka Mora survived the second world war to carve out a unique place for herself in the Australian art world. Over six decades, her creativity was legendary.
Charles Blackman posed next to his work in Sydney in 2013. Tracy Nearmy/AAP

Charles Blackman’s poetic vision contained an undertone of dread

Charles Blackman forged an urbanised image of Australia that for most, was more familiar than the mythic landscapes of Sidney Nolan or Arthur Boyd. Yet though familiar, it remains uncomfortable.
Detail from John Russell: Almond tree in blossom c1887. oil on gold ground on canvas on plywood 46.2 x 55.1 cm. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. The Joseph Brown Collection. Presented through the NGV Foundation by Dr Joseph Brown AO OBE, Honorary Life Benefactor, 2004 (2004.216)

From Monet to Rodin, John Russell: Australia’s French Impressionist maps artistic connections

John Russell, who was destined to become an engineer, instead became an artist in fin de siècle France – and a friend of Van Gogh, Monet and Rodin.
Detail from Fred Williams You Yang Pond 1963. oil on composition board Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide Gift of Godfrey Phillips International Pty Ltd 1968 © Estate of Fred Williams

Fred Williams in the You Yangs: a turning point for Australian art

A new exhibition features more than 50 works by Fred Williams, centred on the You Yangs peaks, west of Melbourne. They illuminate a breakthrough moment in Australian art.
Detail from Jenny Watson’s The Pretty Face of Domesticity, 2014, oil and synthetic polymer paint on velvet striped shantung. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Transit, Mechelen ©the artist

A maverick on fabric: the strange, unconventional art of Jenny Watson

A major exhibition of Jenny Watson's work at Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art spans 40 years in the creative life of a rule-breaking Australian artist.

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