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
Throughout his life, Brett Whiteley made images of apes and monkeys. He found much in their character and physiognomy to identify with.
Sidney Nolan’s Steve Hart dressed as a girl 1947 from the Ned Kelly series 1946 – 1947 enamel paint on composition board 90.60 x 121.10 cm.
Gift of Sunday Reed 1977 National Gallery of Australia
As a bushranger in the Kelly gang, Steve Hart took to dressing as a woman and riding side-saddle to avoid detection. Sidney Nolan's painting captures Hart's adolescent cockiness, bravery, and foolhardy bluster.
Close up of the wheel in Marcel Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel, 1951 (third version, after lost original of 1913) Metal wheel mounted on painted wood stool.
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection© 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris / Estate of Marcel Duchamp
In his Bicycle Wheel, Duchamp made the perfect kinetic Futurist sculpture.
Claude Monet, France, 1840-1926, La pie (The magpie), 1868-1869, oil on canvas, 121.4 x 164.1 cm.
Musée d'Orsay, Paris, France, ©photo Musée d'Orsay / rmn
Claude Monet painted The Magpie in winter 1868, turning his interest in colour on the blank canvass of snow.
Detail from Francesco Rosselli (Italian) The Execution of Savonarola and Two Companions at Piazza della Signoria, 16th century, oil on canvas 112 x 138.5cm (framed)
Galeria Corsini, Florence
In 1497 Girolamo Savonarola burned books and art in Florence in the most infamous act of European cultural desecration. A year later, he met the same fate.
Detail from Rachel Ruysch, Still life with flowers in a glass vase, 1716, oil on canvas, 48.5 x 39.5 cm, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
During her lifetime, the paintings of Dutch artist Rachel Ruysch sold for higher prices than those of Rembrandt. Why, then, have her talents not been more widely acknowledged in the centuries since?
A still image from Pipilotti Rist’s Ever Is Over All, 1997, single channprojectors, players, sound system, paint, carpet, courtesy the artist, Hauser & Wirth and Luhring Augustine.
© the artist
In 1997 Pippilotti Rist walked down a street of cars and smashed their windows in a vivaciously feminist call to arms. You might recognise the homage to Risk's work in Beyoncé's Lemonade.
Detail of Jim Dine,
The mighty robe I, 1985.
Colour lithograph with relief printing from polymer plates,
61.3 x 50.7 cm (image and plate), 89.2 x 63.4 cm (sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Gift of the artist, 2016, 2016.806, © Jim Din
Jim Dine and other pop artists like Andy Warhol took everyday things and transformed them into magical objects. In his prints a robe could become a self-portrait, a president, or a hero.
A detail from Vincent Van Gogh’s, Olive grove with two olive pickers, December 1889 Saint-Rémy, oil on canvas 73.3 x 92.2 cm.
Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo © Collection Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, the Netherlands
The pickers and sinewy olives in this painting all strain upward towards the hope of spiritual salvation. But six months after he completed it, Vincent Van Gogh walked out into a wheat field and shot himself.
Detail of Brook Andrew, Sexy and dangerous 1996.
courtesy National Gallery of Victoria
A 20th-century image of an anonymous 'Aboriginal Chief' becomes an investigation of power, colonialism and queer sexuality in the hands of Brook Andrew.
Part of Auguste Rodin’s Pierre de Wissant, monumental nude,
Our empathy for the anguished subject of this sculpture is heightened because although cast in bronze he is so tantalisingly human.
Detail of Judy Watson, black ground (1989) courtesy of the National Gallery of Victoria.
© Judy Watson/Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia
Judy Watson pours ochre and pigment onto unstretched canvases laid on the ground. The puddling and drying created an image of a simple termite mound with a profound connection to country.
Summer in the you beaut country, John Olsen, 1962.
Courtesy National Gallery Victoria, © John Olsen
A yellow line becomes a blistering ray of sunlight in Summer in the You Beaut Country. John Olsen's paintings, often described as 'quintessentially Australian', teem with life.
Mike Parr’s performance work ‘Jackson Pollock the female’ is part homage and part sabotage.
National Gallery of Australia
Jackson Pollock's Blue Poles is one of Australia's most famous cultural acquisitions. When Mike Parr lay supine before it, streaked with his own blood, he offered a new way of looking at the act of painting.
Janet Laurence’s new installation Deep Breathing: Resuscitation for the Reef.
As scientists make a renewed push for greater action on climate change, a new installation at the Australian Museum brings home the fragility of our world.
‘Everything is sharply defined; we can even count his freckles.’
Detail of Diane Arbus, Boy with a straw hat waiting to march in a pro-war parade, N.Y.C., 1967. Courtesy of the National Gallery of Australia
In 1967, as flower children across America marched against the Vietnam war, Diane Arbus chose to photograph a young man wearing a 'Bomb Hanoi' badge. What did she capture, about the boy and the time?
Detail of Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori, Dibirdibi Country – Topway 2016.
Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Collection Image courtesy Alcaston Gallery © The Estate of the Artist and Viscopy Australia
Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori began painting in her 80s, and over ten years created an extraordinary body of work. Her paintings are more like music and dance – depicting the stories of the Kaiadilt people for the first time.
Detail of Frida Kahlo, Self-portrait with monkeys 1943.
The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of Mexican Art © 2016 Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico DF
The Mexican artist Frida Kahlo kept monkeys as pets and painted them often. They symbolised the children she couldn't have and were worshipped as gods of fertility in Aztec times.
Degas beautifully captured women in private moments.
Detail of Edgar Degas, Woman seated on the edge of the bath sponging her neck c. 1880–95, Musée D’Orsay, Paris
Edgar Degas was fascinated with women's bodies. Whether dancing, ironing or bathing, he captured these intimate moments with a voyeur's detached scrutiny.
William Barak’s Ceremony has sold at auction to an unknown buyer.
Can you repatriate a painting? Descendants of Aboriginal painter William Barak ran a crowdsourcing campaign to try to buy back the previously unknown artwork Ceremony.