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Analysis and Comment (11)

Early prototype of Skippy. Early prototype of Skippy. Kangaroo Private Collection Courtesy of Nevill Keating Pictures Ltd

It’s Australia v England, in battle over Stubbs masterpieces

Not for the first time Britain and Australia are at loggerheads over cultural heritage. At issue this time are two images of genuine historical significance to both countries: Kongouro from New Holland…
Max Dupain, Bankstown aerodrome camouflage experiment, c.1943. Max Dupain, Bankstown aerodrome camouflage experiment, c.1943. National Archives of Australia

Hidden history: Max Dupain, modernism and war time camouflage

Max Dupain and Frank Hinder are among the many significant artists who contributed decisively to Australia’s modernist tradition. Less well known, however, is that they both worked for Australia’s military…
Famous for his urban landscape paintings, Australian artist Jeffrey Smart has passed away at the age of 91. Famous for his urban landscape paintings, Australian artist Jeffrey Smart has passed away at the age of 91. AAP/Supplied

Vale Jeffrey Smart: a friendly painter of alien space

Death has a special significance in the history of art. Whenever artists die, a kind of art dies with them. Painting will survive Jeffrey Smart (1921–2013) but the kind of picture that he produced is impossible…
Does the art critic speak for the broader public, for the artist or the connoisseur? Does the art critic speak for the broader public, for the artist or the connoisseur? http://www.flickr.com/photos/uber-tuber

The critical friend: for whom does the art critic speak?

The contemporary art critic cannot say with certainty whether something is good or bad. What good criticism does today is to help the public “see” the artwork. It does not explain and close down meaning…
Namatjira, by Imants Tillers, which won the 2013 Wynne Prize. Namatjira, by Imants Tillers, which won the 2013 Wynne Prize. Art Gallery of NSW

Times change but the art establishment rolls on

It was the 1960s when a curator – who shall remain nameless – was ordered to hang Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira’s work in his gallery. He hung the painting next to the ladies toilet with a vase of…
Tasmanians have yet to engage fully with the unspeakable in their history. Tasmanians have yet to engage fully with the unspeakable in their history. Nina Matthews Photography

Coming to terms with Tasmania’s forgotten war

Is Tasmania at a tipping point? Over the next two weeks The Conversation, in conjunction with Griffith REVIEW and the University of Tasmania, is publishing a series of provocations. Our authors ask where…
The lesser marked weaver’s nest must not only be functional, but also beautiful in order to catch the attention of a female. The lesser marked weaver’s nest must not only be functional, but also beautiful in order to catch the attention of a female. Fotosearch Stock Photos

Nests: the art of birds

Can the nests of some birds be regarded as works of art, as aesthetic creations worthy of our admiration? Charles Darwin wrote in The Descent of Man that some birds have “fine powers of discrimination…
No war was photographed like Vietnam and many of these images still speak to us today. No war was photographed like Vietnam and many of these images still speak to us today. Photographer: Michael Coleridge. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial EKN/67/0130/VN.

The photographer’s war: Vietnam through a lens

An unprecedented level of media coverage made the Vietnam war a watershed moment in the discipline of photography. The images by official military photographers, photojournalists, and individual soldiers…
Art history is falling out of favour with universities but why? We need to look at the reasons behind this change. Art history is falling out of favour with universities but why? We need to look at the reasons behind this change. AAP Image/Warren Clarke

Falling for future-porn: the demise of art history and the rise of university marketing

The impending closure of art history at La Trobe University has drawn sharp criticism from academics. They have pointed out that students enjoy art history: it is economical, has enduring value and demonstrably…