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Analysis and Comment (22)

You’re in a gallery looking at Dani Marti’s It’s All About Peter. What do you do next? Photo: Jamie North. Image courtesy of the artist and BREENSPACE, Sydney.

Three simple steps to understand art: look, see, think

What’s the key to understanding art? Could there be some easy steps to unpacking the meaning of an artwork? The short answer is: yes. I recently wrote an article for The Conversation called Three questions…
Why are Western Australian artists such as Flynn Talbot, whose work X Y is pictured here, left out of the bigger picture? Flynn Talbot Studio/Undiscovered Symposium

Western Australian art is excluded from the national conversation

Despite our interconnectedness through radio, television and the internet, the coverage of arts and cultural activities in Australia is viewed from a very close focus. This corrupts our understanding of…
Extreme duration can transform otherwise simple activity into something strange and powerful. Marina Abramović, The Artist Is Present, 2010, MOMA, New York. Andrew Russeth

Explainer: extreme duration in the performing arts

Last September, I sat down in the Capital Theatre in Bendigo to listen to American composer Morton Feldman’s String Quartet No.2 played by the Flux Quartet from New York. Sounds a nice way to spend an…
Jian’s case suggests the Chinese government is far from “opening up”. R. Ian Lloyd/Flickr

Guo Jian’s detainment paints a familiar picture of China

Earlier this week, just three days before the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Square democratic movement, Chinese-Australian artist Guo Jian was taken from his Beijing home by local police. He’s currently…
Corrado Giaquinto, Italian 1703–1766, worked in Spain 1753–62, Allegory of Justice and Peace (Allegoria della Giustizia e della Pace) c.1753–54 oil on canvas, 216.0 x 325.0 cm. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid (P00104), Spanish Royal Collection

Italian masterpieces from Spain in Australia? They brush up nicely

Nationalism is not always a good thing where understanding art is concerned, but in the case of Italian Masterpieces from Spain’s Royal Court, Museo del Prado on show at the National Gallery of Victoria…
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. 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. 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? 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. 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. 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. 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. 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…