TO THE ISLANDS: exploring works created by artists on Dunk, Bedarra and Timana Islands between the 1930s and 1990s, Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Townsville 18 October – 1 December 2013; Cairns Regional Gallery 10 January – 9 March 2014
Reviewed by SUE SMITH
Yvonne Cohen (1914-2004) Mango trees 1945 oil on composition board 45.5 x 50.5 cm
Purchased 1986 with the assistance of North Queensland Cement Ltd
City of Townsville Art Collection
The secret was in the cut and the combination of colours, according to the prince of prints
DARK-eyed, good-looking Marchese Emilio Pucci (1914-1992), Italy’s aristocratic dress designer, known as “the prince of prints” and “the man who put women in pants”, always believed a good cut was the secret of casual style – along with an unerring eye for colour combinations.
Now a stunning new coffee table book (Emilio Pucci by Vanessa Friedman (Taschen) ), presenting hundreds of photographs, drawings and candid shots from the archive of the Emilio Pucci Foundation, reveals the vision of the Italian designer whose label grew from one tiny boutique on the isle of Capri to an international brand beloved by wealthy sophisticates, heiresses and movie stars.
Pucci, who began dabbling in fashion as an amateur after 14 years as an officer pilot in the Italian Air Force, created a sensation in 1948 with his slim, tapered trousers which he admitted came about largely by accident.
THE audacious photograph was of Edith Sitwell, the English poet, taken as if she was a gothic tomb sculpture, with flowers all around her and her hands crossed on her chest. On its first exhibition, in December 1927, at London’s Chenil Galleries in Bond Street, some people thought it rather beautiful. On the other hand, on the show’s opening day a lady of title was heard to declare, “She looks as putrid as her poetry.”
This was probably the nearest thing to controversy experienced by the man behind the camera, Cecil Beaton, in his charmed career of more than half a century as photographer to socialites, cinema stars and royalty.
Not that Beaton did not possess a needle-sharp and occasionally cruel wit, as a sumptuous new coffee table book, Beaton in Vogue, attests. Beaton’s columns and articles for Vogue often had a critical edge, even when he wrote about those he admired, such as Greta Garbo: “her mouth being knife-like, and lips perpetually moistened by her adder-like tongue” — a rather startling description of the woman, who playfully called him “Beattie” and whom he had sought to marry.
1912: Audiences 100 years ago adored Sarah Bernhardt, the flamboyant French actress and indomitable self-promoter
FEATURE films as sophisticated entertainment and picture palaces with lavish decoration and comfortable seats really came into their own in every town in Australia in 1912. That year, audiences everywhere thronged to see the leading lady of the age, Sarah Bernhardt, in Queen Elizabeth, the first five reel feature ever made and the most successful film of the French actress’s career. (Today, it can be glimpsed on YouTube and is also available on video.)
Few have mastered the art of showmanship as spectacularly as the “Divine Sarah”. Her acting was stellar and her affairs scandalous, matched only by her canny ability to turn both into cold cash, according to Robert Gottlieb in Sarah, a sharp 2010 biography of the woman whose name became a byword for theatrics.
Bernhardt’s first publicity stunt was to shout, “You miserable bitch” at a grande dame of the Paris theatre and slap her around the face, after the hapless woman shoved Bernhardt’s younger sister. Henry James thought her an advertising genius, and indeed Bernhardt’s eccentric self-promotion topped the antics of even modern stars as extreme as Lady GaGa and Madonna. Forget wearing meat and pointy bras – Sarah wore a hat adorned with a stuffed bat, always went on tour with her own coffin and once toured the US with an alligator called Ali-Gaga (which died, unfortunately, after consuming too much milk and champagne).
An obsessive Japanese conceptual artist calls the outsider artist label into question, writes Sue Smith
TATE MODERN, London
Continues until June 5, 2012
PERHAPS one of the most alluring (if illogical) personas attributed to artists is that of the antisocial Outsider – the uneducated, untrained naïf, the tribal artist, the criminal, underprivileged or insane individual, who lives beyond the conventional norms of society and is motivated purely by the joy of making art, untainted by awareness of the art world and the art marketplace.
A perceptive woman had insight into an intense relationship, writes Sue Smith
December 3, 2011 ─ March 4, 2012
Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane
Over nearly half a century, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso inspired, challenged and continually surprised each other with powerful and inventive paintings and sculptures.
Memories of the intense friendship and rivalry between the two titans of 20th century art have been revived by two superb exhibitions now in their last weeks in Australia. Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) is presenting Matisse: Drawing Life until 4 March 2012, while Sydney’s Art Gallery of New South Wales has almost filled its ground floor with some 150 paintings, drawing and sculptures in Picasso: masterpieces from the MuséeNational Picasso, continuing until 25 March.
The friendship began in 1905 in Paris, where just two years later Matisse shocked the art world with his Blue Nude, its twisted, contorted form expressing a kind of brute force as it also departed from tradition in colour. Soon afterwards, Picasso responded with the equally brutal Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. The work challenged Matisse, and laid down the gauntlet for a lifetime of competitive taunting and prodding which eventually deepened into respectful acknowledgement and a lifelong exchange of ideas.
Crucially, writes Jack Flam, ‘both Matisse and Picasso were primarily painters of women, and the erotic plays an important part in the work of both artists.’ During the years between 1925 and 1940, Flam adds, ‘part of the artistic rivalry between Matisse and Picasso was acted out as a kind of duel that revolved around the depictions of some of these women.
SWEPT AWAY: Grafico Topico’s Sue Smith will present an exhibition of her paintings at the Walter Reid Cultural Centre, Rockhampton,
October 20 – 25, 2011.
(Update: 23 September - New exhibition images added)
AS a high school student in the 1960s with a Jimmy Hendrix hair style and galvanised focus on art and English, Sue Smith was destined for a life in the arts.
Now, after a career of over 30 years as a curator, critic, historian and art museum director, the Australian writer and artist’s latest career direction is a solo exhibition of paintings in Rockhampton, Queensland.
The exhibition will be opened by Bill Hauritz AM, Executive Director of the Queensland Folk Federation, Founder and Director of the Woodford Folk Festival.
“I first became aware of Sue’s paintings when I was in Rockhampton for the ROCKon Music industry summit in 2009. It was obvious to me then, she had the talent, passion and intellect to pursue a career in painting, and it’s a great pleasure for me to open what I consider a very significant exhibition” Mr. Hauritz said.
Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde: Masterpieces from the collection of the Centre Pompidou, Paris
The Art Gallery of Ontario is bringing the magic, whimsy and wonder of a Jewish master to Canada in October, writes Sue Smith in her preview of this exhibition.
October 18, 2011 ─ January 15, 2012 Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
"IF I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing."
In a major exhibition which opens in October at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the inner world of the Russian poet of Jewish life, love and despair will be on view in paintings never seen before in Canada.
The 118 works in the exhibition will be drawn entirely from the collection of the Musee National d'art Moderne in the Centre Pompidou. The show will feature 32 works by Chagall and eight by Kandinsky, alongside art works by Kasimir Malevich, Natalia Goncharova, Sonia Delaunay and Vladimir Tatlin.
The exhibition aims to examine the influence of Chagall's Russian heritage on his art, and will show how he at turns embraced and rejected avant-garde movements in modern art as he developed his personal style.
The vibrant characters in Chagall's magical paintings reflect the world that bubbled up inside him: his love of wife Bella, music, theatre and his memories of Jewish tradition.
Neither dull reality nor the laws of gravity apply to the people and objects in these works.
"Les maries de le Tour Eiffel" (1938) shows the artist with rubbery, bendy legs, tenderly holding his wistful bride as they fly through the air on the back of a cockerel.
Grafico Topico Update: In memory of Margaret Olley
Although from some years ago, Sue Smith feels this review still captures the essence of Margaret Olley's approach to art and life.
Rushcutter's Bay and Still Life
Philip Bacon Galleries
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 1998
Review by Grafico Topico's SUE SMITH
An edited version of this review was first published in The Courier-Mail 17 October,1998
THERE'S nothing like painting what you're familiar with," says Margaret Olley. "You can do all sorts of things with the ordinary." She pauses to consider the alternatives. "To go off and paint the Swiss mountains is a monumental task, best left to God!"
But though Olley, 76, mostly paints still-lifes and the interiors of her own house, her world is anything but limited. She is a knowledgeable benefactor, who has given to public galleries works by Arthur Boyd, Edgar Degas and Georgio Morandi, as well as early Indian sculptures and miniatures.
The range and depth of her own art has also been recently discovered: last year, an acclaimed retrospective exhibition of her work, presented in Sydney, Brisbane and Newcastle, showed landscapes, nudes and self-portraits, as well as the interiors for which she is well-known.
And Olley has always been an open-minded traveller, absorbing new cultures and the master painters like a sponge: "I'm always trying to learn, (going) to the great sources," she says. In May this year, she went to London to see a huge Bonnard retrospective; before that, there was Rembrandt in Australia, Vermeer in Europe, and Matisse in New York. She has excellent recall, describing in detail paintings and exhibitions she has seen up to forty years ago.
As we speak, Olley talks constantly about the masters. It is partly a defense mechanism, a way of gently deflecting probing questions -- like most artists, Olley is reluctant to talk about the whys and wherefores of her own work. But she also loves these artists: they are her touchstones, her guiding angels. When, for example, she chooses to paint her favourite yellow room half a dozen times -- as in her current show at Brisbane's Phillip Bacon Galleries -- somewhere at the back of her mind are works such as Picasso's variations on the "seated woman" theme, a series she saw in Paris and has never forgotten.
Grafico Topico has recently discovered this great new music programme by ABC's music experts Bill Riner and Brandon Stewart, and we thoroughly recommend it to anyone who has a pulse.
Very experienced and knowledgeable music programmers, Bill and Brandon explore beyond commercial playlists, and search out the more unusual and interesting releases. Although not too far off the beaten track, the music is accessible and fresh, and the information about the artist and recordings thorough, in depth and informative.
Of particular interest to contemporary followers is Luiz Bonfá's "Seville (edit)" which features the sample used by Australian artist Gotyé featuring Kimbra's hit song "Somebody that I used to know" and currently #1 in the UK. Bill explores the original recording and how Gotyé uses the sample to underpin this hit record. The programme is worth listening to just for this fascinating revelation and insight.
Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art presents a large exhibition of surrealist paintings, sculpture, objects, films, photographs, drawings and collages, writesSue Smith
June 11, 2011 ─ October 2, 2011 Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane
A large exhibition, drawn from the collection of Paris’s Musée National d’Art Moderne, of 180 works by European artists René Magritte, Victor Brauner and many other surrealists working from the 1910s to the late 1960s has been drawing delightedly puzzled crowds to Brisbane's Gallery of Modern Art (the exhibition’s only Australian venue).
Paris in the early 20th century saw the growth of a new art form called surrealism. Both a formal movement and a spiritual orientation, surrealism embraced ethics and politics as well as the arts. Surrealist artists sought to create a medium that liberated the subconscious mind, making use of automatism, paranoia or the exploration of dreams.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art reunites some unparalleled holdings of modern art, writes Sue Smith
May 21, 2011 ─ September 6, 2011: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
AMERICAN expatriates in bohemian Paris when the 20th century was young, the Steins – writer Gertrude, her brothers Leo and Michael, and Michael’s wife, Sarah – were among the first to recognise the talents of avant-garde painters like Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. Through their friendship and patronage, they helped spark an artistic revolution.
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art exhibition has drawn on collections from around the world to reunite the Steins’ unparalleled collections of modern art, bringing together, for the first time in a generation, some 60 works by Matisse, 40 by Picasso and another 100 by Bonnard, Cézanne, Gris, Picabia and Renoir, all once owned by various Steins.
AUSTRALIA'S priceless Aboriginal rock art sites may be decimated within the next fifty years.
That is the view of Griffith University's first Chair of the Aboriginal Rock Art Research Centre, Professor Paul Tacon, who is widely acknowledged as one of the world's leading experts on the subject.
Professor Tacon and passionate supporter, Australian actor Jack Thompson, launched the campaign "Protect Australia's Spirit" in Sydney on 31 May 2011.
The Australian actor first saw Aboriginal rock carvings as a child in Bondi: "I said, 'Holy mackerel, look at that'," said Thompson of his first experience of one of the world's oldest art forms.
Prof Tacon is seeking support and funding for a joint initiative of Griffith University, the Australian National University and the University of WA to document and shield the estimated 100,000 rock art sites around Australia. The project would initially identify one hundred of the most significant rock art sites and aims to digitally archive and categorise sites to develop strategies for rock art site management and preservation.
Grafico Topico's travel writer Monsieur Flaneur dons his akubra hat and explores Australian Aboriginal Rock Art.
MES AMIS, Flaneur's appetite for Australian Aboriginal art began quite by chance when he stumbled across this curieux group (pictured left) in his very own ville in 2008.
Who were these so intriguingly folkloric-costumed personnes, he wondered, so eagerly ready to man the barricades ... pour qui, one wondered?
After a tentative inquiry, all was revealed: the "Stand up for the Burrup", it appears, is an ongoing campaign of the "Friends of Australian Rock Art" to protect the outstanding 30,000 year old rock art in Western Australia which one is told houses 500,000 individual rock art works and engravings. (Non! Incroyable!)
Brisbane’s QUT Art Museum surveys a consummate Australian landscapist, writes Sue Smith
William Robinson: The Transfigured Landscape April 17, 2011 ─ August 14, 2011 QUT Art Museum, Brisbane, Australia www.artmuseum.qut.edu.au
Rainforest and romantic time travel...
Living in the country everything moves - the seasons, the clouds, nothing is set. There are things all around you and you are in it. Everything is constantly moving.… You begin to realise that you are in a landscape that is really the crust of the earth. It is air and ground. We’re all just spinning through space. There is something about the painting that is indefinite, not solid. We don’t really have an orientation in this infinity. … You begin to question what time is. Time isn’t something that is just measured on a clock. Time can also be a mind thing - you can be a time-traveller with your mind in a painting. William Robinson