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MONET WINTER EXPERIENCE Friday 7 June 6.00 pm Celebrate the opening of Monet: Impression Sunrise and be the first to see the painting by Monet that changed the art world forever. Enjoy an exclusive cocktail event including a curator’s introduction and a private viewing of the National Gallery’s winter blockbuster. $85 members, $105 guests

This winter, visit the National Gallery in Canberra and experience a range of exclusive membership benefits.

Find out more at

Claude Monet Impression, sunrise 1872 (detail), oil on canvas. Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, gift of Victorine and Eugène Donop de Monchy, 1940

Renowned design duo Luke Sales and Anna Plunkett of Romance Was Born have designed a luxurious, one-off silk chiffon scarf to celebrate the Love and Desire exhibition. Featuring a modern and covetable print that embodies the attitude of the rebellious Pre-Raphaelite artists, the scarf is a unique and wearable piece of art. Available only in a limited-edition box together with the beautifully illustrated exhibition catalogue at the National Gallery of Australia for $550.




Editor Eric Meredith Guest contributors Carol Jacobi, Curator, British Art 1850–1915, Tate Britain Reuben Keehan, Curator, Contemporary Asian Art, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Contributors Jaklyn Babington, Senior Curator, Contemporary Art Practice—Global Crispin Howarth, Curator, Pacific Art Jane Kinsman, Head of International Art Lara Nicholls, Curator, 19th-Century Australian Art Bianca Winataputri, Assistant Curator, Contemporary Art Practice—Global Advertising enquiries Enquiries © National Galley of Australia 2019 PO Box 1150, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia +61 (0)2 6240 6411 |

DIRECTOR’S WORD Nick Mitzevich








NEW ACQUISITION AND EXHIBITION URS FISCHER: SCULPTURE Jaklyn Babington introduces the Gallery’s newly acquired Urs Fischer candle sculpture Francesco, on display from 16 March

16 CURRENT EXHIBITION YAYOI KUSAMA: INFINITY ROOM Reuben Keehan provides a brief history of Kusama’s infinity rooms to celebrate THE SPIRITS OF THE PUMPKINS DESCENDED INTO THE HEAVENS

22 CURRENT MAJOR EXHIBITION LOVE AND DESIRE: PRE-RAPHAELITES MASTERPIECES FROM THE TATE Carol Jacobi summarises the intense five years in which the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood sought to interpret the rapidly changing world around them

30 CURRENT EXHIBITION MĀORI MARKINGS: TĀ MOKO Published quarterly. Copyright of works of art is held by the artists or their estates. Every effort has been made to identify copyright holders but omissions may occur. Views expressed by writers are not necessarily those of the National Gallery of Australia. Artonview may contain names and images of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. ISSN 1323-4552 ISSN 2208-6218 (Online) Designed by Kristin Thomas Proofread by Meredith McKendry Printed by Adams Print, on FSC certified paper using vegetable-based inks, FSC-C110099

Crispin Howarth explores the connected histories of the colonisation of Aotearoa New Zealand and the tradition of tā moko

36 COMING MAJOR EXHIBITION MONET: IMPRESSION SUNRISE Jane Kinsman presents the ‘coming of age’ of French art brought about by a small group of artists that became known as the Impressionists

44 COMING EXHIBITION CONTEMPORARY WORLDS: INDONESIA Jaklyn Babington looks at some of the works in the coming exhibition Contemporary Worlds: Indonesia, opening 21 June

50 MAJOR LOAN FRANK STELLA’S YORK FACTORY Bianca Winataputri highlights Frank Stella’s York factory, generously made available on long-term loan to the Gallery

Cover: Bodies of Art: Human Form from the National Collection at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, showing Francis Bacon’s Triptych 1970, Jeff Koons’s Balloon Venus Dolni Vestonice (Yellow) 2013–17, Giulio Paolini’s Air 1983, Louise Bourgeois’s COYOTE 1941–48, the nineteenth-century Indonesian Ancestral horse with two riders, Jannis Kounellis’s Senza titolo (Untitled) 1990 and Hossein Valamanesh’s Falling 1990.

52 TRAVELLING EXHIBITION ART DECO FROM THE NATIONAL COLLECTION: THE WORLD TURNS MODERN Lara Nicholls looks into the Art Deco histories and sites of the regional centres to which Art Deco from the National Collection will travel from 31 May

56 NEW ACQUISITIONS Yudha ‘Fehung’ Kusuma Putera, Eko Nugroho, I Made Wiguna Valasara, Jo Ann Callis




Eight weeks remain of our major exhibition Love and Desire: Pre-

extensive collection galleries. A number of recently acquired works

Raphaelite Masterpieces from the Tate, which has been enjoyed by

are worth singling out. The Gallery’s new Yayoi Kusama infinity room,

tens of thousands of visitors to the National Gallery over the summer.

which was purchased with the invaluable support of Andrew and

We are so pleased to be able to bring these works to Canberra, most of

Hiroko Gwinnett last year, went on display in early December and has

which have never been seen in Australia before.

been extremely popular. It is a work the effect of which can only be

Love and Desire will close on 28 April, after which we will turn

fully experienced in person—although this is arguably true, to differing

our attention to another group of rebellious young artists, this time from

degrees, of any work of art. To celebrate its acquisition by the Gallery,

across the channel, in Monet: Impression Sunrise. Opening on 7 June,

we asked the curator of Kusama’s recent retrospective in Brisbane,

the exhibition centres around Monet’s masterpiece Impression, sunrise,

QAGOMA’s Reuben Keehan, to share with readers a brief history of the

from which Impressionism takes its name\ and which was shown in the

development of Kusama’s infinity rooms.

first Impressionist exhibition of 1874. It will reveal Monet’s development

Swiss artist Urs Fischer’s candle sculpture Francesco 2017 is

as an artist over his long career—from the flames of his youth, which

another recently acquired work that will soon go on display. Like any

were fanned in his teenage years by his mentor Eugène Boudin, to the

candle, it will be lit and gradually melt, a haunting yet astute reminder

lessons and many influences prior to the first Impressionist exhibition

of the patient ravages of time. Yet there is also levity in this depiction of

and, finally, to his accomplished, mature works, among which are his

the famous Italian curator Francesco Bonami, who stands atop an open

waterlily paintings.

refrigerator, serving as an unorthodox plinth, stuffed with modelled

The exhibition is curated by Marianne Mathieu, Assistant Director

wax fruit and vegetables. Fischer’s Francesco will be a work to watch

and Head of Collections at the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris, who

over time, as it undergoes its metamorphosis. Jaklyn Babington, Senior

initiated the recent in-depth study of Impression, sunrise due the

Curator of Contemporary Art Practice—Global, explores this intriguing

painting’s significance to Monet’s prolific body of work and to the

work further on pages 14–15.

Marmottan’s collection. Rarely does new information come to light about

Finally, I’d like to remind our readers of our Members Acquisitions

artists of this period, who have been written about extensively, so we are

Fund 2018–19, the focus of which is acquiring Landstory 2017, a seminal

delighted to be hosting this influential painting as well as other inspired

work by Mamu and Ngadjon artist Danie Mellor, who is one of Australia’s

works by Monet and his contemporaries from the Marmottan, Tate

foremost contemporary art practitioners. Landstory, which is now

and private and public collections in Australia and New Zealand. Jane

on display in our Australian galleries, is an extremely sophisticated

Kinsman, our Head of International Art, introduces the exhibition on

work that achieves the seemingly impossible by developing Australian

pages 36–43, yet more will be revealed in our June issue.

landscape art further. Placing the Indigenous connection to Country

Opening in just a few weeks, in a first for Australia, Māori

at its heart, it speaks both to the past and to our future. The National

Markings: Tā Moko will explore the practice of tā moko, and the wearing

Gallery has such a rich tradition of collecting, preserving, researching

of moko, a form of body marking that is unique to Aotearoa New Zealand.

and advancing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, and I hope

The exhibition will reveal the history of this living, breathing art of

that this year, in the International Year of Indigenous Languages,

our region, which was heavily suppressed during Aotearoa’s turbulent

more members than ever before contribute to making this the most

colonisation by the British only to rise again over the past thirty years to become an admired and powerful form of Māori cultural expression,

successful Members Acquisitions Fund to date. Nick Mitzevich

identity and unity. In many respects, an Australian exhibition celebrating Māori art and culture is long overdue, as an estimated one fifth of today’s global Māori population live here in Australia and are an active part of the rich cultural diversity of our country. We also have a number of continuing exhibitions that draw from our collections such as Bodies of Art: Human Form from the National Collection, Power and Imagination and Sky/Earth as well as our

Bodies of Art: Human Form from the National Collection at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, showing Robert Klippel’s Number 24, Harry Boyd 1946, Rosemary Madigan’s Torso 1948 and Giambattista Tiepolo’s Marriage allegory c 1737–47.



What audiences are saying about



‘Sigh … the romance … the art … the history! Just sublime. Visit the NGA, you won’t be disappointed’

‘An escape into a romantic period for one evening and to remember forever’

‘Breathtaking! The Pre-Raphaelite exhibition takes you away from the mundane day-to-day life!’

‘Magnificent. Worthy of more than a single visit’

‘It transports you to another world where beauty knows no bounds’ ‘It was enlightening and so beautiful’ ‘Stunning. This is art that I have not paid much attention too in the past. The detail is extraordinary and the emotive scenes are enchanting’

‘Didn’t know what to expect, having not seen any of the paintings before, but was completely enthralled with it and want to return’ ‘Absolutely fantastic exhibition—can’t believe I saw this outside the Tate!’

‘An impressive collection of fascinating works’

Love and Desire: Pre-Raphaelite Masterpieces from the Tate 14 December 2018 to 28 April 2019

‘Fantastic, I got goose bumps all the way through’

Join the conversation #lovedesire



IN BRIEF Monet: Impression Sunrise 7 June to 1 September 2019 The Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris holds one of the world’s leading

of France, after returning from London, where he had sought refuge

which Impressionism arguably takes its name. This masterpiece,

from the Franco-Prussian war. Composed from the window of a hotel,

Impression, sunrise 1872, will be coming to the National Gallery of

its evocative daubs of paint effectively convey Monet’s impression of

Australia in June 2019 with some forty Impressionist and related

the life of the busy port of Le Havre shrouded in early morning fog.

paintings from the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris, Tate in the

In London, Monet immersed himself in the works at the National Gallery,

United Kingdom and select Australian and New Zealand collections.

and he later expressed his admiration for the English artist JMW Turner,

The works reveal the formative characteristics of Impressionism— light, purer colour and the momentary view—by a generation of artists who abandoned their studios for the world outside. Impression, sunrise


Monet painted Impression, sunrise in Le Havre, in the north

collections of works by Claude Monet, including the painting from

in particular, who had also depicted the port of Le Havre during his lifetime. In 2014, the Marmottan conducted an in-depth study of Impression,

rarely travels and was not even a part of the Monet retrospective at

sunrise, which considerably enriched our knowledge of this influential

the Grand Palais in Paris in 2010, which was the largest retrospective

painting. Marianne Mathieu, Assistant Director and Head of Collections

on the painter in France since 1980. It is an exciting opportunity for

at the Musée Marmottan Monet, initiated this research and is curating

Australians to see a masterful painting that became emblematic of a

Monet: Impression Sunrise, centred on the work and exploring Monet’s

cultural movement.

broader practice and influences. See pages 36–43 for more.


The centenary of the Bauhaus From 23 February A hundred years have past since the architect Walter Gropius founded a new school of design, architecture and applied arts in Weimar, Germany. The new endeavour, the Staatliches Bauhaus, essentially ‘the state construction house’, opened for business on the 1 April 1919. Ambitions for the school were high. There was a gloriously utopian commitment to make radically new art and design for a new world. The progressive curriculum of the school was based on the notion of equality between the arts, breaking down the hierarchies of the past. Ornamentation for its own sake was abandoned and form and function became more closely aligned. The Bauhaus sought to provide beautifully designed pieces for everyone, not just for a wealthy elite—an idea often easier to espouse than to put into practice. The influence of the Bauhaus has reverberated around the world since it opened, profoundly affecting the development of interior, graphic and industrial design and impacting the history of art and architecture. The National Gallery of Australia is pleased to join many other institutions around the world in celebrating the centenary of this visionary school with a display of works from the national collection.

Members Acquisition Fund 2018–19 Donate now and help us acquire Danie Mellor’s Landstory Make a difference to Australia’s national art collection by helping the National Gallery to acquire Danie Mellor’s most significant work to date, his monumental nine-panelled Landstory. Conceptualised and realised in the rainforests of the Atherton Tablelands, the work reimagines Mellor’s ancestral land and speaks to his connection to Country. The work references Sidney Nolan’s modernist masterpiece Riverbend 1964–65, which Mellor observed frequently while studying and teaching at the Australian National University. Speaking at the launch of the proposed acquisition late last year, Mellor described the formative experience of his first encounter with Riverbend in the year Nolan passed away. ‘It felt … that there was this generational passing on of knowledge and influence … Here was someone trying to understand his own artistic vision, to understand an Australian landscape’. Mellor’s Landstory achieves the same effect but with added dimension, as it ‘attempts a recollection of sorts’, he says, of the Aboriginal people who have lived on the land for tens of thousands of years. It is an extraordinary complex and sophisticated work, a moment of resolution that speaks both to the past and to the future and defines the times we live in. It will no doubt become an icon of the Australian national art collection and a seminal piece in Mellor’s career. Visit the National Gallery to see for yourself the beautiful materiality and spiritual immateriality of this incredible work, which is currently on display in the Australian galleries on Level 1.

Opposite: Claude Monet Impression, sunrise 1872, oil on canvas. Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, gift of Victorine and Eugène Donop de Monchy, 1940 From top: Lotte Stam-Beese Group portrait, Weaving Workshop at the Bauhaus, Dessau 1928, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 1984; Mamu and Ngadjon artist Danie Mellor with his work Landstory 2018 at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Support the acquisition of Landstory by giving to this year’s Members Acquisition Fund. 6240 6408 or



Contemporary Worlds: Indonesia 21 June to 27 October 2019 This major exhibition of contemporary Indonesian art will showcase twenty of the most exciting emerging and established artists from Bali and Java’s key artistic centres of Bandung, Yogyakarta and Jakarta. Featuring recent works and large-scale commissions, Contemporary Worlds: Indonesia explores the vibrant and complex art of Australia’s closest neighbour in the turbulent post-Reformasi era, from after the fall of the Suharto regime to the present day. Through a striking variety of artistic approaches, Contemporary Worlds: Indonesia reflects the social and political changes negotiated by Indonesia over the past twenty years. Three generations of artists explore concepts ranging from sexuality, gender roles and family to environmental concerns, the art market, material and form, the everyday object and how we might listen to and learn from the sounds of Indonesia. The exhibition includes painting, sculpture, installation, moving image, photography and textile and features a performance program and a film series curated by renowned Indonesian film director Garin Nugroho. Highlights include the Australian premiere of Transaction of hollows, a thrilling durational performance by Melati Suryodarmo, Uji (Hahan) Handoko Eko Saputro’s neon exploration of the machinations of the contemporary art market and a suite of Zico Albaiquni’s vibrant paintings specially created for the exhibition. See pages 43–9 for more.

Māori Markings: Tā Moko events From 23 March This autumn, the National Gallery invites audiences to explore the history and living tradition of tā moko, a form of body marking unique to Aotearoa New Zealand. Artists from Toi Māori Aotearoa in New Zealand will introduce visitors to the practice and philosophy of tā moko in a series of artist talks and live tā moko demonstrations on 23 March and for a family weekend from 5 to 7 April. The series of demonstrations is a particular highlight and will give audiences at the Gallery a number of chances to witness the tā moko process firsthand. ‘The tradition of moko … benchmarks achievements in your life and gives you a goal to strive towards and achieve in your life’, says tā moko artist Turumakina Duley. As the process is highly personal, and usually only shared with family, the Gallery would like to express its gratitude to the Māori participants who have chosen to open up this significant moment in their lives in the interests of promoting a greater understanding of Māori culture in Australia. The Gallery also thanks Toi Māori Aotearoa for organising the tā moko artists for the demonstrations. One of the demonstrations will be held as part of our free Tā Moko After Hours community event on Friday 5 April between 5.00 and 8.00 pm, which will also include traditional performing arts, the Kapa Haka, artist talks, traditional language, storytelling and song. These programs are supported by the New Zealand High Commission.



From top: Mella Jaarsma The landscaper 2013 (detail), wood, paint, iron, leather and single-channel video, colour, sound. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 2018. Photo: Mie Cornoedus; Serena Stevenson Naboua Nuku, Hori (George) Tamihana Nuku and Haki Williams 2002 (detail), digital print

Enlighten: Fujiko Nakaya and Tony Albert 9 March 2019 In the second week of Canberra’s ninth annual Enlighten festival, the National Gallery celebrates the work of Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya, whose Foggy wake in a desert: an ecosphere 1982 pumps a fine mist across the pond beside the Gallery’s Sculpture Garden Restaurant. The haze circulates through the surrounding vegetation and creates a self-sustaining ecosphere. Saturday 9 March will include ‘Create space: The mists of time’ in the Sculpture Garden at 12.30 pm, followed by Nakaya’s artist talk indoors at 2.00 pm and, later, refreshments in the Sculpture Garden Restaurant. This will be Nakaya’s first time in Canberra, and her first time seeing her fog sculture here in person. Internationally acclaimed Australian-Japanese new media artist and musician Benjamin Skepper will then present a new composition in the James O Fairfax Theatre. As part of his research into the human body as a musical instrument, he will record Nakaya’s heartbeat to compose an original soundscape live. These special events follow on from the previous week’s Enlighten 2019 festivities, starting with the free community event Fields of Love, which encouraged visitors to consider and explore love and respect for family and community. The highlight of Fields of Love was the launch of Australian artist Tony Albert’s animated illumination I AM VISIBLE projected onto the Gallery’s facade, which continues until 11 March. Based on Albert’s 2015 works Brothers (New York Dreaming) and Brothers (Unalienable) in the national collection, this stunning projection highlights the visibility of Aboriginal people and their voices in our national conversation. Electric Fields also lit up our outdoor stage with their special brand of potent new music, bringing together the creativity of music producer and composer Michael Ross and the sensitivity of Zaachariaha Fielding, whose voice has been described as ‘taking soul to the stratosphere’. In this year of Indigenous languages, Fielding introduced audiences to his traditional language of the Pitjantjatjara people.

From top: Fujiko Nakaya Foggy wake in a desert: an ecosphere 1982, water vapour. National Gallery of Australia, purchased 1977. © Fujiko Nakaya; Tony Albert (Girramay, Yidinji & Kuku Yalanji peoples) Brothers (New York Dreaming) 2015, pigment inkjet print with hand embellishment. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 2016. Courtesy the artist and Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney



Reconciliation Day

Learning Gallery and Studio

27 May 2019

Coming this winter

As 2019 is the International Year of Indigenous Languages (IY2019),

In a major investment in education, the National Gallery is designing a

Reconciliation Day activities at the National Gallery this year focus

new permanent Learning Gallery and Studio for our many young visitors

on the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages

and lifelong learners every year. The studio will be a place for schools and

in Australia. The day will continue the success of last year’s event in

the broader community to explore and make art, while the new gallery

which ACT communities came together to celebrate the reconciliation

will showcase the collection with elements of interactivity and creative

of Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures.

engagement. Both spaces will provide meaningful experiences with a

IY2019 aims to raise awareness of Indigenous languages worldwide, ‘not only to benefit the people who speak these languages, but also for others to appreciate the important contribution they make to our world’s

focus on educational opportunities for young audiences to share with each other, their families, educators and care givers. The first exhibition in the new gallery will focus on Indigenous

rich cultural diversity’. As such, beyond Reconciliation Day, the Gallery

Australian voices and languages to celebrate the International Year of

is planning a series of programs throughout the year that focus on

Indigenous Languages. The exhibition will draw exclusively from the

language, including engaging artists who work with language to create

national collection, complementing the Gallery’s already expansive

interventions within gallery spaces throughout the building.

display of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, to encourage

Keep an eye on our website for further information on these events.

learning and a greater understanding of Indigenous identity and the

Below: Reconciliation Day at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 28 May 2018.

nationwide, this initiative is made possible through the generosity of

many Indigenous Australian languages used around the country. Supported by online resources for teachers, parents and students Tim Fairfax AC, who has donated $2 million towards the project and continues to be one of the National Gallery’s biggest supporters.




AT THE GALLERY LOVE AND DESIRE: PRE-RAPHAELITE MASTERPIECES FROM THE TATE From the Tate’s unsurpassed collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings and other collections worldwide. 14 December 2018 to 28 April 2019 Adult $25.00 | Children 16 and under free Concession $22.50 | Member $20.00 Audio-guide hire $7.00 Book now at or 1300 795 012

ART DECO IN AUSTRALIA Stylish items from an age of jazz and flappers, glamorous fashion and design. 16 February 2018 to 17 March 2019

SKY/EARTH Revealing works in the national collection that speak to our place in the cosmos. 6 October 2018 to 7 April 2019

POWER AND IMAGINATION Language, poetry, performance and film in art. 11 August 2018 to 19 May 2019

ART NOUVEAU Inspired by the inexhaustible forms of the natural world. On now

BODIES OF ART: HUMAN FORM FROM THE NATIONAL COLLECTION Investigations of the human form throughout time. On now

YAYOI KUSAMA: INFINITY ROOM Cult contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama’s infinity room THE SPIRITS OF THE PUMPKINS DESCENDED INTO THE HEAVENS 2017. On now



Swiss artist Urs Fischer’s four-metre-high wax candle sculpture Francesco 2017. From 16 March

Hockney’s printmaking practice through key works from the collection. 15 February to 21 April 2019 @ Cairns Art Gallery 3 May to 16 June 2019 @ Araluen Arts Centre 28 June to 2 August 2019 @ Hazlehurst Regional Gallery

MĀORI MARKINGS: TĀ MOKO Exploring the Māori art and tradition of tā moko, face and body marking. 23 March to 25 August 2019

MONET: IMPRESSION SUNRISE Claude Monet’s rarely loaned Impression, sunrise is joined by other world-famous paintings from the Musée Marmottan and select collections worldwide. 7 June to 1 September 2019 Book soon at or 1300 795 012

CONTEMPORARY WORLDS: INDONESIA Twenty of the most exciting emerging and established artists from Bali and Java’s key artistic centres. 21 June to 27 October 2019

PICASSO: THE VOLLARD SUITE A rare opportunity to see one of the twentieth century’s greatest suites of prints. 22 February to 28 April 2019 @ Art Gallery of Ballarat

DEFYING EMPIRE: NATIONAL INDIGENOUS ART TRIENNIAL Contemporary art responding to the 50th Anniversary of the 1967 Referendum. 9 March to 5 May 2019 @ Western Plains Cultural Centre 26 July to 13 October 2019 @ Mildura Arts Centre

THE NED KELLY SERIES Sidney Nolan’s iconic paintings of the exploits of Ned Kelly and his gang. 1 March to 26 May 2019 @ Geelong Art Gallery 21 June to 4 August 2019 @ Riddoch Art Gallery

ART DECO FROM THE NATIONAL COLLECTION: THE WORLD TURNS MODERN Stylish items from an age of jazz and flappers, glamorous fashion and design. 31 May to 25 August 2019 @ Tweed Regional Gallery




URS FISCHER SCULPTURE Jaklyn Babington introduces the Gallery’s newly acquired Urs Fischer candle sculpture Francesco, on display from 16 March.

The practice of Swiss artist Urs Fischer is a unique expression in an

in doing so, poses challenges to art-historical and art-market expectations

era of image saturation and, in its diversity, resists easy classification.

for permanence.

His sculptures engage with the ongoing problematics of the plastic arts—scale, perspective, surface—yet it is his provocative presentation

‘important man standing on a plinth’, Francesco depicts the male figure

of unusual materials that has carried his work to a global audience.

casually hunched and standing on top of an open, stocked refrigerator.

The use of wax is now iconic of his practice, and the material both

Looking down at his smartphone, perhaps checking his email or text

forms the work and enables its cyclic ruination, as it can be recast

messages, Bonami is captured in a pose emblematic of our contemporary

again and again. Through an exhibited burning of his wax sculptures,

era. On first glance, the work appears an incongruous selection of

Fischer presents this transformation as haunting alchemy, a staged

imagery—figure with phone, refrigerator, fruit and vegetables—yet it

disintegration of the body as poignant metaphor.

stands as sly reference to the star curator’s public statements on the

His earliest wax figures of 2001 were anonymous and crudely cut female forms, but he has developed his recent wax figures into refined

presumed demise of the curator in the twenty-first century. In a 2016 Artnet interview, Bonami suggested that curators (himself

portraits of art world luminaries. Francesco 2017 is a portrait of the

included) had become ‘irrelevant’ to today’s art market: ‘We are like

lauded Italian art curator Francesco Bonami and represents one of

“painting”,’ he says, ‘always on the verge to be declared dead but still

Fischer’s highly celebrated candle works. It joins the lineage of Untitled

quite alive’. In this light, we can read Fischer’s combination of imagery

(Rudolf Stingel) 2011, Standing Julian 2015 and Dasha 2018. Most

as an amusing enactment of Bonami’s statement and professional

memorable among Fischer’s candle works was his 2011 Venice Biennale

predicament: the refrigerator alludes to the preservation of life, yet the

presentation of Untitled 2011, depicting Giambologna’s sixteenth-century

burning of the work is a reminder of our mortality and the inevitable

Rape of the Sabine women.

death of all things.

Giambologna is known to have created figurative studies in wax,


In a humorous take on sculpture’s traditional presentation of an

While specific, the subject of Fischer’s candle work holds less

and two examples are preserved in the Victoria and Albert Museum

significance than its material concerns. As a sculpture set in a continuous

collection in London. In idiosyncratic antithesis to the Renaissance

cycle of melting and recasting, Francesco is ignited as a figurative portrait

sculptors, however, Fischer prioritises expiration in his work and,

and extinguished as anti-form abstraction. Over several months, the


Urs Fischer Francesco 2017, Paraffin wax, microcrystalline wax, encaustic pigment, stainless steel, wicks, aluminum powder, steel, stainless steel hardware, bronze hardware, electrical wiring, LED light, AAA batteries. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 2018. © Urs Fischer, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London. Photo: Stefan Altenburger

constant heat of candle flame reduces the sculpture to a pile of debris. Francesco’s face and hands melt, dripping long stalactites of red wax before collapsing completely and falling to the ground. This exquisite metamorphosis from individual to indefinite and representation to reality is a gradual process that evokes the grains of sand trickling through an hourglass and stands as an allusion to life flickering for a mere moment in history. Fischer selects wax as an energised medium and, under a flame, the sculpture becomes animated. But with life also comes death, and it is as a contemporary memento mori that Fischer’s sculpture reverberates. While the life cycle of the sculpture begins anew with each recasting, a gnawing loss pervades. We are left pondering the rapid continuum of the next generation of artists, curators and works of art that step up to take their fleeting moment on the art world’s centre stage. Fischer was born in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1973 and trained as a photographer at the Schule für Gestaltung. Since 1996, he has held solo and group exhibitions throughout the northern hemisphere. His first large-scale European solo exhibition was Kir Royal at the Kunsthaus Zürich in 2004, while his first in America was Urs Fischer: Marguerite de Ponty at the New Museum in New York in 2009. Fischer has since enjoyed a meteoric rise and is now feted as one of the art world’s most exciting contemporary practitioners.




Reuben Keehan, curator of QAGOMA’s 2017–18 Yayoi Kusama focused survey in Brisbane, provides a brief history of Kusama’s infinity rooms to celebrate the National Gallery’s acquisition of THE SPIRITS OF THE PUMPKINS DESCENDED INTO THE HEAVENS, now on display.

Yayoi Kusama







Yayoi Kusama’s mirror rooms have become synonymous with her

phalli could potentially occupy. By constructing a small room with

current extraordinary popularity. Reports of her recent exhibitions

four mirrored walls, she created the illusion of endless space, with

inevitably feature descriptions of crowds queuing for hours to catch

the objects inside appearing to multiply into infinity. Encompassing,

the smallest glimpse of these beguiling creations, even though viewing

disorienting and seducing its audiences, the work was a milestone

times are restricted, often to less than a minute, to accommodate

for the artist. Not only was its perceptual effect profound, but it realised

the unprecedented demand for Kusama’s artistic vision. Kusama’s

Kusama’s desire to visualise infinity, while powerfully amplifying her

mirror works are indeed fascinating, but while they are central to

core concepts of repetition and accumulation.

her current public renown, they, like the rest of her practice, have an extensive history. Kusama’s original mirror works were created during the intensely

Four months later, she experimented with an alternative use of the mirrors with Peep Show (or Endless Love Show). This work employed hexagonally opposed mirrors in a structure that viewers

inventive decade that followed her arrival in New York as a 29-year-old

could peer into, rather than entering directly. Concentric rings of

artist in 1958. It was there that the small surrealist-inflected watercolours

multi‑coloured lights and loud rock music created a mind-bending

produced in the early part of her career in Japan grew into immense

atmosphere in keeping with the psychedelic experiments to which

abstract canvases. Executed in oils with an extremely restricted palette,

Kusama was increasingly drawn.

these paintings consisted of tiny loops that accumulated into ‘nets’ that

From the late 1960s, her involvement with participatory events

covered the canvas from edge to edge. These works grew in scale, at

and political protest led her to work increasingly in public space, while

one point covering a wall ten metres long, signalling that the surface

her hospitalisation in Japan in the late 1970s severely curtailed her

of the canvas was no longer enough for Kusama’s artistic ambition.

ability to make large-scale sculpture and installation. She preoccupied

She then moved to sculpture, fixing sewn and stuffed protuberances

herself with writing, winning literary acclaim for her novels and poetry.

she referred to as ‘phalli’ to all manner of everyday objects, as if

Nevertheless, her sketches and collages from this period demonstrate a

the loops had assumed three-dimensional form and covered every

yearning for a more expanded field, their depictions of space bearing a

imaginable surface.

striking resemblance to the visual universes of her mirror rooms.

First presented in November 1965, Infinity Mirror Room Phalli’s Field utilised mirrors to dramatically expand the space that the

By the late 1980s, Kusama experienced a mid-career reappraisal, and an invitation to show in a Tokyo museum in 1991 enabled the



creation of her first mirror work in twenty-five years, Mirror Room

recreates her groundbreaking Mirror Room (Pumpkin) just as her

(Pumpkin). The work positioned a reflective cube in the centre of a room

work piques the curiosity of another generation. Here, the rough-hewn,

painted yellow with black polka dots. A peephole in the side of the cube

handmade pumpkins of the original are replaced with an elegantly

introduced viewers to a crop of handmade pumpkins (a motif that had

curved batch, their self-illumination adding a new element of wonder.

emerged in her work of the 1980s), themselves reflected into infinity by

As an artist, Kusama works with an intense focus, often to the exclusion

a set of internal mirrors. Mirror Room (Pumpkin) travelled to the Venice

of all else. Her mirror rooms open her practice up to the world, just as

Biennale of 1993, where it introduced a new generation of international

they draw the world into her art.

audiences to Kusama’s audacious work. The opportunity led to invitations to exhibit worldwide and, with them, the chance to work in ambitious ways. In 1996, she created Repetitive Vision for a contemporary art space in Pittsburgh, featuring a cluster of shop mannequins covered in red polka dots. In 1998 and 1999, a survey of her New York period, Love Forever 1958–1968, toured North American museums with a full-scale re-creation of her 1965 Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field, which also appeared in the 2000 Biennale of Sydney. Also in 2000, she suspended one hundred and fifty tiny lightbulbs over water for the mirror room Fireflies on the Water at the Le Consortium in Dijon, France, and created the companion piece Soul Under the Moon, using fluorescent ping-pong balls under black light, for the then upcoming 2002 Asia–Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art. As Kusama’s popular and critical renown has grown, her mirror rooms have evolved in new and exciting ways. But as an artist she also works cyclically, regularly revisiting earlier forms and motifs. THE SPIRITS OF THE PUMPKINS DESCENDED INTO THE HEAVENS 2017,



Page 17 and above: THE SPIRITS OF THE PUMPKINS DESCENDED INTO THE HEAVENS 2017, mixed-media installation. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 2018 with the support of Andrew and Hiroko Gwinnett. Installation view at National Gallery of Australia, 2018 Page 18, from top: Infinity Mirror Room Phalli’s Field, Floor Show 1965 and Soul Under the Moon 2002, mixed-media installations Page 19: Kusama lying in her mixed-media installation Peep Show (or Endless Love Show) 1966. Opposite: THE SPIRITS OF THE PUMPKINS DESCENDED INTO THE HEAVENS 2017. Installation view at National Gallery Singapore, 2017 All works © Yayoi Kusama, courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai






Carol Jacobi summarises the intense five years in which the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, seven young men disillusioned with the art establishment in nineteenth-century London, flew in the face of the Royal Academy to present a new vision for art that was inspired by ancient history and captured the rapidly changing world around them.



Combining rebellion, beauty, scientific precision and imaginative

William Michael—to take the number up to seven. They shared the

grandeur, the Pre-Raphaelites constitute Britain’s first modern art

revolutionary spirit of the times.

movement and still inspire 170 years later. Pre-Raphaelitism was a young people’s revolution. Seven students and friends set out

in 1848. The Rossetti family were exiled revolutionary nationalists

to reinvent art and life for modern times. They lived in an era of

and, in April of that year, Hunt and Millais attended the British

tremendous global change when everything was being redefined—

gathering of 25 000 Chartists petitioning parliament for democratic

beliefs and values, work and love—and they experimented with all of

reform. In banding together as a ‘Brotherhood’ the group aligned

these. Their convictions, lifestyle and relationships were as radical as

themselves with both medieval labour guilds and the modern

their art. The passionate, anti-establishment personalities of the men

labour movements that they inspired. The term ‘Pre-Raphaelite’

and women of the Pre-Raphaelite circle matched the daring stories

saluted experimental fourteenth- and fifteenth-century artists and

and extreme techniques of their dazzling paintings. They became,

denigrated later ‘Raphaelites’, followers of Raphael and other High

at first, controversial figures and, eventually, celebrities, pioneering

Renaissance artists. The number seven recalled secret societies

the first internationalist careers, embracing world travel, ideas,

and they signalled their solidarity by exhibiting works bearing the

media and markets. This influence extended to their wider circle

mysterious insignia ‘PRB’.

and younger generations of artists. All except one of the seven founding members were students


Popular rebellions take place in nearly every country in Europe

The Brotherhood were excited by a kind of counter-culture of alternative role models, from the less suave, more experimental art

at the Royal Academy Schools, where the leading figures, Dante

of the medieval period to the modernity of recent poets, novelists

Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais, met

and even scientists. Medieval and early Renaissance painters and poets

in 1848. Millais was the star pupil, while Hunt had barely scraped

were romantic figures admired for their innovations in naturalism

entrance and Rossetti had already dropped out, but they shared an

and symbolism before Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo

intense frustration with traditional academic teaching indebted to

had set the template for art, but the brothers also revered the Romantic

the old masters. The trio determined to champion a new realism and

painters and poets, especially John Keats, and modern non-conformists

relevance and recruited like-minded fellow students—Frederic George

such as Ford Madox Brown, who had trained on the Continent

Stephens, James Collinson, Thomas Woolner and Rossetti’s brother

and worked, impoverished, outside the establishment. The group


created paintings, poems, stories and criticism that declared their ideas, publishing a short-lived journal, The Germ, and showing their pictures at the annual summer display at the Royal Academy. The first paintings were put before the public in 1849, but only Millais made a splash with Isabella 1849, prompting dismay that the Academy prodigy was exhibiting a subject of illicit love and murder from Keats painted with strange thin figures and sharp colours and edges. Hunt presented a manifesto in equally pristine colour and detail, Rienzi vowing to obtain justice for the death of his young brother, slain in a skirmish between the Colonna and the Orsini factions 1849, which was based on Edward BulwerLytton’s bestselling 1835 novel. His message could not have been clearer, but mainly attracted idle curiosity about the meaning of PRB. Dante Gabriel Rossetti went as far as choosing a biblical subject, The girlhood of Mary Virgin 1848–49, but judged his picture too audacious for the Academy selection committee and sent it to a jury‑less exhibition where it was barely noticed. By 1850, the meaning of PRB had been revealed and critics and the public turned against the group, indignant at their arrogance in apparently discarding the tradition of Raphael, disturbed by the strangeness and intensity of the paintings and disgusted by the reality

Page 22: Dante Gabriel Rossetti Ecce Ancilla Domini! (The Annunciation) 1849–50, oil on canvas. Tate, purchased 1886. © Tate Opposite: John Everett Millais A dream of the past: Sir Isumbras at the ford 1857, oil on canvas. National Museums of Liverpool, Lady Lever Art Gallery Above: James Collinson The empty purse (replica of For sale) c 1857, oil on canvas. Tate, presented anonymously 1917. © Tate Left: William Morris La belle Iseult 1858, oil on canvas. Tate, bequeathed by Miss May Morris 1939. © Tate



of the models. Millais’s forthright scene of Jesus as a working boy and

himself nearby, in a shadowy part of the Hogsmill River, observing the

his family as careworn tradesmen in a workshop drew the worst outcry.

murky water and foliage for his picture of Ophelia’s drowning scene

EvenCharles Dickens, whose realism and modernity were an inspiration

from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Millais remained for five months,

to the brothers, joined in. He condemned Millais’s Mary, modelled by

withdrawing into a makeshift shelter as autumn arrived, and when

his sister-in-law, and Joseph, modelled by his father for the head and a

he finally returned to London he spent many more months painting

local grocer for the body, as filthy and diseased. James Collinson, the only

the figure. He employed Elizabeth Siddal to pose, even asking her to

brother with deep religious convictions, resigned.

spend hours lying in a bath in a wedding dress so that he could observe

Hunt and Millais took this psychological and visual realism further in the following years. They tested the extremes of optical exactitude, challenging the newly invented medium of photography. Hunt, especially, explored new painting techniques and pigments to capture the minutiae

brocade against her body. This way of looking was close in more senses than one. Like Ecce Ancilla Domini!, Ophelia 1851–52 brings the artist and, ultimately, the

of nature, and all the brothers adopted fine brushes and new prismatic

viewer into an extraordinarily intimate relationship with the figure

paints, a by-product of the textile trade, mixed with a little varnish to

at an even more profoundly personal moment than Mary’s fearful

create mirror-like details and surfaces. The method was very slow and

transition into womanhood—Ophelia’s death. The usual landscape

friends posed for weeks as characters while settings were transcribed

horizon is absent and Millais discards conventional composition in

over even more extended periods on location. Each square centimetre of

favour of an immersive, psychologically suggestive space that would

painting required hours or days of work.

become characteristic of Pre-Raphaelite art. The canvas is dominated

In 1851, Hunt and Millais retreated to the countryside outside


the exact appearance of her hair trailing in the water and the sodden

by foliage. Where Ecce Ancilla Domini! set the atmosphere with its

London, near the village of Ewell, to paint backgrounds. While Hunt

palette of whites, Ophelia assails us with a vivid green that anticipates

sat in a field transcribing it for a modern-life love story between a

the emotional charge of colour used by expressionist painters such as

shepherd and a country girl, The hireling shepherd 1851, Millais settled

Vincent van Gogh.


Opposite: Ford Madox Brown Work 1852–65, oil on canvas, Manchester Art Gallery, purchased 1885 Right: William Holman Hunt The awakening conscience 1853, oil on canvas. Tate, presented by Sir Colin and Lady Anderson through the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1976. © Tate Below: Ford Madox Brown The last of England 1852– 55, oil on panel, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, purchased 1891

By 1852, a lot was at stake when Hunt and Millais exhibited their pictures at the Royal Academy. A few paintings had sold to industrialists who admired the honesty and industry of the brothers’ technique, and the art critic John Ruskin had defended them, but the few paintings that they were able to produce each year were not making them an income. Their careers foundered, they despaired of the British cultural scene and even Millais was nearly penniless. Ruskin and his wife, Effie, took him away to the Scottish Highlands to recover and paint their portraits. Hunt defiantly made plans to travel to the Middle East in the steps of ‘orientalist’ painters who were having success in Britain, to find authentic locations and models for scenes of the life of Jesus. Thomas Woolner joined several artists emigrating to Melbourne and Brown planned to move to India. Brown’s The last of England 1852–55 ,features Brown, his wife Emma cradling their young baby Oliver, and their two-year-old daughter, Catherine, as they gaze from the boat leaving the English coast. For Brown, The last of England was historical and translated the intense family conflicts of love and death that the brothers had been pursuing in biblical and literary guise into a modern life subject. He did not emigrate, and in the same year he began his ambitious analysis of the urban crowd, Work 1852–65, which would not be exhibited for thirteen years. In the foreground of this larger painting we see ARTONVIEW 97  AUTUMN 2019


another provisional family unit displaced by modern circumstance.

imagine that an unchaperoned and unmarried couple were a chaste

Before universal schooling (introduced in Britain in 1870) and a welfare

brother and sister.

state, orphans, or children of homeless or working parents, often

years, as each artist pursued their own divergent interests. However,

her mother’s place, disciplining her brother playing with the road-

the members maintained their fierce ideals and had, within a few years,

worker’s wheelbarrow, while holding a baby over her shoulder and a

won over the British public, critics and a younger generation of artists.

dog on a makeshift lead. Nearby, on the grassy bank, another baby is

They included Royal Academy students Arthur Hughes and John Brett

being fed flour and water, the last resort of a family of refugees from

and enthusiasts from other fields such as Oxford undergraduates William

the recent famine in Ireland, who will starve if they cannot find work.

Morris and Edward Burne-Jones. Hughes adopted the exquisite Pre-

Child mortality was a tragedy shared across classes in the nineteenth

Raphaelite technique and the modern subject matter of the Brotherhood,

century, and the model for the baby, Brown’s youngest, died at ten months.

as can be seen in April love 1855–56, which depicts a young woman

Hunt followed his and Millais’s critiques of irresponsible lovers— the casual seduction of the country girl in The hireling shepherd


The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood disbanded in 1853, after only five

fended for themselves. The little girl in the centre has literally taken

abandoned by her lover, immersed in a natural setting. Pre-Raphaelitism embraced diverse styles of writing, art and design

and the tragic outcome of Hamlet’s courtship and abandonment in

inside the Academy and out, but at its best artists of all generations

Ophelia—with an astonishingly frank scene of a country girl ensnared

maintained its psychological modernity and aesthetic innovation. The

in the city, The awakening conscience 1853. Following the example

Pre-Raphaelites imagined great events of history, literature and religion,

of Dickens’s David Copperfield, he researched and portrayed a young

as well as more private scenes, as personal crises between parents and

woman in the claustrophobic room of mirrors in which she is kept by

children, siblings, friends and lovers. Their sophisticated narratives

her rich lover. We interrupt her sitting on his lap, just as she realises

turn the viewer into a detective. Clues and symbols fill the world with

her predicament and turns to the window (reflected behind her)

the kind of significance and emotion that would later be explored in

and hope of freedom. The picture was accepted at the Academy only

film. These pioneering men and women defended artistic and personal

because the majority of viewers mistook the meaning and could only

freedom against middle-class conventions and led modern art in


breaking away from the Academy to reach new mass audiences by means of independent exhibitions and printed reproductions. Their vision, which embraced ancient history and modern life, home and abroad, interpreted their fast-changing world and won international fame. As Love and desire: Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces from the Tate demonstrates, these artists and their works continue to inspire to the present day.

This article is an edited extract of Carol Jacobi’s essay ‘The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood’ in the National Gallery’s book Love and Desire: Pre-Raphaelites Masterpieces from the Tate, available at the Gallery Shop. Love and Desire: Pre-Raphaelite Masterpieces from the Tate 14 December 2018 to 28 April 2019

Join the conversation #lovedesire

Left: John Brett The British Channel seen from the Dorsetshire Cliffs 1871, oil on canvas. Tate, presented by Mrs Brett 1902. © Tate Above: Arthur Hughes April love 1855–56, oil on canvas. Tate, purchased 1909. © Tate





MĀORI MARKINGS Crispin Howarth explores the connected histories of the colonisation of Aotearoa New Zealand and the tradition of tā moko, the unique Māori art of marking the skin with patterns that project a person’s prestige, authority and identity.



Page 32: Gottfried Lindauer Tomika Te Mutu, chief of the Ngāi Te Rangi tribe, Bay of Plenty c 1880, oil on canvas. National Library of Australia, Canberra, Rex Nan Kivell Collection Left: Hongi Hika (Ngā Puhi iwi) Self-portrait 1814, wood. Macleay Museum, University of Sydney, Sydney Opposite: from left: Sydney Parkinson Te Kuu Kuu 1773, engraving. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 2013; Elizabeth Pulman Menehira Whatiwatihoe 1875, albumen silver photograph. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 2011

The Māori art of tā moko, skin marking, has existed for centuries and, although it likely comes from the Polynesian art of tatau, it is a unique cultural expression of identity distinct to Aotearoa New Zealand. The word ‘tatau’, of course, quickly became the word ‘tattoo’, when it was introduced to Europe two hundred and fifty years ago. In Aotearoa, although it is likely tā moko grew out of tatau, the methods and meaning changed. While there are seemingly obvious similarities, they are actually worlds apart. tā moko, the practice, and moko, the skin marking, is something very different to tattoo due to its strong basis in cultural identity. Moko is a mark of integrity and should not be conflated with the societal perceptions we might associate with wearing tattoos. In the nineteenth century, the right to wear moko was strictly controlled. It was a birthright, a symbol of recognised hereditary status, or was gained by deeds that brought great respect in leadership, learning and warfare. A moko is a series of complex visual markers, it is a way to broadcast, without words, the wearer’s esteem, mana, status, inherited authority, skillset and many other aspects. A moko was a mark of society and of individuality, a connection to a person’s hapū, family, and a connection to their iwi, larger tribal community. A wearer’s standing in life was visibly understood by others. The origin of moko can be found in the legend of Mataora and Niwareka. Mataora was a chief, who married Niwareka, a spirit woman



from Rarohenga, the underworld. Foolishly, Mataora mistreated

artists used metal tools, which enabled deeper incisions and resulted

Niwareka, who then left him and returned to her family in Rarohenga.

in a period of flourishing designs, particularly in the revival period of

Realising his love for Niwareka and regretting his actions, Mataora

the 1860s.

travelled to Rarohenga. Before setting off, he painted his face with

The process was painful, slow and held the risk of infection.

traditional patterns, which smeared during his long journey. Upon

Nineteenth century moko cut deeper into the skin than any other form

arriving, he was ridiculed for having only temporary patterns rather than

of traditional body marking found in other parts of the world, according

the permanent markings of moko. Niwareka and her family all wore

to Michael King in Moko: Maori tattooing in the 20th century. Firstly, the

moko, and Mataora asked his father-in-law, Uetonga, to teach him tā

tohunga would map out their design, drawing on the face with charcoal.

moko and to give him the markings. Niwareka and Mataora then returned

Then, the chisel would be tapped rhythmically with a small mallet so

to the natural world of Te Ao Tūroa and brought the knowledge and the

that the blade sunk into the skin, making incised channels and creating

gift of tā moko with them.

grooves in the skin’s surface that were filled with a dye. During the

Artists, or practitioners, of tā moko are traditionally known as

process, the tohunga recited chants that accompanied the tapping of the

tohunga tā moko. A tohunga prior to the twentieth century was a priest-

chisel. Tā moko today is predominantly conducted with a tattoo-needle

like authority with expertise in a specific field of Māori knowledge,

machine rather than the chisel.

in medicine, carving, gardening, fishing, astronomy and divining

Moko designs are wide-ranging, highly complex and personal. They

prophecies. They spent decades learning from their elders the lore, rituals

are built as kaupapa, ideological frameworks, formed from knowledge

and practical skills associated with their profession. Tohunga were highly

of the wearer’s character, their personal and family associations and

regarded for their depth of customary knowledge and, in turn, taught

their tribal affiliations. A person’s whakapapa, family history, is highly

others their knowledge.

significant, as it outlines to the tā moko practitioner an individual’s

There are historical accounts of the tā moko process. Many vary but, in general, during the first half of the nineteenth century, the main tool

birthright to certain patterns and regional styles. Trying to decipher, decode or classify facial moko of the nineteenth

that was used was the uhi, a chisel, the blade of which was carved from

century would be a fruitless exercise, as there are no single definitive

bone and bound onto a wood handle. From the 1830s onwards many

meanings for the many designs of the time. Some signalled broad



Left: James MacDonald Te Raumiria te Haunui of Ruatoki 1908, half-plate glass negative. Michael Graham-Stewart collection, Auckland Opposite, from top: Gottfried Lindauer Three Māori girls and a boy sitting on a large carved Māori canoe by a lake 1899, oil on canvas. National Library of Australia, Canberra, Rex Nan Kivell Collection; Serena Stevenson Haki Williams, Hori (George) Tamihana Nuku and Tamihana Nuku 2002, digital print

meanings and were designed to be easily read. For example, tīwhana,

all three of us; it was indeed a first for us all in many ways. It was for Haki

above the brow on men, were connected to an individual’s ability in

a first moko kanohi (face tattoo). It was a first for me obviously. It was a

fighting and the lines of a rerepehi, from the nose onto the cheek, gave

first for Tamihana to witness and to be an integral part of this moment

knowledge of a person’s hereditary status—depending on the number of

and process. It was a first moment also for my family in their lifetimes

lines and if they were cut short or continued into other patterns. It is a

and they will keep that in all the years to come.

complex visual system that defies classification. Without oral history and

Over the past nearly two decades, tā moko workshops have been

other documentation, much about eighteenth- and nineteenth-century

conducted and many talented tā moko practitioners have risen

moko is currently unknown and awaiting rediscovery.

through the informed guidance and practices of the tā moko artist

Very little information about the spiritual nature of the tā

collective Te Uhi a Mataora. The reaffirmation of Māori identity as

moko process or what it meant to be a wearer of moko was recorded

seen in the growing resurgence of tā moko and the wearing of moko

by outsiders in the nineteenth century. However, since the current

underlines a broader cultural movement, or growth, in Aotearoa’s social

resurgence of tā moko began in the late twentieth century, there are

and cultural environment that has also made its mark here in Australia

many wearers of moko and many insights about wearing moko. The artist

and across the world.

George Nuku still remembers receiving his moko kanohi and, he says, ‘the first morning of my face in the light of a new day and life’. Reflecting on a photograph of himself, his uncle Tamihana Nuku and the tā moko practitioner Haki Williams, taken the day after by artist Serena Stevenson, he describes the feeling: Haki stands on my right and Tamihana stands on my left; it was a strong moment—the whakapapa—the genealogical strands that weave the three of us together are somehow evident in this image—we are all quite different yet the binding connection reinforces our sameness within that difference … To me, this image conveys both humility and pride. It conveys also a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment on the part of



This article is an edited extract from the National Gallery’s book Māori markings: tā moko, available soon at the Gallery Shop. Māori Markings: Tā Moko 23 March to 25 August 2019 Join the conversation #tamoko




MONET IMPRESSION SUNRISE Jane Kinsman presents the ‘coming of age’ of French art brought about in the nineteenth century by a small group of artists that became known as the Impressionists, including Claude Monet, around whom the National Gallery of Australia’s upcoming exhibition Monet: Impression Sunrise pivots.





Pages 36–7: Claude Monet Impression, sunrise 1872 (detail), oil on canvas. Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, gift of Victorine and Eugène Donop de Monchy 1940 Opposite, from top: Alfred Sisley Spring near Paris. Apple trees in bloom 1879, oil on canvas. Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, gift of Victorine and Eugène Donop de Monchy 1940; Claude Monet Tuileries 1876, oil on canvas. Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, gift of Victorine and Eugène Donop de Monchy 1940 Right: Claude Monet The boat 1887, oil on canvas. Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, bequest of Michel Monet 1966

The modernisation of Paris and its environs that took place from the

what came to be known as Impressionism—modern subject matter,

middle of the nineteenth century—following the designs of the French

a new understanding of colour and light, adopting different viewpoints

civic planner Georges-Eugène Haussmann—inspired writers and artists

and loose brushwork to adequately describe a momentary view—all

alike. Whether literary or visual arts were best suited to this subject

contributed to a new style.

matter was hotly contested by a cohort of young artists and writers

In 1874, their first independent group exhibition caused a

who congregated at venues such as the Café Guerbois. The view that

sensation in the Parisian art world. A few perceptive critics at the

art had been stifled by its past and lacked modern-day relevance was

time considered the event a welcome harbinger of things to come,

gaining considerable currency in progressive art circles.

although many were confronted by the new look. The symbolist writer

Claude Monet was part of a group of radical artists who came

Auguste Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, under the nom de plume C de Malte,

together in 1874 to participate in an exhibition for the Société anonyme

urged readers of the weekly magazine Paris à l’Eau-Forte on 19 April

des artistes, peintres, sculpteurs, graveurs etc, which broke away from

to see the exhibition’s ‘fireworks display of riotous colour’, although

the strictures of the government-sponsored Salon system of exhibiting

considered Impressionism to an interesting fad rather than something

and selling art. The exhibition was held at the photographer Nadar’s

lasting. Emile Cardon, a supporter of the Salon system, was not so kind,

former studio on the Boulevard des Capucines in Paris and included

describing it in his review titled ‘Avant le Salon’, for the newspaper

Eugène Boudin, Félix Bracquemond, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Berthe

La Presse on 28 April, as an exhibition for ‘people who like the

Morisot, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley.

ridiculous and the grotesque’.

Although they had differences of opinion over technique and style,

At the time of the first exhibition, the term ‘impression’ was

their unified ambition was to create an art of modern life—something

adopted in a particularly caustic and highly critical manner by artist

that the poet and critic Charles Baudelaire had long espoused. For

and journalist Louis Leroy, who dismissed Monet and his fellow artists’

the most part, these artists sought to create imagery of present-day

competency in a scathing article published in Le Charivari on 25 April.

experience, including figures in interiors, ballet dancers, the racecourse

Among the paintings he singled out was Monet’s Impression sunrise

and views of the sea, Paris and the countryside. The characteristics of

1872—it was the first public showing of the work. He wrote derisively





about the inclusion of the term ‘Impression’ in the title, and about the work itself, suggesting, ‘Wallpaper in its embryonic state is more finished than that seascape’. On 28 April, politician and art critic Jules Antoine Castagnary also adopted the term ‘impressionists’, although more favourably, in the newspaper Le Siècle: ‘They are impressionists in the sense that what they depict is not the landscape itself but the effect or sensation that the landscape produces on us. The word itself has passed into their lexicon: it is not landscape that is used to describe M. Monet’s Impression, sunrise in the catalogue, but impression. In this way, they leave reality behind and enter into pure idealism’. Prior to the controversy, the term ‘impression’ had been applied to describe an unmediated perception composed rapidly and in front Opposite: Claude Monet The waterlily pond 1917–19 (detail), oil on canvas. Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, bequest of Michel Monet 1966 Below: Claude Monet On the beach at Trouville 1870, oil on canvas. Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, bequest of Michel Monet 1966 Page 42, from top: Claude Monet Snow effect, setting sun 1875, oil on canvas. Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, gift of Victorine and Eugène Donop de Monchy 1940; Sailboat, evening effect 1885, oil on canvas. Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, bequest of Michel Monet 1966 Page 43: JMW Turner Stormy sea with dolphins c 1835–40, oil on canvas. Tate, accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856. © Tate

of the subject. According to Renoir’s brother Edmond, the inclusion of ‘impression’ in Monet’s title has a fairly mundane origin. In preparation for the exhibition, Edmond was collating the list of works for the catalogue, at which time he advised Monet that the simple descriptions of his works were dull, leading Monet to include the enlivening ‘Impression’ to indicate the painting had been created in situ and with speed to depict a fleeting view. The scene set by Monet was of the port Le Havre in the north of France and the view he chose was of the harbour shrouded in an early morning mist. Monet set out to visually embrace the transitory effect of the reddened sun as it rose, brightening the entire port and casting rays across the water while illuminating the clouds above. The contemporary




element of the docklands, tall-masted ships and bobbing boats on the

from 7 June this year is highly significant. It represents an important

water were silhouetted by the glowing sun.

cultural event for Australia, not only for 2019 but for some time to come.

Contrary to academic practice, Monet did not apply dark tones

This painting, with its essential role in the history of French

to define form. Rather, the dark and light tones indicate the passage of

Impressionism, will be viewed in Monet: Impression Sunrise in the

light as it radiates across a subject. He applied his paint in thin washes

context of Monet’s artistic development up to and including his great

to capture the immediacy of the experience and frailty of the changing

waterlily paintings of the early twentieth century. The exhibition also

atmospheric conditions. Impression, sunrise is of great significance in

includes paintings from the artists who inspired Monet, notably the

Monet’s oeuvre as it represents his ambition to capture the momentary

landscapes and seascapes of Gustave Courbet, Jean-Baptiste-Camille

appearance of this seascape a seascape at a particular time of day, season

Corot, Eugène Boudin and Johan Barthold Jongkind in France and JMW

and in a certain atmosphere. It is a vision so profound that it evokes the

Turner and James Abbott McNeill Whistler across the channel.

sounds of human activity, of shouts, horns and bells ringing through the fog of a new day. The painting is a key work in the Musée Marmottan Monet collection in Paris. It rarely leaves the museum because of its crucial

Monet: Impression Sunrise 7 June to 1 September 2019 Tickets on sale soon

status. It was not loaned to the Monet retrospective held at the Grand Palais in Paris in 2010, although it had previously been included as a key painting in the retrospective Hommage à Claude Monet (1840–1926) thirty years earlier. For this reason, its inclusion as the centrepiece for the National Gallery of Australia’s exhibition Monet: Impression Sunrise

Join the conversation #monetnga







WORLDS Jaklyn Babington looks at some of the works in the coming exhibition Contemporary Worlds: Indonesia, opening 21 June, that explore the way in which the complex and contested soundscapes of Indonesia shape post-Reformasi life.



Page 44–5: Melati Suryodarmo Transaction of hollows 2016, durational performance. © Melati Suryodarmo Left: Jompet Kuswidananto Memanggungkan kebersamaan (Staging collectivism) 2013, mixed media Opposite: Julian ‘Togar’ Abraham Tolerating the intolerance 2018, ventilation dome, motor, microphone, megaphone

Stepping out along a busy street in Jogjakarta, my environment is

removal of President Suharto from office, chanting, ‘We want Suharto

occasional blasting noise that overrides all others. My unfamiliarity

done … We need reformation’. On 12 May at the Trisakti University in

with this soundscape positions me as foreigner. I am cast into a

Jakarta, student protesters clashed with the military and police, and

hyper‑sensitive mode of listening, relying on my ears to navigate a

bullets were fired—‘the sound no one wanted to hear’, reported the

country comprising a complex layering of spoken word, sound and

BBC’s Matt Frei. Four students were shot dead and many were wounded.

noise that I am unaccustomed to. If the world is subjectively experienced

Riots that broke out in Medan, Jakarta and Surakarta quickly enveloped

and subjectively interpreted, it follows that whatever is sensed in

the country in crisis. In the numerous video recordings of these chaotic

Indonesia—seen, heard, smelt, tasted and touched—is necessarily filtered

events, the anarchic noise of the military using tear gas, batons, shields

through the particular attentions, interests, networks, schedule and

and bullets collides with the passionate shouts of protest and rocks

often privileged position of the international visitor. However, in terms

thrown by the rioters.

of the aural experience, it is widely acknowledged that the foreigner’s

On 21 May, following a week of rebellious demonstration,

encounter with Indonesia involves a complicated acoustic ecology

regular conflict and the division of military leadership, Suharto finally

comprised of truly disparate auditory stimuli in constant movement,

announced that he was stepping down. Immediately, another kind of

collision and negotiation.

loud noise broke out—the rapturous celebration of thousands of people

In listening to the plethora of interviews, broadcasts and videos

who took to the streets, singing, cheering and clapping the momentous,

captured at the time of Indonesia’s Reformasi, and produced on the

historical demise of Suharto’s New Order. Following thirty-two years of a

subject subsequently, it is overwhelmingly apparent that 1998 was a

corrupt political system, which comprised only the thinnest veneer of a

year the soundscape of Indonesia shifted dramatically, with a rapidly

democratic process and enforced political obedience via political silence,

increasing and fervent public outcry. By the late 1990s, Indonesia

Indonesia had exploded with noise.

was suffering under Suharto’s autocratic rule, and his Golkar party


University students across Indonesia gathered to demand the

filled with a multitude of indecipherable sounds, punctuated by the

If language in the form of free speech, public debate and

was rife with corruption, nepotism and vote-fixing. A severe drought

discussion is central to the contemporary soundscape of Indonesia

coincided with the Asian financial crisis and the Indonesian government

then the country’s history of socio-political silencing, and of necessary

subsequently failed to stabilise a collapsing economy. By May 1998,

private whisperings amid public censorship, is equally important. As

Indonesia was in an untenable political, economic and social situation

a trained musician, Jompet Kuswidananto’s sculptural installations

that had triggered mass unemployment, food scarcity, severe hardship

often rely on sound as a carrier of conceptual concerns. However,

and mounting racial tensions.

his large-scale installation Memanggungkan kebersamaan (Staging


collectivism) 2013 marks an important use of silence to examine the changing interpretations of mass mobilisation, past and present. The installation takes its structure from a dismantled wooden truck, with its irregular slatted-side panels and lowered rear tailgate. Riding on top of the truck’s cargo bed are fifteen abstracted figures comprising a set of minimal elements—a scarf-covered head, white mechanical hands and a pair of shoes for each—joined with wiring that functions to provide a basic figurative sketch. Here, the invisible and inaudible contains a powerful warning. Kuswidananto demands our attentive listening as each figure performs a metronomic clapping, controlled by an unseen force. We wonder what this group is responding to and demonstrating its agreement with? In a conceptual exploration of collective noise, the artist recalled to me, ‘a memory of being in the middle of a mobilised crowd … an experience of listening to layers of sounds and voices which I recognise as noise, and experiencing the constant shifting and moving of images, people and objects. The installation piece replays the memory, slow motioned and muted, to give me and other people some time to break down this kind of chaos, ecstasy or terror’. The paradox of a silently clapping crowd presents the complicated character of post-Reformasi democracy, where the occasional violent remnants of both the Sukarno and Suharto eras are mixed among the current utopian hopes for Indonesia’s future. Kuswidananto presents the mechanical silence of the crowd as a sound for continued concern, and one particularly relevant in the lead-up to Indonesia’s presidential and legislative elections in May 2019, when the Indonesian political situation enters its next act. Indonesian artists such as Julian ‘Togar’ Abraham find in the plurality of sounds around them potent material to work with and respond to. Continuing his investigation into the socio-political effects of sound, the sculptural installation Tolerating the intolerance 2018 is a dark parody of the current sound ecology of Indonesia. In a syncretic composition that contains Islamic and Hindu-Buddhist architectural forms, an air-ventilation fan, a microphone and a megaphone are arranged in a visual and auditory encounter that results in a confusing public-announcement pastiche. The fan both resembles the domed architecture of Islamic mosques and has a utilitarian function to circulate air. The head-like dome and limb-like posing of microphone and megaphone create an anthropomorphised form that appears caught in a continuous loop of its own noise creation and amplification. The work is a spectacle of its own making, depicting an extreme situation in a cycle of self-reinforced belief that teeters on the pain threshold and proves difficult for the audience



to endure. A sticker produced by Togar summarises this sonic situation

inadvertent sounds from the collective, the barely perceptible sound

perfectly: ‘Ears Have No Self-Defence Mechanism’.

effects of the space and, with an increasing fatigue, the variation in

Tolerating the intolerance immerses us within the congested

atmospheric particles invisibly energised by the course of the projectile.

to control our sensory environment, often trying to shield ourselves from

With the repeated impact of eight hundred arrows fired into a shallow-

unwanted sounds, as much as we attempt to listen to and understand

cavity wall, the sound of the forced splitting of a wooden surface resounds

them. Sometimes we are outraged when others demonstrate no tolerance

throughout the wider gallery.

at all. As artist and writer Salomé Voegelin noted in her 2010 book

Suryodarmo’s work directly contributes to the ongoing exploration

Listening to noise and silence: towards a philosophy of sound art, ‘noise

of acoustics since John Cage’s pioneering work from the 1930s. Here,

amplifies social relations and tracks the struggle for identity and space

through the complex interplay of sound and silence and private and

within the tight architectural and demographic organization of a city …

public soundscapes, Melati presents an individual meditative practice

A comprehensive noise map of [a city] … would also reveal social relations

as potent strategy for positive universal application. Transaction of

on its fault lines of taste and tolerance’. With the dramatic amplification

hollows confronts each audience member with their own psychological

of noise in the public spaces of post-Reformasi Indonesia, the soundscape

soundscape—a means through which to momentarily detach ourselves

is continuously being composed and recomposed by competing

from the struggles of our everyday and, instead, to receive and be

reverberations, exposing society’s socio-political issues in the process.

responsive to an internal sound, the sound of being in and of the

Melati Suryodarmo’s Transaction of hollows 2016 is a durational

contemporary moment. As R Murray Schafer predicted in the 1970s, it is

performance that facilitates a sensorial experience for both performer

through soundscape studies, including the practices of artists, that ‘we

and audience. In a white gallery space, the repeated sounds of human

will learn how man creates ideal soundscapes for that other life, the life

endurance become a choreographed material, detached from specific

of the imagination and psychic reflection’.

representation yet amplified for psychological impact. Both performer


the archer’s action. As each arrow is fired, the air is sliced anew, its

soundspace of Indonesia. As individuals within a community, we struggle

Hypersensitive to the power relations of both sound and silence,

and audience undergo a transformation through the aural, where a

Indonesian artists have variously engaged with the dramatically changed

collective silencing is demanded by the intense psychological focus and

post-Reformasi soundscape around them, and they call for a continued

repeated physical actions of an archer.

active listening. Through the production of sound sculptures and field

With a hushed audience, one becomes aware that the intense

recordings, artists are exploring the potent acoustic nerve of the local

ambient sound of the work comprises a set of overlapping soundwaves,

soundscape, comprising complex religious, social, environmental and

reverberating outwards: the internal soundscape of one’s own body,

political dialogues, sounds and noise, experienced and negotiated daily.


Others are tuned into frequencies further afield, choreographing dialogue in the service of cross-cultural pedagogical programs and orchestrating vocal and aural works that foster participation in the creation of new sounds and soundspaces. Indonesian artists are enabling audiences with an expanded sensory understanding of Indonesia as a complex broadcaster as well as a deeper engagement with the globe’s transnational acoustics. In turn, an acute awareness and responsibility emerges for the changing soundscape of the twenty-first century, the ‘contemporary worlds’ that we all hear, interpret, shape and share.

Contemporary Worlds: Indonesia 21 June to 27 October 2019 Join the conversation #contemporaryworlds

Left: Agus Suwage The wall of tolerance 2012 (detail), zinc, gold‑plated brass, LED lights and sound Below: Melati Suryodarmo Transaction of hollows 2016, durational performance. © Melati Suryodarmo




FRANK STELLA’S YORK FACTORY Bianca Winataputri highlights Frank Stella’s York factory, which was lent to the National Gallery for American Masters 1940–1980 late last year and has been generously made available on long-term loan to complement the Gallery’s international collection display. 50


Frank Stella York factory 1970, synthetic polymer paint on canvas. Private collection. © Frank Stella

A long-time supporter, and member of the National Gallery’s Foundation

Harry first met Stella in the mid 1980s, and the two collaborated

since 2000, Penelope Seidler generously lent Frank Stella’s York factory

on several projects, including Grosvenor Place in Sydney. There, Stella’s

1970 for last year’s major exhibition American Masters 1940–1980. The

three colourful painted relief works fill the lobby, providing a dynamic

painting is the largest in a series of the same name and was developed

connection to the busy streets of the city outside. The connections

out of his 1967–71 Protractor series. Its panoramic size emphasises the

between the artist and the architect, however, go further than this one

rhythm of Stella’s intersecting semicircular motifs, creating perplexing

collaboration. As architect and critic Vladimir Belogolovsky points out

formations that allow us to imagine it expanding beyond its confines.

in Harry Seidler: lifework, Stella’s expressive, geometric forms also

The York factory series began as drawings for stained glass windows for a

made a definitive mark on Seidler’s broader work. The artist’s influence

never-realised project by American architect Philip Johnson.

is clearly recognisable in Seidler’s facades for the Monash Council

The Gallery is grateful to Penelope for making York factory available for long-term loan, and the painting is now on display in our collection galleries, where it complements Stella’s painting Flin Flon 1970, acquired

building in Melbourne and in his plans for the Australian Embassy in Paris. Here, at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, Stella’s

with the instrumental support of Terrey and Anne Arcus and Penelope

York factory develops a fascinating spatial dialogue with Col Madigan’s

and her husband Harry. A major exponent of a modernist architecture

architecture, just as it does when situated in the Seidlers’ extraordinary

in Australia, Harry was deeply interested in the nexus of art and

modernist home Killara House in Sydney. Built in 1967, their home

architectural practice. As he wrote in his Harry Seidler: houses, interiors,

provides the perfect counterpoint to their broader art collection, which

projects of 1954, ‘The form that architecture takes should have its roots

includes work by Stella’s contemporaries such as Josef Albers, Alexander

and marriage with painters and the world of the other visual arts. They

Calder, Ellsworth Kelly and Kenneth Noland—all of whom were or would

are all intertwined, and they all reflect the impetus of our time’.

became important artists of the time.




FROM THE NATIONAL COLLECTION The World Turns Modern Lara Nicholls looks into the Art Deco histories and sites in the regional centres to which the National Gallery’s Art Deco from the National Collection: The World Turns Modern will travel from 31 May, beginning with Murwillumbah in northern New South Wales.




The Style Moderne of the early twentieth century spread like wildfire

The exhibition then heads to Ipswich Art Gallery in south-east

across the globe, knowing no cultural boundaries and prompting

Queensland, which has two fascinating and unique relics of the era,

towns all over the world to proudly name themselves as ‘the most

including one of the few extant incinerators in Australia designed

Art Deco’ of their region. While Chicago, Miami, Amsterdam and

by Walter Burley Griffin (and the only edifice in Queensland that he

Berlin spring to mind when we first think of Art Deco architecture

designed). The other is the charming Baptist Church on Brisbane Street,

and design, there are a handful of towns in the Pacific that have

which had a full Deco makeover designed by local architect George

pristine examples of Art Deco urban design and architecture, including

Brockwell Gill in 1938. Gill had supervised the construction of the

Canberra, which was designed by architects Walter Burley Griffin and

Griffin incinerator and his work on the Baptist Church facade is directly

Marion Mahony Griffin at the start of this burgeoning trend. Canberra

influenced by Griffin.At the end of the year, Art Deco from the National

is also home to the National Gallery of Australia, which has developed

Collection will travel to the Wimmera, where the Horsham Regional Art

a carefully curated display of Art Deco treasures from the national

Gallery and Town Hall is a splendid example of Art Deco architecture in

collection to tour to four regional centres, each of which boasts their

the minimalist classical style. Designed by Charles Neville Hollinshed

own Deco credentials.

and built in 1939, its superb interiors retain many Art Deco features such

Murwillumbah in northern New South Wales is home to the first venue, the Tweed Regional Art Gallery and Margaret Olley

as original light fittings, metalwork, ornamental plaster ceilings and the original ticket office.

Art Centre. Murwillumbah has a rich array of Art Deco buildings

The exhibition tour ends at Hazelhurst Arts Centre in Gymea in

and embellishments, some of which feature Art Nouveau and Art

2020. The gallery’s artist-in-residence studio was the original home of the

Deco pressed-metal ceilings designed by the Wunderlich building

Broadhurst family, who donated the property to Hazelhurst to develop the

company. One of the Wunderlich brothers, Ernest visited the definitive

arts centre. It was designed by architect Harry Smith, who studied under

International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts

Griffin and was a draftsman for the New York World’s Fair Corporation

in Paris in 1925, from which the term ‘Art Deco’ was later derived. He

until 1939. The Gymea train station features dichromatic brickwork in

returned to the company’s showroom in Redfern, Sydney, invigorated

the interwar style and its stepped parapet holds vestiges of Art Deco

from the experience and with fresh ideas, which influenced the ceiling

influences. Its original signalling panel with Bakelite switches is also a

designs in Murwillumbah.

charming reminder of the technological advancements at the time, as



are the curvilinear features of the Cronulla Surf Life Saving Club, which

Decorative and Industrial Arts in 1925; moulded opalescent glassware

were directly inspired by the sleek new cruise ships charted by the P&O

by French glassmaker Lalique; Keith Murray and Anne Dangar ceramics;

company in the 1940s.

and prints by leading modernist women such as Dorrit Black, Vera

The exhibition itself reflects the penetration of this aesthetic on

Blackburn, Adelaide Perry and Ethel Spowers. Napier Waller’s beloved

all facets of art, design and lifestyle during the period and includes a

portrait of his wife, the artist Christian Waller, sitting under the willow

broad array of media such as painting, sculpture, prints, drawings, poster

trees at their Fairy Hills home surrounded by their Airedale terriers

design, decorative arts and industrial design. One example is the post-box

Baldur, Undine and Siren, will also be on display, alongside Christian’s

red ceramic tea set by Margarete Heymann-Löbenstein. This set was made

hand-printed and hand-bound volume The Great Breath of 1932.

around 1928 and not only typifies deco geometric design aesthetics but

and we have mined the extensive Julian Robinson Collection purchased

that were sweeping across Europe and Australia at the time.

in 1976 to include flapper shoes, a sequin cloche hat and a devoré

Heymann-Löbenstein was one of the first women to enter the

velvet shrug cape with marabou feather trim. It was an era of great

prestigious Bauhaus ceramic workshop during a time when ceramics

diversity that began as an opulent expression of French luxury and

was deemed appropriate only for male students—an accomplishment she

modernity and ended with the mass production of international

had to stridently argue for in four applications to the Bauhaus’s director

modern consumables. Art Deco was an adaptable and resilient style

Walter Gropius. She later founded the Haël Werkstätten for Artistic

that evolved and survived through significant cultural, political and

Ceramics in Marwitz, Germany, in 1923 with her economist husband

technological changes from the First World War, and its subsequent

Gustav Löbenstein and his brother. When the brothers died tragically

nation-building construction boom, to the Great Crash of 1929.

in a car accident, she took over the factory, supervising its 120 staff, and

Above all, it was an era that breathed optimism, exuberance and

oversaw an expansive export business, which placed her designs in

vitality in the face of significant calamity, summed up in the closing

department stores all over the world, including Australia.

stanza of WH Auden’s poem ‘Death’s echo’ of 1936 that beseeches us

Other treasures include a reprint of Sonia Delaunay’s Signal, which she exhibited at the famous International Exhibition of Modern


An Art Deco exhibition would not be complete without fashion,

also tells a superb story about the dramatic social and political changes

to, ‘Dance till the stars come down from the rafters; Dance, dance, dance till you drop’.


Page 52, clockwise from top: Harold Cazneaux Doris Zinkeisen 1929 (detail), gelatin silver photograph. Gift of the Cazneaux family 1984; Edward Steichen Not titled (two models on a stairway) c 1935, gelatin silver photograph. Purchased 1979; Edward Steichen The maypole (Empire State Building) 1932, printed 1979, photographic reproduction of an original Steichen print. Gift of Baudoin Lebon 1979 Opposite, from left: Sven Henriksen Denmark—The Danish State Railways (Train and rail map) 1930 and Santana Lourenco Marques 1934, lithographs. Gifts in memory of Spensley Charles and Gwendoline Mary Weetman 1990 Above: Margarete Heymann-Löbenstein Tea set c 1928, glazed earthenware and slip cast. Purchased with the assistance of Diana Woollard 1988 Right: René Lalique Eucalyptus vase 1925, moulded glass. Purchased 1978 All works in this feature are from the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra




Yudha ‘Fehung’ Kusuma Putera A visual artist working predominantly in photography, Yudha ‘Fehung’

Past, present, future come together reinterprets the family unit.

Kusuma Putera is a second-wave member of MES 56, a leading artist

During visits with families either one or two degrees of separation from

collective founded in 2002 to focus on the development of photographic

MES 56, Fehung challenged his subjects to work together to identify

practice in Indonesia. Fehung’s solo practice has recently pivoted toward

the face or the head of their family and what kind of shape they might

the participatory, and the subjects of his work become crucial informants

create using a prop to define their unit, as the artist states, ‘into one

to his soft and nuanced studies of the human condition. The National

solid body’. In one photograph, a dog wrapped in animal-print fabric

Gallery of Australia recently acquired his Past, present, future come

sits at the centre, his family shrouded in black fabric behind. In another,

together 2017, a series of nine photographs.

the youngest child perches proudly above his family, who are hidden

The series started with his engagement and subsequent musings on his future family life and led to an earnest enquiry into what makes family beyond nationalised, socio-political constructions of the family unit, long politicised as a crucial space for propaganda in Indonesia. President Suharto’s Keluarga Berencana (Family Planning) program, based on the concept of ‘small, happy and prosperous families’, promoted

beneath red and white fabric suggesting the Indonesian flag. The photographs form part of an installation, which will be on display in Contemporary Worlds: Indonesia at the National Gallery of Australia from 21 June, in which viewers can participate by wrapping themselves in fabric to create a photograph of their own family unit. Edwina Brennan, independent arts producer and researcher

a strict, nationalist family ideal: father as leader and protector, loyal wife by his side and two children, one boy, one girl. Suharto, who led the country from 1967 to 1998 and died in 2008, often modelled himself as the father of the nation to command and manipulate power. Even today, the ‘Family Planning’ campaign’s sticky residue of stigma and exclusion still lingers.



Above, from left: Yudha ‘Fehung’ Kusuma Putera Family of Bandis, Ina, Lady and Family of Agung Indarto, Nurina Sulianti, Risang, Farand from the series Past, present and future come together 2017, digital prints. Purchased 2018

Eko Nugroho Belonging to a younger generation of artists known as ‘Generation 2000’

global issues of waste management and land pollution. Conceptually, this

or the ‘Internet Generation’, who emerged post-Reformasi, Eko Nugroho

work likens Indonesia’s current political situation to a carnival, charged

witnessed the rapid social and political changes that followed the fall

with colourful lights, roaring noise and a seemingly collective euphoria.

of Suharto’s 32-year rule. Working primarily with popular cultural

However, Nugroho’s work is a cautionary message on the hype often

imagery—street art, comic books and science fiction—seamlessly woven

created by politicians, inviting us to be critical and to look beyond this

together with traditional Javanese motifs from batik and wayang (shadow

misleading masked festivity.

puppets), Nugroho has developed hybrid pop figures that embody the attitude of this period. These figures appear prominently in his underground comic zine,

The artist’s distinctive embroidery works also connect to greater socio-political issues pertinent to everyday life in Indonesia. Throw away peace in the garden 2018 and We keep it as hope, no more less 2018

Daging Tumbuh (DGTMB), which was initiated in 2000 in collaboration

compare Indonesia’s democracy to a garden where politics, religion and

with other artists in the spirit of the newly won democracy. More

culture are tangled like branches, vines and wildflowers. Embroidery

recently, these figures have found new surfaces as the artist playfully

holds a unique and important place in Nugroho’s oeuvre and has led

experiments with different media—sculpture, embroidery, mural painting, contemporary wayang performance and installation. Nugroho’s multidisciplinary practice has grown from a central objective: to find public space, in any shape or form, to share his art. Combining sculpture, installation and batik, Carnival trap 2018 features brightly coloured costumes concealing all but the faces and feet of the figures beneath. Made of upcycled plastic debris collected in Yogyakarta, the work addresses Nugroho’s concerns regarding Indonesia’s

him to establish a business in support of Yogyakarta’s community of embroiderers. Nugroho’s practice is rooted in the realities of his local community but has an astute global outlook. Evident in his multifaceted practice, the artist presents an awareness of the complexities and dilemmas of contemporary life in an increasingly interconnected world. Bianca Winataputri, Assistant Curator, Contemporary Art Practice—Global

plastic predicament that affects the entire archipelago. This not only situates the artist in a local conversation, but is a comment on the wider

Below: Eko Nugroho Carnival trap 2018, resin, wire, upcycled plastic, iron and synthetic polymer paint. Purchased 2018



I Made Wiguna Valasara I Made Wiguna Valasara’s works push the established boundaries of Balinese painting, which he first encountered as a child while watching his uncle the senior Balinese painter Nyoman Erawan at work. He investigated multiple materials and surface structures reappraising the subjects of his works. Conceptually, this questioning reflected his initial rejection of his Balinese-ness and its associated visual cornucopia, and a subsequent acceptance of his cultural heritage and the symbolism inherent in Balinese motifs and scenes. The threads of his artistic evolution converge in Reconstruction of the universe (binary opposition) 2017, acquired last year and on display in Contemporary Worlds: Indonesia from 21 June. The work comprises a pair of canvases, stitched in various coloured threads and padded to form a three-dimensional image. The canvas becomes the painting. The left panel shows preparations for a Balinese funeral procession, with a packed throng surrounding the cremation tower (bade) as it is elevated on the shoulders of a group of men. Women carrying offerings precede the tower, and shrines, temples and palm trees are silhouetted against the sky. Narrow bands at the top and right are the only areas left void in a packed, dynamic composition. The dense and detailed format, and the subject, is characteristic of modern Balinese paintings in the Batuan style. This scene is repeated in the right panel of the diptych, except that all references to the event and the participants are removed. The exception is a lone figure who stands, somewhat hesitantly, looking over his shoulder, as if wondering where everyone has gone. The discrepancy between the panels highlights the communal nature of Balinese culture and questions whether it is possible to withdraw from society and continue to live in Bali outside the existing socio-cultural framework. Carol Cains, Senior Curator, Asian Art



Above: I Made Wiguna Valasara Reconstruction of the universe (binary opposition) 2017, cotton canvas, polyester thread, polyester wadding. Purchased 2018. © Made Wiguna Valasara

Jo Ann Callis In Jo Ann Callis’s photograph Man doing push ups 1984, a man dressed down to his underwear has cleared space in a domestic room for a provisional gym. He has rolled up the rug, pushed together two (unmatched) chairs and placed a mirror on the floor, over which he enacts the repetitive motion of someone working out. The blur of his body suggests that his movement is frantic, neurotic, perhaps manic. He is at once so vulnerable and so ridiculous. The work is from Callis’s series Ballast 1984–85, the title of which refers to a thing that provides stability or balance—like the keel of a ship, which prevents it from capsizing during a storm. Each image in the series shows a figure enacting a simple motion in an incongruously theatrical domestic space. The dish trick 1985, for instance, shows a pair of hands engaging in a bit of magic at the kitchen table, yanking a yellow tablecloth out from under piles of dishes—to the sound of, one imagines, ‘ta-da!’. These works, and others by Callis recently acquired for the national collection, are classic examples of American postmodern photography of the early to mid 1980s. They ‘upend’ the conventional logic of photography, which assumes a direct relationship between the photographic image and the world. Throughout history, this capacity has been put to admirable use. It is why we have privileged photography as a ‘reliable’ witness to the passage of time and to historic events. But this referential relationship to the world, which assumed that the photograph was neutral and transparent, had become untenable by the late 1970s, so photography could no longer be trusted in the way it once was. In Man doing push ups and The dish trick, the images are hermetic, producing highly internal worlds that are theatrical, stylised, repetitive and ultimately only refer to themselves. The postmodernity of these photographs is further seen in the way that they engage, seemingly without consequence, some of photography’s fundamental properties, particularly its capacity to arrest time. Craig Owens, one of the great writers on postmodern photography of the 1980s, described photography as ‘anti-life’ because it literally stops life in its tracks: ‘Death’ lurks behind every photograph. On the face of it, there is no ‘history’ in Callis’s photographs, but instead people performing arcane and seemingly useless actions in their own little worlds of absolute present-ness. But I can’t help feeling that these are not just photographs about photography and its false promises. There are indications of the world outside. The photographs depict people taking risks, although risk and

From top: Jo Ann Callis Man doing push ups 1984 and The dish trick 1985, from the series Ballast, dye destruction photographs. Purchased 2018

danger are only ‘gestured’, safely contained within claustrophobic, domestic spaces. This is 1984: scientists confirmed the cause of AIDS, a disease transmitted through behaviours deemed to be ‘risky’—including, as the New York Times erroneously reported that year, via saliva. In this context, the neurotic actions of a man doing push ups in a tightly controlled environment starts to make some sense: his homemade gym is a ballast against the spectre of death. Shaune Lakin, Senior Curator, Photography



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