David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.


26 May 2015

mu murmur

     
Out Lasseter's Reef way...

mur  wall
mur(al) wall picture 
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin mūrālis, equivalent to mūr (us) wall+ -ālis -al
       

  Watcher at the One Gable House, after Drysdale

murmur to say something in a low or indistinct voice; a softly spoken or almost inaudible utterance
murmur wall wall, meta-wall, "If these walls could speak"
murmur LOGOS/HA HA
1275-1325; (v.) Middle English murmuren < Latin murmurāre; (noun)Middle English < Latin
         

  Watcher at the House of Two Gables, after Drysdale
                 
mu  
from What Is Mu? The Barrier Gate of Zen by Barbara O'Brien :
         
"Mu" is the shorthand name of the first koan in a collection called the Gateless Gate or Gateless Barrier, compiled in China by Wumen Huikai (1183-1260).
       
Master Wumen himself worked on Mu for six years before he realized it. In his commentary on the koan, he provides these instructions:

So then, make your whole body a mass of doubt, and with your 360 bones and joints and your 84,000 hair follicles, concentrate on this one word No [Mu]. Day and night, keep digging into it. Don't consider it to be nothingness. Don't think in terms of 'has' or 'has not.' It is like swallowing a red-hot iron ball. You try to vomit it out, but you cannot. [Translation from Boundless Way Zen]

  Watcher at the House of Three Gables, after Drysdale


detail
A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
someone looks at something...

LOGOS/HA HA
                         
                        
mu  mu
Justified and Ancient
KLF
& Tammy Wynette

All bound for Mu Mu Land
All bound for Mu Mu Land
(hey)
(hey hey)
All bound for Mu Mu Land (justified)
(hey hey)
All bound for Mu Mu Land
(Bring the beat back!)

They're Justified, and they're Ancient,
And they like to roam the land.
(just roll it from the top)
They're Justified, and they're Ancient,
I hope you understand.
(to the bridge, to the bridge, to the bridge now)
They called me up in Tennessee
They said "Tammy, stand by The Jams"
But if you don't like what they're going to do,
You better not stop them 'cause they're coming through
(bring the beat back)

(Hey hey)
All bound for Mu Mu Land (justified)
(Hey hey)
All bound for Mu Mu Land (justified)
(Ancients of Mu Mu)

Mu Mu Land
Mu Mu Land
All bound for Mu Mu Land

They're Justified, and they're Ancient,
And they drive an ice cream van.
(just roll it from the top)
They're Justified and they're Ancient,
With still no master plan.
(to the bridge, to the bridge, to the bridge now)
The last train left an hour ago,
They were singing "All aboard"
All bound for Mu Mu Land,
Then someone starting screaming "Turn up the Strobe"
(bring the beat back)

(Hey hey)
All bound for Mu Mu Land (justified)
(Hey hey)
All bound for Mu Mu Land (Ancients of Mu Mu)
(Bring the beat back)

Justified and Ancient, Ancient and a-justified,
Rocking to the rhythm in their ice cream van
with the plan and the key to
enter into Mu Mu
Vibes from the tribes of the Jams

I know where the beat is at,
'cos I know what time it is
Bring home a dime,
Make mine a "99"

New style, meanwhile, always on a mission while
Fishing in the rivers of life
Fishing in the rivers of life (hoi)
Fishing in the rivers of life (hoi)
Fishing in the rivers
Fishing in the rivers
Fishing in the rivers of life (hoi)

Voo-va-voolie
Za-shi-va-zom
Voo-va-voolie
(Bring the beat back)

(Hey hey)
All bound for Mu Mu Land (justified)
(Hey hey)
All bound for Mu Mu Land (Ancients of Mu Mu)

They have travelled the world
With the ice cream van
Their voyage, the bottom of time
They have entered the place
with the Mu Mu mate
And their children so pride
Mine as a "99"
(Bring the beat back)

Mu Mu Land (Ancients of Mu Mu)
Mu Mu Land (Ancients of Mu Mu)
All bound for Mu Mu Land

Mu Mu Land (Ancients of Mu Mu)
Mu Mu Land (Ancients of Mu Mu)
All bound for Mu Mu Land

Mu Mu Land
Mu Mu Land
All bound for Mu Mu Land
   
         

23 May 2015

The End (continued)

 
How strange to read these two articles in the same paper today.

In the Obituaries section of The Age, the death reported of artist William Delafield Cook (here).

Forty years ago, mid-1975, your correspondent was appointed as artist-in-residence in Patrick McCaughey's brand new faculty, the Department of Visual Arts, at Monash University. I found out later that the distinguished playright and poet Dorothy Hewett was artist-in-residence in the English Department during this same period. And, at Melbourne University, Bill Delafied Cook was the first artist-in-residence there. Memories of visiting him in his clean bright studio in the Old Physics Building.
           
 William Delafield Cook, Heap, 2006

We were, as far as I am aware, (among) the first artists-in-residence in Australia, under that new initiative of the then new Australia Council for the Arts.
The Australia Council was formed in 1967 by Prime Minister Harold Holt as a body for the public funding of the arts and was given statutory authority in March 1975 by the Australia Council Act. The Council's predecessor, the Australian Council for the Arts was established in 1968 by Prime Minister John Gorton as a division of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. The Council then incorporated other government projects, such as the Commonwealth Literary Fund and the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board. It operates in co-ordination with the various state government agencies.
- from Wikipedia
Today's second article is 'Dancers' angry protest against arts funding cuts' (online version here) with this bookend para to the news of William Delafield Cook's demise :
Cost-saving measures to be introduced by the country's peak arts body include scrapping the artists-in-residence program and potentially divesting itself of some of the four overseas properties it owns, which includes the Cité Internationale des Arts studio in Paris (a review of those properties had begun before the cuts were announced).
Vale Bill. Vale and thank you Oz artists-in-residence.

Artists' dance protest outside ACCA  
detail
A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
someone looks at something...

LOGOS/HA HA
                         
                        
Post Script :
Also published today, a follow-on to last Saturday's editorial in The Saturday Paper :

Inside George Brandis’s Australia Council arts heist :
The arts minister’s shock annexation of Australia Council funding is about long-running tension over the purpose of the humanities
by Martin McKenzie-Murray
       
                 

22 May 2015

Mu regard

    
A couple of images appear to have drifted together here of late : painters of black - mindful of lineage and of emptiness, or not - and regard(ers) of same.

         
The first image is from here :
Sceptical Buddhism > Buddhism & art > Buddhism and art: modes of enquiry and awakening. 2006.
- an introductory talk on Buddhism and art given to undergraduate students as part of a course on the relationship between philosophical ideas and art practice.
The caption given there to the image is :

Fukushima Keido – in the act of painting Mu 1989

The caption given here to the image is :

detail
A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
someone looks at something...

LOGOS/HA HA

      
There, the image is placed after the image with this caption
       
Ad Reinhardt Black Painting No. 34 1964, oil on canvas

and before the image with this caption

Jackson Pollock at work 1950 (photo by Hans Namuth)
            
Here, the second image is this, from here :


                       
The caption given by the National Library of Australia catalog to this image is :
             
Bob Dyer painting a board on a jetty, 23 November 1962 
[picture] / John Mulligan

The caption given here to this image is :
          
detail
A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
someone looks at something...

LOGOS/HA HA

           
        
            

20 May 2015

Defining the Modern Australian Landscape

              
Yesterday,
Protagonist in a Curatorial Landscape

Today, to be settled on The Field of play...
Defining the Modern Australian Landscape
                 
The Prime Minister's XI
versus 
Artists and the Media

bLOGOS/HA HA
"Menzies, this is your idea (1951).
You toss the coin." 

PM Sir Robert Menzies tosses the coin. 
"The Queen's Head it is."

PM John Howard:
"Right you are Sir Robert, I'll have a bowl."
PM Bob Hawke:
 "A-a-a-a-gh, in that case I'll bat."

A disastrous innings by the Prime Minister's XI. 

Now "Tassie" Drysdale (Captain) and his team take to The Field with a meta-view and projection-space paradigm.

FIAPCE  

Senator George Brandis QC (Prime Minister's XI) appeals loudly against the Drysdale strategy :
   
"How's that?"

From Bay 13, Theatre of the Actors of Regard consider his appeal and deliver their judgement :
     
"You must remember that
A bat is just a bat, 
a sigh is just a sigh. 
The fundamental things will still apply 
As the ball flies by."

chorus :

              detail
              A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
              someone looks at something...

              LOGOS/HA HA

  
     
                 

18 May 2015

Figures in a Curatorial Landscape

            
LECTURE : Artistic freedom and cultural critique in the context of corporatism in the art world

Monash University Museum of Art [MUMA] and Monash Art, Design and Architecture [MADA] are pleased to co-present in partnership with the Research Unit in Public Cultures (RUPC) and the School of Culture and Communications at the University of Melbourne, a keynote lecture by Charles Esche, Director, the Van Abbemuseum, the Netherlands. This lecture will be introduced by Charlotte Day, Director MUMA, followed by a conversation between Charles Esche and Nikos Papastergiadis, Professor, School of Culture and Communication, The University of Melbourne.

Date: Friday 22 May 2015
Time: 6.30 - 8.00pm
Venue: Greek Centre for Contemporary Culture
Level 1, 168 Lonsdale St, Melbourne
Free event. Bookings essential: muma.rsvp@monash.edu 

For almost two decades, Charles Esche has been a protagonist in reshaping the curatorial landscape. His work as a director of important European institutions, curator of major biennials and both writer and publisher of critical texts have sought to investigate the role of art as ...
                
Protagonist reshaping the curatorial landscape? We do puzzle at the persistent evocation of non-landscape landscapes. Figure in a curatorial landscape? Don Quixote?

Gustave Doré  
 Reshaping curatorial art practice, perhaps? 
 Landscape, seascape, cityscape, moonscape,
 mindscape, languescape, LOGOS/HA HAscape...
 Curating the curatorscape!


   FIAPCE : Figures in a Cultural Landscape (after Drysdale)  

 detail
 A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
 someone looks at something...

 LOGOS/HA HA

 
               
            

15 May 2015

George Brandis : The Australian Academy for Excellent Art


Looking through their archive of Le Charivari, our Paris Bureau reckoned the Australian Edition might appreciate this July 1876 illustration by CHAM. We do.



After his disastrous first Budget last year, Treasurer Joe Hockey presented his second effort in Canberra a few days ago. Much of it was a Save-Own-Skin mea culpa back-down. But one Minister obviously couldn't restrain himself.

George Henry Brandis QC is the Attorney-General of Australia and Minister for the Arts. In the latter role, he has been conspicuously at odds with with the Australia Council for the Arts
Brandis argued for amendments to the Australia Council Bill that reinstated the right to artistic freedom as a principle to be upheld and promoted. He had also put foward amendments, not passed, that would have given the arts minister authority to override the Australia Council board, but not to intervene in individual funding decisions. Burke has described that move as "the most direct level of political interference in arts funding that you can imagine". 
Brandis says that the government and the responsible arts minister should be the "final arbiter" of arts policy because they represent the taxpayers who pay for it. "I was concerned about aspects of the Australia Council Bill which would have imposed new limitations on the capacity of the minister to give directions to the Australia Council, in areas other than particular programs or particular funding," he says. 
He remains sceptical of the new council structure and regards the manner of Tony Burke's appointment last month of the 12-member board as lacking bipartisan spirit. He says he should have been consulted on the appointments.
George Brandis details Coalition's arts manifesto
Matthew Westwood, Arts Correspondent / The Australian
20 August
2013
 and with certain politico-uppity (Sydney Biennale) artists :
FEDERAL Arts Minister George Brandis has signalled a significant shake-up of arts funding to avoid political "blackballing", in the wake of what he describes as the "shameful" decision by the Biennale of Sydney to reject private sponsorship from Transfield.

Sydney Biennale 'shame' risks funding, says George Brandis
- Chris Kenny, Associate Ed./ The Australian
13 March 2014
In 2013, George Brandis spelled out his vision :
Our approach to arts policy will be based on six core principles: excellence, integrity, artistic freedom, self-confidence, sustainability and accessibility.
Taking arts to the next level
George Brandis / The Australian
5, September 2013 
Clearly, we had been warned. Even so, most were still surprised by the Brandis budget direction
At the centre of the measures to support the arts sector is the investment of $104.8 million over four years to establish a National Programme for Excellence in the Arts to support endowments, international touring and strategic projects, with an emphasis on attracting private sector support. 
The National Programme for Excellence in the Arts will allow for a truly national approach to arts funding and will deliver on a number of Government priorities including national access to high quality arts and cultural experiences. 
Arts funding has until now been limited almost exclusively to projects favoured by the Australia Council. The National Programme for Excellence in the Arts will make funding available to a wider range of arts companies and arts practitioners, while at the same time respecting the preferences and tastes of Australia’s audiences.  
Here is a telling portrait of Senator Brandis with his controversial library ($13,000) and special bookshelves ($7,000 and $15,000) posing with a biography of Robert Menzies (Robert Menzies: A Life 1894-1943 by A.W.Martin)



Back to the future : but we've been through this before, when the then Attorney-General Robert Menzies pitched himself against the forces of Australia modernism and set up his reactionary Australian Academy of Art. That was 78 years ago.
Australian Academy of Art (1937 - 1946)

The Australian Academy of Art was established in Canberra in 1937 with Robert Menzies (then Attorney-General) as its inaugural chair. Its aims, modelled on those of the British Academy, included organising annual exhibitions and acting as an 'expert body' on artistic matters. Efforts to obtain a royal charter were opposed by the Contemporary Art Society and other avant-garde groups. The Academy held its last annual exhibition in 1947.
Your correspondent's first exhibition was at the Victorian Artists' Society (Melbourne) in 1972. He is aware of some of the art history struggles around that place. This is the Trove NLA record of a Menzies moment there. The Argus (Melbourne), 28 April 1937 :



Victorian Artists' Society Exhibition Opened

One large bowl of vivid leaves and autumn flowers on the grand piano made a brilliant splash of colour in the main gallery of the Victorian Artists Society buildings Albert street last night, when the Federal Attorney-General (Mr Menzies) officially declared the society's exhibition open. The only other decorations were the interesting collection of paintings against the cream walls.

There was a large attendance of artists and friends. The president of the council (Mr James Quinn) and council members greeted the guests. Mrs Menzies, who wore a black velvet gown beneath a mink cloak was presented with a bouquet of deep red roses and other flowers by the seccretary of the society (Miss Edith M H Thompson). Council members present included Mr W B McInnes and Mrs McInnes, Mr E Buckmaster and Mrs Buckmaster, Mr Alfrcd Coleman and Mrs Coleman, Mr Charles Hills and Mrs Hill, Mr Percival Serle and Mrs Serle, Dr F B Heffernan and Mrs Heffernan.

Mr Menzies was introduced by Mr Quinn. "You all know," Mr Menzies said of the proposal to form an Academy of Art In Australia. I must admit that I was the prime mover in this idea. I feel definitely that some authority and body should be formed here as in other countries. Every great country has its art academy. They have set certain standards of art and have served a great purpose in raising the standard of public taste by directing attention to good work."

"This exhibition indicates that the Victoian Artists' Soclety is encouraging people in every type of painting," Mr Menzies said. "Experiment is necessary in establishing an academy, but certain principles must apply to this business of art as to any other business which affects the artistic sense of the community. Great art speaks a language which every intelligent person can understand. The people who call themselves modernists today talk a different language. "


The Prime Minister of Australia, the Right Hon. R.G. Menzies opening 'Antipodean Vision' in the New Wing of the Art Gallery of South Australia, 17 March 1962


The Attorney General of Australia and Minister for the Arts, Senator the Hon. G.H. Brandis (with red tie) opening the New Pavilion 'AUSTRALIA' at the Venice Biennale, 5 May 2015.

detail
A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
someone looks at something...

LOGOS/HA HA
       
     
                     
Post Script :

THE SATURDAY PAPER : EDITORIAl (click here) 


... the Australia Council is an imperfect body. Since it was founded, it has been the plaything of its various ministers. But its politicisation under Brandis is unprecedented.
      
It is hard not to see his contempt for its peer-reviewed grants program as a contempt for artists more generally. The money here has not been saved, it has simply been placed in a purse from which he will please his preferred companies and art forms. It is a purse that says one thing, something he was beginning to say when he wrote to the council more than a year ago: If I do not like you, I will destroy you. This is what Brandis is doing to the arts.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 16, 2015 as "Dark arts". Subscribe here.


14 May 2015

2015 West Space Fundraiser

       
opens tonight!
       
The West Space Annual Fundraiser is a unique opportunity to collect an artwork from a wide selection of emerging and established Australian artists, while also supporting one of Australia’s oldest and most respected artist-led initiatives.

Works for sale are of diverse size and medium, including sculpture, photography, drawing, painting and videos and prices range from as low as $5 through to $4,000. Artists generously choose to donate either 50% or 100% of the proceeds to West Space.

This event is a crucial fundraising opportunity for us to raise essential funds to continue to keep West Space rent free for exhibiting artists.
Opening night: Thursday 14 May 2015, 6-9pm.
West Space Patrons Preview: 14 May 2015, 4-6pm.
Exhibition continues: 15-17 May 2015, 12-6pm.       
The artists :

Adam Cruickshank | Adam John Cullen | Adelle Mills | Akira Akira | Andre Piguet | Andrew Hazewinkel | Angela Brennan | Anna Higgins | Anna Varendorff | Avni Dauti | Ben Leslie | Benjamin Lichtenstein | Benjamin Sheppard | Brigit Ryan | Bryan Spier | Charles O’Loughlin | Chris Bond | Christian Capurro | Christian Thompson | Christo Crocker | Christopher Sciuto | Christopher L G Hill | Colleen Ahern | Dan Moynihan | Dan Bell | Danae Valenza | Dane Lovett | Daniel Price | David Egan | Dell Stewart | Drew Pettifer | Elizabeth Newman | Emily Ferretti | Esther Stewart | Fayen d’Evie | Geoff Robinson | George Egerton-Warburton | Grant Nimmo | Helen Grogan | H.B. Peace | Ieuan Weinman | Irene Hanenbergh | Isabelle Sully | Isadora Vaughan | James Eisen | John Nixon | Jonas Ropponen | Jordan Marani | Joshua Petherick | Julian Aubrey Smith | Katie Lee | Kay Abude | Kenny Pittock | Kerrie Poliness | Kez Hughes | Kiron Robinson | Kirra Jamison | Laith McGregor | Lauren Burrow | Leanne Hermosilla | Lewis Fidock | Lou Hubbard | Lucina Lane | Lyndal Walker | Lynette Smith | Masato Takasaka | Meredith Turnbull | Merryn Lloyd | Michael Graeve | Michelle Ussher | Michelle Sakaris | Minna Gilligan | Nadine Christensen | Natalie Ryan | Natalie Thomas | Nick Selenitsch | Nikos Pantazopoulos | Noriko Nakamura | Oscar Perry | Patrick Pound | Paul Knight | Peter Tyndall | Pip Ryan | Raafat Ishak | Renee Cosgrave | Richard Giblett | Ross Coulter | Rowan McNaught | Ry Haskings | Salote Tawale | Sam George | Sanja Pahoki | Sanné Mestrom | Sarah crowEST | Saskia Doherty | Scott Miles | Sean Peoples | Sean Bailey | Sharon Goodwin | Stephen Giblett | Stephen Bram | Sue Dodd | Susan Jacobs | Tai Snaith | Toby Pola | Tom Nicholson | Tom Polo | Torie Nimmervoll | Trevelyan Clay | Tully Moore | Vittoria Di Stefano | Viv Miller | Vivian Cooper Smith | Zoë Croggon

full illustrated catalog here
       

             detail
             A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
             someone looks at something...

             LOGOS/HA HA
        
       
       

13 May 2015

A few pointers

         
1. More auction news : yesterday at Christie's New York the sculpture multiple (six casts plus one artist’s proof) L’homme au doigt (Pointing Man) by Alberto Giacometti sold for US$141.3 million. 


               
Christie's described the auction as a "curated sale", and further inflated this with the title Looking Forward to the Past

More from the Christie's promotional blurb :
Pointing Man is unquestionably Giacometti’s greatest sculpture,’ explains Jussi Pylkkanen, Global President of Christie’s. ‘Executed after the War in one incredible night of creative fervour, this noble figure points mankind to a brighter future beyond our limited horizons.
       
           
2. Sean Lowry's introduction to the exhibition  '_____'
at Margaret Lawrence Gallery, VCA, Melbourne, 
begins with a pointing :

Something else about nothing: blankness as medium
Sean Lowry
Catalogue essay for: '_____' 
April 10 – May 16, 2015
 Margaret Lawrence Gallery
40 Dodds St, Southbank Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. 

This exhibition points toward an aesthetic realm in which conspicuous absence demands that we look into, beyond or outside formal qualities and expectations of content. That some of the artists featured in this exhibition will disagree with most of what follows is in itself evidence of the varied nature of artistic responses to blankness and nothingness. Although we might infer the underlying operation of several divergent strategies for working at the limits of content and specificity within this exhibition, some artists will, I suspect, reject that this is what they are doing. Nevertheless, it is my task here to try and write something else about nothing. 

further on...
           
The walls in this exhibition space have been painted white many times. Somewhere inside these walls are the traces of previous artworks and exhibitions. Even this simple thought experiment requires uniting the material properties of paint with invisible functions of thought. Although these traces of previous exhibitions are now invisibly locked inside
these walls, the media required for communicating this idea are paint and words. Just as artworks assume a doubled ontological existence – insofar as they are art and at the same time something else – this text is also made up of semiotic units and the gallery walls of painted wood. Unless “pointed to”, much art is easily unnoticed. Also, without “pointing” it is also difficult to meaningfully delineate that which is inside and outside a work. 

and further on...
             
Although Malevich pointed toward blankness as a space for aesthetic speculation over a century ago, it was clear from the outset that there is no such thing as nothing in art. The many and varied evocations of nothingness in this exhibition alone attest to this impossibility. Instead, the idea of blankness underpinning this exhibition aims to evoke the productive sense of possibility suggested by an empty sheet of paper, an empty gallery space, an unpainted canvas, or a digital document devoid of information. By extension, it also performs the potential for empty space to foreshadow the irresolvable tension between doubt and hope underpinning the creative process itself. Blank space remains provisionally protected from the impending spectre of judgement. It is not yet a failure or a success – just a possibility of both. It also reflects the anxiety of having nothing to say or of corrupting the potential of a proverbial clean slate with the vulgarity of artistic expression. Although paralysing, it invites us to carry on. And as we carry on, we discover that blankness can also be thought of as the end result of erasure and removal, no longer a starting point but an unattainable resting place. 

and ... click here to read the full essay.
        
         
3. Hotei pointing at the moon (below) by Sengai :  in Buddhism, such pointing imagery is a reminder to those on the path not to fall short of the goal; not to fixate on the finger that points but to attend wholly to that at which the pointer points.

"My play with brush and ink is not calligraphy nor painting; 
yet unknowing people mistakenly think: 
this is calligraphy, this is painting."
Sengai Gibon (1750–1837)
   


 detail
 A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
 someone looks at something...

 LOGOS/HA HA
        

            
                    

12 May 2015

regarding certain black milestones...


Given the postings of recent days, 

AUSTRALIA : new pavilion opens for 56th Venice Biennale

More Melbourne Black : Herald Outdoor Art Show   
     
and having just received an auction notice for Noel Counihan's
           
Albert Namitjira (1959)
screenprinted in black ink, from a stencil from original linocut

it seems appropriate to include this work too.

See NGA website for further information about this work.


 NOEL COUNIHAN (1913-1986) 
 Albert Namatjira on the Cross 
 serigraph from an edition of 50 
 Accompanied by a letter from the artist 
 41 x 18cm 
 Estimate $700-900

        
 detail
 A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
 someone looks at something...

 LOGOS/HA HA

        

       

11 May 2015

More Melbourne Black : Herald Outdoor Art Show


Previously, we travelled with Stanley Kubrick's black rectangular monolith : from 1913 and the 'Black Square' of Kazimir Malevich to the new Black Pavilion of the Antipodes at the Venice Biennale.
     
           
Yesterday, on the The Music Show, Andrew Ford interviewed the English composer and Orthodox priest Ivan Moody (listen here). We appreciated his summary description of the 'Black Square', highlighted in the extract below :

Andrew Ford : As you point out in the book (Modernism and Orthodox Spirituality in Contemporary Music), in Soviet Russia the ikons of Orthodox religion were replaced by the iconography of the Soviet System, and Christ was replaced by Lenin, and in a way this brings Religion and Modernism together, doesn't it, because they were both suppressed.

Ivan Moody : They were both suppressed and, just before they were, you had these interesting phenomena such as the Malevich 'Black Square' which is an ikon that has disappeared into itself; because when it was displayed in its first exhibition it was displayed in the corner of the gallery as though it were in an ikon corner. And there you have the two resonances meeting head on.

      
In the previous post, we might also have included among those black milestones the iconic 1880 iron mask made by Ned Kelly, and Sidney Nolan's later refinement of it.
     

FIAPCE    
Recently, we acquired some 1950s-60s catalogs of the Herald Outdoor Art Show (Melbourne).
              

photo from Rennie Ellis collection at the State Library of Victoria

Tim Burstall writes about this exhibition series in 'The Memoirs of a Young Bastard'. A footnote there describes it thus :

Herald Outdoor Art Competition : The first outdoor art show organised by the Herald, then Melbourne's afternoon daily newspaper, was held from 8-14 December 1953 in the Treasury Gardens. It was conceived as a democratic event, with no restrictions on entry and no fees, commissions or rents. There were separate sections for amateur and professional exhibitors, a number of practising artists were invited to display their works in the latter category.

The 94 page catalogue for the 1953 event details around 2000 exhibits from artists who included George Bell, Charles Blackman, Arthur Boyd, Guy Boyd, John Brack, Ola Cohn, Noel Counihan, Sybil Craig, Leonard French, Barry Humphries, Bruce Petty, Clifton Pugh, various Skippers and Danila Vasilieff...
       
photo from Rennie Ellis collection at the State Library of Victoria
         
Alan McCulloch was appointed art critic at the Herald in 1952, the year before the Herald Outdoor Art Show began. McCulloch designed the covers and the inside drawings of the four catalogs we own.

One of the covers particularly interests us with its variants of the black square. Earthy brown, black and white : a black cosmic watering-can with no visible means of support hovers above and nurtures a variety of black plants in a variety of black pots.
                


That metaphor seems clear enough; the back cover less so, and more interesting for that. Thoughts of Malevich's 'Black Square'; of Nolan's black Kelly mask with eye; of Joseph Campbell's 'The Masks of God' (1962-1968) with an Eye of God and a rectangular halo; and the black rectangular pot (Created in the Image of God) containing a Tree of Life, the gift being offered to us. Archetypes find their way through : in the beginning was the Black Square and the Black Square was made ...


     
 detail
 A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
 someone looks at something...

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