The National Gallery of Victoria has closed again ‘until further notice’. The rest of the country is more fortunate, at least for the moment. At the Art Gallery of NSW, while ground works have begun on the new Sydney Modern Project next door, there are several exhibitions including one with the curious title of Some Mysterious Process: 50 Years of Collecting International Art (until 13/9). Curated by the Gallery’s Director, Michael Brand, this display of contemporary art looks at how a museum’s collection evolves over time through curation and philanthropy. If that sounds a bit apologetic, it might be because the exhibition is rather dour, certainly not very attractive.
It does include some major works including Cy Twombly’s triptych Three studies from the Temeraire 1998-89, purchased in 2004 with funds from the Society and the Foundation and a large group of individual donors. That group of donors however, did not include Margaret Olley, a generous and recurrent donor to the Gallery. Margaret could not share Edmund Capon’s enthusiasm for the Twombly which she thought was ‘rubbish’. That’s the problem with acquisitions, tastes vary.
An important and attractive work is David Hockney’s A closer winter tunnel, February-March 2006 purchased in 2007. Hockney had returned to his native Yorkshire and made a series of landscape paintings of which this was the first. In six parts, it was painted entirely on the spot. It is immense: 190 x 381cm overall. It is vivid and remarkably emotional.
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