William Hogarth's O the Roast Beef of Old England (‘The Gate of Calais’, 1748) Via Bendor Grosvenor's article in The Art Newspaper
William Hogarth’s O the Roast Beef of Old England (‘The Gate of Calais’, 1748) Via Bendor Grosvenor’s article in The Art Newspaper


The Daily Review has come out with an editorial saying that ‘A Vote for the Coalition is a Vote against the Arts’ and with Arts Minister Mitch Fifield yet to release an arts policy and only the coalition’s past performance on arts funding (de-funding more like it) it’s a pretty straightforward claim. I am aiming to a pre-election round-up on Friday of all the latest arts funding news and debates and links to the policies of the main parties (where they exist…). The protests over cuts have been making international news with stories in Hyperallergic and Apollo Magazine.

The other major news is the recently announced merger of the Sydney College of Art with UNSW. The VCA’s Su Baker has a great opinion piece in The Australian where she makes the point that the SCA has been punching well above its weight and the description of its performance as ‘third rate’ by Sydney University VC Michael SPence ‘makes no sense and may be seen as the ultimate insult to generations of graduates. These comments will make academics in the creative arts across the country wonder what more they have to do to gain recognition.’ More on the merger here and here, and also on the possible merger of the National Art School with UNSW as well.

You also might have heard some talk about something called Brexit… Galleries, museums and others who work in the arts and in academia are very concerned about the impact of Britain leaving the EU. Bendor Grosvenor (of Art History News) has written an article for the Arts Newspaper outlining his concerns, saying that Britain has chosen the ‘way of Hogarth over Turner’. Apollo Magazine has responses from several major arts organisations with the Art Fund writing that ‘At one level there is obviously now great financial uncertainty – the effect on European funding streams for the arts, for example uncertainty – but quite as important is the potential effect on the spirit that drives a myriad of international partnerships in the arts. These are driven at heart by the principle of Britain as a collaborative component of, and participant in, a vibrant European culture. We must work hard to keep this spirit alive, regardless of politics.’

Apollo Magazine has an interview with Frances Morris, director of Tate Modern, in which she describes the new extension as ‘ a university with a playground attached to it.’ She goes on to say that ‘There is this deep scholarship but there is also a touch of lightness and play: they go hand in hand. If diverse audiences have a playful encounter with art that doesn’t make them feel stupid, then they feel that this is a place made for them. As you grow older, you can push it further and transition more toward the scholarly side.’ What a refreshing attitude, too often it seems that museums and galleries think it is scholarship OR playfulness/fun. Not only does Morris acknowledge the important role of research in any museum but she points out that it can actually inform all the other types of experiences people might go to museum to have.

An essay by Peter McPhee in The Conversation ‘When Manet met Degas’ reflects on the relationship between these two artists. He writes that ‘Among the superb portraits in this NGV exhibition are two of Manet, done in Degas’ home in 1864-68. Sometime in 1868, Degas then painted a portrait of Manet reclining on a couch and his wife Suzanne seated at a piano. Controversy surrounds the portrait because the painting has been slashed from top to bottom, right through the likeness of Suzanne. The supposition is that Manet slashed the painting, perhaps simply because he did not like the way Suzanne was painted, or because he was feuding at the time with Degas or his wife.’

Following my recent report of the US whitepaper that observed that 3D scans of pre-existing art did not attract copyright due to a lack of originality, a German court has ruled the opposite in regards to digitized images of works of art. ‘A Berlin court has ruled that digitising paintings that are in the public domain creates new copyrights, even if the intent is to create a faithful image rather than produce an artistic interpretation. The case was brought by the Reiss Engelhorn Museum (REM) in Mannheim, Germany, against the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Deutschland—the local German chapter of the global Wikimedia movement—over 17 images of the museum’s public domain works of art, which have been uploaded to Wikimedia Commons.’ The director of the Reiss Engelhorn Museum had responded that while they are sympathetic with Wikipedia’s aims ‘even if one supports the free public accessibility of cultural items on Wikipedia, it is difficult for us to comprehend that a single Wikipedia author claims the right to decide on their own to release to everybody the results of work created with public funds on Wikipedia for free and thus also for commercial use’

Recent reviews of current exhibitions

Simon Grant on ‘Georgina Houghton: Spirit Drawings’, a MUMA exhibition that has recently opened at the Courtauld Gallery in London.

Svenja J. Kratz on Dark Mofo, an ‘astounding and deeply affecting program that moves seamlessly between science, spirituality and magic and captures the beauty and danger of a raging storm.’

Christopher Allen on Gippsland Art Gallery’s ‘Timpelapse’ (including a reflection on the strengths of Victoria’s Regional Art Galleries and Museums).

Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore on the just-opened ‘Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’ exhibition at AGNSW. The exhibition ‘is significant, not least because neither artist’s work has graced the shores of Australia in any meaningful way for the last 10 years’.