Some of Australia’s best artists display liquid crap and its indigenous art “amounts to a market in decorative rugs”.
That’s according to a leading British art critic who just savaged Royal Academy’s new ‘Australia’ exhibition which opened this weekend in London.
The Sunday Times’ Waldemar Januszczak described indigenous art on show as “tourist tat”, Frederick McCubbin’s famous The Pioneer as “poverty porn”, and Fred Williams’ desert landscape as “thick cowpats of minimalism”.
The Sydney Morning Herald says Januszczak saved his most scathing attack for John Olsen’s ‘Sydney Sun’, bought by Australia’s National Gallery for $500,000 in 2000.
According to Januszczak, it “successfully evokes the sensation of standing under a cascade of diarrhoea.”
Olsen, for his part, was extremely magnanimous in his response to the criticism.
You can call it diarrhoea or energy,” he told the SMH. “It just depends on what you ate last night.
Olsen went on to say the exhibition shows Australians have their own way of looking at things:
We don’t give a damn about what they say we are. Such a review is endeavouring to put the colonials in their place.
Ha-bloody-ha. I’d say it was extremely foolish.
For the record, there are Australian art critics equally disappointed with the exhibition and the Sunday Times’sister paper The Times gave it four out of five stars.
But while we’re on the record, let’s just remind ourselves that the UK great artistic contributions include Damien Hirst and the Turner Prize.
Here’s one thoroughly modern winner:
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