30 June 2004

Art borders blur at "2004 – Australian Culture Now"

2004 – Australian Culture Now, Federation Square, Melbourne. Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia
Youth and the present are at the core of a major collaboration of two Melbourne galleries in an ambitious exhibition of Australian contemporary art, writes Michael Hutak. 

Nicholas Folland's I Think I Was Asleep 
"Now" is the operative word in this new survey of Australian contemporary art, the most ambitious mounted in five years, say co-hosts NGV Australia and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI). 2004 – Australian Culture Now represents the first major collaboration between the two principal tenants of Federation Square in Melbourne, the former one of Australia's oldest cultural institutions, the latter barely two years old and playing catch-up.

At its June 14 launch, NGV director Gerard Vaughan announced 2004 had been "deliberately timed for the Biennale [of Sydney]", which opened a week earlier, "to get international visitors to see both buildings fully operating". Hardly a noble aspiration but cultural tourists seeking a quality museum experience will still come away sated. Certainly, 2004 leaves a stronger aftertaste than the thematic conceits of the Sydney Biennale. On Reason and Emotion is left looking a little tired and emotional against the optimism of 2004's brash demand for "strayin' kulcha now!"

3 June 2004

Collectables: End result: lots

With the share price of troubled Tempo Services hitting a five-year low of $1.02 on May 4, its chairman, John Schaeffer, could at least survey the recent dispersal of his art collection warmed by the knowledge he was getting top dollar. However, as the dust settles from the "garage sale of the century" at Rona, Schaeffer's $28m Bellevue Hill mansion in Sydney's eastern suburbs, collectors are entitled to ask: was it worth the hype?

It was to Christie's, which spent a small fortune promoting the sale. If there are any other cash-strapped multimillionaire art lovers out there, Rona was a great ad for Christie's, which shifted 570 lots - $5.19m in paintings, sculpture, furniture and decorative ephemera - at top-gun clearance rates by lot (85.3%) and by value (88.7%).