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Archibald Prize 2012 special lectures

The history of the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes and their significance to contemporary art

Speakers: Dr Oliver Watts and Dr Timothy Gregory

Wednesdays 18 & 25 April 2012, 7.30pm


Duration 1 hour
Location: Centenary Auditorium

Related exhibition: Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2012

What are the Archibald, Sulman and the Wynne prizes?

Why are portraits so popular? Are they documentary, magic or effigy? What is the place of humanism and virtue in relation to fame and celebrity culture?

This lecture explores the history and legacy of the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes. It begins by looking at the historical context of the portrait prize in particular and the circumstances around its establishment. It examines the place of portraiture in contemporary art and whether the genre provides the pantheon Archibald envisaged.

Image: Crowds visit the Art Gallery of NSW to view the 1944 Archibald Prize, Sydney Morning Herald, 22 January 1945 (detail)


Wednesday 18 April 2012 7:30pm – 8:30pm

What is the place of genre in contemporary art?

What is a portrait, a landscape and a “genre painting”?

In this lecture we will look at examples of these genres within the Art Gallery of NSW collection from artists such as Nash, Kiefer, Nolan and the 19th century collection. In light of influential art critic Clement Greenberg’s repudiation of these art forms, we ask what is the legacy of narrative and literary painting in contemporary practice? Have these genres been co-opted by other media?

Is beauty back? Is art less autonomous than the moderns thought? What is the place of the traditionally historical approaches to art which were supposed to have been so challenged by avant-garde modernism?

Image: Paul Nash Sunflower and sun 1942 Gift of the Contemporary Art Society, London 1944 © TATE, London 2003 (enlarge)


Wednesday 25 April 2012 7:30pm – 8:30pm