10 Showstopping Art Exhibitions to Catch in Sydney in 2019
Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year
Brett Whiteley: S.H. Ervin Gallery
Street Photography: 1930s-1950s, Museum of Sydney
MCA Collection: Today Tomorrow Yesterday
Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones Exhibit
Destination Sydney Re-Imagined
Slowly but surely, Sydney has become a bonafide art and culture hub. Our galleries and museums are bursting to the brim with world-class artists and exhibitions that delight, excite and make us wonder. Exhibitions come and go, so be sure to hop on them while they’re here. If you want to be wowed, wander through these mesmerising collections for an instant culture fix.
Museum of Contemporary Art
Until 29 March, 2020
The MCA is home to the biggest – and most beautiful – collection of Australian contemporary art. While exhibitions come and go, the gallery has a ‘hang’ of carefully curated artworks that stay on display. Before this, the last time the hang got a shake-up was back in 2012 (MCA Collection: Volume One), so there are plenty of fresh works to feast your eyes on. The collection showcases 40 of the country’s best artists from the 1960s to now, but don’t expect to talk a walk through history. The works aren’t in chronological order. Instead, they draw from the Aboriginal concept of time, which is circular and believes that the past, present and future are connected.
Claude Monet Poppy field 1890/91 The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg Inv GE 9004
Wassily Kandinsky View of Murnau: landscape with a green house 1908, State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg Inv GE 8943
Art Gallery of NSW
Until 3 March 2019
This summer, the AGNSW is displaying 65 paintings from St Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum – which is the second largest museum in the world after the Louvre. In other words, this exclusive exhibition is kind of a big deal. As you walk through it, you’ll spot famous and rare works from European masters, like Monet, Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne and Kandinsky. Spanning from the late 19th to the early 20th century, the artworks show the evolution from impressionism to modernism.
Until 28 January 2019
If you love National Geographic, you’re going to be blown away by this collection of photographs. On display from now until late January, the exhibition celebrates the breathtaking beauty of Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and New Guinea. While capturing wildlife and landscapes, it also reflects the environmental challenges those regions are facing. The exhibition includes works from professional, up-and-coming and junior photographers.
The Art Gallery of NSW
2 Feb – 5 May 2019
Another beauty from AGNSW, this exhibition will transport you a world away. Heaven and Earth in Chinese Art brings together over 150 pieces of Chinese art from the National Palace Museum of Taipei. It’s the first exhibition of its kind in Australia, and will feature an array of works, from paintings and calligraphy to illustrated books, bronzes, ceramics and woodcarvings. The attention to detail is insane. The must-see work is the Meat-shaped stone. Dating from the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), it’s considered one of the museum’s top three treasures and is rarely loaned out. Lucky us!
Museum of Contemporary Art
Until 3 March 2019
This landmark exhibition will take you on a trip to South Africa. David Goldblatt was considered to be one of the most compelling photographers of our time, and he made his mark by capturing the country’s people and its turbulent history. The exhibition will feature a series of black-and-white and colour photographs, as well as incredible vintage prints and never-before-seen images from Goldblatt’s personal archive.
Macel Duchamp 'Rotorelief' (optical disk) 1935 offset lithograph printed on both sides 20 cm (diameter) Philadelphia Museum of Art, Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950-134-985(6) © Association Marcel Duchamp/ADAGP.
Marcel Duchamp 'The chess game' 1910 Philadelphia Museum of Art, Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950
© Association Marcel Duchamp/ADAGP.
The Art Gallery of NSW
27 April – 11 August 2019
Born in Normandy in 1887, Marcel Duchamp was one of the most original and influential artists of the 20th century who had his fair share of fans and critics. He was revolutionary. The Essential Duchamp opens in late April and is set to be the most comprehensive display of the artist’s work ever seen in the Asia-Pacific region. You’ll see 150 works from his six-decade career, including the iconic-slash-controversial piece, Nude descending a staircase, No. 2.
Museum of Sydney
Until 21 July 2019
Throughout the '30s and '50s, street photographers would stroll around Sydney and snap people going about their daily lives. They were a familiar sight, and some city-slickers would stop to pose, while others were captured candidly. This exhibition gives us a peek into post-war Sydney, with photos of families, young-and-in-love couples out on the torn, uniformed servicemen, and migrants exploring their new city. The old-school photos sit next to contemporary photos by Anne Zahalka, who does the same thing today!
S.H. Ervin Gallery
22 March – 5 May 2019
Brett Whiteley was a homegrown hero. In 1999, his mum established the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship, which gives young painters the chance to travel to Paris and explore Europe to develop their talent – just like her son did. (He won the Italian Government Travelling Scholarship back in 1959). On display at The Rocks, this intimate exhibition features a few of Whiteley’s works, plus those of 20 of the scholarship-winning painters.
International Convention Centre
Until 3 February 2019
During his life, this Aussie artist flew under the radar – but this exhibition thrusts him into the spotlight. And it’s about time! In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Russell was friends with Van Gogh, Monet and Rodin, and taught Matisse the basics of colour theory. Thanks to his talent and impressive connections, he was a big deal in the art world. His paintings and drawings are finally on display in Oz at the Art Gallery of NSW. Along with impressionist and pure colour paintings, there’s a series of stunning works showing Rose Bay in the 1920s, which is where Russell lived in his later years.
Mira Gojak 'Stops' 2017 steel rod, acrylic yarn, 140 x 170 x 80 cm © Mira Gojak Photo: Christian Capurro
Amrita Hepi, 'The tender', 2018–19 performance documentation © Amrita Hepi
The Art Galley of NSW, Museum of Contemporary Art and Carriageworks
29 March – 21 July 2019
Opening in March, these three high-profile galleries will showcase the work of 65 new and established Aussie artists who work in a diverse range of media. You can expect to admire a lot of contemporary art that’s not only intricate and complex, but also speaks to what’s happening in our world. We’re already fans of the Art Gallery of NSW’s selection, which presents 24 artists – 65% of whom are women.
Manly Art Gallery & Museum, Mosman Art Gallery and S.H. Ervin Gallery
Until 17 March 2019
Sydneysiders, this collab will make you love this city even more. The exhibition is spread across three galleries, and features 130 works from nine Aussie artists whose careers were inspired by the Harbour City. Think Ken Done, Ethel Carrick Fox and Adrian Fent (Manly Art Gallery & Museum), Roy de Maistre, Robert Klippel and Michael Johnson (Mosman Art Gallery), and Jeffrey Smart, Nicholas Harding and Wendy Sharpe (S.H. Ervin Gallery). As a local, you’ll no doubt see some familiar spots!