Rex Butler
Collecting Comme

Flat of Angles

Collecting Comme

National Gallery of Victoria
31 October 2019 – 26 July 2020

Rex Butler

Rei Kawakubo's first Comme des Garçons show in Paris in April 1981 is now a legendary event in the history of fashion. Mounted unofficially at the Intercontinental Hotel during Prêt-à-Porter week and featuring just five models—she had not received the favour of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, which decided, like the French Academy the century before, who would show duri...

Rex Butler
Hans and Nora Heysen: Two Generations of Australian Art

Hans and Nora Heysen: Two Generations of Australian Art

The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia
8 March – 28 July 2019

By Rex Butler

I was quite prepared to come to Hans and Nora Heysen: Two Generations of Australian Art like a Countess blogger. Yet again the pairing of Nora Heysen with her father Hans, as though her story could only be told through him. Yet again the "Australianising" of Australian art history when this is also a German story and, when Nora goes overseas to study at the C...

Rex Butler
The Hand of Art

Tracey Moffatt: Body Remembers


Thought Patterns: Selected Works from the Collection

Curated by Anthony Fitzpatrick.
Tarrawarra Museum of Art
23 March – 19 May

By Rex Butler

The shadows are the first thing you notice. They're uncanny, haunting, impossible, technological.

Take Spirit House (2017), which has the one remaining wall of an abandoned limestone building—we are tempted to call it a mission church—casting its shadow under a cumulus-cloudy sky. It's an impossible shadow bec...

Rex Butler
Christian Marclay: The Clock

Memento Mori Melbourne

Christian Marclay: The Clock

Australian Centre for the Moving Image 23 January – 10 March

10 am – 5 pm, open 24 hours on Thursdays

By Rex Butler

All reviewers seem to begin by telling us the circumstances in which they came to watch it: when they first came into the screening room, how long they stayed, what they were doing before they came in and what they did afterwards.

The novelist Zadie Smith—when she went to see it at the Hayward Gallery in 2011, in an es...

Rex Butler
Mira Gojak and Takehito Koganezawa: The Garden of Forking Paths

Mira Gojak and Takehito Koganezawa, The Garden of Forking Paths

Buxton Contemporary 7 November 2018 – 17 February 2019

Curated by Shihoko Iida and Melissa Keys

By Rex Butler

It's almost impossible to imagine the influence four small volumes of less than 60,000 words each by the great Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges exerted on Western culture throughout the latter part of the 20th century. Compiled from a selection of short stories and essays originally written in Spanish in the 1930s...

Rex Butler
Shearing the Rams

Tom Roberts, Shearing the Rams

National Gallery of Victoria, Permanent Collection

By Rex Butler

I was recently showing a friend from New Zealand through the Australian collection at the National Gallery of Victoria and we came, of course, to Tom Roberts' Shearing the Rams (1888-90). You have to get there eventually because everything in the collection and its arrangement on the walls points you that way. The work is visible — and intentionally so — as you step into the first of the room...

Rex Butler
Colony: Australia 1770–1861 / Frontier Wars

Colony: Australia 1770–1861 / Frontier Wars

Ian Potter Centre, National Gallery of Victoria. Colony: Australia 1770–1861 until 15 July | Colony: Frontier Wars until 30 September

By Rex Butler

Colony is undoubtedly the best show the NGV has put on since Australian Impressionists in France in 2013. And I’d even say that the two shows are connected. Seriously. Both shake up our conception of what “Australia” is and perhaps even more profoundly where “Australia” is. Certainly, a number...

Rex Butler
The Field Revisited

The Two Sides of the Field

The Field Revisited

Ian Potter Centre, National Gallery of Victoria, 27 April – 26 August

By Rex Butler

There are perhaps three art-viewing experiences I have had that I would say changed the way I looked at and thought about art. The first was when as an undergraduate I wandered without any warning into the Colin McCahon retrospective held at the University of Sydney as part of the Sydney Biennale of 1984. The second was when, again without any warning, I stoo...