The Art Gallery of New South Wales has announced its 2019 Exhibition Program, which will feature a major showcase of Chinese art from the National Palace Museum in Tapei, a wide-ranging exhibition of works by Marcel Duchamp, featuring 125 works and related documentary materials from the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collection, as well as a celebration of 50 years of Kaldor Public Art Projects. The AGNSW’s 2019 will also feature major exhibitions of work by Australian artists including Judy Watson, Noŋgirrŋa Marawili, Tony Tuckson, Ben Quilty and Brett Whiteley and a showcase of contemporary Australian artists titled The National 2019.

“At the Gallery in 2019, audiences can see pioneering works such as Kazimir Malevich’s ground-breaking modernist painting the Black Square (c.1930) on loan from the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg,” said AGNSW Director Michael Brand referring to the Masters of Modern Art from the Hermitage exhibition (previously announced as part of the Sydney International Art Series and featured in the October 2018 issue of Limelight). “They can see treasures from one of the finest collections of Chinese art in the world, the National Palace Museum in Taipei, and in April we showcase the iconic ‘readymades’ and paintings of Marcel Duchamp from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.”

Judy WatsonJudy Watson, artist in residence, Art Gallery of NSW, 1993

The season will begin with Masters of Modern Art from the Hermitage, which runs until March, and Noŋgirrŋa Marawili: from my heart and mind, Judy Watson: the edge of memory and Tuckson: the abstract sublime all of which open this November and run across the summer into 2019. An exhibition of drawings by Brett Whiteley will open in December 2018 and carry through into 2019, a year which will also see the artist and his work remembered in a new opera by Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin for Opera Australia.

AGNSWQing dynasty 1644 – 1911, Meat-shaped stone, stone, 6.6 x 7.9 x 6.6 cm, National Palace Museum

Heaven and earth in Chinese art: treasures from the National Palace Museum, Tapei will come to Sydney in February next year, featuring over 150 artworks including paintings, calligraphy, illustrated books, bronzes, jade and wood carvings and ceramics. “One of the key objects Heaven and earth in Chinese art will showcase is a masterpiece of banded jasper stone carved into a mouth-watering piece of stewed pork belly resting on a gilt metal stand,” Brand said. “Known simply as the Meat-shaped stone it dates from the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) and is rarely offered on loan as it’s regarded as one of the museum’s top three treasures.”

Art Gallery of New South WalesQianlong 1736 – 1795, Chen Zuzhang, Olive pit in the form of a boat, 1737, olive pit, 1.6 x 3.4 x 1.4 cm, National Palace Museum

The exhibition will also see the enchanting miniature carving Boat Carved from an Olive Stone come to the AGNSW. The stunningly detailed boat – only 1.6cm tall – contains no fewer than eight figures, including the Song Dynasty poet Su Tung-po sitting by the window.

Marcel Duchamp, Nude Descending a Staircase (No 2), 1912, oil on canvas, 147 x 89.2 cm, Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950
© Marcel Duchamp/ADAGP. Licensed by Copyright Agency

The Essential Duchamp opens in April and will be the most comprehensive exhibition of the revolutionary artist’s work ever seen in the Asia-Pacific Region, and will feature works spanning his six-decade career from his early forays into cubism – such as his famously controversial Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 – to his even more famously controversial urinal, Fountain.

Kaldor Public Art Project 10: Jeff Koons, Puppy, Museum of Contemporary Art forecourt, Sydney, 12 December 1995 – 17 March 1996 © Jeff Koons Photo © Eric Sierins

While the 50th anniversary of Duchamp’s death falls on October 2 this year, the AGNSW will celebrate another half century next year from September with the 50th anniversary of the iconic Kaldor Public Art Projects, which began in 1969 with Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s monumental Wrapped Coast and has since featured a line-up of works to enter Australia’s history, including Jeff Koons’ well-loved floral Puppy in 1995.

Opening in March, The National 2019: new Australian art will see the AGNSW, in partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art and Carriageworks, present new and commissioned work by 24 Australian artists, 60 percent of whom are women, while November will see the Gallery host the first major survey of Australian artist Ben Quilty, in an exhibition developed by the Art Gallery of South Australia. The exhibition will also tour to QAGOMA in Brisbane.

Alongside these major exhibitions, the AGNSW will also present exhibitions from its own collection, including exhibitions of Chinese and Melanesian art and work by Jeffrey Smart and Dora Ohlfsen as well as another showcase of Whitely’s work, Brett Whiteley: Wildlife and other emergencies, which opens this October.

“In an often divided and intolerant world, the art museum must be a place of dialogue, nuance, complexity, ambiguity, discovery, surprise, curiosity and wonder,” said Brand. “Here, you can experience how people were, and believed, in other times and places. You can also discover, through today’s art, the differences and commonalities that define us now.”


More information

Limelight, Australia's Classical Music and Arts Magazine