The Top-Notch Artistic Australian City
Sydney has long battled it out with Melbourne for top billing on the Australian cultural calendar. But, while the latter boasts an equally if not more active gallery and museum scene, Sydney’s harborside arts festival, the Biennale of Sydney, places it a cut above, particularly on the international art world stage. Having attracted top-notch curators for its past editions—Documenta (13) artistic director Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and Fondazione Prada director Germano Celant, and others—the 20th Biennale of Sydney in spring 2016 was helmed by Stephanie Rosenthal, chief curator of London-based Hayward Gallery, and focused on the boundaries between our virtual and physical lives. For those headed Down Under during biennale off-months, there’s still plenty left to see. The Art Gallery of New South Wales (Art Gallery NSW) leads off Sydney’s museum scene. The institution’s John Kaldor Family Collection is of particular note here for its breadth of American and European postwar and contemporary masters. The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)’s waterfront building, which previously housed the Maritime Services Board, was renovated in 2012 to offer increased exhibition space and a more modern vibe. More experimental is Artspace, a contemporary art venue in the city’s Woolloomooloo district, which was founded by artists in 1983 and moved to its current venue, a historic building known as The Gunnery, in 1992. The much younger Carriageworks opened in 2007 in the disused Eveleigh Rail Yards, and hosts a multi-disciplinary program of contemporary art, theater, and performance—as well as the city’s biggest art fair, Sydney Contemporary, which is held every two years in September. Australia’s relative isolation from the art market power-centers of Europe, America, and Asia translates into fewer commercial galleries than some cities of similar global standing, but a trip here wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, which has helped launch the careers of Tracey Moffatt and Fiona Hall, among others.
Taken from the fourth edition of the BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors which features 256 collections in 43 countries, the Art Guide features a number of short texts that take a closer look into the vast world of collecting with new texts from Vienna, Warsaw, and Hong Kong.
Alexander Forbes is a New York based art writer and critic, currently serving as Artsy’s News Editor. Prior to relocating to New York, Alexander was based in Berlin as the European Editor for artnet and German Bureau Chief for Louise Blouin Media.