September 2007

Arts & Letters

‘Linda Marrinon: Let Her Try’ by Chris McAuliffe

By Justin Clemens

Chris McAuliffe’s governing image for Linda Marrinon’s career is that of Voltaire’s Candide, tending carefully to the garden despite the vicissitudes of the world. Beginning in the early 1980s with hilariously understated anti-aesthetic canvases such as Sorry! and I Sailed to Tahiti with an All-Girl Crew, Marrinon has - like so many contemporary artists - studiously avoided anything approaching a signature style, instead switching media, materials and techniques from show to show. The cartoonishly simple Linda’s World (1982) depicts a dark bottle pouring out an ever-swelling, impossibly large pyramid of brown muck, which has a predictable label written in large, clumsy capitals; Rock with Underpants (1992) is a lump of bluestone sporting red-and-white underpants; Boxer (2006) is a whimsically elegant figure made of bronze, plaster and muslin. Then there are the landscapes of the mid-’90s, bearing such amusing titles as Golf Course at Seddon and Oil Slick at Sorrento, which are pretty analyses of the limits of the picturesque tradition.

McAuliffe’s prose is punchy and unpretentious, retaining focus and clarity whether the topic is the late-’80s inner-Melbourne avant-garde, high-end theoretical concepts or simply the works themselves. Without unduly harping on profits and losses, McAuliffe delineates the changing institutions of Australian art over the past 25 years, from its old-school quasi-amateurish networks to the hyper-organised corporate machine of today. Whoever studies, makes, sees, shows, sells and buys art now doesn’t do so under the same conditions as in the ‘80s; and because McAuliffe, like Marrinon, grew up during this epochal shift in the milieu and the market, he’s well placed to document some of its peculiarities.

By far the best-edited book in Craftsman House’s New Art Series, Linda Marrinon: Let Her Try can still irritate the reader with such discrepancies as different spellings of the same word on the same page. But that’s a minor quibble in the circumstances, for the selection of images and the design are as illuminating as the text.

Justin Clemens

Justin Clemens writes about contemporary Australian art and poetry. He teaches at the University of Melbourne.

September 2007

From the front page

Pub test: restart the boats

The Coalition’s scare campaign is no sure thing in the suburbs

Image of Pete Shelley and Buzzcocks

Pete Shelley’s Buzzcocks: 40 years on

The history and legacy of a punk pioneer

Image from ‘Camping’

Unhappy ‘Camping’

Lena Dunham’s new comedy series is an accidental portrait of toxic femininity

Illustration

From Hillsong to the Bible Belt

Christine Caine’s Australian brand of evangelism has found its flock in America


In This Issue

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

HMAS Melbourne & HMAS Voyager

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

El pollo loco

‘No One Belongs Here More Than You’ by Miranda July

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

Full house


More in Arts & Letters

Still from The Front Runner

The spectacle of a political scandal: Jason Reitman’s ‘The Front Runner’ and Paolo Sorrentino’s ‘Loro’

New films about ’80s presidential hopeful Gary Hart and Italy’s controversial Silvio Berlusconi both miss the mark

Image of Pete Shelley and Buzzcocks

Pete Shelley’s Buzzcocks: 40 years on

The history and legacy of a punk pioneer

Image of Les Murray

Les Murray’s magisterial ‘Collected Poems’

How to approach a 736-page collection by Australia’s greatest poet?

Image of a bushfire

Fair judgement without surrender: Chloe Hooper’s ‘The Arsonist’

The author of ‘The Tall Man’ tries to understand the motivations of a Black Saturday firebug


More in Noted

The 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art at QAGOMA

Politics, culture and colour collide in Brisbane

Still from The Cry

ABC TV’s ‘The Cry’

This Scottish–Australian drama successfully subverts the missing-child genre

Image of Henri Matisse, A Game of Bowls, 1908

‘Masters of Modern Art from the Hermitage’ at the Art Gallery of New South Wales

From Matisse to Malevich: a considered snapshot of adventurous Russian collecting

‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ directed by Joel and Ethan Coen

For their Netflix debut, the Coen brothers return to the Western


Read on

Image from ‘Camping’

Unhappy ‘Camping’

Lena Dunham’s new comedy series is an accidental portrait of toxic femininity

Image from ‘Russian Doll’

A bug in the code: ‘Russian Doll’

This existential comedy is 2019’s first must-see Netflix series

Image of crossbenchers Derryn Hinch, Adam Bandt, Nick McKim, Kerryn Phelps, Tim Storer and Andrew Wilkie discussing the medical transfer bill in November

Debate over asylum seeker medical transfers reaches new lows

The government’s scare campaign against the crossbench bill denigrates doctors and detainees

Image from ‘Capharnaüm’

‘Capharnaüm’: giving voice to the voiceless

Nadine Labaki on what motivated her exploration of turmoil’s impact on children


×
×