Many of Australia‘s blockbuster art exhibitions kick off from June to October, when the southern winter makes cosy gallery-hopping an ideal date for culture-vultures. So why not time a stylish city break around one of this season’s best art shows? Segueing swiftly from sketch pads to crash pads, Smith (of course) has plenty of boutique hotels in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane and Hobart, should you need somewhere to stay after the event.
Our top seasonal selections swerve from the surreal to the sexy, with local, international and indigenous Aboriginal art vying for your attention. Sydney plays host to the country’s top annual portrait showcase the Archibald Prize, Melbourne welcomes a drool-worthy collection of Viennese masterpieces (including romantic works by Gustav Klimt and erotic ones by Egon Schiele), and Brisbane boasts a stellar show of Surrealist art, along with contemporary creations from the Torres Straits islands. Australian art rules in Canberra (we’re excited by the Fred Williams retrospective), and Hobart is still reeling from the debut show at maverick MONA (the Museum of Old and New Art), which put the Tasmanian capital firmly on the global art map when it opened back in January (check out Erwin Wurm’s freaky Fat Car – above). Here’s our gallery of Oz-wide winter art wonders…
Catch the Archibald Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, until 26 June, including winner Ben Quilty‘s bold portrait of painter Margaret Olley (right). Also at the gallery, don’t miss ‘The Mad Square: Modernity in German Art 1910–1937′ (6 August–6 November).
Bed down at: Establishment Hotel
Asian art is scorching right now, so bone up on quirky Korean talent at Sydney’s MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art), which hosts new show ‘Tell Me Tell Me: Australian and Korean Art 1976–2011’ (17 June–24 August) at offsite partner space National Art School Gallery in Darlinghurst.
Bed down at: Medusa
Oh Vienna! Melbourne goes Austria-crazy with ‘Vienna: Art & Design’ (18 June–9 October) at the NGV International, part of this year’s Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series. Expect work from the rebellious dawn of the 20th century by creative quartet Gustav Klimt (Emilie Flöge, 1902, left), Egon Schiele, Josef Hoffmann and Adolf Loos.
Bed down at: The Cullen
Across the Yarra River, at sister space the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Australian and New Zealand landscapes steal the show at ‘Eugene von Guérard: Nature Revealed’ (until 7 August), including lush paintings of early colonial flora and fauna (such as Mount William and part of the Grampians in West Victoria 1865, pictured top). The gallery has also rehung its indigenous art gallery, showing eye-popping modern works from the Far Western Desert in ‘Living Water’ (until 28 May 2012; Pinkalarta 2006, below right, by Kalaju Alma Webou).
Bed down at: Apartment 401
For a Canberra art experience, National Gallery of Australia boasts two Aussie-focused shows. The art of Western Australia is celebrated in ‘Out of the West’ (8 July–1 April 2012); followed by a retrospective of one of the country’s greatest abstract landscape painters, ‘Fred Williams: Infinite Horizons’ (12 August–6 November).
Bed down at: Diamant Hotel Canberra
In Tasmania’s capital Hobart, architecturally daring MONA (Museum of Old and New Art), brings avant-garde attitude to a striking perch on the Derwent River. Debut show ‘Monanism’ is on until 19 July, but expect equally shocking things to come.
Bed down at: MONA Pavilions
Things are taking a surreal turn at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), where hotly anticipated show ‘Surrealism: The Poetry of Dreams’ (until 2 October) comes care of Paris’ prestigious Centre Pompidou. Victor Brauner’s Loup-table, 1939, 1947 (left) puts a whole new spin on taxidermised foxes. Also on show are contemporary works from the Torres Strait Islands, off Australia’s north coast (‘Land, Sea and Sky’; 1 July–9 October).
Bed down at: Limes Hotel