Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Robert Hughes (1938 - 2012) will be missed

The art world is really going to miss Australian art critic and "national living treasure" Robert Hughes who died yesterday in New York aged 74.

I'm in no way an expert on Robert Hughes however I do like a man who knows his own mind when it comes to art and is uncompromising in stating his views - and he was certainly that.  I loved all his art programmes on TV - it was art for those who don't want it "dumbed down"!

He wrote extremely well and is undoubtedly one of those people who made art more accessible to many people - notably through his book The Shock of the New which must rank as one of the most seminal books on the art of the twentieth century that has ever been written.  (His TV series of the same name is available as a DVD set).

Here he is speaking about the work of Anselm Kiefer

At the same time he was apt to criticise those he considered to be corrupting or devaluing art.
Slamming the dead shark and diamond skull as 'absurd', outspoken Australian Robert Hughes says such commercial pieces have made art meaningless - apart from its price tag

In 1987 he published The Fatal Shore, his best selling account British penal colonies and the early European settlement of Australia.

For those, like me, who valued Robert Hughes I am providing below something you won't find in any of the other obituaries - and that's a compendium of links to:
  • his articles about art and Australia and 
  • accounts of him as an individual who had a very significant impact on the art world
Robert Hughes on Art

The Guardian
Time Magazine (some articles only accessible to those with a Time subscription)
Robert Hughes on Australia
Art and book critics on Robert Hughes
I described him in the Guardian once as writing the English of Shakespeare, Milton, Macaulay and Dame Edna Everage, and Hughes enjoyed the description. His prose was lithe, muscular and fast as a bunch of fives. He was incapable of writing the jargon of the art world, and consequently was treated by its mandarins with fear and loathing. Much he cared.


  1. Katherine, once again I am educated and informed by reading your blog. Thank you for being current and thorough in speaking to your art community about issues that are relevant to us all


  2. Oh I am sorry to read this, and grateful to your thorough listing. Robert Hughes was amazing. He will be missed! Thank you Katherine.

  3. Thank you for your well informed comments and references. Hughes will be missed. Any voice like his is so important.
    Roberta Tetzner

  4. i just read this in Time Magazine...so sad. i've read a few of his books and his Youtube videos are priceless!! i'll catch some of his articles here...thanks!

  5. You've done the work. We are lucky to reap the benefits. Thank you and thankful for Robert Hughes!


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