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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Michael Kimmelman

by Pamela Gray, 1 June 2002

Michael Kimmelman, Chief Art Critic of The New York Times and author of Portraits: Talking with Artists at the Met, the Modern, the Louvre and Elsewhere, presented the National Portrait Gallery Third Anniversary Lecture on 2 March 2002. He was generously brought to Australia by the Gordon Darling Foundation and Qantas.

Robert Hughes has described Michael Kimmelman as fne most acute American art critic of his generation, who, with remarkable insight, coaxes from artists a whole range of responses to art that take us in their own words to the heart of their own work.

Mr Kimmelman's lecture, presented in a refreshingly personal and engaging style, drew on the series of interviews with artists undertaken for his book, Portraits. These artists include Francis Bacon, Balthus, Elizabeth Murray, Richard Serra, Kiki Smith, Roy Lichtenstein, Lucian Freud, Susan Rothenberg and Bruce Nauman, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Cindy Sherman, Wayne Thiebaud, Leon Golub, Brice Marden, Jacob Lawrence, Hans Haacke and Chuck Close. The interviews were conducted in museums in front of artworks selected by the artists. In talking, the artists revealed something both about the works they were looking at and about themselves - how they use museums, their sources of inspiration, their solutions to artistic problems, and the sometimes surprising connections they make between artworks.

These conversations between Mr Kimmelman and artists are the word portraits of the book.

Mr Kimmelman spoke of his aims in writing Portraits: to bring more voices to the discussion of art; to counter institutional authority; to bridge the gap between the general public and living artists; to illustrate the point that there is no single correct way to look at art; and to encourage people to open their eyes and really see the artworks they are looking at. Living artists, have a great deal to say about the art of the past as well as the art of the present.

Mr Kimmelman's unique and perceptive approach pushes forward our understanding of the practice and process of art, offers valuable insights into how artists see their own art and that of the past, and opens a window onto the nature of creativity.

Closing his lecture, to an audience enchanted by his charm and intelligence, Mr Kimmelman referred to Eugene Delacroix's belief that all artists should go to museums to steep themselves from time to time in great and beautiful works of art; and that what inspires great artists, is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough The Embassy of the United States of America, the Hyatt Hotels and Rosemount Estates supported the National Portrait Gallery Anniversary Lecture.

Related information

Portrait 4, June - August 2002

Magazine

This issue of Portrait Magazine features articles on Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, George Lambert's self-portrait, Professor Peter Doherty, the man behind the Dr. Who theme, and more.

David Williamson, 1974 (printed 2001) Gordon Glenn
David Williamson, 1974 (printed 2001) Gordon Glenn
David Williamson, 1974 (printed 2001) Gordon Glenn

The Story So Far...

Magazine article by Simon Elliott

A reflection on the National Portrait Gallery's first four years.

Self portrait with gladioli, 1922 George Lambert
Self portrait with gladioli, 1922 George Lambert
Self portrait with gladioli, 1922 George Lambert

Courage, Self-analysis and Skill

Magazine article by Andrew Sayers AM

The story behind George Lambert's Self-portrait with Gladioli.

Major General Paul Cullen, 2002 Mathew Lynn
Major General Paul Cullen, 2002 Mathew Lynn
Major General Paul Cullen, 2002 Mathew Lynn

All in the Family

Magazine article by Andrew Sayers AM

Portrait launch of Major-General Paul Cullen AC CBE DSO and Bar ED (Rtd) and George Judah Cohen.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.