Melbourne Now

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Melbourne Now is a huge exhibit of contemporary Melbourne Art at both the National Gallery of Victoria and at the associated Ian Potter Centre, on the other side of the Yarra River in central Melbourne, Australia. As the NGV website explains ‘Melbourne Now celebrates the latest art, architecture, design, performance and cultural practice to reflect the complex cultural landscape of creative Melbourne.’ The exhibit runs until 23 March 2014.

Melbourne Now 542
▲ One of my favourites is in the entrance lobby of the Ian Potter Centre, what looks like a student flat from the 1980s, complete with cigarette ends stubbed out in ashtrays (wouldn’t find that today) and abandoned slices of pizza on the coffee table. And an interesting painting hanging on the wall, surely that’s Picasso’s Weeping Woman?

Back in December 1985 the NGV announced they’d paid $1.6 million for Weeping Woman, the most expensive painting ever bought by an Australian Art Gallery. Eight months later it disappeared, when the gallery opened on Monday morning 4 August 1986 the painting wasn’t there, despite the fact that special tools were required to remove it. In its place was a sign saying it had been taken by the ACT – nothing to do with the Australian Capital Territory, the removalists were the Australian Cultural Terrorists. The painting was searched for – perhaps it was still somewhere in the gallery? A $50,000 reward was offered, artist Juan Davila painted a replacement (which was stolen from a Sydney gallery as well) while another gallery put on an entire exhibition of alternative versions. Then on 19 August, two weeks after its disappearance, the ACT announced the painting could be found in a train station luggage locker. There it was, carefully packed, undamaged.

The reward has never been claimed and 27 years later the theft (and return) remains a mystery. Perhaps for a couple of weeks it did hang on the wall of some tatty student apartment. Having seen that possible temporary home for the painting you can walk a few hundred metres along St Kilda Rd and check out the original. And by the way, the student flat is all made out of cake icing.