Described as arguably the most influential Australian art critic of the last half of the twentieth century, Alan McCulloch’s work – as illustrator, critic, gallery director and author – reflected on and documented much of this era of visual art in Australia.
As critic for the Melbourne Herald from 1951 to 1982 McCulloch was fundamental in the nascent careers of those who were to become some of Australia’s most famous artists.
His monumental Encyclopedia of Australia Art, first published in 1968 and still in print today, has been acknowledged as the ‘single most important reference work on Australian art ever published’.
In Letters to a Critic curator and author Rodney James has mined the rich archival treasure of the McCulloch Papers to create a lively combination of biography and illustrated book of letters.
Witty, irreverent, profound and heartfelt these previously unpublished letters, critical essays, illustrations and works of art provide a unique insight into the art and lives of Australia’s most famed art personalities as they simultaneously reveal McCulloch’s role as critic, gallery director and mentor.
Rodney James is an Australian curator and writer specialising in nineteenth and twentieth century art writing and research, collection management, exhibitions, visual art projects and museum policy and strategy.
His most recent publications include Blood Red: Ivan Durrant’s social conscience, in Ivan Durrant, Barrier Draw (2020) and Una Deerbon: Australian Potter 1882–1972 (2019), the first monograph on the art and life of this pioneering mid-century artist.
Image: Letters to a Critic: Alan McCulloch’s World of Art – courtesy of Melbourne University Publishing