Worldwide icon-chevron-right South Pacific icon-chevron-right Australia icon-chevron-right Sydney icon-chevron-right The best art exhibitions in Sydney this month

The best art exhibitions in Sydney this month

Cash strapped? Time poor? Take a tour of beauty with one (or more, go on) of these must-see art exhibitions

The National 2019
Photograph: Anna Kucera Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, 'Pretty Beach' 2019 at MCA
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The National, Sydney's biggest festival of Australian contemporary art, is taking over the Art Gallery of NSW, Museum of Contemporary Art and Carriageworks. Best of all? The exhibition is free at all three of these venues. If your taste is more international, there's still plenty to see around the city, with a huge exhibition devoted to Marcel Duchamp and White Rabbit's latest exhibition of Chinese art.

And of course, you can't forget the Archibald Prize, which reveals its finalists and winner this month in its always popular annual exhibition.

RECOMMENDED: Check out the best art galleries in Sydney.

The best art in Sydney in May

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The National 2019: New Australian Art Tom Polo Anna Kucera
Photograph: Anna Kucera
Art, Galleries

The National Biennial of New Australian Art

icon-location-pin Multiple venues
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The National happens in the off-years of the Biennale of Sydney, filling that biennale-shaped hole in your heart. The galleries have planned to run the event three times – 2017, 2019 and 2021 – but if all of Sydney turns out to support it they might just extend.

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The Essential Duchamp Art Gallery of NSW supplied
© Association Marcel Duchamp/ADAGP. Copyright Agency, 2018
Art

The Essential Duchamp

icon-location-pin Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
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Marcel Duchamp is best known for game-changing works like ‘Bicycle Wheel’ (1913) – a wheel attached to a chair – and ‘Fountain’ (1917) – a store-bought urinal inscribed with the facetious name ‘R Mutt’. The official mid-20th century reproductions of these lost works are at the centre of the largest exhibition of Duchamp’s art to be shown in Australia.

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Janet Laurence: After Nature Museum of Contemporary Art 2019
Image courtesy the artist
Art

Janet Laurence: After Nature

icon-location-pin Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), The Rocks
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Sydney-based artist Janet Laurence has made a career as an “environmental artist”, creating installations that respond to and utilise the natural world as key artistic elements – and she's gained a significant following thanks to her unique style. 

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OK Democracy, We Need to Talk
Photograph: Abdullah MI Syed. Courtesy the artist.
Art

OK Democracy, We Need to Talk

icon-location-pin Campbelltown Arts Centre, Campbelltown
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Who said art isn’t political? With the federal election happening this month, Campbelltown Arts Centre is taking a stand, with a new exhibition that aims to encourage open discussion about democracy and its future.

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Art, Galleries

The Archibald Prize

icon-location-pin Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
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The Archibald Prize is the exhibition that stops a nation – well, a city anyway. Everyone has an opinion about who and what is most deserving of the $100,000 top gong – and the annual exhibition of finalists offers plenty to argue over, featuring faces familiar and not, by big name, mid-career and emerging painters.

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52 Artists 52 Actions Artspace 2019
Abdul Halik Azeez for 52 ARTISTS 52 ACTIONS, September, 2018, courtesy the artist
Art

52 Artists, 52 Actions

icon-location-pin Artspace, Wooloomooloo
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What do you get when you combine 52 artists from 31 countries and give them each a week to make a statement about an issue that concerns them, sharing it with audiences online?

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7
Art

Hot Blood

icon-location-pin White Rabbit, Chippendale
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White Rabbit Gallery promises their latest exhibition is “not for the faint of heart”. It brings together 23 contemporary artists, all of whom are unafraid of taking risks and refuse to be limited by gender, age or national identity.

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Art, Photography

Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize

icon-location-pin Juniper Hall, Paddington
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If you want to catch a glimpse of "Australian life", the finalists of this annual photographic prize are always a good place to start. 

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9
Dobell Drawing Prize 2019 picture supplied
Courtesy the artist and Utopia Gallery Sydney
Art, Drawings

Dobell Drawing Prize

icon-location-pin National Art School, Darlinghurst
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The $30,000 Dobell Drawing Prize is being award for the 21st time this year, and there are some pretty big names in competition, including Tony Albert, Suzanne Archer, Martin Bell, Helen Eager, David Fairbairn, Justine Varga, Wendy Sharpe and Chris O’Doherty (aka Reg Mombassa).

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Bill Henson Roslyn Oxley9
Bill Henson, 'untitled', 2017-2018
Art, Photography

Bill Henson

icon-location-pin Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Paddington
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There are few Australian artists whose work is as distinctive and immediately recognisable as Bill Henson – and arguably no Australian photographers who are as well known.

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In-Formalism Casula powerhouse 2019
Art

IN-Formalism

icon-location-pin Casula Powerhouse, Casula
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Think of abstract, non-objective art and you might think of big names such as Kandinsky, Rothko and Pollock. But what about Australian artists?

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RocoColonial Hazelhurst Arts Centre 2019 supplied
Deborah Kelly, 'Venus Envy redux' 2019
Art

RocoColonial

icon-location-pin Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre, Gymea
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Rococo, an 18th century European style of decoration that’s all about the theatrical and ornamental (think of the castle in Beauty and the Beast) is generally thought of as being quite separate to the colonial style that emerged in the decades following. But like most things in the art world, it’s difficult to draw exact lines between movements and styles.

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By All Estimates 4a centre for contemporary asian art 2019 supplied image
Courtesy the artist and Galerie Pompom. Photograph: Laura Moore.
Art

By All Estimates

icon-location-pin 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Haymarket
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Four artists from around the world are being brought together for 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art's new exhibition all about Singapore's past and future. 

Step outside the gallery

Jenny Munro
Photograph: Ken Leanfore
Art, Public art

The best public art in Sydney

Public art – in any city – is a notoriously fraught business. No matter how hard you try to make everyone happy, every work will have its detractors. 

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