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The best art exhibitions in Sydney this month

From the biggest blockbusters to the smallest shows – here's everything artistic worth checking out in November

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Cornelia Parker MCA 2019 supplied
Image courtesy the artist, The Whitworth, The University of Manchester and Frith Street Gallery, London. Photograph: David Levene Cornelia Parker, 'War Room' (2015), installation view at The Whitworth, University of Manchester

Is November the most exciting month for Sydney art lovers? Maybe. This month, both the Art Gallery of NSW and Museum of Contemporary Art are unveiling their summer blockbusters: Japan Supernatural at AGNSW and Cornelia Parker at the MCA.

You've also got a few days left to check out Sculpture by the Sea, or get a glimpse at our artistic past in Making Art Public: 50 Years of Kaldor Public Art Projects.

RECOMMENDED: Check out the best art galleries in Sydney and see our city's best street art.

The best art in Sydney in November

1
Japan Supernatural AGNSW 2019
Photograph: Courtesy Art Gallery of NSW
Art

Japan Supernatural

icon-location-pin Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
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For the last two years, the Art Gallery of NSW has focussed on Europe in its big summer exhibitions: the Netherlands in Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age (2017-18), and Russia and France in Masters of Modern Art from the Hermitage (2018-19). But this summer is all about Japan with an epic exhibition of more than 200 artworks from artists past and present.

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Cornelia Parker Museum of Contemporary Art 2019
Photograph: Hugo Glendinning
Art

Cornelia Parker

icon-location-pin Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), The Rocks
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The Museum of Contemporary Art's summer blockbuster slot has attracted some pretty big names in recent years, with shows from Pipilotti Rist, David Goldblatt, Yoko Ono and Grayson Perry. For 2019-20, it's Cornelia Parker's turn. Parker is considered one of England's biggest and most influential art stars from the last few decades.

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3
Inside exhibition - powerhouse - Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson - S
Things to do, Exhibitions

Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson: Step Into Paradise

icon-location-pin Powerhouse Museum, Ultimo
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In 1973, the Sydney Opera House opened and our city was making headlines around the world. But a little further south, in the Strand arcade, another cultural revolution was happening: Jenny Kee opened her Flamingo Park Frock Salon. Her creative partnership with Linda Jackson has proven one of the most influential in design, and is being celebrated in this major survey of their work at the Powerhouse Museum.

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Then White Rabbit 2019 supplied image
Photograph: Supplied
Art

Then

icon-location-pin White Rabbit, Chippendale
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For ten years now, Judith Neilson's four-storey temple of contemporary Chinese art has stood proudly in Chippendale, showcasing an enviable collection of bold, playful and frequently provocative work. 

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5
Guan Wei  MCA
Photograph: Anna Kucera
Art

Guan Wei

icon-location-pin Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), The Rocks
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Beijing-born Guan Wei is one of the most provocative and distinctive artists making work in Australia today, about both China and his adopted homeland, and the connection between the two nations. He first left China for Australia in 1989, following the protests in Tiananmen Square, and has divided his time between Sydney and Beijing since then.

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Quilty AGNSW 2019 supplied
Image courtesy the artist and Art Gallery of NSW
Art, Paintings

Quilty

icon-location-pin Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
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Australia hasn't produced that many superstar painters in recent decades (or at least not that many that have reached that status just yet) but Ben Quilty's work is known across the country for its vivid, luscious and tormented quality, all realised in oils. This exhibition is Quilty's first major survey in more than a decade and covers 15 years of his work.

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Kaldor Public Art Projects 2019 AGNSW supplied
Photograph: Eric Sierins
Art

Making Art Public: 50 Years of Kaldor Public Art Projects

icon-location-pin Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
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Fifty years ago, John Kaldor changed Australian art history when he invited Christo and Jeanne-Claude to Sydney to wrap two and a half kilometres of coastline with white fabric. Fast forward half a century, and Kaldor has now staged 34 awe-inspiring public art projects from artists including Jeff Koons, Marina Abramovic, Gilbert & George, Jonathan Jones and Sol LeWitt.

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Primavera MCA 2019 supplied
Zoe M. Robertson, 'Various Protest Banners', 2018
Art, Galleries

Primavera

icon-location-pin Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), The Rocks
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Each year, the Museum of Contemporary Art invites an artist or curator to take the reins of Primavera, an exhibition for emerging artists under 35. The brief is simple: showcase artists from across Australia who they feel represent current trends or styles emerging in the next generation. 

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9
The Art of Banksy supplied 2019
Artwork: Banksy
Art

The Art of Banksy

A Banksy retrospective, featuring more than 80 of his best-known works, and exhibited in a gallery space. Does it sound like something that the British artist – an anti-establishment icon – would ever approve?  No, it doesn't – and it's not. The Art of Banksy is an entirely unauthorised exhibition, curated by the famously anonymous artist’s former manager, Steve Lazarides. 

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People viewing the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize
Photograph: Supplied
Art, Paintings

Doug Moran National Portrait Prize

icon-location-pin Juniper Hall, Paddington
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Australia’s richest art prize, the Doug Moran Portrait Prize, has been won by some of our most well known artists, including Robert Hannaford, Ben Quilty, Vincent Fantauzzo, Louise Hearman, Tim Storrier and Prudence Flint. 

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11
From the SMH Archive supplied 2019
Image Courtesy: Northern Beaches Council, From the SMH Archive
Art, Photography

From the SMH Archive: Telling Our Stories Through Images

icon-location-pin Manly Art Gallery and Museum, Manly
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Recently, a lost archive of photos from the Sydney Morning Herald showed up in a bank vault in the US. Covering the 1950s through to the '80s, the photos reveal a vibrant city constantly evolving and growing. That's why the Northern Beaches Council recently purchased 3,500 photos from the archive, shot on the Northern Beaches or related to the Northern Beaches.

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Women in Vogue National Portrait Gallery 2019 supplied
Images courtesy Vogue Australia.
Art

Women in Vogue: Celebrating 60 Years in Australia

icon-location-pin National Portrait Gallery,
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The National Portrait Gallery often stands in the shadow of the flashier National Gallery of Australia, but this summer it has a blockbuster exhibition all of its own. Celebrating 60 years of Vogue Australia, Women in Vogue brings together iconic portraits of the Australian women who have featured in the magazine’s pages over the years, including Kylie Minogue, Cate Blanchett and Elle McPherson.

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Born or Unborn, Clare Plueckhahn
Photograph: Clare Plueckhahn
Art, Photography

Clare Plueckhahn: Running with Wolves

icon-location-pin Sun Studios, Alexandria
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This series of large photographs pairs images of nude women in forbidding, rugged landscapes with shots of the landscape itself. Melbourne-based artist Clare Plueckhahn was inspired by the 1992 book by Jungian psychoanalyst Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman. 

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Art, Film and video

Wellama

icon-location-pin The Cutaway, Barangaroo
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On May 30, a very special temporary installation opened in the entrance to the Cutaway, the cathedral-like underground cultural space that is part of the Barangaroo urban renewal project. Commissioned by the Barangaroo Delivery Authority, ‘Wellama’ is a new, ten-minute filmed artwork that celebrates the connection of Aboriginal people to the land and portrays some of the rituals that have been practised here for thousands of years.

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<meta charset="utf-8" /><p>'Capitalist Bloom' by Chloe Alice</p>
Art, Sculpture and installations

Eden Unearthed

icon-location-pin Eden Gardens, Macquarie Park
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You know Sculpture by the Sea and you know Sculpture at Scenic World. Perhaps you even know Hidden at Rookwood Cemetery. But do you know about Eden Unearthed at Eden Gardens?  It’s the annual outdoor sculpture exhibition that takes place among the flowers and plants at Macquarie Park’s popular display garden Eden Gardens. 

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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