Art & Design

Aug 7, 2012

Robert Hughes, an obituary

Driven creator, towering stylist, often insufferable, it is impossible to imagine either Australia or modern art without Robert Hughes.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


That Robert Hughes was the most prodigally gifted of the Antipodean hejira of bumptious polymaths, mountebanks, angle-haired hipsters and sheer chancers, those who made their way in the wide world, by transforming it through the writing of it, is a judgment so crushingly quotidian, as to not bear the breath wasted on it, digger.

The latterday global flaneur and poetaster would have to have had his head up the proverbial dead dingo’s bum to fail in the surmise that here was the ne plus ultra of the Antipodean style. Wrapped alligator-style in jacket of leather, at the start, his brown tresses a tiny cameo of the Arnolfini nuptials, hardening with age to statuary gravitas like a Viagra-dosed stoat, he had wisely quitted the blandishments of the Old Dart for the tempered spires of the new world, he was liberated from that most otiose duty of the made-good ocker, the requirement to perform.

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

34 thoughts on “Robert Hughes, an obituary

  1. Snooopy

    Do you have to write like Hughes to write about him?

  2. Barry Cross

    I hadn’t heard that he’d died before plowing through Guy’s turgid report. Would have been nice if the article confirmed, although I suppose “obituary” says it all.

  3. Sean O'Donohue

    Guy — Sorry to be pedantic but I believe that Robert Hughes’ son’s name was “Danton” (after the French revolutionary Georges Danton I believe).

    Well done on your rendering of Hughes’ prose which to me often lurched from florid to bombastic yet often had a restless, energetic drive.

  4. sean

    A great article. I suspect poor Mike doesn’t have many more words in his vocabulary

  5. oldsalt

    Some good laughs, a furtive tear, a frisson of minor outrage and a lot of nodding. Thanks again Guy. I’m glad I read yours first….And the road-train moves on.

  6. floorer

    Hughes was funny.

  7. Mike Jones

    Sean, unlike our dear Guy, I have no trouble coming up with another word.


  8. paddy

    Oh FFS Crikey!
    Rundle claims 2am in Edinburgh as his excuse for this twaddle.
    Fair enough….. maybe.
    The Editor has no such escape clause.
    Who stole the blue pencil?

  9. Clytie

    Excellent rendition of that tendentious style, Guy. And you’re right about Greer et al. They changed minds, while Hughes only wrote about the changing.

Leave a comment

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details