The Power Institute with the Art Gallery of NSW invites you to a special talk on 20 July at 7.15pm by Terry Smith, to celebrate the launch of two new books on the life and works of Bernard Smith: The Legacies of Bernard Smith: Essays on Australian Art, History and Cultural Politics edited by Jaynie Anderson, Christopher R. Marshall and Andrew Yip, and Hegel’s Owl: The Life of Bernard Smith by Sheridan Palmer.



When in 1948, Bernard Smith went to London to study the history of art, he found himself face-to-face with the twin poles of a divided discipline: connoisseurship at the Courtauld Institute and iconology at the Warburg Institute. Smith was already aware of other important approaches: from Marxist art history to his study of modernism that inspired the Museum of Modern Art’s educational program. All these currents flowed into his subsequent professional practice, where he kept an alert, if increasingly skeptical eye, on continuing and emerging developments in art historiography, no matter in which period or place. Sixty years on – two, three, even four generations later – what do see when we survey the multiple, diverse contexts in which art history is called upon to operate? What are the prevailing, contending, and emergent approaches? What are the ongoing tasks, and the urgent issues? Professor Terry Smith’s lecture will offer a sketch of how he sees these questions being answered today, and will highlight strengths and shortfalls in the response.


Terry Smith, FAHA, CIHA, is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh, and Professor in the Division of Philosophy, Art, and Critical Thought at the European Graduate School. In 2010 he was named the Australia Council Visual Arts Laureate, and won the Mather Award for art criticism conferred by the College Art Association (USA). He is the author of a number of books, noteably What is Contemporary Art? (University of Chicago Press, 2009), Contemporary Art: World Currents (Laurence King and Pearson/Prentice-Hall, 2011), Thinking Contemporary Curating (Independent Curators International, New York, 2012), and Talking Contemporary Curating (New York: Independent Curators International, 2015). He is editor of many others including Antinomies of Art and Culture: Modernity, postmodernity and contemporaneity (with Nancy Condee and Okwui Enwezor, Duke University Press, 2008). A foundation Board member of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, he is currently a Board member of the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. See



Wednesday 20 July
Domain Theatre, lower level 3
The Art Gallery of NSW
Art Gallery Rd, Sydney NSW 2000
For enquiries, contact:



Please note: places are limited for this event, so please email us directly if you wish to register your interest in attending, at


The event is co-presented by the Power Institute & the Art Gallery of NSW.