The Melbourne Art Foundation 2010 Lecture

Bill Henson

‘The Light and the Dark and the Shades of Grey’

BMW Edge, Federation Square

Monday 2 August, 6.00pm – 7.30pm

Update: If you missed the lecture you can download an abridged version of the talk from Radio National’s Artworks website here – Or you can watch it at The Monthly website here –

Presented by Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne Art Foundation and the City of Melbourne’s Melbourne Conversations Program. This lecture is part of the program for the Melbourne Art Fair.

We should be wary of governments and interest groups who try to impose restrictions on the free exercise of the artistic imagination. Our zeal to protect innocence should not come at the cost of violating artistic experience. If we believe that art is a high form of education, that its basis is moral and its goal truth, then we should resist the impulse that would deny the artist the right to deal with what may sometimes be ambiguous, complex and disturbing. Artists can seem like holy fools, they can seem like devils. They may exhibit the cunning of the insane or the illumination of the saint. But genuine art is the great bridge between the inner world in each of us and the ordinary world in which we live. Art shows us the truth and it should never be the quarry of the witch-hunter or the social engineer. Any attempt to make the world better by destroying or shackling art represents a repudiation of the truth – Bill Henson, 2010.

Bill Henson is one of Australia’s leading contemporary artists. Born in Melbourne in 1955, Henson had his first solo exhibition, at the age of 19, at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1975. He has since exhibited extensively in Australia and overseas, including New York, London, Paris, Beijing, Tokyo, Montreal, Barcelona, Vienna and Amsterdam. In 1995 Henson represented Australia at the Venice Biennale, with his celebrated series of cutscreen photographs. He holds an honorary doctorate from the University of NSW.

In 2005 a comprehensive survey of Bill Henson’s work was held at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney and National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne; and a major body of work was presented in Twilight: Photography in the Magic Hour at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, in 2006. A number of major monographs on the artist’s work have appeared over the years, the most recent being Lux et Nox (2002) and Mnemosyne (2005); both published by Scalo (Switzerland). A second edition of Lux et Nox was published by Thames & Hudson in 2009.

Date: Monday 2 August, 6.00pm – 7.30pm

Venue: BMW Edge, Federation Square

Free entry – Doors open from 5.30pm