Leading article: A tribute to one of Australia's greatest exports

 

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To adapt one of Robert Hughes' own observations (on Caravaggio): "There was art (criticism) before him and art (criticism) after him, and they were not the same." It is hardly an exaggeration. Mr Hughes, who died in New York on Monday, was one of Australia's great exports, a world-class public intellectual whose outspoken critiques of the art world, groundbreaking television series, and slew of history books – including the seminal story of his homeland, The Fatal Shore – transformed the once grubby world of the hack critic into so much more.

Forthright, acerbic, unimpressed by pretension; he was appalled by what he considered the shallowness of much modern art and the vastly inflated market in which it is so often sold. "A Rodin in a parking lot is still a misplaced Rodin. But this is just bricks," he famously commented on Carl Andre's controversial work. Robert Hughes, we will miss you.

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