Friday nights at the NGV

Is there anything more ‘Melbourne’ than Friday nights at the NGV?  Despite being introduced in only October 2014, the series has become an integral part of the Melbourne diet and helped secure an 11 per cent rise in gallery attendance in the 2014-2015 financial year.

This, the third permutation of Friday Nights at NGV, is set against the backdrop of two major exhibitions: David Hockney: Current and Viktor&Rolf: Fashion Artists.  The performing acts include I heart Hiroshima, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and Amanda Palmer.

I attended last Friday, the 25th of November, and floated through the exhibitions to the gentle intimacies of Julien Baker, whose silvery harmonics and haunting vocals sat in stark, though comfortable, contrast to the technicolour joy of David Hockney’s works and Viktor&Rolf’s tongue-in-cheek stylings.

David Hockey: Current contains over 1200 works from the past decade of Hockney’s career, including digital drawings and video works, some of which have never been seen in Australia.  Highlights include the portrait hall (with 80 recent acrylic pieces whose subjects include Hockney’s friends and family as well as popular figures like Barry Humphries) and the numerous animated iPad digital drawings that genuinely delight in their effervescent refusal to be contained by a screen.


The ‘wearable art’ displayed in Viktor&Rolf: Fashion Artists is equally breath taking: avant-garde, cerebral, and genuinely beautiful.  Over 40 ensembles are on display, from both haute couture and ready-to-wear collections.  There’s also a video gallery of runway footage and an excellent interactive installation for the Kids—Atelier: Viktor&Rolf for Kids, though on Friday nights it’s routinely taken over by the ‘young at heart’.

All this set against the backdrop of great live music.  And just to cover off your other senses, there is also food and drink available and easy access to water spray from the Neon Pink Car Wash exhibition which is set up outside the gallery in the garden space.  For a complete list of upcoming bands click here.

Since the introduction of Friday Nights, the NGV has become the 23rd most visited art gallery in the world—right behind the UK’s National Portrait Gallery.  It’s by far and way the most popular gallery in Australia.  With good reason too; NGV has invested heavily in increasing the popularity and accessibility of art and the investment is paying off.

The increased attendance is going to help cover
the cost of the gallery’s new opening hours; for the first time since 2005, both NGV National (at Federation Square) and NGV International (on St Kilda Road) will be open seven days a week.  Funds will also be channelled into upcoming exhibitions, the kid’s art centre, educational and artistic talks and many more Friday Nights at the NGV.


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