Is Glenn Lowry the most powerful man in international art? The Museum of Modern Art director certainly makes a strong case. Today, the New Yorker speaks to Ashleigh Wilson about everything from Trump to selfies (more on this in a moment) ahead of the gallery’s most ambitious exhibition in this country since that failed experiment in Western Australia in 2011. See our cover story on pages 8 and 9 for more. Our resident art critic Christopher Allen had some relatively strong words to say last week about the decision to award the Archibald Prize to Yvette Coppersmith’s work Self-Portrait, after George Lambert. (They included “embarrassing” and “mediocre”). It was one of 21 self-portraits among the 58 finalists for the prize, whose rules state portraits should portray “distinguished” subjects. The selfie culture troubled plenty, including artists. I spoke to a handful of painters, finalists and otherwise, and many weren’t happy. The issue, one said, is not that prominent people are not making themselves available to be painted but, rather: “Artists who had done strong portraits of prominent people they spent months tracking down and persuading were blocked by (trustees) favouring vain (use your noun imagination here) doing f. k-all but looking at themselves. Self-portraits have their place, but the Archibald is about prominent people, not those using the platform to gain prominence.” Big statement. A valid one? It’s hard to argue with the sentiment. The Archies are about celebrating the best of those in art, science, letters or politics. We shouldn’t forget its origins, or the celebration of those figures in our society. And surely we have enough selfies in our lives? But perhaps that’s why so many self-portraits were entered; should not art imitate life? It just wouldn’t be the Archies without a drama. Happy birthday to Dame Nellie Melba, born on this day in 1861. Incidentally, Melba was a close friend of artist Nora Heysen, the first female winner of the Archibald Prize. Heysen made waves for her winning 1938 portrait of a “spoilt social butterfly”. Eighty years on, and, it still divides opinion. Incidentally, the painting has been missing for decades.