Highly respected art critic, writer, and a well-known documentary maker Robert Hughes was born on July 28, 1938 in Sydney, Australia. He is the son of Geoffrey Forrest Hughes and Margaret Eyre Sealy. His father and grandfather both were reputed lawyers. Hughes has an older brother Tom Hughes who is also a lawyer and has been the former Attorney General of Australia. Robert Hughes lost his father to lung cancer at the young age of 12. He finished his college studies from St Ignatius in Riverview and later went to the University of Sydney to study arts and architecture. At the time, he joined a progressive sub cultural group ‘Sydney Push’ that consisted of intellectual artist, writers, and drinkers. Around 1961, Hughes dabbled with poetry and painting, but was hugely criticized for his lack of originality.
Robert Hughes left university to become an art critic for aged care certificate Sydney periodical ‘The Observer.’ He also worked with newspapers, like ‘The Sunday Mirror’ and ‘The Nation’ as a cartoonist initially and then a critic. In 1964, he left Australia and moved to Italy. A year later, he settled in London. He began with writing for ‘The Spectator,’ ‘The Daily Telegraph,’ and ‘The Observer.’ In 1970, he received an offer from ‘TIME’ magazine and moved to New York. This position brought him great recognition as an art critic. Hughes lent his voice for a narration in the film ‘Protected’ in 1975, which was based on the life of Indigenous Australian on Palm Island. In 1978 Hughes was hired to co-host a show for ABC News (News magazine 20/20), but he was almost immediately replaced due to bad reviews.
Robert Hughes created an insightful television documentary called ‘The Shock of New,’ for BBC, which reflected on the evolution of Modern Art. He even wrote a book by the same name, which was published in 1981. Hughes wrote some brilliant books on art history as well, for e.g. ‘The Art of Australia’ (1966) and ‘The Epic History of Art in America’ (1997). His other book ‘The Fatal Shore’ based on British penal colonies went on to become an international best seller. Hughes made several other documentaries mostly involving artists or art histories (like American visions and one on Francisco Goya). Robert Hughes was highly opinionated. He is known for his straightforwardness.