Wednesday, July 08, 2015

LA story

So we’re having coffee in Starbucks (it happens) and the guy next to us sees we have copy of  Erling Kagge’s book A poor collector’s guide to buying great art and asks if he can tell us a story. OK. “I used to work in advertising, for Young & Rubicam”, he tells us. “We had the Life Saver Corporation account (true enough, that’s what it was called, we checked), and I was asked to come up with a campaign for them. I decided to do a lithograph of a Life Saver pack with a smart tag line, and that’s what I did. A few days later I get a knock on the door - this is in 1956 or maybe 1957 - and it’s a guy called Andy Warhol who I’d seen around in the ad business. He tells me he’s heard of the campaign and could he see the litho. So I say ok, but ask him to keep it to himself you know ‘cause we aren’t showing it to the client for a couple of weeks. Then, years later, I see the same ad as a Warhol print and it’s selling for tens of thousands of dollars. Art and advertising, what can you say?”
Image: Andy Warhol print from the portfolio Ads 1985

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Erling rules

Once a year or so the local papers send out a junior reporter to ask art dealers and the odd collector for tips on how to collect art. As a rule the dealers all give their own artists as the best bet for starting a collecting binge and the collectors mutter on about having to love what you buy and never buy to make money. The other day though we came across some advice from Norwegian art collector Erling Kagge. Strangely enough he is best known (famous really) as an adventurer and explorer. His advice, which he offers in A poor collector’s guide to great art goes like this:

• There are no rules, only deals

• Love the piece not the price

• Collect strange work rather than fashionable work

• Realise that sometimes the best purchases won’t make commercial sense

• Be obsessed

.... so there you go.

Monday, July 06, 2015

The returning

The new Bowerbank Ninow Gallery (set to open late November on K-Road) is promising a return to artists on the hammer price of works it sells at auction. Back in 2007 the attempt to legislate a return to artists on resales fell over in New Zealand after some forceful lobbying from dealer galleries. EU countries (including the UK) have had schemes in place since 2006 and Australia introduced its own version in 2010 covering works selling for more than $1,000. The proposal in NZ was for artists to have an inalienable right to 5% royalties on all resales. Now, according to Louisa Gommans in the Law Society's LawTalk, the debate is back. The issues are pretty much as you'd expect (an administrative nightmare, pressure on high value works, chiseled profit margins) but Bowerbank Ninow are diving in anyway. Their recent press release makes it unclear as to whether they intend this scheme to cover other secondary sales they undertake as well but presumably it will. As it stands, a work hammered down on the night by Bowerbank Ninow for $20,000 would return $450 to the artist.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Just saying

Next post on Monday, for sure. 

Dealt to

The moment we saw them we figured that some artist would find them irresistible. And so Mathieu Malouf took his dealer Lars Friedrich down to get scanned and is now offering a pint-sized limited edition of him carved in sandstone and printed with his image. Still, Friedrich fared somewhat better than Emmanuel Perrotin who Maurizio Cattelan dressed as a pink rabbit/penis for his entire show or Massimo De Carlo who Cattelan gaffer-taped to the wall of his gallery for two hours at an opening.

Images left to right: art dealers Lars Friedrich, Emmanuel Perrotin and Massimo De Carlo (thanks M)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Time to get moving

Robert Leonard’s inclusion of film alongside painting, drawing and photography in his exhibition Unseen city at Te Uru is right on the button. He’s also put Leon Narbey together with Laszlo Moholy-Nagy in the City Gallery theatre screening. Mostly art museums have been slow to welcome the history of film into their galleries and so the idea of Len Lye’s films always being on permanent display in major NZ galleries in the same way Colin McCahon or Rita Angus would be is still some way off. Has Vincent Ward’s In Spring one plants alone ever been incorporated into a permanent display of NZ art? Time it was. The Pompidou Centre is ahead of the game in this respect. Most of the topic galleries have film incorporated as part of the display from very Len Lye-looking effort Ballet mecanique by Fernand Leger in 1924 to Marcel Duchamp and Isidore Isou. And the visitors? They just took the mix as the most natural thing in the world.

Images: film as part of the Pompidou's permanent collection display. Left to right top to bottom, Constantine Brancusi and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Dziga Verton, Marchel Duchamp and Nicholas Schoffer

Monday, June 29, 2015

To be perfectly Frank

Just when you think you never want to see another ‘iconic’ Frank Gehry building, he comes up with a truly great one. This time it's the Fondation Louis Vuitton that is the lucky recipient. It’s a spectacular destination building of glass and steel, concrete and wood looming over the Bois de Boulogne but also a building of thoughtfully proportioned gallery spaces, subtle pacing and a sophisticated flow between inside and outside throughout the building This culminates in an extraordinary series of ramparts and bastions on the roof with great views of Paris and plenty of room to sit down or for kids to muck around. And there’s some terrific art to be seen too. A set of huge Andreas Gursky photographs that are so poised inside the classical figurative tradition that it’s hard to believe they show pit teams swarming Formula 1 race cars. And lots of video of course from Christian Marclay’s explosive Crossfire to Sturtevant’s Elastic Tango which had people dancing in the gallery (literally). We’ve put up probably more photographs than is really necessary here on OTNARCHITECTURE.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Art at work

Sculpture working for free speech at Republic, Paris

Friday, June 26, 2015

If you snooze, you lose

Back in the sixties Georgina Masson came up with some outstanding advice in her classic companion Guide to Rome. When you visit the Vatican head straight for the Sistine Chapel. Her instructions were firm. Do not be diverted, forget the Gallery of Maps, ignore Da Vinci’s St Jerome, and go straight past the Raphael Rooms. We followed her precisely and earned an unimaginable 35 minutes alone with Michelangelo’s famous frescos. We pulled the same stunt today with Velasquez at the Grand Palais in Paris. Timed tickets meant around 200 of us all were let in together but Team V headed for the last three rooms zooming through early works, influences, his time in Venice and even the Rokeby Venus only coming to a standstill in front of the mighty portrait of Pope Innocent X. Francis Bacon might have given it a miss on his trip to Rome, but seriously, it was a mistake. Because of Masson’s advice all those years ago, we had the place to ourselves for half an hour which goes to show that guidebooks can change your life.

We’d like to say we went back to look at the early work at the end of our two hour visit but, between us, we didn’t.

Images: left entering room 11 and right Team V’s private audience with Pope Innocent X

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The vanishing

Message for Mona Hatoum. Message for Mona Hatoum…er…it’s called New Zealand it’s just under Australia

Image: Mona Hatoum's Map (1999) currently on exhibition in the Centre Pompidou

Distance looks our way

You can’t beat the kick of going into a large exhibition space in an international art museum as important as the Pompidou to see a work by an artist you know and admire. This time it was Oscar Enberg in the sixth edition of Un Nouveau Festival titled Air de jeu that dug into the connections between art and games. But we're not talking about some dice and arcade cabinets showcase but games in the big sense. This one's got philosophers, dancers, writers and even OuLiPo and Alighiero Boetti all ‘playing and thinking’ as the Pompidou like to put it. Yes, Enberg is in very good company and also showing alongside another favourite of ours Jonathan Monk.  
Len Lye is in the building too and Peter Robinson’s interactive felt scatter piece has just closed. Then, still hanging in the sky above the square outside Piano & Rogers iconic building, is the ghost of Neil Dawson’s Globe the star of the 1989 Pompidou exhibition Magiciens de la terre 

All this NZ-in-Paris action comes just weeks after seeing Simon Denny knock them dead in Venice.  You’d have to lay a lot of this level of exposure on Creative NZ’s simple focus on success in its international funding. The fact is those Art fairs, exchange programmes, residencies, support for exhibiting off shore and bringing interested curators, writers and bureaucrats to NZ are all starting to make a real impact.

Image: in the foreground Oscar Enberg's work in the exhibition Air de jeu

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Mannequins for dummies

If you’re from NZ there’s a great big hole in the exhibition we saw today in Paris, Ronnie van Hout. A while back we published a list of artists names along with what they ‘own’. McCahon owns words, Albrecht owns hemispheres, that sort of thing. In that list van Hout owned models but given how his work has developed over the last five or so years now it would have to be mannequins. All that brings us to Silent Partners – Artist & Mannequin from Function to Fetish a remarkable exhibition which is now showing at the Musee Bourdelle. Essentially it was a history of the artist mannequin and their use from practical to creepy (we’re looking at you Hans Bellmer and you too Oskar Kokoschka). The exhibition kicks off with a composition ‘box’ staged with little mannequins used by Poussin and tracks the race to develop the most realistic mannequins for the huge creative industries of the eighteen and nineteenth centuries. The wooden mannequin used by Walter Sickert is a standout. Once the show hits Freud and his marrying of mannequins, toys and automata with the uncanny, the Surrealists take over. An amazing (unglazed) series of paintings by Giorgio de Chirico, Dali’s there (of course) as well as Man Ray and (new to us) the astonishing Jose Maria Sert. It was one of those old school no-photography shows unfortunately, but you can see more incredible images from the show via Google Image.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Putin it to them with Vladimir

If you think Auckland has a burr under its saddle about the Parekowhai Lighthouse, get yourself over to Moscow. Its citizens are facing the installation of a giant realist sculpture of Vladimir the Great (Russia’s patron saint) that stands at 25 plus meters (more than double the Parekowhai effort). And if you think the Parekowhai process is fraught, you can forget that too. We’re talking serious politics here. The St Vladimir sculpture is being used as a big up-you to the Ukraine. The thing is Vladimir’s power center was Kiev (now in present day Ukraine) and Moscow’s attempt to take over their much most loved Saint has not been lost on Ukrainians. Meanwhile, back in Moscow, the super sculpture is to be sited on Sparrow Hills making it visible from across the city and (what a surprise) it will be 16 meters taller than Kiev’s statue of Vladimir. More here in the NYT.

Images: top left, a model of the proposed statue by Salavat Scherbakov and right in progress
. Bottom the Kiev version.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Hide and seek

Back in August 2013 when Simon Denny and Robert Leonard were selected by CNZ as the team for the Venice Biennale 2015 we asked Creative NZ if we could have the names of the other artists and curators who submitted projects. Creative NZ said no. We argued that the decision making process could not be properly evaluated unless those who had put themselves into the running were known. Creative NZ said no again. The names, we were told, were confidential. Creative NZ believed that people would be put off applying if their names were made public and suggested we take the question to the Office of the Ombudsman if we wanted to take it further.

So on 13 September 2013 that’s what we did. After six months of silence we emailed the Office of the Ombudsman on 16 March 2014 to see if there had been progress. There hadn’t. Six months later again, on 15 October 2014, the Office of the Ombudsman emailed us. Our request was now with a new officer who would be ‘assisting in the investigation’ and who would ‘keep us up to date with progress’. Four months later, we are now at the begininging of February 2015, the Office of the Ombudsman wrote to say that our request was ‘still under consideration’. 

Finally, two months later on 24 March (19 months after our original request), the Ombudsman sent us her report. It turns out that Creative NZ asks anyone who it deals with it to sign confidentiality agreements and the Ombudsman felt these agreements took priority over public access to information. Now you know. The Ombudsman asked us to comment before the final report was signed off which we did, arguing that using confidentiality agreements as a gagging device was not in the spirit of open government. This response still waits somewhere in the Ombudsman’s long, dark cave.

So there you go. By tactically using confidentiality agreements Creative NZ can block attempts by taxpayers to examine or assess its selection process, a process that involves the expenditure of $700,000 of public funds. And remember all that was requested was names not the discussion or deliberations that went toward the decision.

So should we just trust Creative NZ and its current processes to give us a fair result? Well no, not if the selection of Judy Millar/Francis Upritchard (additional representative added after the panel had made its decision) and Michael Parekowhai (no selection panel) are anything to go by. And is it reasonable to believe that the Official Information Act is designed to 'promote access to information held by various Government agencies'? No, it really isn’t.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The art thing

"The positives of Rembrandt Remastered far outweigh its minor setbacks."
Emma Jameson describing an exhibition of Rembrandt reproductions in EyeContact

“If that’s not a fake it’s a damn clever original.”
Groucho Marx