Thursday, April 17, 2014

Counter measures

Valerie Solanas wouldn’t have been impressed. In front of her SCUM manifesto displayed as part of the exhibition Take it or leave it at the Hammer Museum, a guard (it gets worse, it was a male – they’re the one’s “who’ll swim a river of snot and wade nostril deep through a mile of vomit” to get a woman) had set up shop. A small stool and, just to remind Val she was history, the perfect spot for his people counter: the frame around the man-hating proclamation. He wouldn’t have been so casual if V Solanas had turned up in person like she did at Andy Warhol’s factory in 1968. That time she was carrying a gun and seriously wounded the great Pop artist.

Images: Valerie Solanas’s SCUM manifesto with chair and counter

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

“I was flattered, I can only be flattered. I don’t know that I can say it’s art, but I think it’s weirder that Pace would show them than that he would make them.”

Cindy Sherman responds to James Franco showing versions of her Movie stills in New York

Buy the book

When we wrote the text for the book Contemporary New Zealand Painters back in the early eighties it was a new idea for NZ but a familiar one in the rest of the world. Of course Marti Friedlander herself had been there well before CNZP photographing artists from as early as the sixties. The lineage is even longer though. There are many, many photographs of artists in their studios since the invention of photography but the first book gathering them together we can find was probably Alexander Liberman’s bluntly titled The artist in his studio. This legendary book showing the modern masters of European art was certainly a big influence on Marti. And then there were the photographs of Lord Snowdon (aka Antony Armstrong-Jones) collected together in the 1965 book Private View. It too played a part in the style of CNZP and there’s a fascinating account with lots of images of Snowdon’s work on this book here.

We were thinking about this long history in preparation for a talk a few weeks ago but were astounded to discover recently just how current the idea still is. In just one US bookshop we found no less than six books on artists and their environments. Images of the artist in the studio still fascinate. Stalkers, voyeurs, peeping Toms, call us what you will but just leave that door open a crack so we can have a quick look inside those studios.

Which all leads us to tell you that there are another five new studio photo sessions up on OTN Studio.

Lillian Budd, December 1992
Shane Cotton, April 2003
Don Driver, May 2003
Ross Ritchie, November 2010
Peter Robinson, September 2003

Image: Snowdon working on the proofs of Private View in his home, 1965.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Stand in

The tie up with art and fashion has always interested OTN. In NZ you can trace it back at least to the late eighties. We still have a John Reynolds Amour windbreakers designed for Workshop around that time and more recently Max Gimblett and Martin Popperwell have also come on board. Now Michael Parekowhai has also jumped in to the fashion world. His work has been seen at Karen Walker’s North Shore store but this time he was collaborating with designer Tanya Carlson for her exhibition Not all white at the DPAG for ID Fashion week. Carlson was showing off 15 years of her work staged on Parekowhai Cuisenaire rod stands.

Not a good sign

In Grand Junction, Colorado an object lesson in caution for any public sculptor contemplating fountain action. Along with this visual litany of don’t icons on one of the five signs surrounding a fountain sculpture other warnings included instructions not to climb, wash diapers, sit, loiter, smoke, spit or bathe (with or without a dog). And the fountain? It was was turned off - water restrictions.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Just when you thought public sculpture couldn't surprise you any more.
Image: Bronze action in Grand Junction, Colorado

Art is where you find it

Who couldn't help thinking about Fiona Connor when you drive through some of America’s State and National parks? Her last show at Hopkinson Mossman replicated many of the signs, information kiosks and barriers you see scattered through campsites and viewing posts.

In Utah we also came across some handmade art but it was made by painters not looking for attention. Their job was to ‘vanish’ boxes of electrical equipment located by the road so it dint' disturb the view. Most of the boxes were painted with regular camouflage patterns, albeit in desert pink, but along one road we found an artist who'd taken up brushes and tried for something more expressionistic.  Nothing new about artists being involved with camo as we've noted in previous posts but camouflagers taking to art, that’s something else again.

Images: top, art and bottom, regular

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Run, run,run as fast as you can

Sarah Lucas who shows at Two Rooms in Auckland is now available in gingerbread for your Saturday baking pleasure. (thanks G). You can help Artfund and get more art to eat here.

To make a Lucas Self portrait with fried eggs to go you will need:

50g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
A pinch of salt
115g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
175g light muscovado sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup
1 egg
500g royal icing sugar
Black, blue and yellow food colouring gels or paste
Fried egg sweets
Gingerbread men cutters

To prepare for four copies:

Mix the flour, ginger, cinnamon and salt in a food processor (or by hand). Add the butter and whiz until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, syrup and egg, and whiz to make a smooth dough. You may need to add a splash of water. Transfer onto a clean work surface and knead lightly into a ball, wrap with cling film and chill in the fridge for 30-45 minutes or until firm.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Line a couple of baking trays with baking paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough with a rolling pin until 5mm thick. Cut out four gingerbread people and a rectangle approximately 20cm by 30cm. Transfer to the baking trays.

 Cook in the oven for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make up the royal icing sugar with a little water and whisk until you have a smooth paste. Remove half and colour it with the black colouring. Fill a piping bag with the black icing, and one with white icing. Pipe white and black squares onto the gingerbread rectangle in a chequerboard pattern. Leave to set, then fill in the centres to cover the board. Decorate the gingerbread women, using the icing and fried egg sweets.

If you're a fan of Lucas you can also check out her recent foray into furniture design here.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A perfect storm in Tuba City, Arizona

It's a public sculpture, it's bronze, it's a guy and he's an artist.

Don’t drink the Kool-Aid

As regular readers will know we've chased up Frank Lloyd Wright buildings whenever we've been near them and the other day we were near Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona. While there's nothing much we can add to the story of this sprawling desert complex which the extraordinary Lloyd Wright conceived in his seventies, how about the cult thing? As we explored the place and met some of the staff, one of the young architects and an 80-plus year old one, it became clear that FLW was running something very close to a cult up there in the desert. They even call themselves The Fellowship to this day and FLW’s my-way-or-the-highway philosophy has bred a very respectful following indeed. Put together FLW's mission to elevate society with the small hutch-like DIY accommodation, communal hardships, shared meals, and the club-like atmosphere and it all felt just millimeters away from creepy.

Then we went to see the Italian architect Paolo Soleri’s attempt to build a city of the future at Arcosanti further north into the Arizona dessert. Although now dusty and diverted by handcrafts it is still impressive that such soaring structures were essentially built by people who'd drifted in to join the adventure. Some of the large half domes had been made in the same way as the Teshima Museum we posted about last year and what they lacked in elegance they made up for in grandeur. There were still some bright-eyed followers but here it was a skeleton crew. The community has gone into a serious decline, Soleri himself died last year and the place is struggling to maintain its eccentric and spectacular digs far less entertain any further efforts at urban experimentation.

Why the difference? The FLW people were very, very fortunate in his choice of a third wife. Olgivanna Lloyd Wright was considerably younger than her husband and stepped up as CEO of a cleverly designed Foundation with educational and heritage goals and, of course, the FLW global brand. Arcosanti had none of this back-up so without its visionary the place feels like an experiment that is failing. When it comes to long-term survival Foundations beat Hippies right out of the park, or out of the desert as it is in this case.

Images: Top, Taliesin West and the rest Agrosanti

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Put it up the flag pole

Who is going to judge the Walters Prize? Looking at past years we can figure the Auckland Art Gallery and the Prize patrons will be trying to match their previous successes. Let’s face it, getting the inventor of modern curation Harald Szeemann to to judge the first Prize was remarkable enough but to top that by scoring Documenta curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev was truly impressive. There’s one obvious name that could carry that sort of clout and our guess is they’ll be on the phone to ├╝ber curator  Hans Ulrich Obrist. What are the chances?

Give or take

The exhibition Take it or leave it at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles is our kind of show. Artists putting institutions - especially art institutions - up against the wall by provoking, mocking, testing and deconstructing them. The gallery spaces were packed with work (only the Cady Nolan boxing ring suffered seriously) but the show seemed small in ambition. It was American artists only so keystone political artists of the 1980s and 1990s like Hans Haacke were excluded.

The fascination of the exhibition was to be taken back to when the relationship between artists and institutions was anything but cozy. Today so many artists depend on funding from their universities and art institutions are so enmeshed with dealers for funding, exhibition support and facilitating loans, that anything uncomfortably critical is self-censured fast. Andrea Fraser demos how it was done stripping down to nothing when giving a thank-you speech at the opening of a survey of her work. Louise Lawler goes on the attack presenting copies of iconic photos as her own work. Fred Williams points an accusing finger at virtually every collecting institution in America. It was quite a time.

Image: Andrea Fraser in full flight

Wednesday, April 09, 2014


OTN’s relentless promotion of giant art objects has been joined by a book on the subject. Overs!ze: mega art & installations features many of the OTN finds including that giant rabbit, mighty Marilyn Monroe and the damn big duck. It also includes New Zealander Fletcher Vaughan’s giant house of cards. You can buy a copy here.

Images: top the book of the obsession and bottom Fletcher's house of cards

Lillian Budd sat here

At the City Gallery Robert Leonard has just put up the exhibition McLeavey sat here looking at artists looking at the dealer Peter McLeavey. One of the works features an amended photograph of Lillian Budd reclining on McLeavey’s chaise longue after it had been painted by the artist. As it happens one of us was with Budd when the painting was done and took the chaise pic. Robert’s show seems a good moment for a side-bar to the chaise story so we have written a brief account of what went on that day along with further pics and ephemera. You can read it in a new section we have added to OTN studio called Stories.  It’s on the far right of the menu bar or use this link to go there direct.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

As one door opens...

Elsewhere on the internet (ok Facebook) we have a series called hidden doors which is all about...doors that are hidden. This one collides with art so OTN readers, you can share it too. Barbara Kruger hides a door at the Hammer Museum.