Friday, August 26, 2016

Paw relations

How many times has OTN said it would not write another post on animal artists (three, although one of them was rather half-hearted) and then simply posted away? Yes, here we go again picking up this time on the commodification of animal art by museums, ok, zoos as they call themselves. 

Animal art has certainly become a big seller for zoos and everyone (animal-wise) has to attend to the pumps. Chimp painters, mole rat painters, cockroach painters (‘Cockroach paintings can go for a high price. They art very popular.’), horses, elephants etc. The zoos may have recently ditched chimp tea parties as demeaning, but they’re jumping at the opportunity to have animals make art and to call the process ‘animal enrichment’. Of course they do. One animal enrichment expert Christine McKnight of the Minnesota Zoo even went so far as to suggest,  ‘The animals enjoy it more if it taps into a natural behavior and if they use a part of the body that mirrors a skill set from the wild.’  

So that’s pretty much that for animal artists. Then we were sent this link (thanks S) that is essentially about animal art (not). So, for the fourth time, that’s it.

Images: top, a leopard gecko, two cockroaches and a blind mole make art to raise money for zoos. Go them.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Art chart

Ok ... sorry ... we were tired (but thanks anyway G)

But just keeps on getting better. This from Michael Dudding...


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The block

The most recent catalogue from Art + Object is now online. It’s a two-day auction of the Tim and Sherrah Francis collection. A+O have had some good times with private collection sales, most particularly with Les and Milly Paris in 2012 and then with Ron Sang last year. It was obvious to anyone at those events that people are happy to pay something extra for the stories and status that often accompany such works as part of their provenance.

Single vendor auctions have always been prized by sellers and buyers alike. With contemporary art they probably had their highly charged beginnings in New York City with the sale of 50 works from the Robert C Scull collection in 1973. In that case, the high prices paid also sparked the infamous scuffle between vendor Scull and artist Robert Rauschenberg that you can see here (39 seconds in).

Since then there have been a number of great single vendor sales including the auction of 58 works from the Ganz collection in November 1997 described as, 'a steroid injection to the market' that netted a record breaking $US207 million. As it happens the Francises lived above Victor and Sally Gantz's apartment when Tim was posted to New York. Both Tim and Sherrah often spoke of the incredible experience of sitting with the Picassos and Matisses that hung on the living room walls and going downstairs to the basement to look at more contemporary works by Eva Hesse, Jasper Johns, Mel Bochner, Robert Rauschenberg and Frank Stella.

Back home in slightly less rarefied air it is interesting to consider how the Francis offering matches up to the Paris’s.

Both auctions are very large with both taking up two days to get through the lots. The Paris collection came in at 230 lots with 72 of them going under the hammer on the first night. With the Francis collection there is a massive 481 lots with 122 being offered on the first night.

The Paris collection offered nine lots with low estimates over $100,000 and with five of those over $200,000. The Francis collection has 12 lots with low estimates over $100,000 with five of them being over $200,000.

41 percent of the first night offerings at the Paris auction were abstract works, while at the Francis collection it will be 34.4 percent abstract on the first night.

The Paris collection included sixteen sculptures while the Francises will offer eight, but the Francis auction also includes 195 lots of ceramics and 63 lots of books and catalogues.

Pretty evenly matched although when you look through the catalogues (Paris catalogue here) two very different approaches to collecting.

You can see the catalogue for the Francis collection day one here and day two here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hide and seek

What is it that Creative NZ is trying to hide away in its announcements of funding round results? We’ve posted before about how it has removed comparative charts and the ability to easily access results in different categories like the Visual Arts. While these were both useful tools in supporting informed advocacy and any debate around Creative NZ’s performance, we’re another step along. Now the total amount funded has been taken off the introductory information for the latest Quick Response grants. While we all do have calculators and can do the sums, it’s not a helpful or user-friendly development. Even more problematically though, the total number of applicants has been removed something we flagged earlier this year. For tax payers near enough is good enough. It’s been replaced with the comment that ‘typically one in four or five applications gets funded.’

For the record then, and in the same near-enough spirit: around 360 to 450 applications were received and just over $470,000 was allocated to between 20 and 25 percent of them.

So how did the visual arts make out? They received just under $82,000 representing around 17.5 percent of the total. Of these, a whopping 77 percent went to projects outside New Zealand.

Image: OTN’s Statistics Unit working its way through Creative NZ figures

Monday, August 22, 2016

By the numbers: over there edition

3       the number in millions of people who visit MoMA a year

6.4     the percentage increase (reaching a total of 2,473) in billionaires in the world over the last year

7        the percentage of art sold online globally last year

31      the percentage drop in sales value of art sold through Sotheby’s auction house last year

70      the percentage of operating art museums in the world that were founded after 2000

190    the amount in thousands of dollars that the movie star Alec Baldwin paid for a painting by Ross Bleckner he didn’t want

800    the number of Andy Warhol paintings owned by the New York based Mugrabi family art collection

1,000  the number of portraits David Hockney claims he will paint of ‘his friends, family plus art world movers and shakers’

1,114  the amount in dollars paid per square centimeter for Jean Michael Basquiat’s 1.8 x 2.13 meter painting Dustheads making a total of $67 million

1,575  the number of art museums in the United States

Friday, August 19, 2016

In and out

Although we named it OTN:STUDIO ETC. most of what we have posted has been pretty much inside the studios we visited. We now have 47 artists and 130 studio visits up on the site and two photo records of artists installing their exhibitions; Campbell Patterson and, as from today, Patrick Pound putting up his exhibition Documentary Intersect  at the Adam Art Gallery in July this year. Other additions to the site for you to check out are et al.’s studio from 2008, Peter Robinson’s in 2013 and a very quick look at Dan Arps’ studio, well the work he was doing at least, from way back in 2004.

Image: et al.’s studio, March 2008

Thursday, August 18, 2016

One day…

If the cover of internationally respected curator Claire Doherty’s latest book feels familiar, it’s because the image was shot in Wellington. While this sort of obstruction would come as no great surprise to, say, the people of Kiev, it was quite the shock when it appeared across Stout Street and Ballance Street in December 2008. The barricade was the work of English artists Heather & Ivan Morison. Titled Journee des Barricades, it was intended as a warning of a future of salvage and rubbish and resistance. Why the title was in French we haven’t been able to establish so assume it was a general reference to the revolutionary barriades for which Paris became famous. Journee was part of a year long project throughout New Zealand to create sculptures for a day. A series of works were initiated by Massey University and Claire Doherty who was, at the time, rather wonderfully called Curator and Director of Situations. Regrettably, in spite of its great success, One Day Sculpture has never been attempted again.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Reality bites

Just before the Christchurch Art Gallery was closed after the second big earthquake, it was pulling in mega crowds. The National Gallery of Victoria’s exhibition of super realist sculptures by the Australian artist Ron Mueck attracted over 135,000 people. As the exhibition cost around $750,000 TO MOUNT and charged an entrance fee of $15 for adults, we’re talking a potential profit of $5.55 earned per person. So some serious money was made. That was back in 2011 and the hyperrealist sculpture business is now bigger than ever. Given advances in 3D printing you have to wonder whether it’s going to get even bigger still, or collapse into the commodity category. Place your bets.

Images: top to bottom left to right, Ron Mueck, Duane Hanson, Carol Feuerman, Marc Sijan, Jamie Salmon, Jackie K Seo, Tony Matelli, Xooang Choi, John De Andrea, Sam Jinks

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Play on

The museum trade got very excited by PokemonGo. The British Museum even claimed that hordes of Pokemon searchers rushing through its doors constituted an exciting ‘increase in visitor numbers’ (#deluded). Meanwhile at the Dowse the staff noticed a mass of players in the square outside their building. Turns out it was a major PokeStop and day (and night) groups of players were scurrying about trying to catch Pokemon. With a rainy weekend coming up recently the Dowse figured it needed to take some action as power hungry players coming in to recharge their phones were blocking up the entrance. In place of the usual  DO NOT sign they went for let’s-help-out option. Extension cords offered power outlets on the forecourt and the WiFi levels were pumped up so play could continue.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Breaking Entertainment News

A blockbuster art heist movie set in the eighties LA art scene is to be made in Wellington next year. At a meeting with the Wellington City Council the movie makers outlined ambitious plans. A giant set designed by a local architecture firm will be built to stand in for Grand Street in downtown LA.  The one to one scale buildings will be temporary, although there is now a move to have the set for the Broad Museum retained after the movie is shot to become the basis of a Wellington Movie Museum and Convention Centre. Exciting times.

Images: Top, The Broad in LA. Bottom, proposed design for the Wellington movie set version

Friday, August 12, 2016


There’s been a renewed interest in unfinished works of art recently. You can see loads of them via OTNSTUDIO but it has never been usual to show unfinished work publicly. However, that said, a recent Auckland exhibition called Arrested Practice at Northcote's Northart Gallery looked at unfinished work in this case as ‘a work in progress’. But recently in New York this idea was taken to a whole new level in the major exhibition Unfinished. It included works that were incomplete for all sorts of reasons - politics, health, dealer interference, etc – and because it was organised by the Met the loans were astonishing. Included in the works that ranged across 600 years of Western art were these two paintings by Cezanne and Picasso. Their incomplete state shows the bones of the ideas which hung side by side nail why Cezanne was so essential to the development of Cubism. Something else the exhibition also resolved was the question, how do you know when an artwork is finished? You don’t.
Images: left, Paul Cézanne Gardanne 1885-86 and right, Paplo Picasso's The Sacré-Coeur 1909-10

Thursday, August 11, 2016


The discipline of marketing has found a welcoming home in the art museum world. Relentlessly positive and unabashedly promotional, museum communications sometimes feel as though the clock has been turned back to the excitable 1990s. Take a recent announcement for an upcoming exhibition by Christchurch’s CoCA. For what's basically another local show (it's titled Contemporary Christchurch) the 148-word announcement has managed to squeeze in 10 superlatives to remind us how to respond:


How incredible is that?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Don’t buy the numbers

You probably already know the Ministry of Education sorts the tertiary education available in New Zealand into 12 categories.  Anyway that’s the basis of a rather lame report they released the other day titled What are they doing? (seriously). The bit you will all be interested in (we're using the term 'interested' kind of loosely here) belongs to category 10 ‘Creative Arts’. This involves ‘The study of creating and performing works of art, music, dance and drama. It includes the study of clothing design and creation and communication through media’. If you want to find out stuff about the visual arts it’s in a subset called ‘Narrow fields’.

As you might expect, nowadays most of the Visual Art education happens at degree level and most of the students (around 72 percent) are female. This might make you wonder why the heads of Ilam and Elam, Massey and Whitecliffe are all guys (Otago is an exception) and why Ilam’s academic staff is under 20 percent female, or maybe not.

In all we have 473,000 domestic tertiary students of whom only 2,850 (0.6 percent) are working toward degrees in the visual arts, and that figure has been decreasing slightly over the last five years. But hang on, why does this report only cover domestic students? In doing so it fails to take into account what has got to be the biggest driver of change over the last five years in tertiary education: the influx of paying international students. Why did they even bother with this not-very-useful-to-say-the-least report? We smell delivery on KPIs (the bureaucratic measurement Key Performance Indicators) the Government Department equivalent of PBRFs.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Get real

Looks like Michael Parekowhai’s Tongue of the dog was an animal sculpture too far for Hamilton. It might speak dog to some people but others prefer to see a more direct animal connection. In a similar spirit the screens have been put round Italian sculptor Mimmo Paladino’s War Horse memorial sculpture Cavalli Acqua and the shotgun called for. Paladino’s effort is to be replaced with a ‘realistic’ bronze horse sniffing a hat. As one of the funders of the horse-and-hat work explained, people who like horses wanted ‘a horse sculpture that actually looked like a horse’. A small paddock with a real horse trotting the perimeter as a memorial to horses is not an option at this stage.

Images: Not a horse, column top to bottom by Mimmo Paladino, Hans Haacke, Alexander Calder, Elmgreen & Dragset and Deborah Butterfield. Now-that’s-what-I-call-a-real-horse column top to bottom, Matt Gauldie for Hamilton’s War Horse Memorial, etc., etc., etc. and Phar Lap by Joanne Sullivan-Gessler

Monday, August 08, 2016

The cat rabbit problem

It’s been a long haul but the 2016 OTN International Lookalike Challenge (OTNILC2016) has a winner. Finalists from the thousands of entries were preselected by a panel earlier this year and the winner was announced by our international judge at a small breakfast meeting on Friday 5 August 2016. The Tenth OTN International Lookalike Challenge winner is Mark Leckey with his Parekowhai lookalike Inflatable Felix. Mr Leckey is a British-born artist who works with collage, music and video. He made his first work using an image of Felix the cat in 2007. As has become traditional with the OTNILC2016, no prizes will be awarded.

Images: top, OTNILC2016 winner Mark Leckey's Inflatable Felix (2014) and bottom, Michael Parekowhai Jim McMurtry (2004)