Saturday, October 30, 2010

I say banana

We've posted before on Andy Warhol’s design for the Rolling Stones' album Sticky Fingers album relating how in early copies you could undo the zip. The other interactive cover designed by Warhol was the peeling banana he worked up for Verve Record’s 1967 release of The Velvet Underground & Nico. Getting the banana skin (a picture of a banana skin printed on a sticky label) to peel back proved tricky and these difficulties even delayed the release of the album. The original cover didn’t even feature the band’s name or the title, only Warhol’s signature. Although the record didn’t sell well on release it has since become a classic. Warhol’s signature album design lives on in this Andy Warhol Banana cake, well not a banana cake in fact, just a 45 cm cake shaped and decorated to look like a banana by debbiedoescakes.

Friday, October 29, 2010

40 to 1

Was a time when the Govett-Brewster was the premier stable for the supply of curators and directors but now the City Gallery is out of the gates with a Quinella at Te Papa. First, Heather Galbraith as Senior Curator and now second, via overseas, Sarah Farrar as Curator of Contemporary Art.
Image: starting gates as used at the City Gallery


Images: left, Fabio Zanino Decostruzione and right, Rosalie Gascoigne Slow burn

Give me a child...

There’s been a rash of art babies recently and - apart from the parents no doubt telling everyone that their kids, “can be anything they want so long as they’re not artists” - the chances are good (looking around at artists and their parents) that they will be. So it's probably best to bite the bullet and get the young people together with paints, brushes, video cameras and (for the bolder parent) chisels and let them loose because young artistic geniuses are on the up and up. 

Take for example the awesomely cute Autumn de Forest. Nine-year-old Autumn (you get the idea from her name that her parents were onto her art potential from the get-go) sold her work at auction earlier this year and was hammered down at $NZ340,000. Hard to believe Mum and Dad weren’t in on the act but you can make up your own mind here. Then there’s seven-year-old Kieron Williamson (the boy they call the Mini Monet which has got to be better than the Stunted Surat or even Tiny Titian - we could go on) who takes a more conventional approach to his art reaching back to landscapes of the Norfolk kind. His king-hit price wise is $17,000 for a work called Sunrise at Morston. And, just so you don’t think that the NZ has the monopoly on art boostering, Kieron’s agent claims that the young boy has, “probably become one of the most collectable artists currently exhibiting worldwide." More of KW’s output here.
Images: Top de Forest. Bottom Williamson

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Advice to curators

"Art history is very cruel. We can’t control it."
Nigel Hurst, Saatchi Collection curator, on curators only purchasing art that will be important in the future

Pop art

One of the more intriguing items in Te Papa’s art collections is Boîte-en-valise. While Te Papa won’t put up a pic of it on their site because of ‘copyright restrictions,’ you can take your pick of over 50 images elsewhere – including ones from the Australian National Gallery, the Tate and MoMA - via Google here. Boîte-en-valise and two other works by Duchamp were gifted to Te Papa by Judge Julius Isaacs in the early eighties. For more about this gift see Marcus Moore's interesting account.

Now French artist Mathieu Mercier is to make Boîte-en-valise into a pop-up book to be published this week by Anabet. Mercier was given access to their copy of the edition by the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, and permission to go ahead with the project by the Duchamp family. The book will acknowledge Duchamp’s role in its title "The 'Boîte-en-valise' of either Marcel Duchamp or RRose Sélavy by Mathieu Mercier."
Image: Duchamp popping up at the Philadelphia Museum

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Branded: Christopher Braddock

The moment when artists become brands

Open until we close

The pop up store phenomenon has been around for a while now pushing temporary retail spaces into unlikely locations to shake expectations and take new territory. The current burst sparked in the early 2000s and there isn't a big brand that hasn’t tried its luck from Comme des Garçons (who kicked off guerrilla style in Berlin 2004) to Marmite. 

Now, thanks to a leasing glut, the pop up opportunity is open to artists, dealers and even students in Wellington, NZ. Mark Amery and Sophie Jerram are making the best of vacant retail to plug in temporary art installations via Letting Space and this weekend we visited a smart one at 18 College Street down from Caffe L’affare and just before OTT. It is a classic roller-door space that a coat of white paint instantly transformed into a contemporary gallery more imposing than most of the current ones in the city. The five photographers called the space Inward Goods both saving on sign writing and giving them a great name. As the five are Massey students there is a chance Wellington might get more artist run spaces to add into the mix once exams are cleared and life begins.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


"There is a surprisingly fine line between being a conniving jerk and a cool mastermind."
The Economist commenting on collector Charles Saatchi buying and selling contemporary art.

Applying the brakes

What the hell do we know? When we started our Booster Awards highlighting the promotional spin our institutions give their exhibitions, we reckoned without Te Papa’s Athol McCredie. Here is the curator of Brian Brake: lens on the world as reported by Diana Dekker in 23 October’s Dominion Post

Reading the curator's commentary on Brian Brake’s achievements you do have to wonder why he was chosen as Te Papa's first major solo exhibition of a New Zealand photographer and only the fourth or fifth of a New Zealand 'artist'.

On Brake’s work, “I think there's some interesting bits in it.” 

Brake's approach to magazine projects, “If the photographs had a personal style, it would get in the way.”

Brake vs Cartier-Bresson, “Cartier-Bresson...did have a unique vision. Brake’s work beside his showed little character.”

On Brake's aspirations, “Brake's work is usually illustrative work. What he is striving for is an attractive, pleasing moment.”

Brake's style, "I don't think he has a highly personal quality. Some would argue that if you took a group of photographs out of context you probably wouldn’t be able to say they were his.”

Assessment of Brake’s Asian photography, “the subject matter and colour doesn’t add up to vision in the sense of artistic vision."

Brake vs Westra, "You can look at a photo by Ans Westra and see it is a photo of hers. Like Brake she also worked for magazines in her working life, but she also pursues her own vision without commercial considerations”

And, to end on a more positive note:

“There has been no comprehensive biography of him (Brake) and is unlikely to be.”

Image: Ron Popeil introducing the Chop-O-Matic, in the late 1950s. Photo: Associated Press

Monday, October 25, 2010

Full credit to the tables

Winners at the Estate of l. budd Benefit Table Tennis Tournament at On The Table
Images: Clockwise from the left overall winner Chris and runners up Michael and Karl with trophies kindly sponsored and supplied by The Estate of l budd.

A persistent wine

The first New Zealand artist we remember being represented on a wine label was Gretchen Albrecht back in the eighties for Collard Brothers. Billy Apple did a terrific label for a dessert wine with the bottles sold in Apple designed cartons. You could buy them at the local W&S merchant and Les Paris got a couple of cartons. He always regarded them as art works as much as we tried to get him to open a bottle or two. Nowadays there are not only artist labels on wines but artist wines themselves as in the Dick Frizzell line. The most recent contender is Martin Poppelwell who is partnered up with The People’s Wine people. Strangely, the Frizzell, Poppelwell and wine merchants Glengarry have all gone for the same kind of primitive in-your-face graphic style with shaky lettering, populist imagery and awe-shucks messaging. If it’s an art movement, it’s probably Struthism.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Art is where you find it

Rubik's Cube madness to get you through the weekend. 
 Thanks to everyone who pointed the way

Friday, October 22, 2010


Will there be trophies?

Oh yes, there will be trophies.

And could I win one and take it home to keep as my own?

We'd be surprised if you didn't

Image:  Trophy for day one of the Estate of l. budd Benefit Table Tennis Tournament

On the road

Number 43 in OTN's ongoing series celebrating the Ministry of Land Transport and Local Body support of New Zealand artists.
For others in the series search 'on the road' in the blog search box above.

Before the fall

Recently we commented in a when-good-art-turns-bad moment that someone was once killed by a Richard Serra sculpture. While this is true, it wasn’t the fault of the sculpture or Richard Serra as many people might think given the way this story is told and retold. As a reader pointed out, we may well have added to that perception so, in the interest of getting things right, here is a more detailed account of the event.

The accident happened on 18 November 1971 when one of the 2.4 metric ton plates of Serra’s Sculpture Number 3 broke loose from its support and fell on Raymond Johnson, a rigger who was helping to assemble the work at the Walker Art Centre. Johnson was killed.

Serra’s instructions for erecting the works included the following specifics:
No. 1 Erect plates at proper angles and brace.
No. 2 Wedge plates to prevent movement. Wedges are permanent. Do not remove.
No. 3 Remove bracing. Do not remove wedges.

In 1975 a case was brought against Serra and other defendants on behalf of Johnson. The jury awarded $US505,092 in damages but found Serra free of any negligence. The accident was attributed to incorrect procedures (Serra’s instructions not being followed) and preparation during and before the erection process by the fabricator of the work and its broker. That's the short version but you can read a full account of the court proceedings here.

Other posts about Richard Serra and his work on OTN

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Saturday is pay day… is everybody happy?

Saturday stretching out in front of you like a desert wasteland? Bring a little light into your life and step up into OTN’s weekend cultural cavalcade Seriously it's Saturday.

10am – 2pm: Make own arrangements.

2pm: Listen to photographer Peter Peryer in conversation at the Hamish McKay Gallery.

3.30pm – 4pm: coffee and rest period. 

4pm - later: Sign up for The Estate of l. budd Benefit Table Tennis Tournament at On The Table. Trophies and OTN merchandise to be won.

On The Table (a division of Over The Net) is at 6 College Street, just down the road from L’Affare (see coffee above).
Click on image for the full glory of our designed invitations.

Let me do that for you

"A curator once had to be assigned to specific collection—the word is rooted in the notion of caring for someone. In recent years, however, “curation” has been de-linked from any fixed array of things. A curator is no longer a warden of precious objects but a kind of freelance aesthetic concierge…. I’ve heard people say they curate their schedules and dinner parties."
András Szántó in New York City

Giving a fig

We’ve always said that sculpture is where you find it and last weekend we found it at a Garden Centre. The sandstone version of Michelangelo's David we spotted was made in China. He has been slimmed down to what must have seemed to the sculptor more reasonable proportions in a land not yet obsessed with fast food. That in turn reminded us of the fat David that circulated on the net a while back.

And, if you you are finding yourself three times offended, go here to get David Covered - discreet David, “... for those individuals or educational organizations who would rather display him with covered private parts.”
Images: Davids, left garden variety. Right top before, bottom after.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Spot that koru competition #2

This weeks answer here on OTN Stuff  (2.53 pm: well it is now anyway)

Rocks in the sky

One day in the developers' office:

Developer 1: Well, I think it looks totally buff.

Developer 2: Oh c’mon Derek. It has as much charm as a bloody hospital…we need something to liven it up…to give it a bit of class.

D1: You don’t mean class at all, do you? You mean art.

D2: Not just art, Derek, great art. Something classic, like a McCalm.

D1: A Mc-who?

D2: McCalm, Derek, Colin McCalm. D'oh!, sometimes I think I’m the only one in this office who even knows what culture is.


D2: I got the design rats to add a McCalm work to one of the Penthouse walls. We found a good one in a McCalm database, zoomed it up a bit and flipped it horizontally. Looks awesome,  so -you know- different. No one will be any the wiser. I’m completely psyched.

(Later again)

D1: I had a quick look at that database you were talking about and guess what, you were wrong. The guy’s name is McCahon, Colin McCahon.

D2: Whatever.

Image: Architectural rendering from a billboard advertising an apartment building in construction on Wellington’s Oriental Parade. You can see the original ‘McCahon’ Northland, 1961 here. Thanks B.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Don't change that channel

Earlier this year we found Martin Kippenberger being channeled at the Southern Landfill. Since then they have been busy getting ready for their survey exhibition.

Behind closed doors

Back in the mid seventies the Auckland Art Gallery allowed David Mealing to conduct a free-for-all jumble sale in its galleries and went along with Gray Nicol's project which involved lying for 24 hours under a very, very heavy block of stone suspended only inches from his face. Ok, they insisted he sign a release form, but they didn’t walk away from the project. Hard to imagine support like that today with our art institutions being so risk adverse and concerned to promote only positive attention. So what’s an artist to do who wants to stir stuff up?

Tao Wells was able to realise his stroppy project, The Beneficiary’s Office, thanks to some well-placed CNZ funding and the opportunistic quick-footedness of  Letting Space. To set the scene Wells informed the local newspaper, "We should never be forced to take a job. If you're forced to take a job it's a punishment. If a job's a punishment then society must be a prison." This well targeted declaration sure got people talking. After all everyone has an opinion on the ethics of work, payment and contribution. 

On the dark side Wells has had his own unemployment benefit suspended and probably his future chances of getting it back. As a rule the state does not like to be poked in the eye. So this is definitely a project where the artist has some skin in the game. And if the welfare bureaucracy hoped that Wells was a one-column-wonder it will be disappointed. When we went to visit the office of the Wells Group (TW’s own brand) we were not admitted because the artist was deep into an interview with TV3. One thing Tao Wells clearly understands is the power of television exposure. As one of the Wells Group said, as he escorted us to the lift, “He’s doing PR, the core business.”
Images: The entrance to the Wells Group offices on level 3 of the BNZ building at 50 Manners Street in Wellington

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Spring has sprung

The next time we are in Berlin we will miss seeing Jeff Koon’s sculpture Balloon Flower (Blue) which we posted on a few years ago. The Daimler company who own the work have put it up for sale at the next big Christies auction. If you follow OTN Koons postings you may remember that the last copy of this Balloon Flower edition, the magenta version, sold a couple of years ago in London for just over $34 million. Times have changed, the Daimler version is estimated to sell at between $16 and $21 million.

Toilet humour

The Frieze Art Fair has just closed in London. New Zealand was there with Michael Lett showing Simon Denny and Hany Armanious as well as Francis Upritchard and Michael Stevenson represented by their UK dealers. Looking through the daily Frieze edition of the Art Newspaper (free every day of the fair online if you care but can’t be there) we also noted that Ricky Swallow who shows with Hamish McKay had a mention in the what-would-you-buy section and Billy Apple got this anecdote printed in full.

“Never mind the booths, veteran pop conceptualist Billy Apple found aesthetic nirvana at Frieze while on a visit to the men’s room. Apple, in London from his native New Zealand for his show at the Mayor
Gallery, singled out the 'impossibly discreet "toilet" sign' for special attention. 'The white lettering on grey is worthy of Lawrence Weiner— or the best work of On Kawara,' he enthused. Neither was he short of a snappy title for these limited edition works: Need /[slash] Relief.”

Sunday, October 17, 2010


This funny chart and others looking at the Power 100 we posted about on Friday are from the always entertaining people at Hyperalleric

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Spot you later

From Medieval lepers to Yayoi Kusama - you got it, Slate's history of polka dots.

Friday, October 15, 2010

By the numbers

This year’s Power 100 has just been published by Art Review and not too surprisingly it is topped by global art dealer Larry Gagosian (5th place last year and 2nd the year before).
The first woman to appear on the list is Bice Curiger, Venice Biennale curator and Parkett mag editor, coming in at number 6. In fact there are 10 women in the top 25. The first artist, Ai Weiwei, is at number 13 but let's not forget that in 2008 Damien Hirst topped the list and he was 53rd this year, so it's a fickle business. Of the top ten, three are dealers, three are public art museum directors, three are collectors and just one is a curator (now that tells you something.) Only three of this year's top ten have been in the top ten for the last three years and they are dealer Gagosian, museum director Serota and collector Pinault. Blessed symmetry.
Image: Larry Gagosian captured by OTN paparazzi last year in Berlin

The New Zealand Listener in support of the arts

"Howitt recounts the time Whineray, doing work experience on an Edgecumbe dairy farm, was asked by the farmer to build a picnic table. There was also a dead cow t o be buried. When the farmer came home, he found the cow artfully upended in a hole out the front of the house, table planks nailed to its hooves. The farmer failed to appreciate something that, these days, might very well make it to the Venice Biennale."
Captain Perfect’ by Diana Wichtel. NZ Listener October 9-15 2010

Secret squirrel: the adventure continues

It has been over half a year since Michael Parekowhai was announced as the New Zealand representative at the Venice Biennale. In those months the venue has been secured, the idea for the work developed and the production set in play. And yet if you check out the CNZ Venice website you’d think that nothing has happened at all. 

If any lesson should have been learned over the fiasco with et al and the 2005 Biennale, it is that better and wider communications would have meant more intelligent and informed support when the politicians went AWOL (and they only climbed the fence because they didn’t know what was going on either). 

There is something odd we have noted before about the approach visual arts institutions take to communications and marketing. They seem to live back in the days of The Big Surprise. Keep everything under wraps (often literally as well as figuratively) and then do the precisely timed “Reveal.” Trouble is, this model only works when you have a big budget to keep the media engine revved. If you don’t, the arts never make it as a big media story unless, of course, the story to be told is a negative one and then, boy does it turn out to have legs. (again, check out Venice Biennale 2005 for a textbook demo). 

The Big Reveal Strategy is based on the old miscalculation that if we think it is interesting, the media will too. Count up the column space the media gave to the Big Announcement in February about the artist selected to represent NZ at Venice to gauge the level of media excitement. We have done it on your behalf and their flame does not burn bright. The CNZ at Venice Website peters out after the Parekowhai announcement and a couple of refs to places he has exhibited this year.

The answer is to build a community of interest. There are enough people who think the arts are a waste of space and money without ignoring the few that are your supporters. Share the story early with people who already have some connection with it in the reasonable expectation that they will talk about it and create further interest and excitement. After all, there is a selected group of people ‘in the know’ already. We reckon there must be at least a couple of hundred of them, probably more. The people who have been told exactly what Michael Parekowhai intends presenting at Venice and where it will be shown. We’re thinking of the large number of potential patrons (and we assume any of their friends who were interested) who were briefed on the work a month or so ago. We’re not talking state secrets here, rather carefully controlled information in the interests (it seems) of fund-raising. As for anyone else with an interest in how NZ is representing us through art, they are kept in the dark. Seems odd when they have made the biggest investment by stumping up to pay the salaries at CNZ and the costs of undertaking the Venice project with everyone else.

So time to spill the beans, open the doors of the what’s-going-to-happen-at-Venice clubroom and let the rest of the public who are interested in art in. You might be surprised what good company they can be.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Giving voice

We mentioned Peter Stichbury’s pic and review in the New Yorker the other day (word is there is a longer review to come) and now this write up of the Julian Dashper show at Minus Space in the Village Voice by Robert Schuster in his Best in show column. Schuster describes Dashper’s influence as ‘far-reaching’.

Comin' right at you

Toward the end of 1991 we worked with Julian Dashper to produce a couple of ads in the American magazine Artforum. Julian’s idea was that he'd exhibit in the magazine as a way round the prohibitive costs of exhibiting in the traditional centres of art from New Zealand. His two pages were an attempt to mimic the Artforum style and slip under the editorial radar without readers noticing (until it was too late that is!). 

Julian named the project Artfrom New Zealand - presented in the Artforum logo style of course. After much debate the magazine insisted on labelling the pages as advertisements. While it's hard to believe these two pages could subvert their editorial position, the folks at Artforum certainly thought they were in with a chance. To get round at least part of this restriction we reproduced one of the pages as an illustration on the page itself, which in turn reproduced that page and so on. It was like the endlessly repeating Arnott's biscuit tin. On those repeated pages the word advertisement was dropped and by this subterfuge, those mini-pages at least, slipped past the magazine’s editor. A small victory we thought at the time, but still a victory. 

And all this to segue into an initiative by American artist Jeff Thompson to give artists the opportunity to show their work in the very same mag. Thompson has divided up the page he intends purchasing into 4,200 tiny spaces and is selling them off to artists at $US1.50 a pop. You can get your work - albeit pint-sized - into Artforum by going here and fronting up with the ding. The last time we checked there were still 3827 places left.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Had to happen

Now the kids are at it.
Image: Jason Lee

Booster Awards

Anyone in marketing knows that a fantastic way to seize the initiative is to start with extravagant claims for your product or service. That way you frame up expectations and neutralise any critics who always sound mealy mouthed in the face of your relentless optimism. To show how this mode has crashed into the marketing of art related products we are presenting the very best of art boosterisms on an irregular basis here on OTN.

So, here we go:

“Ambitious, phenomenal, groundbreaking. It looks at the power of contemporary art, conversations that reach beyond history, across cultures.”
Paula Savage talks up the City Gallery’s exhibition roundabout in the NZ Listener 25 September 2010

"This is something new for Wanganui and is the beginning of a renaissance era in contemporary public art for the city and the waterfront."
Mayor Michael Laws puts it out for public sculpture in a media release 16 September 2010

“Housed in one of the country's finest heritage buildings, the Museum's three floors tell the story of New Zealand.”
Auckland Museum website

“Catherine de Zegher believes Australia is on the verge of taking a central stage in outlining a new world view for the future.”
Co-curator 2012 Sydney Biennale in a Biennale press release

"Viewing these awe-inspiring art works on a guided walk in this environment is an experience to be treasured."
Promotion on their website for Connells Bay sculpture park on Waiheke Island

OTNPH badges for examples of top line art Boostering from OTN readers. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Good read

At OTN we are always quick enough to point out when the media is dumping on the visual arts, so here is a link to today's editorial on Dan Arps winning the Walters Prize in the NZ Herald. It's certainly a pleasant change to have a daily paper thoughtfully examine the gap between contemporary art and the audience at large rather than pull out the old "is it art?" argument.


Last week Swedish police found three stolen paintings in a plastic bag while investigating a credit card fraud. The paintings worth $NZ2 million by Edvard Munch, Gustaf Rydberg, and Pär Siegård were from the Malmo Art Museum and had been stolen three weeks previously. 

How did the police know this? Simple, the words Malmö Art Museum were written on the plastic bag. Which was kind of lucky as the people at the Malmö Art Museum hadn’t noticed that the works had gone, "I was shocked. Flabbergasted," Göran Christenson, the museum’s director told Swedish radio.


Z is for zombie editions

They say you can’t take it with you and so most of us have to leave our stuff behind to be sent to the Salvation Army by our kids. Artists though can live beyond their natural span thanks to zombie editions – the works of art that are made on an artist’s behalf after their demise by helpful supporters. 

And so new works to the market are created by casting from old molds, giving a lick of paint to rejected works left in the studio, and - in the purest form - newly born out of sketches and concepts left in notebooks and on scraps of paper. 

Zombie editions: giving new meaning to the expression ‘the shock of the new.’

Illustration: Pippin Barr

Monday, October 11, 2010

L budd estate in Wellington

OTT’s Winter hours (closed for the Winter) are nearly over and we are opening our Spring season with a new installation from the budd estate that will take over all our galleries.

The theme is table tennis and the opening will be on Saturday 23 October. Bats and balls will be supplied and more information will be posted here and on the OTT site later this week.

Save that day, you know you want to be there.


Our OTN British correspondent is in Oxford thinking about Phil Price's Zephyrometer and pointy sculpture in general.
Thanks J

Taste wars

As anyone who's been involved in the visual arts knows, there are many different art worlds. Even artists who go to art school together and share a view of their future often diverge as they are drawn to different kinds of dealers, collectors, enthusiasts, conversations and institutions. 

Usually these different groups ignore each other but every now and then - hold on to your hats - it's TASTE WARS.

Ok, it might not be all-out war, but the Auckland City-sponsored outing of the James Wallace collection at the Pah Homestead certainly looks like the beginnings of a skirmish with the Auckland Art Gallery. 

On one side you have Wallace whose collection is relentlessly shaped by his personal attraction to each individual item and an exhibition display style (very close together, often up near the ceiling, letting the visual clashes fall where they may) that goes against the very grain of museum display aesthetics. The Wallace style is not about showing art to its best advantage so much as showing art. On the other side, well most of you know how the AAG does exhibitions. The selection of works considered worth showing also comes from two very different world views, although there are of course some overlaps.

How did James Wallace end up with his own Public Art Gallery dedicated to his taste and his standards? It seems that when Mayor Banks wanted to put a new theatre into Auckland on Queen Street, the space he badly wanted was already owned by, you got it, James Wallace. He was showing parts of his collection there, so a swap was brokered including a big cash input from Wallace. The location of his collection is now in the newly renovated Pah Homestead, and it was the Mayor himself who opened the first exhibition. Well the Banks factor drove off the cliff on Saturday but you can bet the Wallace people still feel they are on course to become stiff opposition to the AAG, the Auckland City Council web site describes it as, “one of the country’s finest collections of contemporary New Zealand art”. With parking, free entry and without the AAG's public obligations and large staff, it is certainly a very attractive proposition for some of Auckland’s art audiences. 

Will one man’s passion win over institutional convention? The two galleries will no doubt say in public that there is room for both of them, but you can feel it in the air - TASTE WARS.
Image: Peter Madden gets the Wallace treatment

Friday, October 08, 2010

Winning the Walters

Vicente Todolí, the judge of the Walters Prize has just announced in Auckland that this year's winner is  Dan Arps.

LATER: Todoli praised each of the finalists as capable of being the winner and gave a smart summary of each one's work. In awarding the prize to Dan he said his work was like seeing 80 worlds in one day. Arps' acceptance speech started with an understandable, "Holy shit!" You can still catch the Arps/Budd Estate exhibition at Michael Lett and Arps has another outing coming up soon at Artspace.

You can read Vincente Toldi's comments on Dan Arps and the others work here on the Auckland Art Gallery blog Outpost.

A rose is a rose is a rose

 Vodafone TV ad snatches the signature style of Australian artist Rose Nolan a regular exhibitor in New Zealand

Prize fight

One of the results for the artist who wins the Walters Prize tonight is a fair chance of getting a decent sized work into the Auckland Art Gallery’s collection. That makes sense, as until this year anyway, most of the artists in the final were pretty well established in their careers. This time it has fallen on younger artists to crowd the podium and the potential for an under 30 year old to go away with the cash and trip to the US. Still it is hard to imagine the AAG or any other public art gallery in NZ feeling equivocal over introducing any of the four Walters Prize finalists into their collections. 

It wasn’t always so. Exactly 50 years ago Colin McCahon was announced joint winner of the first Hays Prize in Christchurch. Peter Tomory, Director of the Auckland City Art Gallery along with John Simpson and Russell Clark, lecturers at the Ilam Art School, were the judges (a mistake only made once, given the consequent fuss - the following year, like the Walters Prize, Hays roped in an overseas judge who promptly gave the prize to Peter McIntyre and Stewart Maclennan – which caused its own upset in its own way) In 1960, in a massive compromise the judges split the prize three ways - one for each judge? (It certainly doesn’t take a giant leap of the imagination to put Tomory to McCahon, Simpson to Francis Jones’s lame painting of a gold dredge and Clark with Julia Royd’s Englishified Composition). 

The following year, the Christchurch City Council declined the offered donation of all three paintings by Hays, the prize sponsors, to the Robert McDougal Art Gallery. McCahon’s painting, Painting, eventually ended up in the Fletcher Trust Collection in Auckland.

SOME ADDITIONAL HORSE'S MOUTH STUFF: We will be at the Walters Prize dinner tonight and will post the winner's name here on OTN as soon as it is announced. It starts at  7pm so let's say, at a guess, around 9pm-ish.

Thursday, October 07, 2010


We tend to have rather a Guinness Book of Records mentality when it comes to New York - Len Lye first to have work collected by MoMA, Billy Apple first to show with Andy Warhol, Max Gimblett first to have a painting shown in the Guggenheim. Having said that, as firsts go, Peter Stichbury being featured in the New Yorker’s 20 September issue is right up there. His exhibition at the Tracy Williams gallery is trumpeted in a large (two columns by 13.5 centimetre) editorial pic of his painting Estelle 5 in the middle of the gallery listings and reviews section and review here on their web page.

Collecting dust

We posted a while back on Michael Stevenson's mission to find the location of the gallery where Tony Shafrazi based himself in Teheran back in the 1970s. Shafrazi's plan was to sell high-end US art to the Shah of Iran and it worked, but only briefly as it was hidden away in Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art’s stores after the Shah’s fall from grace. 

Last year a catalogue of the collection was finally published. It is an unusual slice through twentieth century art. Most of the works were purchased under the patronage of the Shah and his wife Empress Farah between 1977 and 1979 and it turned out this was a good time (recession) for picking up cheapish international art. The collection includes some impressive works and their inaccessibility for 25 or so years has made for interesting gaps in the story of the exhibiting and publishing of contemporary US art.

As you will see from the image with our first post, unusual among the Warhols in the Shah's collection are eight large portraits of Mao. Takes one to know one.

Image: The catalogue and the Shah. Thanks R

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Branded: Jeffrey Harris

The moment when artists become brands


Before you start throwing your weight around you need to have a realistic understanding of how much people care. That’s what Tate Modern in London discovered when it tried to get photographers to sign an agreement that any images they took of the Turner Prize installations would not be used to illustrate negative stories about the gallery or the award. You know the kind of thing: Tracey Emin’s unmade bed installation next to a pic and story offering some punter’s equally disheveled kip with an offer to sell at half the price. The problem the Tate ran up against was that quite of few of the photographers said, ok, fine they wouldn’t bother to photograph the exhibition at all. Whoops. Tate Modern backed down. Not much chance of the Auckland Art Gallery being that high handed. It’s hard enough to get any media interest at all without putting up obstacles. If you want to know how high the New Zealand media put our own Turner Prize on their agenda, try putting ‘Walters Prize Auckland’ into Google News. One hit.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Advice to collectors

"Something that’s pretty and beautiful is probably the worst thing that you could say today in contemporary art about something, unless it’s so pretty it’s nauseating."
American film director and art collector John Waters. You can watch him spin out more of his contentious ideas on art here.

There were two in the bed and the little one said…

Ireland’s decision to appoint a commercial art gallery dealer as its commissioner for the Venice Biennale followed by his decision to chose an artist from his own gallery, highlights again the ethical challenges of close relationships between commercially driven art dealers and publicly funded institutions. Jenny Harper, director of the Christchurch Art Gallery, is perfectly clear where the chips fall. As she told The Art Newspaper in its September issue, “It is expensive and, as we know in New Zealand, often difficult for smaller countries to present at Venice. Clearly many parties – public, private and commercial – need to support a given artist, but such a blurring of the lines in this government-to-government invitation is disappointing. I believe the commissioner should be independent of all funding parties and am unimpressed with Ireland’s decision in this case.” 

Other commentators do not draw such a hard line suggesting that the blurring of boundaries between dealers and public art museums is well advanced and we should just get used to it. That seams to be the way we are going here in New Zealand where such blurring can be seen in close, long-term relationships between public institutions and commercial dealers, to the benefit of both.

Monday, October 04, 2010


The organisers of Massey University's One Day Sculpture event will be pleased to see Roman Ondak's performance Good feeling in good times illustrated in the latest of the Phaidon Cream series, Creamier. Let's hope the Wellington City Council is also pleased to see its classically Stalinist building featured.