Friday, December 31, 2010

Out and about

Sponsors and funders of art book often worry about international distribution (a strange thing to fret over in a digital age, but there you go). Anyway everyone can relax so far as LA is concerned. These New Zealand published art books were sighted on the shelves at MOCA, LACMA, the Hammer Museum and Hennessey + Ingalls.

Field report

Even after staring at the same book cover for weeks (slow reader), nothing prepares you for rounding a corner and seeing the real thing. The jacket designer for Zola’s The Earth selected a detail from Millet’s Man with a hoe that in 1980 (when this edition was published) was still in private hands. Now, thanks to the deepest collecting pockets in the world, it is part of the Getty collection in LA. 

While the book cover’s slightly blurred figure captures the crushing inevitability of a peasant’s life, the original painting places him in a far wider landscape: rich farmland behind, stones and hard labour out front. Zola and Millet, both struggling to drag reality from the cloying embrace of romanticism.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


Thinking about Rohan Wealleans

A standard lamp

If you live in Wellington you know the Governor General is in residence if the flag is flying over Government House. It’s the same for the Queen and her various palaces. The rest of us have to leave the porch light on or rely on the blue glow of the TV through a window to signal we're home. 

If you want to know if artist Piero Golia is in LA simply drive down Sunset to the West Hollywood Standard Hotel. On the roof Neopolitan Goplia has erected a large lamp that is only turned on when he is in the city. The work is called Luminous Sphere. How often will the lamp shine? Golia, according to collaborating architect Peter Zellner, "travels a lot to Europe but he's here a few weeks a month on and off."
Images: Top, Luminous Sphere off. Bottom, Luminous Sphere on (simulation only)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Denis Dutton 1944 - 2010

There was never any point in meeting Denis Dutton on the street if you were in a hurry. He was a great storyteller, acerbic wit and passionate interrogator of ideas. Dutton was an old school academic who believed that tenure was a privilege and used its protection to speak without fear or favour. It was Dutton who was one of the lamentably few voices of authority that warned against the radical re-jigging of museum goals and culture undertaken by Te Papa. Dutton accurately predicted that this would lead to an end game of nostalgia and feel-good promotion. He was also an enthusiastic and powerful early supporter of the internet creating Arts & Letters Daily to open up a new world of cultural and intellectual experience. That’s a big hole you left behind Denis Dutton, you and that voice of yours will be missed.

A general lack of direction

If you drive in LA and don’t have GPS (and even if you do), you'd better know how to read maps and - if you’re on the freeway - how to read them fast. LA is big and it's tough on navigators. Just because you’re outside 2015 Fairfax don’t mean diddly squat whatever the number says, if you are in South Fairfax instead of North. 

When gallerist and artist Giovanni Intra was here in the late nineties we didn’t need maps. Giovanni seemed to know every square inch of the place. When he died Starkwhite arranged a small exhibition of work by some friends. Included was a drawing by LA artist Eric Wesley of a hand with the palm lines named for some of the streets of LA. Maybe we should have brought it with us as we constantly found ourselves having to draw our own sketch maps to get us from one part of the city to another. GPS is great, but strangely enough although you always know where you are going with GPS you never seem to know where you actually are.

All this was brought to mind by coming across the book From Here to There by Kris Harzinski. It's a collection of hand-drawn maps from the Hand Drawn Map Association. Handy.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


While art museums have become more risk averse, it is unusual for them to buckle under pressure once the decision to exhibit an artwork has been made. Take for instance the response of Cheryl Sotheran, then Chief Executive of Te Papa, back in 1998 when the religious right attacked the museum for exhibiting a work by Tania Kovat of a small statue of the Virgin Mary inside a latex condom. Sotheran allowed the protests outside the museum to continue, she fronted up to the media and she advocated for the work as relevant and significant art.

In contrast there has been a recent example of a major cave-in by a prestigious American museum. The National Portrait Gallery in Washington (one of the Smithsonian museums) removed the video A Fire in my Belly by artist and AIDs activist David Wojnarowicz from Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture after complaints from a group calling itself the Catholic League.

The response from most US museums has been public outrage. The Andy Warhol Foundation threatened to withdraw funding for Smithsonian activities and a number of museums decided to show A Fire in my Belly in protest. The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles was one of them. 

Watching the 20 minute video, it is hard to understand how a couple of brief sequences (11 seconds in total) of ants crawling over a crucifix were noticed in the torrent of Mexican religious and street imagery of skeletons, cock fights, bull fights and full-on wrestling matches, let alone caused offence. Still, the removal of the work in one place amidst a major media storm has allowed thousands more people like us to see a work that would never have had such exposure without the attention of the censors.

Image: The Wojnarowicz film on view at the Hammer. You can view A Fire in my Belly yourself here.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Half empty

As a progressive parent how often have you thought your child should have the opportunity to make large glass art works in the style of Dale Chihuly? More than once perhaps. And, when the thought struck, wouldn’t you have been enchanted to come across the Chihuly Art Kit, ‘an interactive story based on the life of Dale Chihuly’? The bright orange pack features an image of the eye-patched-one crouching among some of his less extravagant glass pieces staring straight into the camera. 

Would you buy a Chihuly Art Kit from this man? Sure you would. But you’d be in for bitter disappointment if you thought that your kid was going to drum up a glass vase or two as a result. The kit actually contains some paint brushes, a couple of tubes of paint, a watercolour set and paper. Whoops. It’s just Kindy in a canvas bag.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

It’s a wrap

It’s not really art (although it could be, in the right hands) and it doesn’t have a lot to do with Christmas (Gold, Frankincense and Spud) but we are in LA and this is an individually wrapped potato as sold in the local supermarket. 

Finally, for all of you who logged on to OTN today, a very happy Christmas.
Image: wrapped potato left, front. Right, verso

Friday, December 24, 2010


Like two divas on the red carpet Te Papa and the Auckland Art Gallery have stepped out wearing the same beachware Christmas card by Brake of Auckland.

Images; Top Te Papa’s Christmas card. Bottom Auckland Art Gallery’s Christmas card… or was that the other way round. (Up to you to guess who thought Brake could be improved on and cropped the image). Thanks B, forever grateful

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Next magazine channels, but doesn’t quite get Barbara Kruger

Lookalike: John Baldessari

There are three artists that encapsulate the LA experience for us Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari and Paul McCarthy. Put that down for the cool, the humour and the general weirdness. So imagine our surprise when we checked out the news in NZ last night to find a Baldessari lookalike on the front page of the New Zealand Herald's web version. In this case it was a couple of people up on court charges. 

The issues around identity have always fascinated artists. Mike Stevenson did a series of imagined court portraits in the style of those odd drawings that are still allowed in courts when they don’t allow photography (and if that doesn’t say something about a general lack of faith in the ability of artists to create likenesses what does?). We're also reminded of those strange images Seraphine Pick created with figures, their heads covered over with paper sacks. 

Baldessari’s famous images of found photographs with the heads covered with coloured stickers were occasioned by a rather different impulse. Balsessari, said, “They were of local dignitaries, the mayor, the fire chief, guys shaking hands and smiling at the camera. I figured they had this hold on me. Here I am isolated in my studio, and they’re out making decisions about my life, and I’m not participating in it. I was using some price stickers for another project, and I pulled out the photographs and covered their faces. I felt a great flood of relief. It leveled the playing field between them and me.”

With the ongoing tension between the media and the courts over name suppression and the publics right to know it hard not to look for clues when a news outlet chooses to reach back for the sticker solution rather than the more usual Photoshop blur or pixalisation.
Images: Top, image of couple with name suppression appearing in court. Bottom, John Baldessari Stonehenge (With Two Persons) Orange

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Set up

If you were an artist who used replication of architectural detail as part of your sculptural lexicon, where would you choose to live if you were in Los Angeles? It’s a no brainer, on a movie set. And that’s what Fiona Connor did. Her house is tucked into a classic (well Hollywood classic) barn. Half close your eyes and you could be in deepest Kentucky. Her neighbour Steve claimed the barn and his house next door were part of the set for The Virginian, a sixties TV Western that ran for nearly 250 episodes. 

Fiona Connor, who was one of this year’s four Walters Prize finalists, is studying at CalArts. This art school was started by Walt Disney in 1961 (a year before The Virginian first got airtime) and has grown into an important part of the LA surge of artists, dealers and museums.

Artists associated with CalArts have included Sam Durant (who showed at the Govett-Brewster in 2003), Tony Oursler (who had a major exhibition at the City Gallery) and Mike Kelley. Over the years the faculty has included some amazing people including John Baldessari, Judy Chicago, Roy Lichtenstein, Barbara Kruger (who showed at the National Art Gallery in the eighties) and OTN favourite Paul McCarthy. 

We got to walk the corridors but without the students who had all left for the holidays the day before, it felt like the set for a large abandoned hospital. We did get into a couple of facilities though and - no big surprise - found some standard sets used by the film students. The best one had been scrounged from that classic movie Soul Man

Images: Top to bottom, Fiona's barn, The Virginian, set pieces from Soul Man at CalArts, walking the CalArts corridors.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The bucks stop here

The dramatic decision and equally dramatic undecision to support participation in the new Singapore Art fair, Art Stage 1 in January 12-16 2011, brings up the question of the potential of Asia as a market for NZ art.

It is very hard to find out what has already been sold in Asian Art Fairs by the NZ dealers who have participated in them. We understand that a large work by John Reynolds was sold at one fair but that it came back home to a New Zealand buyer. This practice of New Zealanders purchasing work at international fairs to ship back home is not uncommon.

Director and chief promoter of Art Stage Singapore, Lorenzo Rudolf, has no doubt who is going to buy the fair's wares, “Hong Kong and Singapore are the two big financial places in Asia. But if you analyse a bit closer, you realise Hong Kong is the place of trading, of investment banking while Singapore is the place of private banking. In an art market, private wealth is what goes into the art.”

If Rudolf is right and the art world is going to follow the money as it did from Paris to New York to Asia (most probably China), think about what happens when the centre shifts. One key effect is that the art made at the centre wins. That was true in Paris (where not even British art just across the channel got a look in) and it was true in New York where the fame and value of American art eclipsed that of Europe and everyone else. Based on this idea then, we can probably expect the Asian art market and Asian Art Fairs to become increasingly devoted to Asian art. We suspect there won't be a clamour for work in the Western tradition from New Zealand.

The likely outcome is multiple art centres but with increasing independence from both Europe and North America shown in Asia. Globalisation hasn't turned out quite the way we expected in economics or politics, so would it in art? The dream of a connected world is turning out in the 21st century to be a reality with more restrictions on borders and fewer opportunities to live in a country you weren't born in. With the local in Asia growing in vitality and confidence, maybe our arts industries need to figure out how realistic it is to believe that NZ will have a competitive advantage automatically succeed in that arena. There's geography and then, there's culture.
Image: Merlin Carpenter's painting Die Collector Scum hanging at an art fair

Monday, December 20, 2010

In Henderson

Thinking about Kate Newby

Images: Top Kate Newby, Crawl out your window, 2010 installation view: Gesellschaft für aktuelle Kunst GAK, Bremen photo: Peter Podkowik. Bottom, deepest Henderson

Now it’s personal

10 reasons Creative New Zealand should fund Artspace

Choice (group show) 1990
Big Bang Theory (Julian Dashper) 1993
Action Replay (group show) 1998
Ten Guitars (Michael Parekowhai) 1999
Doomed, Doomed, All Doomed (Francis Upritchard) 2005
Ack (Peter Robinson) 2006
You are here (group show)2008
the fundamental practice - reorder, regroup, restore (et al) 2007
Sculpting in Time (Roman Signer) 2008
A plane for behaviour (Alicia Frankovich) 2009

And this from memory, our personal preferences, and the hit and miss experience of occasional Wellington visitors to Auckland.

The current CNZ funding for Artspace is $320,000 and that funding remains for 2011.

You can find a list of the nine other limping impalas who have been asked to ‘provide further information’ to CNZ before they are reconsidered for Art Leadership Investment funding here. We have included their currently approved funding for 2011 to give you an idea where the visual arts stand.

Images: Top to bottom, left to right, Doomed, Doomed, All Doomed (Francis Upritchard) 2005, the fundamental practice - reorder, regroup, restore (et al) 2007, You are here (Fiona Connor’s work), A plane for behaviour (Alicia Frankovitch) 2009

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Images: Top, Joanne Sullivan-Gessler’s bronze sculpture of Phar Lap (detail) as published in North & South and below, Jack Woltz wakes up with his favourite horse Khartoum (detail) in The Godfather.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Art in the workplace

Art at work in the foyers of the world

Where in the world is Derek Cowie?

If you want a hiding to nowhere, try getting into the young-artists-who-will-be-giants game. Of course it is irresistible and was once one of the more interesting, higher-risk games played by curators of public institutions. The group show of young artists was a staple format that put out curatorial opinions of where we were headed, or at least where the curators thought where the culture was off to. But for curators, as with most everybody else, predicting the future is not easy.

In the eighties if you were talking about artists who were likely to have long and important careers in New Zealand, the name Derek Cowie would certainly have popped up. His work was strange and provocative with its uneasy combination of punk attitude and surrealism played out in a jarring colour palette. Cowie was also championed by Robert Leonard, one of the leading curators of that time. Leonard always had a keen eye for the transgressive, and in eighties NZ, that was Derek Cowie. He was everywhere and matched his art with a super-charged personality and high style. Derek and his partner at the time Liz were not easily forgotten. And then he vanished.

Some years later, and quite unexpectedly, a strange exhibition (painted on overalls from memory) appeared at the Peter McLeavey gallery. It had been sent from London where Cowie was now living and working as a scenic painter for Convent Garden. He had also been involved in the interior design of Peter Gordon’s Sugar Club when it moved from Wellington to London in the eighties. 

...and found:
More recently Derek Cowie has been involved in scenic painting for films and television including the series Little Dorrit which won the art department an Emmy for art direction. He lives and works in London.

Image: Derek Cowie’s We forget we have two nostrils is available for sale here on Trade Me, auction closes 6 December

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Branded: W D Hammond

The moment when artists become brands

And then there was one

Creative New Zealand is going through some important changes. As we have mentioned before, the cake will stay the same but more and thinner slices are needed to cover new ground. To do this CNZ renamed the programme Arts Leadership Investment and asked who wanted to play. Thirty-nine existing CNZ clients wanted to stay in that funding relationship with CNZ and so ‘expressed interest.’ We now learn that just 22 of the 39 got in under the bar.

And the winners are:

Performing Arts
7 x Theatre
4 x Music
3 x Dance
2 x Festivals
1 x Pacific
2 x Maori

Visual Arts
1 x Contemporary art (the Physics Room)
1 x Craft (Objectspace)

... plus the NZ Book Council in a world of its own

As so often happens in cases like this, an oh-my-god-you-were-just-so-close-to-winning list was also published. Those 10 organisations were asked to ‘provide further information before a decision is made on whether they will be confirmed’. That's the list that Auckland's Artspace is on. 

Organisations like Artspace and Downstage (another of the tentative ten) will have reports requested by CNZ going back for years filling CNZ's cupboards and filing cabinets. Being asked yet again for ‘further information’ must be pretty galling. What information could there possibly be about these long term clients that CNZ doesn't already know?

The fate of the ten limping impalas is likely to rest on CNZ's evaluation of public response - how many people really care one way or the other whether or not the axe falls? As far as we can see, the only thing that will save Artspace is enough people standing up and convincing CNZ that killing it would be more trouble than it’s worth.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Go fish

“We’re a history museum, not an art museum. It’s a picture of a fish.”
Gregory J. Kleiber treasurer and past president of the Philadelphia History Museum explaining why they put a Raphaelle Peale still life from their collection on the auction block

Image: a fish posing for a painting

Pure fabrication

Recently we’ve been spending some time visiting a foundry that specialises in making art works. The owner of the foundry has been through art school and, apart from his expertise with some sort of plaster-like substance, wax and metal (which seem to be the big three of the casting process), he and his team also have the same sort of intuitive approach to materials you see with artists. It’s very impressive.

It reminded us again of the army of makers that contributes to many art works. We’ve already posted on the marble carvers used by artists like Jeff Koons and the Auckland firm that fabricated the gigantic Anish Kapoor on Alan Gibbs' sculpture park The Farm.

Now via a great article in The Paris Review we have discovered Lippincott Inc, fabricators of super-sized sculptures in metal including Barnett Newman’s Broken Obelisk that exercised us so much when we were in Berlin. Founded in 1966, Lippincott Inc's heyday was in the late sixties and seventies when, in addition to working with Barnett Newman, it fabricated Claes Oldenburg's mega-mitt Standing Mitt with Ball and works by Louise Nevelson, Ellsworth Kelly and Robert Indiana as well as almost 100 others. Lippincott Inc helped change the scale and ambition of contemporary American sculpture. As the article's author Jonathan Lippincott. (yes, he’s the son of the founder) says of Lippincott Inc, "It got bigger, it moved outdoors, it asserted itself as a modern form of public monument."

Images: Lippincott Inc at work installing Barnett Newman’s Broken Obelisk (1969) top and bottom, rolling the metal for Oldenburg’s Standing Mitt and Ball (1973). Photographs from The Paris Review via Jonathan Lippincott Large Scale: Fabricating Sculpture in the 1960s and 1970s

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Heavy metal site up and running

Creative New Zealand has redesigned the site for New Zealand’s presence at the Venice Biennale. You can check it out here and read about Michael Parekowhai’s project On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer. It will be open to the public from 4 June - 27 November 2011.

Image: Bronze ingots-in-waiting for Michael Parekowhai’s On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer

Eat, drink and be careful

Some things - like the opening speeches at art openings - never change. Openings have followed exactly the same format since forever, but we were reminded of one major change in social functions at art museums by photographs of the Colin McCahon Survey exhibition opening at the Auckland City Art Gallery in 1972. 

Apart from a couple of guys leaning against the works during the speeches (that’s still alive and well) it was a bit of a jolt to see people smoking at the opening, in the gallery, and next to the art. Indeed another photograph of the earlier exhibition Painting from the Pacific of 1961 revealed ceramic urns dotted around the floor. Turns out they were for cigarette butts and we're told were made by Len Castle (Hamish Keith has since told us they were made by Barry Brickell - so sorry to both potters for that mistake) on the request of the ACAG. They were no doubt fed up with people slipping fag ends into cavities in sculptures and behind frames.

For a long time eating, drinking and smoking were completely prohibited in areas displaying art works. Made sense. Smoke does the Rembrandt thing with paintings, finger food means greasy fingers and wine is famously acidic.

Now standards are shifting again as indicated by the City Gallery’s “City Gallery Christmas Package” promoted on its web site (you can download the pdf here). Under a photograph of people eating and drinking right next to a large Shane Cotton painting, the gallery tells us, ‘The Foyer/Hancock Gallery is a dramatic venue for Wellington, with dining capacity for 140 guests and cocktail parties easily accommodating 250’ complete with ‘food service, beverage package and background music.” 

And to drink? Turns out white wine and fruit juice are ok but, ‘Due to the protection of artworks red wine is not permitted.’ Guess that means a no to the borscht as well.

Image: Len Castle butt bowls, Auckland City Art Gallery 1962

Monday, December 13, 2010


(Nice one, thanks H)

Your tax dollar at work

The latest Creative NZ grants of $2,116,207 have been announced. They go something like this:

42.8% Performing Arts
10.7% Maori Performing Arts
5.7% Pacific Performing Arts

59.2% Total Performing Arts

14.8% Visual Arts
4.2% Maori Carving
3.4% Maori Visual Art
3.5% Craft
1.6% Pacific Visual Art

27.5% Total Visual Arts
Note: 57% via institutions and projects and 43% direct to artists

oh, and...
12.3% Total Literature

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Art is where you find it

Now that everyone works on screens and they don’t do drawing at art school any more, what happened to all the pencils? Looks like some of them ended up as sculpture rats in the studio of Brazilian born, Connecticut based, Dalton Ghetti. More here on Kidrobot.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Nokia does Simon Denny

Trivial pursuits

“This exhibition has been curated by one of Europe’s finest and most respected art institutions, the Städel Museum in Frankfurt, Germany.”
Te Papa media release for the European Masters exhibition

Images: From the Te Papa Flickr file “Another Masterpiece!” a Te Papa paint-by-numbers promotion of the European Masters exhibition at an Auckland Food Fair.

Thursday, December 09, 2010


A well-known artist who can remain anonymous (ok, it was Julian Dashper) once told us this joke, “What's brown and sounds like a bell?" The answer was Dung! How we laughed. But that might also be the sound if you dropped Chinese artist Zhu Cheng’s latest work. This replica of the Venus de Milo is made entirely out of Panda droppings. Undropped, it was enough to persuade a prominent Swiss collector to part with $62,000 and push the work into the pantheon of high value art in this genre.

Spam: Sales Department

reckless guesswork, insinuations and possible inventions that have turned up in otn's email: in london, billy apple has had a work purchased by the tate (we understand it is young contemporaries 1962 and recently exhibited at the mayor gallery) • meanwhile across the atlantic simon denny has sold work to über collectors don and mera rubell at the miami art fair (the rubells collection is housed in miami and features artists as diverse as paul mccarthy, cindy sherman and luc tuymans) • any missing details, changes to outright lies, indignant denials or embellishments gratefully received and have been known to be lavishly rewarded.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The best of the boosters

"Gallery director Kathlene Fogarty said it was hard to put a value on the collection. 'It's immeasurable, really. The portraits would never be sold, but their price on the international market would be millions of dollars', she said."
Dominion Post 17 March 2010
“The portraits would never be sold, but their price on the international market would be millions of dollars”
Dominion Post 4 December 2010

Marti Friedlander’s dealer and months later the Dominion Post argues that black and white Friedlander photographs of women wearing moko would sell for around $42,500 each overseas or $36,500 more than the Friedlander portrait of Ralph Hotere sold at auction this year.

Art films

Something we have featured over the years on OTN has been artists as the subject matter of in feature films and art works as props and dressing for them (Search tag ART IN THE MOVIES). That has drawn us, like lemmings to a cliff, to look at movies directed by artists. New Zealand’s primo example is Leon Narbey who was a practising artist (he created Real Time the visual extravaganza that was the Govett-Brewster's opening exhibition in 1970) before he directed a number of feature films including Illustrious Energy as well as being the cinematographer on many more.

Looking beyond NZ it turns out that there are a number of artists who have had a turn in the director’s chair. Many of the movies (well the ones we could come up with) were made comparatively recently. So we have made recent history (Warhol and beyond) the catchment pool and let earlier artist-directors like Jean Cocteau and his movie The Blood of a Poet from 1930 fall away in the wake. 

It's tricky to work out when in fact Warhol made his first feature. Was it the six hour long Sleep or do you hang out for the 70 minute long Harlot, his first production with synchronous sound? We opted for Chelsea Girls shot in 1966, even if Paul Morrissey did get to share the director’s credits. 

Others on our list so far are:
Peter Greenaway The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982)
David Salle Search and Destroy (1995)
Julian Schnabel Basquiat (1996)
Cindy Sherman Office Killer (1997)
Douglas Gordon Zidane (2006)
Steve McQueen Hunger (2008)
Sam Taylor-Wood Nowhere Boy (2009)
Shirin Neshat Women Without Men (2009)
Banksy Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

Send it your nominations and we will add them to the list

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


As Auckland already has one Serra (and a great one at that) it probably doesn’t need a copycat doubling up as a chimney as well. Architects plan a 25m-high "urban sculpture" of thick, rusted steel "reminiscent of spear-like leaves" to act as a huge ventilation shaft for the Waterview tunnel. Thanks AG

Images: Top the proposed Waterview 'Serra'. Bottom left Richard Serra's Carnegie at the Carnegie Institute of Art in Pittsburgh and right Serra's Fulcrum in Broadgate, London

Other OTN stories on Richard Serra:

One hundred million dollars...

The $100 million it is proposed will be needed to build a new National Art Gallery to sit alongside Te Papa would:

• Purchase 49 paintings of the half-clothed Poedua by John Webber

• Fall $21 million short of building the new Auckland Art Gallery

• Pay for 133 harbour side homes for the National Portrait Galleries

• Secure the winning bid for 174.5 portraits by C F Goldie from Dame Kiri Te Kanawa’s collection at auction

• Be only around $9 million shy of matching all the funding Government has spent on museum and gallery building projects this century
(our independent OTN research team have conveniently posted a rough listing here on OTN Stuff)

• Help CNZ fund the NBR New Zealand Opera for 43.5 years

• Give you entry to Te Papa’s European Masters exhibition 4.5 million times

• Pay for all Creative NZ’s contestable funding for 6 years

• Allow you to commission three Damien Hirst diamond skulls and still have $300,000 change in your pocket

• Send artists to represent NZ at every Venice Biennale until the year 2200

Monday, December 06, 2010

Quick change artists

As of now (well about an hour ago) The New Dowse has changed its name to (wait for it) The Dowse Art Museum, but you can call them The Dowse if you like.

Thanks Mum

“… Andy, oh I’m so glad I’m his mother. He’s great. That I did that, you know that, that’s really a creation don’t you think it’s a creation to produce Andy Warhol.”
Andy Warhol’s mother Julia Warhola 1972


In May last year we posted on a wacky sculpture by Jim Sanborn sited in the grounds of CIA’s HQ in Langley. For 20 years Sanborn has patiently waited for ace code crackers to reveal the secret message he cut into the sculpture’s metal sheet. (If you want to see how much a sculpture can exercise minds try working your way through this Kryptos sculpture fan site). Ok, the crackers have worked out three of the puzzles but the forth has eluded even the best of them although they keep trying. 

Indeed Sanborn got so exasperated by the many, many ‘er-if-you-could-give-me-just-a-small clue’ cracker calls he set up a website to field enquiries (a popular CIA phrase). Don’t drop everything and rush over there though because to gain entry you have to enter the first 10 letters you have already decoded of the 97 letter puzzle. Only then will Sanborn even look at your question.

If all this makes you think Jim Sanborn is the worst kind of sculptor grump, think again. In the pages of last Saturday’s New York Times he generously revealed six letters from the sculpture’s final passage. The 64th through to 69th characters in the final series on the sculpture read NYPVTT. When deciphered, they read BERLIN. So that makes it a lot easier.

Saturday, December 04, 2010


“It was quite a modest contribution, of a few million.”

Director of the Tate Nicholas Serota describing a donation to the Gallery's planned new wing by the Sultan of Oman

Friday, December 03, 2010

Sign of the times

Party time at a dealer gallery

End game

People who don’t go for contemporary art often use the “you could take a dump in the middle of a gallery and they'd call it art” line. And fair enough, many artists have indeed used human waste to shine some light into the darker limits of experience. Some have put feces into the foreground (Andres Serrano) and some into the background (Gilbert and George) of their work.

As we’ve pointed out before, an investment in Piero Manzoni’s bowel movements would have got a better return than laying out the same money on gold. Exposing the same territory Martin Creed caused a few gasps at Scape in Christchurch in 2006 when he showed his film of young people vomiting, or attempting to vomit, onto the clean white floors of a video studio. At the beginning, or may be it was at the end of that presentation, Creed promised another work featuring more bodily excretions, this time from the rear. And so his Work 600.

Imagine then our surprise (and mild disgust) to find that even here the Impressionists had been there and done that in the person of Toulouse-Lautrec. Photographs of him relieving himself were taken by Parisian art dealer Maurice Joyant on the beach at Le Crotoy, Picardie and printed as postcards.

Images: left, Toulouse-Lautrec photographed in action by Maurice Joyant, right, Martin Creed Work 600

Thursday, December 02, 2010


The institution formally known as the Manawatu Art Gallery

Blackie’s hoofed it

Where do you go to read about animals, art, art theft and Billy Apple? Here on OTN. In this tale the perfect OTN storm takes place at the Kingsland end of New North Road where Horseland’s Chevalier store has been for around 30 years. The reason you knew Chevalier was in the horse business (apart from the name) was the presence of a horse standing on the top of the store's canopy three meters above the footpath. Not a real horse though, one of those fiberglass ones, a horse sculpture. 

These days finding Chevalier is not so easy as the horse - all 75 kg of it - has been nicked. The story has played out in the Auckland City Harbour News (front page six column header, full colur photo, above the fold etc) which tells us that the horse (painted black in 2001 and sensibly named Blackie) has not turned up. 

The Billy Apple angle? Blackie’s representative, store manager Mark Corner, was, “Flabbergasted… Mr Apple used the horse as inspiration when designing the company’s logo several years ago. It’s one of the icons of Kingsland. It’s sad to lose it.” 

Crimestoppers hotline: 0800-555-111

Image: The ghost of Blackie lives on in Billy Apple’s logo for Chevalier.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Branded: Simon Denny

The moment when artists become brands

Dead ends

We read somewhere the other day that Andy Warhol was buried wearing dark glasses and one of his silver wigs. The wig makes some kind of sense, but dark glasses in a closed coffin seems rather strange. Still, it's not as strange as the burial of another famous American artist, Ed Kienholz. Art critic Robert Hughes described his departure like this.

"His corpulent, embalmed body was wedged into the front seat of a brown 1940 Packard coupe. There was a dollar and a deck of cards in his pocket, a bottle of 1931 Chianti beside him, and the ashes of his dog Smash in the trunk. He was set for the Afterlife. To the whine of bagpipes, the Packard, steered by his widow Nancy Reddin Kienholz, rolled like a funeral barge into the big hole: the most Egyptian funeral ever held in the American West.”

You can see the event unfold on the DVD The Cool School: How LA learned to love modern art from Arthouse Films.
Images: The Packard as coffin