Saturday, August 31, 2013

We’re toast

It’s true OTN has never baulked at art made on the edges. Over the years we have featured animals, savants, LEGOISTS and all kinds of alternate materials. But when three (thanks G, L and R … we think) send in Ida Frosk’s art toast efforts we get the feeling we’re drifting off brand.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Spot that koru No.4

Answer here on OTN Stuff

Spot on

Now you can have Damien by your side every waking hour. The new free iPhone app Dots lets you muck around with Hirst-like colour combos and, you guessed it, join the dots. The Hirst lookalike has been a hit on the app store with a million copies downloaded in its first week out in the world. The game itself is Tetris meets um…join the dots. Any dots joined at right angles vanish and your score goes up.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

If you dip into Instagram for even a nano second you will know all about the art of painted nails. But how about this bit of Photoshop art of painted nail art about art. Thursday. Nails. You know you want to.


One change we’ve seen creeping into the dealer system in NZ is price lists without prices. In big city galleries in the US and the UK it would not only be most unusual to find the prices displayed but you'd be bloody lucky to get one of the assistants (assuming you could get them to talk to you at all) to tell you any prices at all unless you were ‘known to the gallery.’

This is one of the reasons of course why art fairs have become so popular internationally. Collectors and particularly the art interested public (who previously had no chance of knowing what cost what) can now see the price of almost anything thanks to the unashamed competitive commercialism of the art fair culture.

In New Zealand transparency of pricing, in the primary dealer market anyway, has been the rule rather than the exception. Those sheets on the wall or in plastic folders almost always included the prices although of course deals have always been commonplace and serious collectors, like major buyers anywhere in the world, expect to be able to negotiate a bit of a haircut on the sticker price. But international practice may be taking hold here. Increasingly the prices don't seem to be easily available. From what we can see the Commerce Commission allows that “businesses are not obliged to display prices” but does encourage “businesses to price goods clearly.” Go figure...if you can find them.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Branded: Andrew Beck

The moment when artists become brands

Centre of attention

You know it’s happening but it's still a shock to see half of the Govett-Brewster demolshed along with the buildings that used to stand beside it. The ground area left behind is huge and leaves the old G-B building looking rather forlorn. Over the next two years (the Centre is slated to open in 2015) this chunk of land will become the new Len Lye Centre. It will be New Zealand’s first single-artist institution and will sit alongside the G-B sharing some exhibition space. It’s a big gamble for New Plymouth and to match it the New Plymouth City Council will pay the new director up to $122,279 a year.

The investment in the Len Lye Centre is based on the assumption that the new museum will attract both the people of New Plymouth and (very importantly) people from outside the region.  At this stage the Govett-Brewster is projecting an annual target audience for its proposed Centre of 56,000. New Plymouth is a city of 69,000 so interesting to see how this estimate compares with the experience of other single artist institutions.

The Andy Warhol Museum - 115,000 visitors a year in Pittsburgh, population 307,000

The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum - 170,000 visitors a year in Santa Fe, population 68,642.

The Norman Rockwell Museum - 125,000 visitors a year in Stockbridge, population 26,000

Noguchi Museum - 25,000 visitors a year in Long Island City, population 126,000

Other OTN stories on the Len Lye Centre
The building
The audience

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Short list

In their annual 500 best galleries feature Modern Painters Magazine aka BlouinArtinfo has listed the top galleries for Australia and New Zealand. For the Australians 20 galleries are noted spread across Adelaide (1), Brisbane (1), Melbourne (8) and Sydney (11). For New Zealand they list three: Hopkinson Mossman, Michael Lett and Starkwhite.
Images: top left John Reynolds at Starkwhite, right Michael Stevenson at Michale Lett and bottom Nick Austin at Hopkinson Mossman


McCahon wouldn’t be much use. Nor would Mrkusich. Albrecht, nah, and you can forget Walters. But an early Binney or a Dashper work on velvet? Now you’re talking. Welcome to the world of 3D printing and, in this case, printing paintings. 

The Observer points out this is now a reality and in Amsterdam poor old Van Gogh, always a market leader when it comes to art museums trying to shill money out of art, is one of the first on the block. For $44,000 you can take your pick. Want a 3D reproduction of Van Gogh’s Almond Blossom or a late 1880s Sunflowers? Perhaps The Harvest or even Wheatfield under Thunderclouds is the one for you. Then there is always Boulevard de Clichy (they even reproduce the frame) waiting for your cash on the nail. If you are a VG expert it might pay not to peer too closely, but for anyone who is likely to pony up that sort of cash for a 3D repro these will probably pass muster.

But please, don’t go into the Van Gogh Museum expecting to buy one of the masterpieces from their collection in three dimensions. They are far too classy (#strategic) for that. Even though each of the 260 edition ‘art works’ are numbered and approved by a VG museum curator, when the series was put to market in Hong Kong recently the curators wisely chose to flog them in a shopping mall. 

Other museums are said to be panting at the thought of getting works in their collections out into this lucrative market.  Don McLean got it “But I could have told you Vincent / This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.”
Image: showing Walters  (left) and Binney (right) as 3D reproductions. (simulation only)

Monday, August 26, 2013

On the road to New Plymouth...

 ...thinking about Michael Parekowhai


unvarnished facts, reckless guesswork, insinuations and possible inventions that have come the way of otn via its readers: rhana devenport the new director of the auckland art gallery was in new plymouth last week as a member of the panel selecting the new director of the govett-brewster  • applications from just about every curator you have heard of (and one who isn’t) have all passed to the next stage in the who-will-go-to-venice race run by creative nz • if you are anywhere near the hamburger bahnhof in berlin eight euro will get you in to see simon denny’s entry into the national gallery prize to be awarded 19 september • two and a half years after the departure of heather galbraith te papa has still not advertised for a senior art curator • when auckland university was out chasing up students to bulk up numbers at its  elam art school last week, it entertained the shanghai university delegation at dealer gallery starkwhite • francis upritchard has a work featured in the first exhibition held on new york’s high line • the auckland city council has launched a survey and the line of questioning suggests that a city artist in residence is in the wind • any missed details, indignant denials or additions gratefully received, and any that makes us laugh out loud will be suitably rewarded.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Big art from small goods

From the bacon obsessed internet some other deli products to buy up for your next Gagosian themed party here on the omg blog.
Images: Sausage poodle and Mother and child, with no apologies to Jeff Koons or Damien Hirst that we could find anyway.
(Thanks M)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Not fair

“What we are dealing with now is destination shopping. We bring the art to the collector rather than bringing the collector to the art. Fairs are beneath the dignity of art. To stand there in a booth and hawk your wares — it is just not how you sell art.”
New York art dealer Arne Glimcher, of the Pace Gallery berating art fairs in the NYT.

Googling on

So you have a yen to know what art works the public finds most interesting. As is so often the case, try Google. Drifting through some searches the other day a band of images appeared on the top of the screen with the header “Artworks frequently mentioned on the web”. OK, not the most sophisticated way to track public taste but there were some surprises. For instance were they all pictures of cows or cottages by that Kinkaid guy? No, they were not. 

For a start Marcel Duchamp topped the list coming in with three of the 20 selected images (Fountain, Bicycle wheel and Nude descending a staircase). Of the rest over 50 per cent (11) were from the twentieth century though none from the twenty-first. Predictably just one was by a woman (Judy Chicago’s The dinner party) and only one by a non-European (Hokusai’s The great wave off Kanagawa). Painting as usual ruled the roost but Shepard Fairey provided a nice graphic touch. As for the Southern Hemisphere, it didn't feature.

We stumbled on this heuristic by simply putting the word 'art' into the Google search box. Now the trick will be to see if tastes change over time.
Images: Google's top twenty

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Art in the workplace

Art hard at work in the foyers of the world

Old school

There are now so many art schools in New Zealand that to list them would risk readers dropping off but, back in the day, there were really just two, one in the North called Elam and one in the South, Ilam. The huge expansion of art school choices, the drift north and the earthquake haven't been kind on the Southern school whose last hurrah was probably incubating Cotton, Robinson, Pick and Co, 25 years ago.

Of course there have been others since (Francis Upritchard is one and Dan Arps another, albeit via Elam) but Ilam, like most of the schools south of Auckland, has struggled to keep attached to its alumni in the way, say, Elam does. Every new graduate of Ilam faces a choice: move to Auckland or struggle to have your reputation creep any further north than Wellington and even that only on a good day.

So you'd think, wouldn’t you, that the University of Canterbury might put some effort into differentiating NZ’s oldest art school and make it a destination for anyone seriously wanting to be a practising artist. Well not so much. The Vice chancellor apparently once told art school staff that the place would be more financially effective as a car park, which doesn’t really have the can-do spirit. And when energy is applied to the art school by the university it most often seems to be in the form of a review.

So some input for free based on conversations with readers over the last few moths. How about getting some variety in the school’s staff (over 80 percent male and by the look of their photographs 100 percent white), taking on some of the art interests that haven’t been cherry picked by other schools (performance come to mind). And, at the very least, showing some of the successes of students from the last 10 to 15 years on the website and on Wikipedia where the youngest artist listed will be 50 next year.

COMMENT FROM ROBIN NEATE 24 AUG: While correct in your observations of the University’s attitude (and that of powers beyond) towards Ilam art school (or any art school) unfortunately any input “based on conversations” is dubious.

If variety of school staff is an issue then applicants that would provide that variety would need to apply for the positions when advertised. In the case of my particular appointment I was put in a position of applying for my job twice. Three years apart and in completely new rounds and each time there were between 40 and 50 applicants, a total of around 90 applications overall. No applicants with relevant qualifications were non-white or female. Rest assured if any of them had even a hint of that variety in the current p. c. environment they would surely have gained the position above me (someone truly at the bottom of the heap) ­- an old white middle class Christchurch based male. Also one should be aware that photography can be a deceptive art form and that what may appear 100% white may not be so in reality – Roger Boyce, Senior Lecturer in Painting, is in fact of Native American descent.

As far as taking on “some of the art interests that haven’t been cherry picked by other schools, Ilam currently takes on art interests that other art schools ignore or dismiss as passé e.g. painting, documentary photography, narrative cinema, sculpture. If you think this is unhip then perhaps the following by Anna Lovatt on Rosalind Krauss may be of interest  –

“ In recent years, Krauss has sought to retrieve some of the modernist concepts jettisoned in The Originality of the Avant Garde, particularly the idea of medium-specificity. Observing the current ubiquity of installation art and the unashamedly affirmative relationship much of this work has with the art institution, she argued that what was once a critical dismemberment of the modernist medium has become an ‘official position’.”

An art school isn’t just about producing artists as not every graduate can or will be a successful or well-known artist. I wonder how successful a performance graduate would be? Not really the kind of art-making that would support any kind of career (well, maybe as a busker) let alone support a dealer supporting a performance artist. Even object-art is difficult for dealers to move these days. After all, at the end of the art-day you still have to eat.

With regard to often touted Robinson/Cotton/Pick era (all taught by white males) this was a particularly unique and singular moment. A group of artists inspired by the Reagan era 80s art boom (albeit a few years behind locally), the opening up of this country via Lange and Rogernomics and the accompanying (initial) optimism, the rise of dealer galleries, (ironically) the waning of parochialism and the acceptance that young artists (and curators) can be good and don’t have to be over thirty and last certainly not least a Maori Renaissance that needed young contemporary Maori artists (and their friends that came along for the ride).

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Great Scott!!

Three years ago we could only turn up four comic book covers that featured the Mona Lisa. Now not only does this one make it five, but we are also throwing in an artist’s palette, another of OTN’s minor obsessions. (Thanks F)

We was framed

One thing you can count on in the movies is that if art theft is involved it will be called a ‘heist’ or a ‘caper’.  Last Sunday's Doors open on UKTV was a classic in the caper category starring Stephen Fry as your typical bumbling curator (sic).  

The promo pic shows the cuddly crims holding what we assume to be the loot from some English art museum or stately home. They might just as well be coming out of a Dunbar Sloane auction with works by Charles Barraud, Raymond McIntyre, and practically any abstract painter showing at the New Zealand Academy up on Buckle Street in the early sixties. 

You can see a preview trailer for  Doors open here and links to other museum crime movies, a bunch of new ones plus a few we have covered in the past.

Images: top, promo for Doors open movie. Lower, OTN’s highly skilled Photoshop division re-jig distorted picture held by criminals as if by magic.

Art Heist: Yes, it's a steal the original, copy original, burn the copy, give original to evil collector movie

The art of stealing: A couple of bad hats are paid to nick a Van Gogh from an abandoned farm owned by an Argentinean countess. Watch the trailer here

Double trouble: Security guards from two Chinese cities join forces to catch art thieves. Trailer here

Dr No: A Classic. James Bond meets the evil cat stoker who owns the stolen portrait of the Duke of Wellington

Entrapment: Catherine Zeta-Jones snakes through those nifty red laser beams to steal a $40 million Rembrandt

Gambit: Statue stealing and a fake Monet with Colin Firth as the curator

The good thief
: Nick Nolte steals a fortune in rare paintings from a Monte Carlo casino. Trailer here

Headhunters: HR operative by day, art thief by night

Ocean's Twelve: Vincent Cassel's climbs through more nifty red beam to steal a Fabergé Egg

Trance: After an art heist caper a hypnotist is called in to find a missing stolen painting (seriously).

The Thomas Crown Affair (1999): thieves pinch Monet’s landscape The island of San Giorgio Maggiore at dusk from the Met

The Train: Immaculately uniformed Germans are on the rails with hundreds of paintings from French museums but don’t reckon on Burt Lancaster. Trailer.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The gold standard

"If I had to give it up I would do so because I have no sentimental attachment to anything. That’s the investment banker talking. I might love a painting but, if I was offered megabucks, there’s a price for everything. All my decisions are clinical rather than emotional. I must have some emotion somewhere but I suppress it as much as possible.”
A Wellington art collector talks about his collection in the latest edition of NZ House & Garden

Shaky grounds

If you want to study the progress of a muddle in which two reasonable ideas get mashed into one stupid one, you need go no further than yesterday's NZ Herald editorial. The theme is grabbing some Te Papa action for Auckland with the NZH quickly finding the silver lining in Wellington’s recent earthquakes. Calling them “the catalyst for the advancement of the concept of Te Papa North” and unashamedly reaching for a cliché award by pulling out the “eggs-in-one-basket” argument, the big idea is to hot-foot a chunk of the National collection North.

Hamish Keith’s original Te Papa North concept was to have some of the great works from the National collection on show in Auckland as part of a series of curated exhibitions in a stand alone destination building. It
was certainly not to help out Te Papa's everyday challenges in securing the storage of items many of which are not of great interest or necessarily in a condition to be presented to the public.

As to Auckland taking advantage of storage problems highlighted by a couple of earthquakes - be careful what you wish for.

Image: Te Papa storage via colourmefiji

Monday, August 19, 2013

Minor Lisa

With posts on giant sculptures of moose, horses, hands etc you have come to think of OTN as the place where big is always better. Here to fly in the face of all that sculptural showing off is the smallest reproduction of the Mona Lisa ever. The tree-trunk-kind-of-thing you can see is a human hair the painting 25,000 times smaller than the one in the Louvre. The method? Heating a needle on an atomic-force microscope. But you knew that.

Snap shot

Anyone with an interest in the contemporary photography market will have had a fascinating week as the results of the latest Auckland auctions came to hand. Although Webb’s only offered three photographic items they scored with Michael Parekowhai’s large format Elmer Keith. From his series of sparrows and rabbits made in 2000 The Beverly Hills Gun Club, it went for $18,400. A couple of days later another photo of Elmer Keith No 1 (this one made four years later on a slightly different coloured background and pointing the other way) went for $17,600 at Art + Object. And good luck to future researchers trying to work out the titles, sizes and poses of all these sparrows if the original records are ever lost. The original BHGC works were sold for around $3,000 and over the years the prices have climbed steadily (in 2005 one sold for $8,226). Also at Art + Object a couple of Ava Seymour’s large-scale images went for over $15,000 between them.

However, despite the attractions of some large format photography the media continues to struggle to get the attention it deserves. The chance to purchase Peter Peryer's classic paired portraits of Erika Peryer for around $10,000 was passed up (Te Papa and the Auckland Art Gallery both have one each which probably put them out of contention as they were paired at auction). Peryer’s Octopus sold for a healthy $5,976 and sounds like it was purchased by a collector who has dominated the Peryer market at auction over the last few years.

But in spite of these specific examples there's still a great opportunity to build a major photography collection without spending mega dollars. Most of the images on offer, and many of them were classics, would have been hammered down for $2000 a piece. It can’t last.

An addendum to our post on the Friendlander photograph of Ralph Hotere vs the Hotere drawing. Game set and match to photography. The portrait went for $9200 and the drawing failing to get a bid.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Barber's mirror syndrome

Some Saturday morning oh-yes-I-know-a-bit-of-contemporary-art-hisory-why-do-you-ask? humour from artist Peter Baldes
Erased de Kooning 2007 via rhizome

Friday, August 16, 2013

The best art is business art

Just to show we mean business too here is the second in our series  featuring business people posing in front of art. This time it's high flying business women from Wellington in front of a Nigel Brown
Image: from the left Susan Hornsby-Geluk, Charlotte Vaughan, and Deborah Lee Marlow (Photo: CHRIS SKELTON/Fairfax NZ )

Bull whip around

The great American art collector Eli Broad once said "philanthropy is activism" and there is certainly a big push to make it more active in New Zealand at the moment. But it's tough out there. Old school corporate sponsors are hard to entice, the public dollar is being spread thinner and thinner and the tertiary education sector restricts its funding to its own community.

The Government's call for arts organizations to eat the rich has come in synch with crowd sourced funding. Now more modest earners can get involved with supporting arts projects. We've already posted on the Arts Foundation's Boosted but yesterday there was a new twist as the Christchurch Art Gallery Trust launched its appeal Back the Bull. The goal - to buy Michael Parekowhai’s bull on a piano Chapman’s Homer for Christchurch.

It's interesting to see that the Trust has chosen the funding platform PledgeMe rather than Boosted for its latest $200,000 stump-up. And this despite the Christchurch Art Gallery having successfully funded its $25,000 project Populate on Boosted earlier this year. Maybe they felt that Boosted's assumption that tax credits would be a killer draw card for donors hasn't quite proved to have quite the clout expected. In general the amounts now requested on Boosted are more modest that at the outset. The average now stands at around $6,500 with $76,000 currently being requested across 12 projects. Around 24 percent of this has been donated so far.

Now because of the way the funding platform PledgeMe has been set up, donors can be offered all sorts of specific rewards (they can also offer tax deductions if the project has tax deductible status). When you see the packages offered by Christchurch's Back the Bull campaign, you can feel the attraction. They range from a thank-you in the Christchurch Press to party time with the Parekowhai himself. These giftettes are fun and appealing enticements whereas tax credits, not so much. OK, it's probably not very rational, and Boosted has brought in some valuable funding, but looking across the range of successful crowd sourcing sites emotional experience is the key driver rather than rational accounting advantages.

Back the Bull is only one day into its 48-day campaign with $15,350 pledged already and, thanks to the gifts and its feisty approach, it feels like fun. Hopefully it is also going to be a winner.

You can pledge for Back the Bull here and explore Boosted projects to donate to here.

Images: Top left Chapman's Homer in Auckland, right in Venice and below Christchurch

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The great leap backwards

Lookalike? Copycat? Who knows.
Images Wellington and Twickenham

Standing room only

Not to be taking a position as leading authorities on living statues, but who’d have thought so soon after uncovering the living sculpture motherlode that we'd be witnessing a living sculptor smack-down in New Zealand? 

It all starts with rugby-themed living statue Creaghie Beere checking out Highly Flammable (it gets better) on Facebook and finding they're booked to do a ‘fire and ice’ themed event for the Bledisloe Cup (told you). Naturally they leaned toward living sculptures as one does in the Fire and Ice business and intimated as much on FB. Beere told the Dominion Post that this was clearly “stepping on an unwritten rule of street performing” (no, not pinching the money while the statue is looking straight ahead but copying another performer’s work). 

Logan Elliott of HF responded that acts like rugby living sculptures “had been staged all around the world for the past 50 years” and this is probably true. We found an example used to open a store in Florence last year. And, as the old saying goes, ‘if they’re doing rugby living statue work in Florence they’re bound to be doing it somewhere else’.

Images: from the left to right, Creaghie Beere in LS mode (Photo: CHRIS HILLOCK/Fairfax NZ), the Florence footy figure and a random football player living statue of whom there are many.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


French artist Jocelyne Grivaud has Barbie doing Otto Dix's 1926 Portrait of the journalist Sylvia von Harden. More here

Soap opera

Pursuing Snoop Dogg's inspiration for Shane Cotton reminded us of how often these sorts of connections are repeated in art writing without us getting to see pictures of the sources. One very famous example relates to how Colin McCahon got the idea of using voice bubbles for paintings like The King of the Jews and Crucifixion according to St Mark from the back of a Rinso soap flakes packet. 

The source of this brilliant connection is, as is so often the case, McCahon himself this time in a letter to collector and friend Rodney Kennedy. “The inspiration – the legend from a Rinso packet… the use of legend with space composition could be very telling,” McCahon wrote to him in 1947.

And telling is the word when you find the Rinso packet in question (thanks Google). But you should also check out McCahon's Crucifixion according to St Mark of the same year. Here the idea of arranging voice panels around the image appears to have come even more directly from the Rinso design. 

You can see images of Colin McCahon’s King of the Jews here here and his Crucifixion according to St Mark here

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Branded: Darryn George

The moment when artists become brands

Roll call

Over the weekend we visited our friend Simon Manchester. We've known Simon for a while now and have also come to know his remarkable collection of ceramics. Simon is one of those people for whom the word collector was invented. He is utterly incapable withholding a bid at auction or keeping his hands off his wallet if he finds a pot or a vase or a jug if he thinks is important to New Zealand’s ceramic history or hits him in the heart when he sees it. And his collection of ceramics, one of a number of things he collects in depth, is thousands of objects strong. Well it was. Unfortunately Simon’s apartment tops a tall, thin heritage building in downtown Wellington and, as the earth moved a few weeks ago, so did many of his prized pieces.

As we have seen in earthquakes before in Wellington, and as was shown many times in Christchurch, shaking and rolling has the strangest effects. And that’s how it was with Simon’s collection. A tall vase stayed put while a flat dish was thrown across the room. Things attached to the wall remained where they were supposed to be as pots, jugs and sculptures on the floor
toppled, some shelves spilled everything while some nothing at all. The result is a huge clean up job and boxes of shards.

One thing Simon told us which is worth passing on is the fact that Quake Wax takes a few weeks to harden into its stay-right-where-you-are form. His experience was that a couple of vases that had been carefully quake waxed a few days before the shake obeyed gravity leaving a sticky wax ring behind them. The loss has certainly taken a toll on the Manchester collection and a toll on Simon himself and so this pic of them both in happier times.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The best art is business art

A new series featuring business people standing in front of art works. Contributions welcome and, if off the top shelf, rewarded
BNZ Chief Executive Andrew Thorburn with Gordon Walters’ 1981 painting Onepu

The village voice

Former dealer Marshall Seifert calls the Auckland Art Fair a “hyped up tap dance" and Venice Commissioner Heather Galbraith says she was there  “more for conversation than looking.” Artist Scott Eady admits that “you have to work a lot harder to be visible” when you're based in Dunedin and Sue Gardiner of the Chartwell Trust explains how Trust founder Rob Gardiner looked to Denmark's Louisiana Museum of Modern Art for his public/ private model. And not to forget, Auckland Art Gallery curator Ron Brownson reminding us that the Auckland Art Gallery is “not a contemporary art museum”.

All this is from a smart set of video interviews conducted by Letting Space’s Sophie Jerram and Mark Amery at the Auckland Art Fair. The number of videos available on their Studio Channel Art Fair is still growing but as we post there are eight (there are now 16) which you can watch here.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Kramer

Let's face it just about every Sitcom in the history of the world has taken the piss out of art at some time or another so it’s not that surprising that Seinfeld had a go. Now thanks to one of our favourite readers, the tireless trawler P, it's only a mouse click away for your Saturday pleasure.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Big Ears

We can’t make the Auckland Art Fair this year but we’re figuring things will be much as usual so here's the very best of Big Ears past.

"For someone who doesn't have one I guess it's ok."

“There’s a general problem with his art, that people don’t get it.”

"It's a reindeer and a towel. Everyone's excited."

“I said it was eight thousand bucks and he offered seven, so I told him ‘we’re not having this conversation.’”

“It was all fine until we had to deal with the artist.”

“He won’t be told, but he’s easily led.”

“Oh sure, he’s got lots of money, but can he make up his mind?”

“I’m just going to go over there and pat the dog.”

“I did like it. I liked it a lot, but in the end the paint was too thick.”

One day in the kitchen

Parent 1: What the hell are we going to do for the birthday?

Parent 2: I thought you were going to take them to McDonalds?

P1: Not after last year I'm not. We still can’t walk past the place.

P2: How about a magician?

P1: And what is it about the last one letting that pigeon shit all over the living room you don’t remember?

P2: Oh, that’s right…and the kids didn’t respond that well did they?

P1: No, they did not. Who knew pigeons had so much stuff inside them?

P2: Ok then, how about a human statue? A human statue couldn’t cause much trouble.

P1: Let me think about that for a minute.

P2: No seriously, we could have a living cowboy statue just standing in the corner for the whole party. The kids could make faces at him and poke him and stuff.

P1: I’m not sure a cowboy would be so interesting. How about a James Bond-type woman painted gold?

P2: I was thinking more like a centurion or a character from Narnia or a mermaid. Even a Devil might be fun.

P1: Why not ask for a tree statue or a hobbit statue. Besides, it's all academic. I'm not sure you can even hire human statues.

But indeed you can.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

The vanishing

“what a relief that he dropped the hyphen”

Über art auctioneer Simon de Pury gets in behind Jay Z coming down hard on punctuation. You can read de Pury’s excellent summary of the art-world's love affair with Hip Hop here in the Daily Beast

By the numbers

3         the number of times “fizz” appeared in Michele Hewitson's interview with Rhana Davenport in last Sunday’s NZ Herald

4         the number of art curatorial positions currently vacant in Te Papa

4         the number of visual art projects currently available to support on Boosted

9         the average number of reviews John Hurrell writes a month for eyeContact

14       the number of sculptures included in the 165 lots listed in the Art + Object August auction catalogue

14       the percentage of dealer galleries participating in the Auckland Art Fair this coming weekend that are from Wellington

34       the percentage of Arts Foundation icons over the history of the award who have been women

40       the percentage of women named as Arts Foundation icons last week

47       the number of questions answered in the extensive FAQ about the Len Lye Centre on the Govett-Brewster site

53       the percentage of dealer galleries participating in the Auckland Art Fair that are based in Auckland

13,845 the average cost in dollars you would expect to pay for a painting in a Webb’s auction

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Take your pic

Welcome to the land of art auctions where a photograph of Ralph Hotere can be estimated (and probably sell at) at a higher value than a drawing by Ralph Hotere.
Image: Webb’s Important paintings and contemporary art catalogue with Marti Friedlander’s photo est. $4,500 - $7,500 and Ralph Hotere’s drawing Woman with flowers est. $5,000 - $7,000

Ceci n'est pas un video game

LEGO artists no longer have the monopoly on reproducing artworks in their games and entertainments. We've already posted on the art galleries on Second Life but how about these Super Mario / Magritte mash ups? Mix Koopa (the turtle) Troopa with René Magritte’s Unexpected answer 1933 or Mario nemesis Bullet Bill with  Magritte’s famous 1938 painting Time transfixed or even the artist's name Racoonda for Magritte’s signature work Golconda of 1953.

Regrettably these images haven’t made it into their own game yet and are simply stored on Tumblr but if they did, watch out for Super Mario's lawyers to step in.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Art chart

 (Thanks D )

Duchamp in Auckland

You’re where? The 1913 postcard is from Marcel Duchamp and reads. “I am not dead:  I am in Herne Bay this month.” This has got to be bigger than the Spanish helmet found at the bottom of Wellington harbour. After all this was the year Duchamp famously attached a bicycle wheel to a four-legged stool. Did he visit the Auckland Art Gallery like Gauguin in 1895? Regrettably, Duchamp goes on to add "(England)", so no.  

Still, for a nano second we could picture the French artist fresh from his scandal with R Mutt’s Fountain the year before strolling through Herne Bay humming to himself and nicking potential readymades from front lawns as he passed by.

Meanwhile, in that other Herne Bay, Duchamp’s visit is being celebrated with a festival including a tribute by a UK cartoonist that will be hung in urinals throughout the town. Maybe MD would have been better off in Auckland after all.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Who knew

Over the years OTN has discovered (or rediscovered) odd and entertaining art facts that seemed to have slipped through the cracks. We have assembled the best ones and will give them a permanent link in the right hand column of the blog. As new things come up we will add to the list but, here's what we have so far:

 Angus: Miro
Leo Bensemann: Lawren S. Harris
Cotton: Snoop Dogg
Fomison: Tintoretto
Glen Hayward: McCahon
McCahon: Picasso 
McCahon: Coal Flat 
Peryer: Marlborough Daisies

And now for something completely different

Te Papa plans to keep changing its new look art display but already you'd have to ask when works from the National art collection ever looked this good. It's probably not been since Te Papa opened 11 years ago. Not much sculpture this time round (apart from Michael Parekowhai’s red piano Story of a New Zealand river which has achieved Te Papa icon status) but the works on the walls look impressive and are juxtaposed to suggest intelligent connections and differences.

Te Papa's CE Michael Houlihan said recently that museums never lose their original culture. Te Papa has always had a 'make-it-simple-and-tell-'em-and-tell-'em-again mantra that still echoes through its galleries (absurdly large labels, signage everywhere). This spirit-of-the-schoolroom is exaggerated in the current presentation by a literal DIY ‘classroom’ (frame your own drawing, match bits of the collection in a Killeen lookalike, create fridge magnet poems, trace drawings) in the middle of the two main gallery set-ups.

The idea that art can’t really speak for itself was firmly implanted into the Te Papa way of thinking by Ian Wedde. He was the institution’s first Concept leader for art and later Head of art and visual culture. His influence remains in Te Papa's tendency to over-explain, over-simplify and in the process confuse themselves and us into the bargain. 

An example? Close by a classic Gordon Walters painting there's a cartoon think bubble (it feels more like a public programmes intervention than curatorial) telling us that Walters “liked to create optical illusions with paint” while on the other side of the room a label quotes Walters specifically telling how he added grey to his work to stop the image “jumping around too much.” The idea that people would see his works as optical illusions like those by British artist Bridget Riley always concerned Walters. His intention was to refine and balance the components of his paintings rather than agitate them. Besides why not let people think about what Walters was about for themselves rather than sum him up ... and get it wrong?

Still this culture of over-explanation, whatever the intended audience, is the going price for the chance to see a whole heap of interesting work intelligently displayed. And as a bonus in a section called Gifted there's the chance to see a donated collection of Aboriginal art given the space and respect it deserves for the first time. Even if that had been the only thing on display it would still be well worth the trip to the fifth floor.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Show pony

Sometimes OTN readers send us the strangest images (thanks P) like this classic entry for our artists pose series. You can read about the artist, Kehinde Wiley here

Friday, August 02, 2013

Block busting

“If you go with the audience, they’ll always ask for ice cream, ‘You gotta eat vegetables,’ you say. ‘No, I want ice cream. Give me more ice cream. The last time you gave me ice cream and I liked it.’ The audience is a child.”
David Simon, creator of The wire

From the stream: fight back

Talk back

In this era when museums love to talk about participation and involvement one of the big questions is what can institutions expect their visitors to do for them? After all, it's those visitors who are usually footing the bill for the institution to develop expertise so asking everyday punters to 'contribute' to professional decisions kind of feels both patronising and in bad faith.

A classic recent example was the Georgia Museum of Art asked visitors to vote on which four of five similar paintings it should sell off (or, as it was put with the appropriate positive professional spin) which one “should we keep”! It’s an idea that has also been used by the DePaul Art Museum in Chicago (and will probably end up being used here one day). The DePaul invited “scholars from art history, philosophy, and anthropology—and visitors “ to “weigh in on the works of art and their fate”. You don’t have to be a genius to figure that the same public won't be asked to “weigh in” on which new works should be put into the collection. That sort of decision doubtless requires ‘experts’. 

Sometimes though the contribution of visitors can stop you in your tracks. That was certainly the case with some Post-it type notes we saw pinned up in the Auckland Art Gallery’s Triennial Lab (it was during the AUT iteration). Visitors were asked to answer two questions central to curator Hou Hanru’s theme for the Triennial. “If you could live anywhere where would it be?” and “Why don’t you live there?”

One response could have stood in for the entire Triennial.




“Immigration problem”

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Art in the workplace

Art hard at work in the foyers of the world


In the larger than life catalogue (40 x 30 cm and weighing in at 2.75 kilos) published for Shane Cotton’s Christchurch Art Gallery /IMA exhibition, curator Justin Paton mentions that the artist got his idea for using a spray gun from a Snoop Dogg album cover. “The key too here is a small model-maker’s spray gun …. For an artist whose usual way of lettering his canvases was more akin to woodwork or complex inlay…the appeal of the spray gun was vivid. …It gave Cotton a way to literally write in the air.”

We were up for it and after a bit of a hunt found a site that had every cover version of every album and single Snoop Dogg ever made. Sure enough there it was From tha Chuuuch to da Palace, a single made in 2002. You can get a copy of it over here on Music stack.