Monday, September 30, 2013


"One possible argument for the exponential growth of art schools and the whole art system is that at least we keep a certain number of these people off the streets. They continue to fail, but they fail with some cushion so at least we don’t suffer the damage of their realizing how truly terrible they are."
Robert Storr, Dean Yale School of Art

Larry’s list

Wow, that sounds interesting. Some German guy has set up a database ranking every art collector worldwide. How would you do a thing like that? Magnus Resch has done it by enlisting collector collectors. He calls them researchers and claims 25 of them in 20 countries including New Zealand (the usual OTN branded rewards for anyone who can tell us who is stalking NZ’s art owners). As you might imagine the ‘research’ comes with a large serving of random. Who knows why Magnus has called the result Larry’s List but he claims it has nothing to do with Larry G.

The list of NZ collectors (their initials anyway) is available on Larry’s List. It gives you a fairly good idea of how arbitrary and, yes let’s face it, stupid this idea is. In Auckland the two JGs are there (Gibbs and Gow) but no AG, RG or SG. You can find HD but where’s JW and AB? As for Wellington MB and JB are there (who ever the hell they are) but no sign of TF, SF or NMcG let alone AT or the other MB.

The NZ collectors, as represented by their initials, are:
Auckland: JG, RS, EC, WB, JG, JS, AS, AH, DR, RC, EC, JR, DM, CM, RH, FR, GR, NG, BP, HC and LM
Arrowtown: MH
Queenstown: SE
Wellington: MB, JB, DA, VA and PS
Canterbury: GG and LG
Nelson: KS and rather bizarrely that small suburb outside Nelson, Los Vegas: GS

You can check out the initial part of Larry’s List here or pay $10 a pop to dig deeper. 

Image: (while we’re on the subject of random) the best pic that came up when we put ‘new zealand collector’ into Google Images

Sunday, September 29, 2013

By the numbers: International edition

0      the number of dollars it will cost you to visit the Eli Broad museum of contemporary art currently being built in LA

1      the number in billions spent on art per year by the royal family of Qatar

6.6  the cost in millions of dollars paid for the townhouse in New York where Warhol lived from 1959 to 1974

8       the estimated number in billions of dollars of the size of the annual global auction market

15     the number of curators it took to curate the current Texas Biennial

15     the number in thousands of masters degrees in the visual and performing arts awarded each year in the United States

15.3  the amount in millions of dollars slashed off the value of a Peter Doig painting offered for auction when Peter Doig announced he didn’t do it

43     the percentage representing the amount of contemporary art sold in the current art market

93     the number in thousands of new bachelor degrees in the visual and performing arts awarded each year in the United States

137   the number in millions of dollars paid for the work of Andy Warhol in the first half of 2013

425   the number of gondolier available for hire in Venice to get you to the Bill Culbert exhibition at the Venice Biennale

4000 the number of counterfeit tickets to the Louvre found concealed in a parcel from China by Belgian customs officials

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Killer entrance

Here's a home decorating tip for the weekend. July’s Home and Garden features an Auckland family who have a full-sized ‘recreation’ of Picasso painting in response to the massacre of civilians in Guenica during the Spanish Civil war.  “We love this hallway” they told the magazine cheerfully, “it’s always so light and welcoming.”

Friday, September 27, 2013

On the road

The Ministry of Transport and Local Government give tribute in the way they know best to the artists of New Zealand. This week the mother lode. (Thanks for that J)

The name game

Last week we put in a request to the Ombudsman that Creative NZ release the names of curator/artist teams who made proposals for the Venice Biennale 2015. Our argument was that it is impossible to evaluate the final decision without knowing the options on offer.

The Ombudsman’s Office will no doubt report back in due course, but as the Creative NZ panel has now met and made its selection to be probably announced next week, here's what we have pieced together from what is already known around the traps. There are still a few gaps so when (and if) we get them out of CNZ we'll let you know.

Robert Leonard curator / Simon Denny and Yvonne Todd artists (two separate proposals)
Rhana Devenport curator / Lisa Reihana and Alex Monteith artists (two separate proposals)
Aaron Kreisler curator / Dane Mitchell artist
Tina Barton curator / Billy Apple artist
Natasha Conland curator / Kate Newby artist
Sarah Farrar curator / Group show
Andrew Clifford curator /  Seung Yul Oh artist
Charlotte Huddleston curator / Paul Cullen artist

Anthony Byrt curator / Steve Carr artist
Emma Bugden curator / Ronnie van Hout artist
Vera May curator / Hye Rim Lee artist
Mary Kisler curator / Gretchen Albrecht artist
Mercedes Vincent curator / Maddie Leach artist

Of the other four curator/artist teams we have heard not a word, however as all but one of the artists living in NZ are from Auckland perhaps they are all from the South Island (just kidding).
Image: Secret Squirrel

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Going public

In what they described as their Definitive Sales Report From the Inaugural Sydney Contemporary Blouin Artinfo announced that Brisbane-based Ryan Renshaw Gallery sold two works by Yvonne Todd to the National Gallery of Victoria and another was put on reserve by the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The gallery also sold all editions of Yvonne Todd's first video Smoke Emitters along with five large and three small works.

Talking the talk

When was it that artist talks first became an entertainment category for art museums? There was a time when artists were expected to be um…visual... rather than verbal and if they could articulate their work through talk too that was just fine but not essential. Well that’s all been changed thanks to the tertiary education system. 

Artists who have been through the system are expected to be able to present a convincing articulation of what they are up to on the wall or on the floor and the art museums have taken note. Now the artist talk has become a staple of institutional programming and those who can't or won't join the talkfest are punished as et al. discovered when they presented a zipped lip at Venice.

But yesterday we went to an artist talk (four artists talking in fact) that was a mix of awkward silences, meandering sidelines, complicated inner monologues and generic presentation skills. It was annoying and refreshing and riveting. The photos sum it up best as Nick Austin grabs for words while he struggles to ‘explain’ one of his works. 

When describing another painting (a shark’s fin seen through the window of an envelope) Austin told us:

“I think it’s about worry.
I think it’s about bad news.
I think it’s about worrying about bad news.
Bad news, circling around.”

All this was hard-won with long pauses and fill-in gestures of the hand and body. Thanks Nick... and the rest of you too.

Images: Nick Austin at the City Gallery one of the four artists talking about their works in the exhibition New Revised Edition: Nick Austin, Andrew Barber, Nicola Farquhar, John Ward Knox

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Art chart

(Thanks G)


unvarnished facts, reckless guesswork, insinuations and possible inventions that have arrived at overthenet: the govett-brewster has gone off shore to get its new director • also from off shore a curator from germany has arrived with his family to take the g-b curator job • hopkinson mossman has scored a direct hit with 70 percent of the artists in the latest city gallery exhibition coming from their list • artists showing in the university of auckland’s porn show were each paid a fee of $5,000 • the director of the aag attended the sydney art fair last weekend and put an option on two works by an nz artist on show in the booth of an australian gallery • the te papa aztec exhibition that was looking like a no go has been saved at the last moment and will go ahead as planned • as of this morning christchurch needs only $7,000 to secure $400,000 via pledges and dollar-for-dollar support to help pay for michael parekowhai’s bull on a piano • any missed details, indignant denials or additions gratefully received, and any that makes us laugh out loud will be suitably rewarded. 
(and thanks to L, T, I and P, you know who you are)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Branded: Neil Dawson

The moment when artists become brands

Coming out

Has any new art museum (or indeed any art museum that has just undergone a rebuild) ever failed to tell its audience that it will now be making its collections more available through open storage? And do they ever do it? That would be a no. 

Sure, the idea of 'open hang' was been tried a few times by putting a lot of the collection up on a rotating basis. And sometimes, when institutions are opening or closing their buildings, they try to make a big splash by hanging virtually everything from the collection at the same time. And yet whatever they do the back rooms, and the mystery that surrounds them, remain out-of-bounds except for the odd special tour and prowling photographers who are regularly drawn to the stored collections as their subject matter. 

On Sunday at the Dowse Art Museum we saw a small light shining on this ‘hidden’ storeroom dilemma. Simple solution really. They just hauled some of the storage cabinets out of the storeroom and into the gallery spaces complete with the objects stacked and packed inside. It might be a bit odd for the makers of these objects to see them presented like this wrapped, collared and rolled, but people were intrigued and looking hard.  It was a back room experience without having to get into that back room.

A next step? How about asking people to note things they spot in the cabinets they’d like a better look at and make a small exhibition of them. With exhibition budgets at an all time low we figure your going to be a lot more of this work-that-collection activity.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Tony award

"She's the Picasso of the entertainment world."
Painter and entertainer Tony Bennett speaking about Lady GaGa

In the auction room nobody can hear you scream

A waking nightmare for public art museums is the suggestion that they might be using public money to advance private gain. To that end they are pretty careful to ensure that people don’t lend paintings to them and then use the exhibition to promote the work they own. It's not clear how much being in a public museum exhibition does affect value but the institutions certainly believe it does and the importance that artists put on their work being in public collections gives some credence to the idea.

So there must have been some fast in-takes of air when Webb’s started promoting their next premium auction in their catalogues and online noting that the featured work “is currently exhibited at City Gallery, Wellington, Shane Cotton: The Hanging Sky, until 6 October”. And there it was full page. Shane Cotton’s The painted bird, 2010. This is the same work that is featured on the banner currently hanging outside the City Gallery and on the cover of the luxurious publication that accompanies the show.

The work was purchased three years ago at the Anna Schwartz Gallery in Sydney from the exhibition Shane Cotton: smashed myth in which Cotton spectacularly filled Schwartz's enormous space in an old railyards building known as Carriageworks. We happened to be there when the sale was made and the obviously super rich I'll-buy-the-painting guy told us that he didn’t have a wall big enough for this work so he'd have to build something for it. We were impressed but clearly it never happened and now the painting's on the block rather than on the wall.

 Given the original price (around $A90,000 or $NZ110,000 at the time from memory), the low estimate of $120,000 at auction minus the seller’s commissions and so forth doesn’t seem to make much sense in terms of making a quick killer-profit, but maybe having it featured as the icon work in a trans-Tasman survey exhibition will justify the public museums' fears and fly right through the roof.

Images: The painted bird features in Webb's upcoming auction top and at Wellington's City Gallery bottom.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Art in the age of the machine

When Andy Warhol said he thought “everybody should be a machine” he almost certainly wasn’t thinking of them becoming painting machines. We’ve talked about machines that can paint before but now the IT guys are at it and going that extra awful step. Not content with machines that can paint like…um..machines, they're cranking up machines that can paint like humans (as if we can’t already do that ourselves).

Let's take Kenichi Yoneda. He claims in a recent Wired magazine to have created a machine that can make human-looking marks mimicking brush strokes and palette knife sweeps. It’s alright Mr Richter, you don’t have to panic just yet. Although the algorithms can imitate the human hand (sort of) they're a long ways away from the human mind. You can judge for yourself here.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Well thanks for that

Twitter's Ask-a-curator day responds to questions

The night watch

If you've been to the Gregory Crewdson exhibition at Wellington’s City Gallery, you'll have probably figured out the close relationship between Crewdson‘s imagery and the paintings of Edward Hopper. Crewdson himself talks of Hopper’s “ideas of beauty, theatricality, sadness, rootlessness and desire.” We've previously posted on Hopper’s influence on the movies but taking up the beauty and sadness theme in lookalike mode, some riffs on Hopper’s most famous work Nighthawks.
Images: Top to bottom left to right, Nighthawks recreations in NY’s Flatiron building and in Star Trek, LEGO and The Simpsons. Wim Wenders does a homage in his 1997 movie End of violence. The New Yorker covers Hopper and CSI fills the diner with bodies

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Walters squared

Seeing it's Walters week on OTN how about this next step in the Gordon Walters koru design redux as seen in Wellington.

Data roaming

Here’s an odd journey taken by the work of one of NZ's artists. The Pulitzer Hotel in Rome has been applauded for its savvy interiors by design magazines all over the world and the photographs certainly show how bold patterns have been used to break up spaces and lend visual punch to the public spaces.

But wait a minute. That supersize work over there behind the white couch looks familiar. Could it really be a koru painting by Gordon Walters? Well, no. For a start we reckon it's around 2.5 x 2 meters, far larger than anything Walters did (his large paintings usually being around 1.5 x 1.2 meters). And then even more tellingly it looks pretty much the same as Auckland Art Gallery’s Walters' painting from 1981 Maheno albeit slightly modified at the top. So a photo-print, possibly on canvas. Thanks internet.

If you still have any doubts check out the Hotel Pulitzer in Rome’s site where a recent “70s-style design reinterpreted with a modern twist” refurbishment by Spanish interior designer Rosa-Violan is noted. “A common thread throughout the hotel is the artwork. All works have been produced by Rosa-Violan …. Usually framed in burnished brass, the simplistic style has a largely geometric and abstract flavour following in the footsteps of the Gio Ponti school and the Futurist art of post-war Italy.” Make that post-war New Zealand too.


Images: The lobby of the Hotel Pulitzer in Rome with the ‘Walters' painting behind the couch. (Thanks for the heads-up H)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

On the road

On the road is an 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' on the blog search above. (Thanks S)

Dress for less

Stuck inside on a wet day with nothing to play with but your computer? What better way to while away the time than putting hipster clothing on Classical sculpture. Retoucher Alexis Persani (yes this was done with Photoshop not a run-round with clothing and Velcro) says of his work, “I discovered a whole new dimension to classical sculpture. If you dress the sculptures as hipsters it gives them an awesome new look.” Who knew.
You can see more here

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Lying low

As six months have gone by we went down to see if Len Lye's Water Whirler on Wellington's waterfront was back in action. No such luck. Still, a smart move by the Wellington City Council to take down the dilapidated  ‘not working sign’. The two other people who turned up on the hour for the viewing assumed they had just missed it. Like the sound of a tree falling in the forest.

The curator director

When Peter Tomory became director of the Auckland Art Gallery back in 1956 he came to the job as a curator and exhibition maker. Tomory not only curated exhibitions he helped shape the way we see New Zealand art through his development of the Gallery’s collection. More recently the AAG directors have tended to leave curating alone with the last curatorial director being Rodney Wilson back in the eighties.

Nowadays directors of large institutions are likely to be administrators and even directors like Jenny Harper who come from a curatorial background rarely have the time to make their own exhibitions. Many others, like Cam McCracken of the Dunedin Art Gallery, see the job as creating a context in which curators can do their best work. One effect of this though is that we usually have only a vague idea of what our institutional leaders favour or value in their own collections. To address that a director’s choice show every now and then would be a great addition to any of our art museum programmes.

The new director of the Auckland Art Gallery Rhana Devenport has an interesting take on all this. We've already noted that she has two proposals in for the Venice Biennale (we understand they are for Lisa Reihana and Fiona Pardington - a couple of readers (thanks D and G) have since suggested the second proposal is for Alex Montieth who Devenport showed at the G-B - and now she has made another curatorial flourish this time on line. “To date my curatorial work has concentrated on contemporary practice, however, I have a fascination for historical art artworks and the sense of present wonder they evoke”. You can see Devenport’s selection of 23 works (from the AAG collection and elsewhere) along with her commentary here on Google Art Project.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The best art is business art

This week coming to you on video, business people pose with art number 3, Tim Bennett CEO of NZX with Tony de Lautour's NZX

Fair dealing

Here’s a riddle doing the rounds: “When is the Melbourne Art Fair not the Melbourne Art Fair?” The answer? “When it’s the Sydney Art Fair (aka Sydney Contemporary 13)." And that, after a big burst of start-up publicity linking Sydney with the Hong Kong and Basel Art Fairs, does seem to be where we've ended up.

Since it was first announced the Sydney Art Fair has had a change of venue and been delayed a few months but it now kicks off on Thursday. Those who imagined reaping the benefits of a competitive Melbourne/ Sydney tussle can settle down. The company that owns the Sydney Fair (Art Fairs Australia Pty Ltd founded by Tim Etchells) will now also be running the Melbourne event and hoping to turn it around. Last year the Melbourne Art Fair saw attendances dip 10 percent to 27,000 and, probably more alarmingly, sales drop from $12.5 million in 2010 to $10.2 million.

Despite Sydney's booth prices coming in 25 percent higher than last year in Melbourne, Tim Etchells told the Australian Financial Review Sydney Contemporary is only “anticipating an audience of up to 18,000” and, by the sound of the lavish number of VIP allowances offered to participating galleries, around 2,500 of them will be varying orders of VIPs. No surprise then that ‘Pampering VIPs’ was listed as a significant budget line in the AFA story. So expect a lot of pampering. In contrast the Basel Art Fair restricts VIP cards to just 10 per gallery.

The Sydney Contemporary venue is Carriageworks which will be familiar to visitors to the Anna Schwartz Gallery. In fact her Gallery will sit between the two Art Fair spaces prompting one wit to suggest she rename it ‘Main Entrance’.

Image: VIP card for Sydney Contemporary 13

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Bacon bits

If you want to put an evil guy in front of a painting the art of the moment seems to be by Francis Bacon. We've already featured Jack Nicholson’s Bacon moment and now the eccentric British artist has been selected as backdrop in the re-hash of RoboCop. This time the evil one barks at his minions in front of Bacon’s 1981 Triptych inspired by Aeschylus's ‘Orestei’. Now why the hell would they pick that?

A clue may be in the poem Bacon tapped for his three-parter. "Black they are ... their heavy rasping breathing makes me cringe." Yes it's a tale of slaughter coupled with relentless pursuit. Rings a bell when you think back to the first RoboCop movie.

The original of the Bacon painting (one of 28 large triptychs he painted) is in the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in Oslo.  This is yet another private collection that has recently opened its own new museum, this one designed by Renzo Piano.

As to the film, it’s trailer only time at the moment so no Bacon spotting until early next year.
Image: Top, RoboCop to be released in 2014. Bottom, Bacon’s Triptych inspired by Aeschylus's 'Orestei'. You can buy a three-part Bacon lithograph based on this painting here

Images: top, still from the RoboCop remake. Bottom Bacon's Triptych inspired by Aeschylus's ‘Orestei’ (Thanks for the tip D)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Art at work

A bird completely at home on Michael Parekowhai's sculpture in Britomart

Rumble in the jungle

Usually when two competing elephants go head to head it’s all trampled grass, broken trees, flattened fauna and general bad news for anyone in the neighborhood, but when Art + Object and Webb’s go at it there's nothing but good news for us all. The latest gift from the field of action is A+O’s new publication, the large format, 52-page magazine Content.

Of course it’s a Trojan Horse to smuggle good news and convincing stats into our living rooms but it also comes with some interesting stuff on Venice, Theo Schoon and, embarrassingly, the first solid public acknowledgement of Sue Crockford that we've seen. Maybe it was the suddenness of her gallery closing or the muddle that preceded it, but as far as we've noticed Crockford’s valuable and lengthy contribution to the arts has been overlooked (including by OTN). To go some way to redressing that omission A+O presents a long interview with Sue Crockford that covers the history of the gallery.

Also included in Content, in the stats section, are the top 10 sales that have gone through A+O in the seven years they have been trading. It’s a small pool : four works by Gordon Walters, three by Colin McCahon, two by Bill Hammond and one Hotere. If you don’t already have a copy of Content our bet is that an email to A+O would score you one.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Branded: Ruth Watson

The moment when artists become brands

Art is where we found it

If you believe in the OTN rubric Art is where you find it, you can definitely find it at the Ruapeka Marae half-a-dozen kilometres or so out of Rotorua on the road to Matamata. It was certainly enough to stop us as we drove past. Stretched along the length of the marae grounds are 12 stunning carved and painted figures. One of them looks like a startling mash-up of the Hulk and Spiderman but there is also a touching painted carving commemorating the sacrifice made (we assume by people from the marae) in the armed services. You can see a photograph of that figure here.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Art at work

Art hard at work in the foyers of the world

Happy, happy joy, joy

Over the last few months we have been asking the artists we meet one simple question. Are you happy? Our findings have now been compiled and we can tell you that 7.7 percent of New Zealand artists (that’s forgetting you Mr “what’s it got to do with you? And Ms “but do you have the copyright?” and Associate Professor “well, in the final analysis, what is happiness?”) are indeed happy though only 3.24 percent were happy-go-lucky. While there might be some grumbling about OTN basing this on a sample of six artists, it is very interesting to note that the average percentage of happy artists in New Zealand exactly equates with the satisfaction rate found in artists throughout Europe. That research using a scale of one (very unhappy) to 10 (totally happy) also came up with a  7.7 percent happiness rate. How about that? It also was able to demonstrate that artists in Europe are .4 percent happier than the average non-artist. Our research question did differ from the one used in Europe. Their “Overall, how satisfied are you with your job?,” compared to our “how are things going?” and they also included a much wider range of artists, asking composers, musicians, dancers, actors, journalists, clowns, magicians, and nightclub performers some of whom, clowns for instance, were probably skewed on the happiness thing. But both coming in at 7.7 you have to admit, it’s uncanny.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Re constructing exhibitions has become a bit of a theme of late. This one by Takahashi Hisachika was certainly worth the effort. In 1971 Hisachika had the great idea of asking 22 artists he knew to draw maps of the United States from memory. These three are by (from the top) Mel Bochner, Brice Marden and Joseph Kosuth. If you’re in NY you can see the exhibition From Memory at the Sean Kelly Gallery at 475 Tenth Avenue, Chelsea from 13 September 13 through 19 October

Think small

Te Papa has finally announced it is moving North, it’s all very Game of Thrones. There has been a push for a National Museum presence in Auckland for a while, particularly by Hamish Keith. He called for a destination building on the waterfront to display the National treasures so Aucklanders could share in the richness of Te Papa’s collections.

Well that’s not quite what’s going to happen. What is proposed is a $30 million multi-purpose construction sited in Manukau, about 20 k south of the centre of Auckland. It seems the building will also serve as a Te Papa storage facility and potentially a place where other museums might hold exhibitions or displays. If Auckland can get its cultural institutions to work together in this way it will certainly be a breakthrough.

But $30 million? Seriously? The Auckland Art Gallery cost four times that with a reno and rebuild. The mothership Te Papa in Wellington cost $300 million back in the day and the proposed motorway that will eventually take you from the CBD to Manukau to see TePN is currently estimated at a minimum of $105 million per kilometre. And we found at least one house currently being built up North budgeted at around $40 million. So is Te Papa North going to be very small or very cheaply made? 

On Radio NZ on Sunday Te Papa CE Mike Houlihan gave a clue to the small category claiming Te Papa North would be "in scale with the local community" (Manukau City alone has a bigger population than Wellington). As to cheap, Houlihan again "it might be more like a classroom than a conventional gallery."

However they go showing the Nation’s treasures comes with a host of high-cost conservation, air conditioning, specialist staff, loading and packing facilities. Hard to believe that $30 mil is going to do much of a job. 

So while the idea of having a National collection in Manukau sounds like a new big idea and a real effort to expand Te Papa’s reach and audience mix, the money on the table is vintage Think Small.

Monday, September 09, 2013


Nearly 20 years after his death Gordon Walters' style still continues to influence contemporary design

Play time

Something that isn’t often mentioned about New Zealand’s Venice Biennale efforts is the disinterest of the Auckland Art Gallery. This looks like it's about to change.

There has never been an AAG curator involved in any of the Venice outings so far but given that five of our eight Venice artists have been based in Auckland you'd think that the AAG might have exhibited their work when it finished up in Italy. Not a chance. Indeed in the case of et al (even Te Papa refused to show it even though it had exhibited and purchased Venice installations by Stevenson, Upritchard, Millar and Parekowhai and will probably do the same for Culbert) the installation was only in the end exhibited in Auckland thanks to Artspace although in fairness the AAG did finally purchase the work.

This lack of involvement verges on the bizarre when you take into account the strong private support for Venice from Aucklanders. The patrons group for Venice almost replicates the AAG’s own key support group. So it seems that apart from the many artists, patronage has been Auckland’s great contribution to the Venice projects with Jenny Gibbs, Dayle Mace and Leigh Melville all key players.

Now there are signs that the Auckland Art Gallery with its new director Rhana Devenport is going to change all that. Word is that the projects of two AAG curators are going through to proposal stage and, more dramatically, that the director herself has submitted not one but two expressions of interest that have also been accepted to proposal stage. This is a big change in commitment and strategy. It could herald a shift from Te Papa’s domination of the event at home and, who knows, the possibility of someone from the AAG curating the next artist to represent us in Venice.

Saturday, September 07, 2013


OK, some of the staff staff here at OTN said "no-way" but most of the others thought this strange little video was a classic Paul McCarthy lookalike and the perfect opportunity to settle back and watch a bit of quality smearing on a nice Saturday morning.  WARNING people easily offended by the rough or off-hand treatment of children's toys may find part of this video disturbing (oh ... and thanks for sending it our way P)

Friday, September 06, 2013

On the other hand

“I'm not trying to satisfy a general audience. I want there to be more questions than answers. I don't want to be too easily liked.” 
British artist and 2009 Turner Prize finalist Roger Hiorns in the Independent

Brick work

LEGO has always been a magnet for art lookalikes and more recently the company itself has headed back into architecture. It hasn’t always been plain sailing. The first LEGO architectural set was produced in the sixties but some factual errors (like attributing the Guggenheim to Mies van der Rohe) took off some of the shine. Even though it even had different coloured bricks to the standard kits the architectural line was later discontinued. Now the LEGO people are back with a different tack. This time the builders themselves do the designing with LEGO Architectural studio that contains 1,200 monochromatic white LEGO pieces. In their new set of white bricks you can make your own box-on-box modernist masterpiece. Don’t forget a lap pool.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

In Auckland...

...thinking about Nick Austin

Shot in the dark

We’ve made some progress on our undertaking to put online some of the images we've taken in artists' studios over the years. Three are up for being in the first experimental bunch - Shane Cotton, Don Driver (via Joyce Driver) and Peter Peryer. So now we're looking for a good platform to use to present these images. We're thinking of using Webbly, but if anyone has a better idea let us know. We want to be able to put images up quickly with some basic information and give people a simple search (maybe via menus). When will the first lot be available? Well, we have a lot of scanning to do but we're aiming for Christmas.
Images: Studios top to bottom Shane Cotton (2007), Don Driver (2004) and Peter Peryer (2010)

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Crowded house

When we suggested a while back that every curator and his dog in NZ had put in a name for the next Venice Biennale we were right. Twenty of them have submitted expressions of interest. The dog’s proposal wasn’t accepted so only 19 have gone through to proposal stage and word in Auckland is that at least three of them come from the Auckland Art Gallery.

The selection panel has also been announced. This time it has grown.  Ten members as opposed to, say, six in 2011. There are two artists, the patrons have secured two spots for the first time, Creative NZ has four (even though it’s double counting we’re including one of the patrons who is the previous CNZ Chair), and three from art institutions. 

They are:
Judy Millar, Artist
Brett Graham, Artist
Dayle Mace, Patron
Alastair Carruthers, Patron
Dick Grant (Arts Council Chairman) Chair
Anne Rush, Board of Arts Council
Helen Kedgley, Board of Arts Council
Heather Galbraith (2015 Commissioner) Head of School of Art at College of Creative Arts, Massey University
Blair French, Assistant Director, Curatorial & Digital, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Caterina Riva, Director, Artspace

So a big change of philosophy as to size and composition.  In the meantime, OTN is pushing ahead trying to get you the names of the proposal teams.

Private public partnership

The Auckland Art Gallery has just opened A Puppet, a Pauper, a Pirate, a Poet, a Pawn and a King, a selection of works is from an Australian private collection. While the AAG has a very close relationship with private collecting through the Chartwell Collection which it shows regularly, the showing of other private collections is something it does surprisingly seldom. Some highpoints from the past have been A collection of modern etchings on loan from Auckland collectors, which interestingly was the earliest recorded exhibition at the AAG back in 1927, the 1958 exhibition Thirty-seven New Zealand Paintings from the Collection of Charles Brasch and Rodney Kennedy and 22 years later, work from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection.

And yet most of the well known major private collections in Auckland have not been given solo exhibitions so far as we can recall. Maybe there was a clue as to why this might be so in Naomi Milgrom’s (the Australian collector) opening remarks in which she confessed that the AAG had been able to “allay my fears in taking this step into the public world.” Turns out that the outing in Auckland is the first time this private collection has been shown. Usually it is housed in Melbourne and not generally available to the public. But then that’s why they get called private collections.

Image: The entrance and reception area for the Sportsgirl offices in Melbourne where works from the Mildrum collection are made available to the staff. In this image by Brett Boardman is a wall work by Sol Lewitt

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

September song

In September we: found Snoop Dogg • sang Te Papa’s praises • gave you the good oil on human statues • watched movies from the art fair • got shaken and stirred in Wellington • found that damn Rinso packet • put some cash down on the bull’s nose • demonstrated that our new series of business people standing in front of art wasn’t just a flash-in-the-pan • mulled over how photography was doing at auction • took the NZ Herald to task over its land grab for Te Papa • wondered why Ilam art school was getting such a hard time • spammed you again and peered at Len Lye’s hole
Image: Tony Bennett

Lapping it up

While we’ve all been sleeping Brent has raked in $13,000 in a hard-fought art contest that included (no secrets here) Jamie, Jenny, Patti, Ripley and Cheetah. The last name probably got you thinking this is a painting cat story of the large cat variety but no, it’s just another painting chimp post. The interesting (ok, mildly interesting) thing about Brent is that it has taken him 37 years to crack a first prize despite practically inventing the use of the tongue in the painting process. In fact Brent only paints with his tongue and does most of his work at Chimp Haven, a national sanctuary for creative animals retired from federal ‘research’.
Image: art by Brent brought to you by the blog who was too classy to call this post 'Give me some tongue'

Other painting primates featured on OTN

Monday, September 02, 2013


Wellington's Fat Freddy’s Drop channel Shane Cotton

This is public money and it’s none of your damn business

If you’ve followed Creative New Zealand’s handling of the Venice Biennale you'll know it's hard to keep up with how the selection of artists to represent NZ is made. Given that it costs close to a million dollars that's probably not a good thing. For the last two outings the selections seemed to be a fait accompli but the efforts to find the representative for 2015 have taken a formal line as in: send-us-an-expression-of-interest-and-if-we-think-you’re-up-to-it-we-will-call-for-a-proposal-which-our-panel-will-judge.

Now, the Venice Biennale is by far the largest single chunk of public money that goes to the Visual Arts (it's around 15 percent of the visual arts annual total) so it matters how it is spent. The only way to see what CNZ is trying to achieve at Venice is to understand the rationale for the selection so we can have an informed discussion not just a reaction. It’s a power thing. The difficulty is that even when there is a selection process in place, as there is this time around, it's impossible to judge the quality of the decision unless you know who threw which hat in the ring.

CNZ issued an 11 page call for expressions of interest (you can read it here) to be in no later than 12 August so we asked for the names of the curators who have expressed interest and the artists they want to work with. No, said CNZ. We asked again as a matter of urgency under the provisions of the Official Information Act. We got a standard go-away letter.

“Creative New Zealand is aware of a number of people who are interested in and eligible to make proposals.” Of course they are, CNZ would have had all expressions of interest since the deadline of 12 August and sent them all emails on or about 16 August. Word is that all the proposals were accepted to go through to the next stage so that’s a lot of proposal writing to be done between now and the deadline of 16 September.

More from CNZ:
“Creative New Zealand’s decision is made on the basis that all applications are submitted to us in confidence…” Say what? Confidentiality is not mentioned anywhere in the CNZ call for proposals and why would it be a problem for artists or for curators if people knew they'd applied? This is the sort of attitude that encourages an unhelpful winner-takes-all culture. As one senior curator said to us, “why not just release them. It's kudos for the artist, not a shaming.”

“Making application material available during the funding decision making process would prejudice the provision of free and frank opinions to us in applications” Hey back up the bus we didn’t ever ask for material in the applications, only the names of the people who put in proposals. And besides we would be perfectly happy to have the names after the proposals have been written and sent in to CNZ which would seem to sort out free and frank.

So there you go. What we did was to ask for a list of people that at least 50 people will know already and that most of us will have worked out in a few weeks, and that’s what you get. You can read the two CNZ responses here

Our next step will be to ask the Ombudsman to reverse CNZ’s decision, but having to do this for such a simple request feels like overkill and a waste of public money. Why can’t we all just get along.