Monday, November 24, 2014


"We'll be moving away from the passive physical engagement of the past and looking to technology innovation here out of New Zealand, as well as what others are doing and learn from that and hopefully bring something quite magic alive."

Te Papa CE Rick Ellis interviewed by TV1 on 10 November 2014

OK…well, good luck

The new CE of Te Papa Rick Ellis starts work today.

"The board and chairman, Evan Williams, have reassured me that the issues that have been widely publicised over the past 18 months or so have been addressed and the organisation is actually in great shape for a new leader like me to come in and take it forward," Mr Ellis said.
Te Papa CE Rick Ellis interviewed by TV1 on 10 November 2014

“The Te Papa Board is faced with considerable challenges over the near term, as it reconciles a necessary period of fiscal consolidation with the need for significant capital investment in the museum infrastructure, and a desire to share more of the national heritage and scientific collections with the nation. These challenges are accentuated in the short term, as the museum goes through a period of capability rebuilding following its recent organisational realignment.” 
Briefing to the incoming Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage October 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

One day in the OTN editorial offices

Editor: Is that piece on the changing role of curators in the digital world ready for Saturday?

Features editor: No

Editor: Not to worry we’ll put up this Homer Simpson nail art tutorial video.

And they did

Friday, November 21, 2014

Art in the workplace

Art hard at work in the foyers of the world

Pic of the week

Is Jim Allen the oldest performance artist still standing? He’s definitely the oldest standing operating a chainsaw and with Marina Abramovic at 66, Vito Acconti 74, Gina Paine and Carolee Schneemann just a year older and even Yayoi Kusama a youthful 85, we reckon the honours most definitely go to Allen at 92. On Wednesday night about 50 people watched him recreate the performance On planting a native from 1976 that involved cutting down a small tree and representing it on the gallery wall. In the audience was art writer and critic Wystan Curnow who has been a strong supporter of Allen and the other performance artists of the seventies. It was quite something to see Curnow transfixed by the performance as though it were the first time he had seen Jim Allen at work. He even edged closer mid-performance to take more pictures. Turns out that Curnow is also that other essential glue to the art world, a fan.

Image: Wystan Curnow photographs Jim Allen at Michael Lett

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Wonder woman

"The art world is an old boys’ club. People tend to promote people who are like themselves. The barriers to financial success persist for women artists as well. Even for the women who have broken records at auction, their prices are still only one-third the value of the top male artists at auction—on a good day."

Barbara Lee, a Boston based philanthropist who only collects art by female artists

Model behaviour

There has probably never been a wackier representation of art in the movies than the 1955 vehicle for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis Artists and their models. It was the last Lewis Martin team-up and revolves around the struggles of painter  Rick Todd who has to do billboard work to keep afloat. In a parallel universe the real James Rosenquist was also a billboard painter learning the techniques that he would put into his famous Pop paintings of the early sixties. For Martin and Lewis the billboard paint job inevitably ends in spilling big tubs of the stuff on the client and a passing cop. Still, this rather sorry mess of a movie ends with a big production number on a giant palette, so not all bad. In fact the movie was presented as a satire on the paranoid delusions of the McCarthy hearings via the censorship and control of comics (Lewis is a comic nut in the movie). You can see the billboard sequence here.

Images: top to bottom left to right, Dean Martin ‘paints’ lips high above the street and James Rosenquist in action above Times Square c.1957, whoops, the palette as art signifier, again, and the small poster for the movie with obligatory palette.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

When art collectors pose on furniture

Erin Wasson model and art collector

By the numbers

To anyone (that’s anyone living below the Bombay Hills) who doesn’t believe that Auckland is now the Cultural Capital of NZ, here’s some numbers based on the Walters Prize and the Venice Biennale. And they are kind of compelling. Compelling that is if you believe that representation by a dealer gallery is one possible measure of an artist's standing. Anyway, of the 25 artists who have been finalists in the seven Walters Prizes, all are represented in Auckland and just seven in Wellington. Then in the last two Prizes non of the eight finalists are represented in Wellington at all. Of the nine artists who have carried the NZ flag at the Venice Biennale, only three are represented in Wellington. Over both of our major art events then less than 30 percent of the exhibitors are represented by a Wellington dealer. As to the South Island, someone down there can do that sorry sum..

And for the record, the lists:

NZ’s representation at the Venice Biennale:
2001 Jacqueline Fraser and Peter Robinson
2003 Michael Stevenson
2005 et al.
2009 Francis Upritchard and Judy Millar
2011 Michael Parekowhai
2013 Bill Culbert
2015 Simon Denny

Walters Prize:
Yvonne Todd
Gavin Hipkins
John Reynolds
Mike Stevenson

et al.
Jacqueline Fraser
Ronnie van Hout
Daniel von Sturmer

Francis Upritchard
Stella Brennan
Phil Dadson
Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson
Edith Amituanai
Lisa Reihana
John Reynolds

Dan Arps
Fiona Connor
Saskia Leek
Alex Monteith

Kate Newby
Simon Denny
Alicia Frankovich
Sriwhana Spong

Luke Willis Thompson
Simon Denny
Maddie Leach
Kalisolaite Uhila

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Parts of it are excellent

Nice illustration by Robert Neubecker for Ellen Gamerman’s piece on everyone being a curator in the Wall Street Journal. You’ve probably heard some of it before but you can read it here.

One day in the New Plymouth Art in Public Places Trust boardroom

Trustee 1: …and then it whistled through the air almost decapitating the… (looks up) … sorry, are we all here?

Trustee 2: (looks around and counts) Yes, we seem to be.

T1: Excellent. Well it’s that time again. Two years have passed and again we are required by our Deed to invent ... I mean reconstruct, another of Len’s works. Yes, another public sculpture.

(There’s a shuffling of feet and several averted eyes).

T2: Come on everyone. We had a huge success with the big noisy one that went up and down hitting that ball ...

T1: Yes, and the very long one that writhes across the floor is well on the way.

T2: Not to mention Water whirler in Wellington. (looks down at briefing notes) Oh sorry. I see it says not to mention -Water whirler.

T1: This time what we need is something more visually commanding. Something that's more than just one unique single thing on its own moving this way and that by itself in isolation.

T2: How about a whole lot of unique things? You know, more than one.

T1: Brilliant.

T2: Like how about we make a Quadrilogy version of Trilogy, or even a Septilogy…that’s seven of them.

T3: I’ve got it. A Wind wand farm.

(several heads turn)

T4: Do you think Len Lye would have ever done something like that?

T1: Definitely.

T3: It could be a whole cluster of Wind wands bobbing their heads in sprightly dance.

T1: Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. What are we talking. 50? A 100?

T3: I reckon we could easily do six, as long as they’re kind of small.

And that is what they did

LATER: Initially we thought it was the Len Lye Trust proposing this wacky idea. But reading the article again, who exactly is going to do this thing is a bit of a mystery. We are assuming the Len Lye Trust is in there somewhere, the City Council probably, maybe the Govett-Brewster - all jumping the shark together?

Monday, November 17, 2014

To go

We posted on this great house designed by Austrian architect Fritz Eisenhofer last year when it was up for rent. Last week when we drove past it was playing second fiddle to the art garage-sale from hell.

Elvis has entered the building

When the first director of the Australian National Gallery James Mollison purchased Jackson Pollock’s Blue poles all hell broke loose. One of the newspapers headlined with 'Barefoot drunks painted our $1 million masterpiece'.  One reason for the uproar was the painting’s price of $A1.3 million. Once a work was over the million mark it required Government approval and in this case the PM Gough Whitlam (a staunch Mollison supporter) told the ANG director, "Buy it and disclose the price."

Another of Mollison's spectacular purchases was Elvis a 1963 silkscreen by Andy Warhol. This cost the Gallery just $25,000, didn’t need ticking off, and slipped into the collection virtually unheralded the same year as the Pollock uproar. Many of Mollison's purchases have been vindicated by the market many times but he must have laughed last week when an Elvis painting from the same series as the ANG’s one sold for $A93.6 million at Christie's. This was a world record for Warhol. OK there were three Elvises in this one but it’s still $31.2 mill an Elvis however you look at it.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

House paint

As you’re no doubt set to paint the house this weekend (or someone else’s house) why not double up and make art at the same time. That’s what they did in the Hungarian People’s Republic during the years of what was tactfully known as “Goulash Communism”. By combining traditional patterns with a touch of Russian constructivism painters also raised a painted finger to the regime. In our DIY-mad culture painting your house this way would be sure to get the neighbors and possibly the local Council going. Many of the Hungarian houses have been photographed by Katharina Roters, and you can see more here on Picturesdotnews where we saw them first.

Friday, November 14, 2014

One day in the tattoo studio

Customer: Have you got time for me today?

Tattooist: Sure, take a seat. Whaddaya got in mind?

C: I was thinking Sistine Chapel Ceiling.

T: The whole thing?

C: Yeah, the touching hands, the Last Judgment.

T: I think you’re on the back wall now.

C: I don’t want walls.

T: So maybe you should think about something that’ll take a little less time, like less than ten years.

C: Fair enough. How about that one where eyes follow you round the room?

T: The Scream?

C: No, no. the older one. Lisa something.

T: You want the Mona Lisa?

C: Yeah. That one.

T: Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa?

C: Yeah.

T:: The painting by the Renaissance genius who was the greatest artist who has ever lived?

C: Yeah.

T: OK.

And he did.