Thursday, April 30, 2009

Where there’s a will there’s a way

In reference to our post on The International, a reader points out that the Guggenheim Museum in New York has in the past allowed movie makers into the building. The example given was the 1997 movie Men in Black in which Will Smith storms in pausing only to shoot out one of the glass front doors before chasing an alien all the way up the ramp. Matthew Barney also used the building as a star in his Cremaster series and a broken version appeared in the 1999 disaster movie Aftershock: Earthquake in New York .
Thanks C.

"It's big and gorgeous. It is rather fabulous and dominating..."
Art Fair director Jennifer Buckley describing a painting of a naked Nicky Watson by Liz Maw’s at the Auckland Art Fair - NZ Herald

10,000 hours

There’s a theory around that to be an expert at something you first need to put in 10,000 hours of practice. That’s not to say you will be showered with gold or put to the front of your particular queue, but it is the number of hours you need to put in to make a stand beyond the accomplished. This idea came to mind when we dropped in on Michael Smither who now lives in Otama Beach at one of the gravel road-ends of the Coromandel. It was Easter, Michael is 70 this year, we were visiting and he still managed to put in three or four hours in the studio every day. Consider, 10,000 hours is five years at three hours every day of the week.

Many years ago when we were working on a survey exhibition with Michael, he told us how he had fallen in love with the romance of painting via Gully Jimson, the lead character in Joyce Cary’s novel The Horse’s Mouth. The book is a bit of a struggle now (although we bet Mike has a well-thumbed copy somewhere) as it comes from an era when romance and art were more sympathetic bedfellows, but for a time Jimson was the epitome of what it was to be an artist - outrageous, outcast and out of money. Criterion has issued the DVD of The Horse’s Mouth starring Alec Guinness (the movie was made in 1958, the year McCahon painted the Northland panels). The paintings shown in the film are predictably a Matisse Picasso mash-up made by John Bratby (Te Papa has a painting, Auckland Art Gallery four paintings and four drawings) and Jimson is a bit hard to take even with Guinness’s subtlety, but it’s an entertaining time machine into another world of art. You can see an image from the film The Horse’s Mouth featuring one of Bratby's paintings here.

There are certainly interesting points of intersection between Gully Jimson and Mike Smither if you look for them. In the 1970s, with his 10,000 hours well behind him, Smither, like Jimson, painted a set of religious murals. Unlike Jimson who destroyed his own mural with a bulldozer, Smither got to see one of his painted out by the church. Times change.

Image: Michael Smither in his studio in 2009.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fun and games

Gerard Cafe does Shearing 101 for children at the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney


On Friday 29 April at 9 AM the fifth Paul Dibble sculpture available to the general public will be installed in the Moore Wilson supermarket on Tory Street in Wellington. Is this the first supermarket sculpture in Wellington, or even in New Zealand? Maybe. Remember that it was a Dibble that caused a brief bronze-for-cash scare when one of his works was stolen from Waikanae beachfront restaurant Swell in 2005. The Moore Wilson work is pegged to recognise the site as the original land occupied by Thompson Lewis & Co the soft drink manufacturers. An artesian well (discovered by a water diviner) supplied the drink company with its core ingredient for 53 years and, we are told, the sculpture will capture this story. Another art story attached to this site was F1 a large art exhibition that was held in the disused drinks factory in November/December 1982. You can read a review of some of the works, here and a short post on the exhibition’s organiser Ian Hunter here.
Image: Waiting for Dibble.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bare faced

They just won’t stop.

When art goes to the movies: The International

The Guggenheim might have stepped away from Tom Krens’s über PR, but the brand is still on the high he helped build over the years of his directorship. It was because of this brand that the movie people talked to the museum people about shooting the big action scene for The International inside the famous Frank Lloyd Wright building. While Krens might have said yes, the answer was no. Well sort of no. Instead they gave permission for the movie makers to build a 98 percent scale, four-storey look alike of the museum’s interior on a sound stage in Berlin plus one day of low action filming in the building proper. The Guggenheim even supplied plans of the building. Four months of planning and four months of construction later they were ready to shoot the 13 minute sequence.

To fill the Guggenheim stunt-double's galleries with art, an existing video work by German artist Julian Rosenfeldt was projected on large screens. At the end of the movie the Guggenheim required the producer to include the following disclaimer, “The fictional exhibition depicted in the main galleries of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum was not curated by nor an actual exhibition of the museum.” Now that’s brand management.
Images: Top poster and action sequence in the look-alike Guggenheim. Bottom, shooting the Guggenheim set in Berlin

Monday, April 27, 2009


As a rule art prizes and awards not known for their flexibility. You win, you accept your cheque and some praise, and get back to the studio. So it is good to see a case where an award is tailored to fit the artist.

One element of the Walters Prize is the chance to go to New York and exhibit at Saatchi & Saatchi HQ. NZ to NY being a long way the opportunity to fly free and have some all-expenses-paid time there is usually grabbed with both hands.

But Francis Upritchard who lives closer to NY, across the ditch in the UK, had another idea. She suggested putting the flying and accommodation funds into a book she could take with her to Venice. And they did.

You can order a copy here

Art Fair shark guy

Here's an interview with Don Thompson, author of the book The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art, and guest speaker at this years Auckland Art Fair.

Business art is the step that comes after Art

You can can feel a shift in the whole art = money thing. Back just a year or two when one of those collecting art as an investment articles hit the papers, the tone was only-buy-it-if-you-love-it and certainly never-buy-just-for-investment.

With Auckland Art Fair fever in the air, the DomPost asked around and came up with a different version of the art/investment feature this weekend. This time it’s in the business section of the paper rather than in the usual entertainment ghetto and attitudes have shifted. Now it’s only-buy-it-if-you-love-it and don’t-sell-short.

Here’s some highlights from the DomPost’s advice to prospective art collectors:

“Hold for the long term, at least 10 years.”

“A gold bar is a gold bar but even Hotere and McCahon have variable output.”

“It costs about $60,000 to enter the blue-chip market.”

“Big traditional artworks that don’t suit apartments don’t sell.”

“Photography is beginning to make inroads.”

“Try to choose passionate artists – they are more likely to be the real deal.”

Unfortunately the cashing-up example they give is a Goldie that was valued in 1975 at $83,000 in today’s prices. The work is currently on offer for between $170,000 and $230,000. Even a plastic piggy bank could do better than that over 34 years.
Most of the current optimism seems to be based on experience of the last big crash in late 1987. Then the art market remained strong right through to the 1990s.

Art Investors, start your engines. You have just over two years.

Header quote: Andy Warhol

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Taking the piss

Look-alikes. The Christchurch Press rises to his full cultural height and features a dog taking a leak on Fiona Jack’s recently finished mural in the city. Meanwhile, back in Wellington, Saatchi & Saatchi have exactly the same idea to announce their latest art show.
Images: Left Press, right, Saatchi

Friday, April 24, 2009

On Display

Over at stimulus--response there are two pickled walnuts and other things worthy of your notice on display.


But that was then

Having stumbled on the vanishing of Peter McLeavey last week, we’ve been in a revisionist frame of mind. Not that you’d need to be very focused to pick up the audacious reversioning of history by the City Gallery in Wellington. To fill the gap while they wait for their new gallery to be finished, the City Gallery team has created a brochure both to announce the new spaces and reaffirm their importance. “Over the last fifteen years City Gallery Wellington has attracted critical and public acclaim”.

No harm in some hyperbole, but 15 years? On the back of the brochure this 15-year history theme is further developed in a timeline of exhibition highlights and it is also reflected in the City Gallery Wikipedia entry. But hang on. As Seddon Bennington, CEO of Te Papa, will tell you the gallery actually started under his directorship in 1980 as the Wellington City Art Gallery.

Before moving to its present location in Civic Square the City Gallery (nee Wellington Art Gallery) had been in a temporary building in Victoria Street by Chews Lane and before that in the old TVNZ studios across the road where the Public Library is today. There is a brief mention of the missing years on the City Gallery’s web page: “Established in 1980, City Gallery Wellington was the first significant non-collecting exhibition based public gallery in New Zealand.” (You can also find some of them if you dig into the gallery's immensely agravating exhibition archive, so they are part of the City Gallery's history).

The gallery's new promotional brochure, however, while authoritatively titled “Looking back: A History of firsts,” ignores the firsts of its first 13 years. This means dropping important markers like Shadow of style (probably the first public museum exhibition to show Peter Robinson, Shane Cotton, Ronnie Van Hout and Giovanni Intra), the first presentation of Shona Rapira’s Nga Morehu (made for her exhibition Whakamamae with Robyn Kahukiwa in 1988), as well as shows like Drawing Analogies, Rear Vision and international projects such as David Hockney photographs and Russians Brodsky & Utkin’s Palazzo Nero. There are of course many others that we can’t remember – which is kinda the point of revisionist history. Instead of dropping its past behind it like an unwanted tail, the City Gallery should consider celebrating it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

When art goes gaming

Back in 1999 Artspace director Robert Leonard arranged the screening of Mathew Barney’s Cremaster 5 in Auckland. We’ve come a long way since then and we can now report that the entire Cremaster series is being reinterpreted for Playstation Network and for viewing on YouTube. Who said there’s no such thing as progress? You can see a sample video version here or, if you have a PS3 and the Little Big Planet game, you can search for the creator Paul's Cremaster-themed levels on the community page and play them yourself (Paul's PSN username is "fluxlasers"). Start your journey here.


Having just praised CNZ’s website we now discover it was designed and developed in London by Practise. Creative New Zealand, taking NZ to the world. Supporting local digital art practice – not so much.

Penny for the guy

Here’s some good Venice news. CNZ has revamped its Venice website and included a blog, details of the two projects, some history, photos of the two artists in shirts from hell, a bit of Latin (Lorem Ipsum etc - it’s not quite finished), Google maps and some great studio shots. So now you can see exactly where the two venues are, what they look like, where they are in relation to everything else and an idea of what's going to be in them.

As you will also see this Venice is definitely not a guy thing. Of the 10 attendants looking after the Judy Millar and Francis Upritchard exhibitions, nine are women. Good luck there Simon.

Well, we asked for information, and here it is. If the first entry in the blog and the current material is representative of what’s coming up it's going to be worth regular visits.
Images: Top to bottom, left to right. In attendance Veronica Green, Robyn Pickens, Julia Holderness, Thomasin Sleigh, Serena Bentley, Marnie Slater, Ariane Craig-Smith, Shelley Jahnke-Bishop and Simon Glaister. (Francis Loeffler not pictured)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Koons update

Jeff Koons is still going ahead with his train sculpture for the LA museum LACMA. You can see Koons talking about the project in front of the working model on this YouTube clip.

Found - Anne Kirker

To say Anne Kirker was lost may be unfair, but lost to New Zealand certainly. Still, as a reader has put her name up on the board, here we go. Kirker was Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Auckland Art Gallery and then at the National Art Gallery during Luit Bieringa’s directorship. In 1986 she wrote one of the early books looking at the role of women artists in New Zealand. Two years later she left New Zealand to become Curator of Prints, Drawings and Photographs at the Queensland Art Gallery and eventually senior curator (special projects). She left the Gallery in 2006 to become a freelance consultant. The photos of Anne Kirker were taken by Christine Webster. There are more on Kirker’s website.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Look alike: Mikala Dwyer

Dwyer-like sculptures spotted in a Auckland design store. Looked-alike here.


“Two years ago, at London’s Frieze Art Fair, they wouldn’t talk to you unless you were a curator. Last year, they talked to you. Next year, I hope they’ll be on their bloody knees.”
UK Art Collector Robert Hiscox

Doing the rounds

As we have Claude & Co. on show at Te Papa and have just purchased the new Phaidon book Salon to Biennial, let’s celebrate the First Impressionist Exhibition which opened 135 years ago last week on 15 April (it closed on 15 May – attendance 3500 – it’s that sort of book). It was of course one of Monet’s paintings that goaded critic Louis Leroy to disparage his work with the newly-minted term, Impressionism. Monet probably inspired it himself by titling his work Impression Sunrise. The painting is currently on show at the Nagoya/ Boston Museum of Fine Arts on loan from the Musée Marmottan in Paris. The Nagoya / Boston is sister museum to the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston in a Guggenheim-like relationship intended to widen the reach of the Boston institution. The MFA has in turn lent more of its Monet and Impressionist stockpile for the Te Papa show. There you go, full circle.
Image: Cover for the First Impressionism exhibition

Monday, April 20, 2009

Dave Hickey on:

Graduate art education
“The wind shear in these schools is at its most extreme, as educators with marginal credentials indoctrinate students of marginal literacy in a discourse that is utterly irrelevant.”

And the graduates…
“They borrow a quarter-million bucks from the government, give it to the institution and then work in an Apple store to pay the bill.”
Art in America March 2009

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Dollars and sense

On Friday CNZ sent us a summary budget for New Zealand’s participation at Venice. It was a week earlier than expected and it certainly seems to cover all the bases.

First the Income: As projected it comes in at around $NZ1.1 million including CNZ’s contribution of $700,000 and an astonishing $268,500 already raised by Jenny Gibbs and Dale Mace. This fund raising was done at a budgeted expense of $20,000 (that’s $1 spent for every $13.50 raised) – a remarkable achievement. It should be shouted from the roof tops, particularly in an environment where the new government and Minister of the Arts are so hot on philanthropy. In addition to these contributions to income, the dealer galleries associated with the two artists have put in $60,000 toward the production of two catalogues. There is also a contribution of $100,000 from a mysterious “Associate Partner.” We’re guessing this is New Zealand Trade and Enterprise paying for the NZ “Reading Room” at Judy Millar’s venue and the "entertainment".

The costs: Fees are recorded as $144,100. This includes the two artists, curators and the Technical Production Manager. We’ve heard the artists received $10,000 each as a fee and assume the curators (all three of them) got less, so Bruce Edgar, Technical Production Manager probably takes the thick end. Production costs for the artists are budgeted at $170,600 along with $40,000 for installation.

Other costs: Renting the two venues for the duration of the Biennale is budgeted at $256,566.00; Getting everyone there, accommodated and fed (you can read the full list of those being paid for here) $236,760. The rest is rats, mice and contingencies.

Venice is a long way away and nobody would ever think participation would be cheap. CNZ has identified this Biennale as the key opportunity to present NZ artists in an international context with the opportunity to be seen by curators, collectors and institutional directors.

The oddities to us are the reading room (who the hell has time to read during the Venice Biennale?), parties with imported NZ entertainment (isn’t it time to cut back on the party thing, given the economic climate, and simply focus on the work?) and Kapa Haka support (did we learn nothing from the 2001 debacle?).

You can see the full budget here.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Saving face

It looks like the site has been pulled down, but for a few heady months displayed bad Obama portraits from around the US. Why anyone thought that in a digital world closing the site would close the case is anybody’s guess. You can expose yourself to more badly-painted Presidential pics here.

Friday, April 17, 2009


A reader has alerted us to this entertaining bit of wishful thinking on TradeMe.

"For those who liked my "THIS IS NOT A BILLY APPLE, APPLE" try this, a plastic shark that measures only 250mm long, the paint work is scuffed and it is well worn so you need a can of spray paint and a perspex / glass container then you can show off your Look-a-like. "The physical impossibility of death in the mind of someone living". I have decided to sell this for $27.00 in respect of the NZ $27 million approx price tag for the original sold at Sotherby's."

You can bid it up here. Thanks M.

Style section

Some time ago we pointed you to body painter Guido Daniele who swiped Moko for his own ends. He’s not alone. Of many examples of Moko used in the fashion industry, Jean Paul Gaultier and Paco Rabanne stand out. Although there have been some attempts to stop this use of Moko, spare a thought for Africa. In his Spring/ Summer 2009 Tribal chic collection for Dior, John Galliano used a fertility goddess as the heel of a sandal. Yours for $1,590.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Branded: Wealleans

When artists become brands

Fronting up

If you’re looking for a feisty sign of confidence in an art world scanning the horizon for the rapidly approaching economic storm, get yourself down to the Michael Lett Gallery to see Fiona Connor’s installation Something transparent (please go round the back). The multiple entrances contrived from glass, wood, glue and paint and built across the gallery space could be a vote for or against the future of art dealing. Connor’s repetition feels effortless but real effort is there on display. It is an audacious move by both artist and dealer. There’s also perhaps a sly dig at the dealer system in Connor’s work because as dealers continue to add artists to their lists, anyone can predict the result. The amount of time and energy devoted to each artist is diluted. As Connor shows, when the gallery’s welcoming front entrance is repeated 17 times, it all but fills the space available.
Images: Top, Fiona Connor’s Something transparent (please go round the back). Bottom, left inside out, right outside in.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Look alike

Left, Billy Apple Gallery New York. Right, Peter McLeavey Gallery, Wellington

The shipping news

Many years ago one of the paintings in our collection was returned from a touring exhibition. When the crate arrived it was so big (and it only contained a medium sized work on paper) it had to be left in the middle of the living room. The crate was so heavy the two of us could only just lay it flat and then, because the screws were mangled, we couldn’t open it. Like in some sit-com, the crate was now too heavy for us to lift and occupied the entire living room floor. It took seven days to get the art museum responsible to send someone to remove the work and take the crate away. In our experience over-sized museum crates have restricted the ability to tour work as much as made it safe and possible. Ok, they need to protect the work, but at what cost? It is fair to say that some crated large multi part works have been transformed into shipments that are too big for smaller galleries to afford. Unfortunately crating doesn’t seem to have a hierarchy with works of low value often getting the same expensive crating that is afforded to the most precious.

That’s why we both laughed aloud during Charlie Kaufman’s movie Synecdoche, New York. Caden’s wife, Catherine Keener is a painter of miniatures (you view her work through magnifying glasses when it is on show at the Metropolitan Museum in New York or her dealer gallery in Berlin) who has miniature museum shipping crates built for her postage-stamp sized works. Kaufman is a funny guy. Maybe he’s an art collector too.

The American artist Richard Artschwager found an ingenious solution to the crate challenge by making the crates the subject of his work. Suggestive shapes indicated what kind of art work might have been inside, had any been created. Then there was Hany Armanious. who used this crates as stands to display the works they had previously contained in an exhibition with Michael Lett at the Basel Art Fair. We also remember in the early nineties, when Julian Dashper was using coloured transparencies as art works that could easily be taken overseas, he called the yellow plastic boxes they came in after processing their crates. He’s a funny guy too.

Images: From the top, Catherine Keener at work on her miniatures pre crating, Richard Artschwager sculpture Crate, Julian Dashper crate, Hany Armanious Turns In Arabba

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Look alike

And still they keep on coming.
Thanks P, again.

Go away

We get a good response from any posts about the preparations for Venice and CNZ’s plans. But information is hard to come by. CNZ are sparing with their releases and there’s not exactly active follow-up by the media although Art News is doing a great job. To try and get things moving we asked CNZ the following questions:

1 Is Bic Runga going to Venice to support the art shows?
2 Are Moana and the Moa Hunters going to Venice?
3 What is the "reading room" all about? What sort of furniture is being displayed? and how was it transported to Venice?
4 Where will the opening will be held ie Francis's venue or Judy's or both?
5 What sort of events will be held alongside the Venice exhibitions?
6 How many CNZ staff and associates will be traveling to Venice including Board members?
7 How is the private fund raising going?
8 Can we have a copy of the CNZ Budget for Venice, is that possible?

CNZ’s response?

1 No answer
2 No answer
3 No answer
4 “there will be separate openings at each of the venues, but on the same night and timed to follow one after the other”
5 No answer
6 No answer
7 “Excellent”
8 Maybe after Easter

The answer to question 7 kinda sums up CNZ’s attitude to its interested public. Trite. a second more official version of the CNZ reply is here on OTN Stuff.

We will box on. Any help appreciated.

Image: Greta Garbo, patron Saint of What-Is-It-About-Leave-Me-Alone-You-Don’t-Understand?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Faces on their eggs/Egg on their faces

No posts on Monday and Tuesday might be a stretch too, but here’s an Easter special to keep you going. The good news for Easter is that Thornton’s, a British chocolate manufacture, has produced five celebrity Easter Eggs for the season. The bad news for Britain is that the eggs bear the faces of Gordon Brown, Victoria Beckham, David Beckham, Lily Allen and Prince Harry who are described as "representing a spectrum of British culture".

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Mr Bean goes to art class

Mr Bean shuffles through the art school model cliches. Only worth watching if you're desperate.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Back tomorrow

No posts today or Monday, or Sunday ... well, may be Sunday.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Look alike

A look alike from the Kaufman movie Synecdoche, New York. Seemed to us the layout of the set was definitely based on Kippenberger’s last great work The Happy Ending of Franz Kafka’s "Amerika"
Images: Top Kippenberger. Bottom, Kaufman

Duck tales

No, this is not a look-alike.

It is a warning to the citizens of Christchurch.

Sometime last Sunday in the Boston Public Garden, one of seven bronze ducklings was cut off at the feet and stolen for scrap. Nancy Schon’s sculpture Make Way for Ducklings has the same informal approach to animal anatomy that the Christchurch Corgis do, so this is a heads-up about any potential copy corgi attempt.

The Boston Ducks, unlike the Christchurch Corgis, have a long history of animal liberation. Individual ducklings have been nabbed in 1987 (shortly after the work was installed), 1988, 1992 and 1999. Only two of the stolen birds were ever returned.

Other bronze napping stories on OTN here.

As we slept Boston's bronze duck was found. You can see a video of the momentous event here.

Images: top, missing duckling Boston. Bottom Christchurch

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Venice News

Francis Upritchard is launching her book Every Colour by Itself at New Zealand House in London on 20 April at 6.30.
This month’s Art News has an interview with Judy Millar describing her Venice work and the issues involved in changing venues.
Send anything you hear about what’s going on with the Venice Biennale to OTN, and we will publish it. Informal channels seem to be the way to go. CNZ’s last update was on 17 March. OTN caps for the best contributions.
Images: Top, Francis Upritchard’s new book. Art News on Judy Millar

Where in the world is Peter McLeavey?

In Alan Wright and Edward Hanfling’s book Mrkusich: the art of transformation we noticed some revisionism that could do with an airing. The authors declare that “In Mrkusich’s paintings small things matter” so in that spirit we began a search for Peter McLeavey.

Peter McLeavey sold his first work by Milan Mrkusich in 1966, his first year in business, and held a one-person Mrkusich exhibition in the first year he opened his gallery at 147 Cuba Street. In all, McLeavey had 20 Mrkusich exhibitions between 1969 and 1990 and sold a large number of Mrkusich paintings into public and private collections.

Taking into account this substantial relationship, it is odd that there is only a single reference to McLeavey in the text. Compare this to five page references for Ikon Gallery (three Mrkusich exhibitions), 12 for Barry Lett Galleries (four exhibitions), six for Peta/James Gallery (three exhibitions) and nine page references for Sue Crockford Gallery (19 exhibitions).

Mrkusich’s dealer history is well covered for Lett, Vuletic, Data and Crockford but ignores McLeavey mentioning only a single sale. What’s going on? The incident that resulted in McLeavey and Mrkusich parting may well still smart for the protagonists, but we’d have thought it should not be allowed to distort the history of the artist, his work and his longest-serving dealer. But there’s more.

The “Selected Exhibition History” at the back of the book is indeed selected. The last Mrkusich exhibition at McLeavey’s recorded in the book takes place in 1983. In fact the final exhibition was held in 1990, seven years later, with the result that six of the McLeavey Mrkusich exhibitions are simply vanished. This decision has also eliminated any critical writing done over that period by the likes of Ian Wedde who we assume reviewed a number of McLeavey’s Mrkusich shows. What ever the differences artist and dealer may have had, the job of the historian and critic is to try to tell as complete a story as possible. From the role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a major Mrkusich collector to his championing of Gordon Walters, no history of New Zealand’s brush with modernism could be accurately told without Peter McLeavey and his Gallery as key players.

In the meantime, if you want to find Peter McLeavey, he's where he always is, 147 Cuba Street.

Images: Top, the now famous photograph of Peter McLeavey and Lenin (McLeavey can be seen standing next to the podium to the right of Lenin – click image to enlarge). Bottom, the same photograph as manipulated for the Russian people after McLeavey's disgrace.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Pure Goldin

The odd collection of stuff pictured above is being sold by photographer Nan Goldin. No surprise to find that Goldin surrounded herself with things that were just as quirky, confrontational and classy as her own work. Maybe we really are what we collect. You can see the rest of Goldin’s stuff in the auction here, lots 97 to 122.


Most of you will know that it is Wolverine Appreciation month. What you may not have heard is that Marvel comics titles will be featuring Wolverine Art Appreciation Variant Covers in April to celebrate the hairy one’s 35th anniversary. It gets better. Each cover will be a portrait of the transformed James Howlett in the style of a … wait for it …. famous artists. No we’re not talking Damien Hirst, Francis Bacon, Bruce Nauman or Jeff Koons.
Images: Cover versions

Monday, April 06, 2009

On the road

On the road is an ongoing series celebrating the Ministry of Land Transport and Local Body support of New Zealand artists. And happy birthday Rita Angus, wherever you are.
For others in the series search 'on the road' in the blog search box above.

They might be giants

Have you ever wondered who decides on what goes into those 500 places to see before you die books? We had a chance to find out thanks to a recent visit to Dymocks. There, along with 501 Great Writers: A Comprehensive Guide to the Giants of Literature was 501 Great Artists: A Comprehensive Guide to the Giants of the Art World. Giants? Picasso on the cover, you get the picture.

Would there be any NZ giants? We thought probably not, but what the hell do we know? Turns out there were at least seven including Hodgkins, Hotere, and Webb (all with one page each), Walters and McCahon (half a page each) and Clairmont (one page) ….. say what? Clairmont, a one-page-art-world-giant? We’re long-time Clairmont supporters, but art world giant… where did that come from?

From Nuala Gregory, that’s where and, in answer to your next question, as to who Nuala Gregory is, we can tell you that she is Associate Professor and Head of School at Auckland University’s Elam School of Fine Arts. Nuala is the boss of non-art world giants et al., Peter Robinson and Michael Parekowhai.

Lists always have omissions, and this one leaves out Angus, Mrkusich, Apple and Cotton to name just a few, but half a page for McCahon? Nuala, what were you thinking? … ”oh, sure he’s good, but Clairmont’s the man”
Images: Left, Giant book. Right top full page for Clairmont, bottom (left hand page) McCahon and Walters double-bunk.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Things you hoped you’d never see

Graphics on the façade of one of Wellington's only good-looking classic buildings, the Freyberg pool.
PS: someone sent this image to us on Wednesday, so it could be a 1 April gag.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Bite me

To get into the spirit of Te Papa’s Monet exhibition (you can paint your own Monet on Te Papa’s site here) a couple of Impressionist cakes from our kitchens.
Images: Top. Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night. Saint Rémy. Bottom. Claude Monet, Tulip Fields with the Rijnsburg Windmill. Museum: Musée d'Orsay, Paris, France

Killer icon

Some icons just won’t go away and it seems that the beret and the palette are two of them. Sometimes images that have outlived their real-life use survive in signage – witness the silhouette of the steam train that still warns of railroad crossings in New Zealand –and sometimes they just live on in the popular imagination. Can’t remember the last time we saw a palette with its amoeba-like shape and finger hole in action, but the palette remains the traditional sign of the artist. This recent book cover for the mass murderer chic series Dexter proves the point.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

In March

… we worried about drips • gave the dompost a boot • delivered a high level of gossipmarvelled at the museumisation of police exhibits • enjoyed reading the mrkusich book • got excited at the thought of waxing • took a look at some south island busts • tried to get cnz energised into telling us all what’s going on Venice-wise • gave our friends and foes alike a chance to vomit on us • sang the praises of auckland’s rich and generous • took the art fair exhibitors behind the bike sheds and stayed up late with billy apple


OTN has started Tweeting. Mostly it will be things that catch our eye that we won’t be posting, art market stuff, overseas exhibitions and scandals, unsubstantiated gossip, cries for help – that sort of thing. You can join us here or follow the link under our yellow ping pong ball Twitter icon

Size counts

The annual Art Newspaper listing of museum attendances throughout the world has just been published. Based on last year’s figures, Te Papa would come in at a very respectable 18th with an attendance of 1,856,962. The rub is that many of the museums on the list, indeed nearly all of them, have entry fees (shouting a couple of people into MoMA in January stung us for a card-wrenching $NZ175). In terms of individual exhibition attendance, Te Papa is hoping for around 220,000 for its “blockbuster” Monet exhibition over 92 days, or 2391 a day. Neither the projected daily rate or total attendance would make it to the global top 20 but, given the small audience base, it would probably score high on a per capita basis. Te Papa is hoping to attract as many people as the Art Gallery of New South Wales did. You can download the full Art Newspaper report on pdf here.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Art in the workplace 3

Art hard at work in the foyers of the world.

Art on the fly

If you’ve got a moment, let’s talk through the whole painting fly thing. At first we were inclined to pass, we figured having looked at the apparatus that the flies didn’t have much to say in the final result. On the other hand how far away is the result from the long history of painting machines (and drawing machines for that matter) that have recently popped back into fashion again. When you think about it, even with the painting tree, it was hard to know how much of the work was tree inspired and how much was wind assistance. So this is not an anti fly thing – well, we’d like to think not. So Musca domestica, welcome to the Academy of animal art. Don’t forget to wipe your feet on the way in.
Images: Fly artists working inside the apparatus activating painting machine