In between the time we found a video of some guy creating the Last Supper out of Rubik's Cubes and posted it, the whole catastrophe was removed from YouTube because of copyright violation. So here instead is a picture of Dali looking at a Rhino.
Image: Philippe Halsman, Dali and Rhinoceros 1956
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
The life-size sculpture of Sir Keith Park by Les Johnson that is to be placed on the Fourth plinth on 4 November is, in fact, a fiberglass replica. The permanent bronze version will be erected in Waterloo Place in 2010.
Image: a small-scale model of the fiberglass replica of the bronze original of Sir Keith Park
If you want to own an artwork that could serve as a talisman of the hubris that got the US (and by default the rest of us) into the mess we’re in, you can put a live bid into Freeman’s 1 November. That's the date for their auction of 283 items from the Lehman Brothers corporate collection. It was Lehman’s default that finally convinced America that the jig was up and, as we have reported before, it came on the same day Damien Hirst tested the market with his DIY auction courtesy of Sotheby’s.
Fortunately for your wallets this auction will not include masterpieces from Bobbie Lehman’s personal collection or any items from the collection of CEO Dick Fuld. He managed to offload 16 of his works late last year for just under $US13.5 million. According to Freeman’s, if you wave your cyber paddle a couple of thousand $US could get you a Christo print of wrapped buildings in Lower Manhattan or one of nine Walker Evans photographs of the Brooklyn bridge. You can see the full catalogue and make your bid here.
Image: Dick Fuld with street art
Thursday, October 29, 2009
A couple of years ago we posted on the copy painters of China. Even then they were into copying what seemed to us to be unlikely contemporary artists like On Kawara and we jokingly warned of the possibility of copies of NZ works being produced. Now, via a conveniently anonymous tip, we have heard rumours that paintings by a New Zealand artist have been commissioned in China for sale in New Zealand. Of course fakes are not new to the New Zealand art market but skilled copiers like those in China may well be able to turn out paintings that convince unsuspecting punters. Hopefully the authenticity sieve of our auction houses and dealers will save all but the foolhardy from a wetting.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
One day in the early Fifties, de Kooning needed money. He called his dealer Sidney Janis. It was Tuesday. "I need three hundred dollars," he said.
"I don't have any money now, " said Janis. "I'll have some on Friday. Call me back Friday."
When de Kooning telephoned Friday, he found that Janis had left for Europe the day before.
From The Art Crowd by Sophy Burnham
The giant, the outdoors and artistic ambition always finds a place here (giant moose, oversized horse etc.) and so this report on mega man, the “iconic tall emblem structure” planned for the Zaabeel Technology Theme Park in Dubai. The park is already cram-packed with sculptures throwing water around, spinning and reaching high into the sky, but the latest project proposed is a way-oversized statue of a storyteller (al hakawati). Courtesy of its own elevator, this colossus of rides will allow people to travel up to its head which can move, as can its arms. This is all the result of a competition to design a statue based on al hakawati and a profession (storytelling) that goes far back into the region’s history. In a stunning mix of branding, the competition was funded by ThyssenKrupp, two names familiar to art followers and lovers of war movies. We will keep OTN readers informed should this wild idea ever make it into production.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
If you asked any New Zealand art museum director to name the three things most evocative of ceramics here in the 1970s, chances are they’d be ‘concrete bocks, doors and hessian.’ (Display instructions: 1. Stretch hessian over door. 2. Place covered door on concrete blocks. 3. Arrange ceramics on top of door). Ask a potter and it would be something else altogether like glazes, firing temperatures and Shoji Hamada. The first visit of this Living National Treasure in 1965 (he visited again in 1973, five years before his death) had a profound effect on New Zealand ceramics and is the central moment to Moyra Elliott and Damian Skinner’s recent book Cone Ten Down: Studio pottery in New Zealand 1945-1980.
Backed by extensive Creative NZ funding (including a recent fellowship of $65,00 for volume two) and in development for almost a decade, you might wonder at the black sticker that has appeared over the cover caption. It changes the name of the potter responsible for the work featured on the cover from Graeme Storm to Warren Tippet. It doesn’t get much more embarrassing. Yes…. shit happens. So when we heard of the error from a couple of sources we thought ‘there but for the grace of God’ and put it on the spike.
But hold the bus. The new what-we-really-meant sticker still dates the cover work to the late-1950s. Ok for Storm but a stretch for Tippet (born in 1941) who’d have been somewhere between 15 and 18 at the time. Asking around, the consensus seems to be that there is no way Tippet could have produced those sort of glazes in the 1950s and that given the pot’s look and feel, it was almost certainly made after the 1965 Hamada visit which, as the book itself confirms, was a pivotal experience for Tippet. So it looks like fifties - not. Another sticker? Maybe, but it still leaves the image in the inside pages mis-captioned even if it is referred to in the erratum. It’s hard producing a mistake free book, but given the significant funding they have put into the project CNZ might suggest for the next volume that some funds are put aside to check illustrations, captions and text with the potters and a couple of offsite experts.
Images: Top, Cone Ten Down cover with the ceramic formally known as Storm. Middle original caption. Bottom, Sticker amendment.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
At the risk of mixing metaphors, beheadings and statues go hand in hand. In New Zealand the best-known examples are the 1987 beheading of Sir George Grey in Auckland’s Albert Park and the 1995 removal in Wanganui of John Ballance’s head closely followed by the rest of his concrete and plaster body. But help is at hand, earlier this week art lover mayor Michael Laws presided over the unveiling of a new Ballance statue that cleverly manages to be both bronzed and wooden at the same time. Laws and order being a top priority for the river city, the new statue is probably safe from getting it in the neck again, but pity the likeness of Abe Lincoln sculpted in Florence and located in Oregon. It lost its head a couple of months ago for the fourth time since it was installed in 1915.
Images: From the top left to right. Sir George Grey, John Ballance then and now, President Lincoln, Saddam Hussein, Vladimir Lenin, President Garfield and Irish Republican Sean Russell.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
The last person to strut their stuff on the Fourth Plinth, thanks to artist Antony Gormley, has stepped down. Next up, on 4 November, will be a New Zealander born in Thames: Sir Keith Park, commander of the Battle of Britain. A bronze statue of Sir Keith by Australian Les Johnson will replace a proposed Fourth Plinth project by Yinka Shonibare, whose survey exhibition showed at the Auckland Art Gallery earlier this year. Shonibare planned to put a giant ship in a bottle (Nelson’s Trafalgar) but Sir Keith has bumped him to a slot next Spring. London’s Mayor Boris Johnson pushed hard for the air ace to be cast in bronze, and many supporters want the Fourth Plinth to be his permanent home rather than the six-month stint he has been allocated.
Image: OTN mock up of the proposed installation
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The guy who made these lipstick sculptures of Brad and Angelina has an unusual sculpting technique. To make the super-miniature sculptures he has developed a way to slow his heart beat to avoid accidentally lopping off a head or losing an arm. Willard Wigan apparently took 50 hours to make the pair which measure 9 x 4mm. You can see more of his micro sculpting here, family groups in the eye of a needle - that sort of thing.
Today, fifty years ago, the Guggenheim museum opened its doors to the public. The cartoon is by Pablo Helguera who is, ironically, Director, Adult and Academic Programs, The Museum of Modern Art.
Other OTN stories on the Guggenheim Museum:
Making movies in the museum, here
Making the museum for a movie, here
Daniel Malone goes all Guggenheim in Wellington, here
Photography on the downward spiral, here
Painting the Guggenheim some OTN suggestions, here
Cracking up at the Guggenheim, here
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The DomPost is always full of surprises. Having supported Te Papa through thick and thin, this morning it suddenly comes out on the front page with this savage unattributed comment about the appointment of the next director. “Arts and museum sources hoped Te Papa’s board would appoint a New Zealander prepared to make changes to an organisation they said was overstaffed, stagnating and bureaucratic.”
With Treasury on the prowl for cuts, who needs enemies when your ‘friends’ in the arts and museum world come up with this kind of stuff?
An OTN cap for the first arts or museum ‘source’ to boldly go where no unattributed arts or museum source has gone before, and pin a name to the statement.
Bernard Berenson had one. Michael Jackson didn’t. A good eye has always been connoisseurship’s black box, the cunning apparatus that could sort the visually beautiful sheep from the tawdry, badly-drawn goats. Good-eyes can spot great art works in the shabby surroundings of junk shops, household auctions and estate sales, seeming to be instantly attracted by the glint of diamond in the dirt. A good good-eye can elevate its owner to giddy levels of expertise through the ability to eye ball art and successfully separate the culturally significant wheat from the populist chaff. Its choices are always authentic and important and superior, unless heaven forbid, they are fake.
Illustration: Pippin Barr
Monday, October 19, 2009
The New York Times published an op ed by Denis Dutton last week. As most of you know, Dutton is professor of philosophy at the University of Canterbury, founder of Arts & Letters Daily and author of recently published The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution which argues our response to skill and beauty is innate. Professor Dutton was also one of the few – if indeed not the only – tenured academics we know of to challenge the integrated, populist model developed for Te Papa. His stinging critique was widely published and was certainly a key factor in the museum redeveloping the way it presented art. The absurd “Is it Art?” thumb up / thumb down signage was removed, for example, and the attempt to pair household goods (e.g. Kelvinator refrigerator) with significant art works (e.g. Colin McCahon’s Northland panels) as a Nationalistic narrative was abandoned.
Dutton’s NYT piece sums up his argument in The Art Instinct and takes the opportunity to dis conceptual art and its ascendancy in the market. Where is the personal skill, the craft of the artist? Instruct a studio assistant to rouge up the cheeks of cherub – good; put a couple of vacuum cleaners inside a Perspex box – bad. Trouble is that value is a slippery concept and we’re not so sure that playing with ideas can be so neatly distinguished from playing with technique and that it is the latter human beings have evolved to respond to. Be it Damien Hirst’s high concept pharmacy cabinets or Vermeer’s virtuoso canvases, fashion has its own way of sweeping them in and out of museum storerooms, private collections and auction houses, bravura or no bravura.
Images: Professor Denis Dutton (apologies to Joseph Kosuth).
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Tate Modern has banished Richard Prince’s image of ten-year-old Brooke Shields from his Spiritual America exhibition for good. Apparently the decision was made “in consultation with the artist” (helps to spread the blame). In its place Tate Modern has hung a much more tasteful photo of Brooke in a bikini leaning against a motorbike and can now sit back, exhausted but satisfied, in the knowledge it has made the world a safer place for children.
Image: Brooke Shields and motorbike (an OTN re-creation). You can see the Prince shot off-course substitute here.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Here in New Zealand the role of art curator has had its ups and downs over the last decade or so. In that time we’ve lost a couple of good ones with Robert Leonard and Greg Burke heading off-shore, but we’ve also seen a shift away from male curators ruling the roost. In fact women are rapidly taking over the business both as curators and directors and changing both. Museum directors (or CEOs or managers or whatever) who saw curating exhibitions as part of the job, such a feature of the seventies, eighties and into the nineties, have faded away. Sure, some of them like to take the title of ‘managing curator’ or some such but you can tell their hearts aren’t in it.
The status of curating has also been chipped away at by the Te Papa's separation of curators from crucial execution through exhibition design, installation, label writing, marketing and communication. No wonder many young curators question where they and their ideas fit into the exhibition development process, and how far away from significant decision-making they have drifted.
Outside the museum world the idea of curating has become fashionable as a catch-all description of the ability to put stuff together in an interesting way. In an article on ‘outsider curating’, the NYT (come on guys, the NZ Listener did this story back in December 2006) sums up the new world of curating with the words of lexicographer Jesse Sheidlower, “If all the rival nightclub promoters are ‘curating’ parties you don’t want to be the ones left ‘hosting’ them'.”
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Big On Wednesday is the theme. This 8-meter high bronze Maori Warrior is being proposed for the mid North Island town of Ngaruawahia. Sadly the proposed statue comes in a meter short of the Ohakune carrot, but it is claimed to be up for “the biggest bronze statue in the Western world” title.
Three years in the planning the idea has sprung from the mind of sculptor Denis Hall of Wellington (a natural birthplace for this sort of thing). Unfortunately, in his rush to represent Maori, Hall forget to mention it to any of them. “By the way, that big bronze thing over there, it’s you. No… really.” Still, now the warrior is out of the bag, Hall has agreed to have discussions with Tainui. At the moment he's in China searching out artisans who can make his dream a reality. You can check out the reality of other Hall works here on his web site which includes his mural for Wellington restaurant The Green Parrot.
Image: The Dompost sizes up Hall’s concept
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
If you'd wanted to comment on CNZ’s latest strategic plan you would have had to have done it by 10 October. To make it easier CNZ rolled over the plan it has been following over the last three years for the next three years. So if you also had to like the growing focus on organisations rather than practitioners, the decline in staff with subject expertise and the drift to the performing arts, this is the plan for you. Consider the following two word clouds. The top cloud (created from all the words in the current strategy paper) reveals the words CNZ consider important, the bottom cloud shows words that are out of favour.
Monday, October 12, 2009
It’s no big secret that 1956’s biopic of Van Gogh Lust for Life was the best art movie ever made. For his brief 12 minute appearance as Gauguin, Anthony Quinn received his second Academy Award for best supporting actor, it was that good.
Ironically, ten of the paintings used in the movie about the artist who famously only ever sold one painting in his lifetime, came from the William Weinberg collection. The year after Lust for Life screened Weinberg decided to put his collection on the market through Sotheby’s. The new Chairman Peter Wilson saw the potential of publicising the collection via the Van Gogh movie connection. Ad agency J Walter Thompson was brought on board to push the Hollywood glamour angle and scored the presence of Queen Elizabeth II at an auction viewing prior to the sale. When the auction was over nine of the pictures had sold at record prices including the highest price ever for a Van Gogh (Usines å Clichy). It was the beginning of 20th century art auction fever.
Image: Gauguin (Anthony Quinn) checks out paintings while Van Gogh (Kirk Douglas) waits for his response.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Friday, October 09, 2009
One of Phil Clairmont’s most treasured possessions – one that followed him from studio to studio – was a beaten-up copy of a 1949 Life magazine. This particular issue published 60 years and a couple of months ago, featured the abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock in an article asking the question, “Is he the greatest living painter in the United States?” For Clairmont the article was a talisman of the possibility of contemporary art being endorsed by the popular media, and through it reaching a wider audience. If it could work for Pollock, it had a chance to work in New Zealand. Phil’s copy was tattered and spattered with paint because it was usually somewhere in the middle of the studio. Now, thanks to Google books, what we think of as Phil’s issue (8 August 1949) and every other one is available here You can search by date or cover and then click to look at every page.
This digital miracle aside, it’s likely that Phil would still cling to the physicality of ink on paper to call up the spirit of Pollock into his workplace.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
"...the curator's job is not to create meaning or to impose meaning on works of art, but to create the circumstances out of which meaning might arise - circumstances that might prove meaningful to the beholder."
Dave Hickey in his 2001 Santa Fe Biennial catalogue introduction.
The Auckland Art Fair lists 30 New Zealand dealer galleries – a total that matches the list of gallery links on John Hurrell’s site, eyeCONTACT. Of course there are many more dealers in business but around 30 with a commitment to contemporary art feels about right. There have been a few closures but most of those preceded the bite of the recession so the group of 30 range seems stable although they may sometimes feel a little exposed.
It’s a very different picture to the one that would have faced you 30 years ago. There would have been only 10 galleries on the list back then – with two of them (Peter McLeavey and Brooke Gifford) still in business. In those days across the hall from McLeavey was the Bett-Duncan Gallery that showed, amongst others, Alan Maddox, Phil Clairmont and Tony Fomison. Not an occupation for the faint-hearted.
Another big difference between then andnow was that Wellington was home to the same number of dealers as Auckland: four each (now it’s 18-5 to Auckland using the Auckland Art Fair listing) with the Brooke Gifford and Bosshard Galleries divvying up the South Island. In Auckland Barry Lett (now a full time artist), New Vision and Denis Cohen have all gone, although Peter Webb is still on board wearing his auction hat. Thirty years from now how many will there be? An OTN hat for the most creative answer.
Image: Wellington's 331/3's paint job lives on but the gallery is long gone, along with dealer galleries only charging one third commission on sales.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
If you’re travelling up the North Island from Wellington, Bulls is the place that you decide whether you head to the Sarjeant Gallery and the Govett-Brewster or go right on to the Auckland Art Gallery. It is a small town devoted to the pun; the Bull pun. This is the kind of place that has Arts Festibulls and spaces that are rentabull. The bull theme is everywhere and, as we turned left (don’t ask), we saw Bull’s version of Grant Wood’s American Gothic painted onto the side of a shop. They probably had to be tied down to stop them doing Constabull’s Haywain.
Poor old G Wood has had his famous painting run up hill and down dale for every imaginable cause. The latest is the recently unveiled statue God Bless America, J. Seward Johnson Jr.'s seven and a half meter high version in Chicago. If you want to catch sight of it head to Michigan Avenue just north of the river.
Images: from the top, Being Bullish about A Gothic North of Wellington. Left, the Chicago effort, right Mad Magazine (one of many Grant Wood cover versions). Bottom, the tip of the AG iceberg. The iceberg here - knock yourself out.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
We probably should have given this one to the letter G now that many art dealers, finding the word ‘dealer’ kinda offensive, have moved over to the more toney ‘gallerist’. The other reason for the drift was possibly because in the über good-times cutting a great deal was not a skill that needed flourishing. The selling proposition moved from Duveen’s “You’re not ready for that yet” to “We’ll put you in the queue, but no promises.” And yet, although the auction houses are jostling hard, it is the art dealers who largely set the pace and the prices. All this in an opaque world centred on the iconic question, “What’s it worth?”
Illustration: Pippin Barr
Monday, October 05, 2009
In a BBC interview Damien Hirst has announced he will no longer produce large-scale works. No more animals, no more vitrines. From now on it’s going to be Damien Hirst: painter with all works coming direct from the artist’s hand.
Images: Damien Hirst’s hands
To paraphrase Mr McGuire’s advice to Dustin Hoffman’s Ben in the movie The Graduate, “Just one word. Are you listening? Porcelain. There’s a great future in porcelain. Think about it.”
We say this based on recent news that while the art market falls, the shiny white stuff is on a roll. The Elfriede Langeloh Gallery’s Friedel Kirsch, a specialist in early German porcelain, says that demand has been on the rise for years and has risen even faster with the recession.
Coincidentally, we came upon ceramic historian Garth Clark’s comments in the book Shards about the impact of Jeff Koons million dollar prices for his porcelain sculptures as well as his thoughts on the other great porcelain artwork of the 20th century: Fountain.
There seems to be some residual how-the-hell-did-that-happen and but-he-didn’t-even-make-them-himself lingering with the ceramic folk about Koons, but as Clark notes, the works are so astonishingly good that they would have been regarded as great works whoever made them, hands-off sculptor or hands-on ceramacist.
As to Duchamp’s wily selection and subsequent reproduction of a porcelain urinal to turn 20th century art on its head, Clark is less positive. His sticking point is not the conceptual leap itself, but Duchamp’s ordering up eight replicas in the sixties. These not-readymades, in glazed earthenware (finished off in white paint to imitate porcelain), were produced by Italian craftsmen following Duchamp’s designs. They are the Fountains most commonly seen today in art museums. It was one of these hand-crafted Fountains (from Indiana University) that was shown in Wellington in the exhibition When Art Hits the Headlines back in 1987.
Images: Left, Duchamp in front of one of the editioned replicas. Right top the original Fountain as photographed by Alfred Stieglitz's, bottonm one of the 1964 edition works note the three extra vent holes.
Saturday, October 03, 2009
Friday, October 02, 2009
A regular German reader was unimpressed by Cooper the cat's imagery and, in a rush of nationalist blood to the head, has pointed OTN readers to the German cat Fritz who is an art photographer. You can catch more of Fritz's artistic practice here.
Controversies at art museums follow the fashions as surely as hem and heels. This year's appalling becomes next year's fascinating until tumbling into obscurity. And of course, within a general concensus, everyone has a different view on what is fashionable. If there was ever proof of this process in art. it was demonstrated by the Diane Arbus exhibition when it was shown in Lower Hutt in 1979. The show caused an uproar with councillors demanding its closure, and shocked visitors calling for items to be removed. The interesting thing was that everyone seemed to be shocked by something different while often, at the same time, being strongly in support of works that shocked others. For one person nudity was fine but pics of freaks were not, for another transexuals were ok but showing disability were too much to bear.
Yesterday Tate Modern pulled Richard Prince’s Spiritual America from its Pop Life exhibition after Scotland Yard warned the naked photo of Brooke Shields, aged ten, could break obscenity laws. The museum has also removed the exhibition catalogue from sale. Curiously, in the same exhibition, images from Jeff Koons’ Made in Heaven series, showing him having sex with La Cicciolina are good to go. It certainly highlights the now deeply ambivalent attitude to children in the western world: exploit and sexualise hard alongside protect and nurture.
The return of the Prince work to the show is dependent on Tate lawyers giving the ok. This is a long way from the days when institutions of this stature would consider it a matter of professional responsibility to defend an artist’s freedom of expression. Prince’s Spiritual America is a copy of a 1976 image published in Playboy magazine's Sugar and Spice publication taken by photographer Gary Gross. Prince made the work in 1983 in an edition of 10 and it was shown without comment in his recent retrospective at the Guggenheim in New York. It is easily sourced on the internet.
Image: artist Richard Prince
Thursday, October 01, 2009
in september we: located ralph hotere in adland • found our marbles • assembled a rubbish collection • mocked the idea of international-ready-artists • introduced cooper the photographing cat • put the fucking lotion in the basket • discovered michael smither in new plymouth • remembered being hands-on back in the day • stayed back in the day for a drawing lesson • found robert jesson – or did he find us • gasped as john hurrell ran off with the gold • went dotty over yayoi kusama • gave the dompost a full page story and came up with a winning idea for venice