Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Room with a point of view

One of the big changes in the past decade has been the way dealer galleries have muscled into what was once the undisputed territory of public art museums. With no necessity on them to entertain their audiences, charge at the door or provide child friendly environments, dealers have expanded the services they offer their artists and the opportunities the give their clients and would-be clients. Starting at the top, take the Larry Gagosian global empire. It frequently presents serious, museum-quality exhibitions with many works borrowed from leading art institutions like MoMA or Tate. Research facilities, archives, publications, magazines, many dealers not coming close to the scale of Gagosian are jumping in to ramp up the credibility and accessibility of their artists. And then there is the controversial border crossing into the commercial sector by those who once were public art museum curators. They are rewarded with extraordinary curatorial freedom as long as they are happy to open their Rolodexes. Here in NZ dealers are starting to play the same game. The most recent example opens today in Wellington. In a spacious well-lit room above Suite Gallery on Cuba Street, you can access an extensive Ans Westra archive and rotating display of images. Westra's own record in media clippings of the infamous Washday at the Pah controversy is a highlight along with an extensive library of books and journals illustrated with Westra images. Or, buy an Ans Westra photograph. There you go.

Images: Westra museum at Suite in Wellington top to bottom, memorabilia and prints, illustrated books, Washday at the Pah clippings and exhibition space