Friday, March 02, 2007

Tom toms

We can’t make it to the opening of the Tom Kreisler exhibition at the Govett-Brewster this weekend, but we are in awe of the focus and professionalism in the marketing of Tom’s work, the exhibition and the publication comma dot dogma. The stand alone web site is impressive and includes an easy to use catalogue of works and the beginnings of a sophisticated commercial operation. The catalogue looks pretty comprehensive and has fast access by category and visuals via thumbnails.

This effort is being fronted by Aaron Kreisler, Tom’s son who is curating the Govett-Brewster exhibition. The catalogue for the show is published by Wellington based Umbrella Design who also created the marketing material with the explicit goal “to re-establish the artist and his place in New Zealand Art History” This aim is supported on the Kreisler site, in a statement by Wystan Curnow: “Tom Kreisler is possibly New Zealand’s most under-recognised important painter”, and on the Govett-Brewster web site: “Tom Kreisler has left a legacy of work considered by a number of New Zealand’s foremost art commentators to be amongst the most significant bodies of painting produced in New Zealand over the past 30 years.”

The management of artist estates is not easy and keeping reputations alive even more difficult still. In the revealing book Artists' Estates: Reputations in Trust, edited by Magda Salvesen and Diane Cousineau, the New York Times writer Michael Kimmelman reminds us that “An artist’s posthumous reputation is the result of endless vagaries and sea changes.’ It will be interesting to watch how Tom Kreisler’s reputation shifts with the injection of this new energy.