Saturday, June 30, 2007


In our relentless search to find the best art museum store gift available in the world, we present… the Klimt teddy bear.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Big Ears

Overheard in an art gallery in Vienna. “He’s huge in upper Austria.”

A room with a view

Anyone who was around in New Zealand in the 1970s knew that there was a strange German Expressionism thing going on. At its centre was an eccentric artist from Lithuania. Rudi Gopas not only believed that the moon landing never took place, he also had Luna photographs taken through his own handbuilt telescope to demonstrate it. He was a powerful and passionate figure. Today his teaching methods, which included students making a copy of a well known painting based on reproductions in art books, seem to combine everything that was weird and wonderful about art in New Zealand before conspicuous travel and the internet. Phil Clairmont, a Gopas student, copied Kirchner’s self portrait as a soldier, and webs of German Expressionism clung to his painting and printmaking long after leaving art school. We thought of both Phil and Rudi when we visited the Einstein Tower in Potsdam. Designed by Erich Mendelsohn in around 1917 (when the young Richard Neutra was on staff), it is a masterpiece of Expressionist architecture with a similar sense of strange clarity as the chapel at Ronchamp. Einstein only visited the observatory once and never used the equipment. Rudi Gopas, on the other hand, would have been up the stairs and onto that telescope like a rat up a drain pipe.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lookalike XXIV

Left Tony Fomison No! in the collection of the Christchurch Art Gallery

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Feel alikes

Pictured above are possibly the two greatest artist statements on the art market ever produced. On the left, speaking for the 20th century Piero Manzoni and on the right, for the 21st, Damien Hirst. This comment by Jonathan Jones, in the Guardian on 5 June, struck a chord. “For the wonder at the crystalline heart of this exhibition is not only a memento mori, a death's head. It is also a birth, as scary as shattering as the one TS Eliot's Magi witnessed: a birth like a death. What is being born, exactly? It might be the art of the 21st century…. Hirst has created an object that has nothing to do with the 20th century, that owes as little to Marcel Duchamp as it does to Picasso, that has nothing to do with the Holocaust or 1917 or any of the 20th century's memories ... a work of art, in fact, that could have been created in any century but that one. Art has struggled to escape the 20th century because its first half was a great aesthetic period that cast a long shadow. Hirst, though, has broken through.”

A Lisa life

We first knew Lisa Densem when she lived in Wellington. In 1999 she moved to Berlin and eventually joined the internationally acclaimed Sasha Waltz dance company. Lisa is having a baby so she has had to stop dancing and has been working with another dancer to perform her role. She was also the rehearsal director for the company’s revival of the work Korper (Body). The other night Lisa snuck us into the Schaubühne theatre to watch the dress rehearsal. The photos were taken on the quiet and show Lisa taking notes for the dancers and some of the work in the amazing space. This is full-on physical performance;, at one point a dancer is raised off the floor by two others holding on to handfuls of skin, You can read a review of Korper, when Lisa was still performing in it, here.
Images; top, Lisa Densem taking notes during dress rehearsal, bottom, scenes from the dress rehearsal of Korper.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Running gag

This is a stretch, so bear with us. Visiting the Olympic stadium in Berlin, we walked round the back and found the memorial plaques pictured above. There among the 1936 Berlin games gold medal winners, is Hitler irritant Jesse Owen and New Zealand’s Jack Lovelock. Lovelock was given an oak sapling along with his gold medal and he handed it on to his old school, Timaru Boys High, where it still flourishes. We had hopes that Colin McCahon had attended Timaru Boys and, being art inclined, would no doubt have done a sketch of the oak during art class. Unfortunately the young McCahon went to school down the road at Waitaki Junior High. Still, through checking on Lovelock and art, we did find a bronze sculpture of the Olympiad, created by Margriet Windhausen, (she also did the Abel Tasman Memorial in Wellington) for sale on absoluteart’s web site. Naturally, we immediately made best efforts to buy it on behalf of you all. We have just had absoluteart’s reply. “Unfortunately the email address we have on file for Margriet Windhausen is no longer valid. We do not have a telephone number on file and the portfolio has not been updated since 2003. It seems we will not be able to help you contact this artist and will be removing this portfolio.” Sad. Mind you, we suspected this was the same sculpture that had been commissioned for Timaru Boys High School and that the absoluteart gig was wishful thinking. The result? Regrettably, there won't be a bronze sculpture of Jack Lovelock awarded to the winner of this year’s overthenet 1500 meters. Whoever breaks the finishing tape first, will have to be content with one of our regular table tennis ball's, signed by an artist of note.
Images: Top, the memorial to the gold medal winners of the 1936 Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Berlin, Bottom: left, the Olympic stadium, middle Lovelock on the winner’s stand with medal and oak sapling, right Margriet Windhausen's bronze sculpture Jack Lovelock 2002, in situ at Timaru Boys High

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Copy cat 19

Left Cadillac Ranch in Amirillo, Texas. Right promotion for a German theatre production

Saturday, June 23, 2007

A skull too far

Did we say antlers, peacocks and mirrors, and not mention skulls? Anyone flicking through the art magazines or looking at recent exhibitions will have spotted the mistake. Above, four recent examples of skull art to make amends.
Images: Skull works by (clockwise from top left) Rand Caruso, Bertozzi & Casoni, Subodh Gupta and Damien Hirst

Friday, June 22, 2007


unvarnished facts, reckless guesswork, insinuations and possible inventions that have arrived at priscilla pitts is leaving the dunedin public art gallery and moving to take up a job in wellington, jim fraser broke his six weeks sojourn on a greek island to attend the basel art fair, the trip of a lifetime tour were surprise guests at michael stevenson’s drinks for people who helped in the installation of his work at basel, gary langsford is proud owner of a damien hirst - a dagger piercing a real heart in formaldehyde, christchurch art gallery is looking for a senior curator who has ‘an impressive track record in the development of high quality exhibitions and an extensive record in published art writing and the publication of exhibition catalogues and related books’ and the city gallery's savage is in berlin with two doors' todd. any missed details, indignant denials or additions gratefully received, and the one that makes us laugh out loud the longest - rewarded. thanks to everyone irresponsible.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Big flower, small world

Walking into Marlene Dietrich Platz (true) we spotted this large, polished stainless steel Jeff Koons sculpture Balloon Flower 1995-99. It is part of the DaimlerChrysler Collection. Since 1995, Koons has created Balloon Flower in five versions: blue, magenta, yellow, orange, and red. The red version sits out side World Trade Centre building 7 in New York, which was rebuild after 9/11. There is also another iteration of this work, as a PVC, inflatable multiple published by Parkett magazine. Strangely enough, just before we left for Berlin, we saw two of them on exhibition, and for sale, at the Gow Langsford Gallery.
Images: Left Jeff Koons Balloon Flower, high chromium stainless steel with transparent colour coating 2.9 x 3.4 x 2.7 meters. Right, Jeff Koons Inflatable Balloon Flower (Yellow) 1997, PVC 1.3 x 1.5 x 1.8 meters, in an edition of 100

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Art pilgrimages

It’s a train and (unless you can run to an expensive taxi ride) a local bus and a walk, but Notre Dame de Haute, the chapel designed by Le Corbusier in 1956, is perfect, and worth any effort it takes to get there. For a detailed walk through, go here and Wiki fans here.
Images: Top and middle exterior, bottom interior

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Dumb and dumber

The photographs above are of the interior of the Jewish Museum in Berlin. Look familiar? They might do, as their development was directed from one of the developers of Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington, Ken Gorbey. He also directed the Waikato Art Museum in the late 1970s and people who know it from that time, will feel even a greater sense of the familiar looking at these images. As with Te Papa, Gorbey and his team determined “that the aim of the museum is to educate and inform primarily young people and family groups with little or no background knowledge in the area.” Here they started with an amazing building designed by Daniel Libeskind. Dramatic, metaphoric, soaring, it is not exactly family-friendly but it is certainly inspiring and exciting. And here we have a paradox. The building confronts the tragedy of the Holocaust while the internal displays attempt to tell the centuries-long story of Jewish culture in Germany. The problem is that the building sets a rigorous agenda and the displays come off as tentative, small scale and banal. Many of the techniques used are corny beyond belief. Our favourite has got to be the story of garlic revealed as you open the giant fibreglass cloves. Where Libeskind’s forms have been allowed to intrude on the interiors (many of the slashing glass ‘windows’ have been covered up), the result is bizarre. Stories told with large photos, wall texts and a few objects in cases seem to be turning their backs on the great struggle going on the in the building’s construction. To us the most compelling object was a roll of yellow fabric printed with infamous yellow stars ready for cutting out and stitching on lapels. The material with the most potential was undoubtedly the amazing films often shown in uncomfortable theatrettes or in awkward passages. You do have to wonder why the project team didn’t step up to the challenge of the building instead of trying to disguise it with false walls and 70s museum design techniques. Imagine a museum that used moving image and architectural structure to mourn and celebrate. The past and the present combined. What else are cultures about if not that?
Images: Cardboard soldiers and plaster-of-Paris ladies help create “context”. Middle, learning about garlic in three easy stages. Bottom, Libeskind versus museum display.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Daisy chain

Anyone who knows photographer Peter Peryer well will also know that you seldom see him with a camera. In that respect he is different from many other photographers we know. Peter Black always has a camera in hand and it was common to see Ans Westra in action. Over all the years we have known him, we have only seen Peter take one photograph. He had been talking about photographing Marlborough Daisies for around a year, maybe even two, when he suggested we go to the Otari Plant Museum. Otari is an indigenous plant collection of around 150 acres in the Wellington suburb of Wilton. When we arrived Peter headed straight for the Marlborough Daisies and, almost before we could get our own camera out, had taken three shots from three different distances. In our 1985 image of him on the left he is taking the photograph on the right that has since become known as Marlborough Daisy.
Images: Left, Peter Peryer taking the photograph Malborough Daisy. Right Marlborough Daisy 1985 by Peter Peryer

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Art is where you find it 8

Empty display cases and plinth in Berlin’s Pergamon museum.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Oh oh

"For some collectors, to go to a museum is not so interesting anymore because they can't buy anything."
Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director of Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects at the Sepentine Gallery in London speaking at the Basel Art Fair

Friday, June 15, 2007


It was also great to see two large images by Boyd Webb presented at the front of the Sonnabend Gallery at the Basel Art Fair.

Falling for Fischli and Weiss

A side trip to Zurich took us to the Peter Fischli and David Weiss retrospective survey Flowers & Questions previously shown at Tate Modern in London. The exhibition was the perfect size; big enough to show range, but small enough to let you enjoy every work without getting exhausted. This magical balance can only be achieved by an incredibly empathetic relationship between the curator and the artist, or in this case artists and video (because you get to sit down for a while). So many shows are just assembled becoming an accumulation of all the works the curator has located, fitted in as best as possible. Of course Fischli and Weiss have another great advantage – humour. Once you get started you don’t want to miss any of the personality, the attitude and the truth, especially in the 60 small sculptured clay scenes which make up a series called Suddenly this overview. The day we were there the place was full of people responding to art that makes you feel smart. How many artists have tackled regional planning and Mr Spock in the same series of works? The artists remade the whole set of small sculptures for Flowers & Questions. As they are not fired we guess they must eventually dry out and crumble back to dust. The critics have been overwhelming in their praise but we witnessed the ultimate accolade. A group of about 40 young school children were watching the short film The way things go. You may have seen it. In a large warehouse the artists set up a series of precisely calculated physical events create a chain reaction sending tires scooting across the floor, liquids dripping into balloons and flames igniting long ribbons of fuse. Each event precipitates the next. When the kids were called to leave by their teacher just before the film ended there was an audible groan. A couple of kids argued the toss and three attempted to hide and see the final few minutes.
Images: People looking at the small clay sculptures in the Suddenly this overview section of the exhibition and one of the unfired clay sculptures Learning from Las Vegas

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Every morning of the Basel Art Fair The Art Newspaper brings out a special Art Basel Daily Edition with reports on sales, near sales and who has purchased what. In this morning’s edition the paper agreed with our observation yesterday that antlers are hot with artists and collectors. The Art Fair Newspaper reports that Chelsea dealer Paula Cooper sold seven Sherrie Levine Caribou Skulls cast in bronze for $125,000 each. And because you're wondering, Kohei Nawa's stuffed deer covered with glass beads went for $100,000 and the swan cast in marble powder by Bethan Huws for around $80,000.
Image: The paper of record at the Basel Art Fair, The Art Newspaper.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Big ears 2

Overheard at the Basel Art Fair.

“Maybe we should have brought the Picasso.”

Punter: “We come from Vermont. We have snow, so could it stay outside all Winter?”
Gallerist: “Of course.”

Punter: “And that’s in dollars?”
Gallerist: “Yes”
Punter: “I just don’t want to be confused.”

“Amazing, amazing, amazing. I’d like to do an auction with this.”

“Richard, just do it.”

“These McCarthys would be perfect for Christmas presents.”

Gallerist: “I’m afraid it’s not available.”
Punter: “But I’ve got the money for it right here in this bag.”
Gallerist: “I’m sorry. Look, just so you don’t feel bad, I can tell you this happens every year.”

“It’s small, but it’s big.”

Punter: “And I also bought a collaboration work by Basquiat and Warhol.”
Gallerist: “Beautiful. Beautiful.”

Punter: “I have one of the same edition.”
Gallerist: “It’s a great piece. It’s the best of that series.”
Punter: “I think so.”
Gallerist: “So do I.”

Image: Father Christmas with butt plug, a bronze Paul McCarthy installed outside the Basel Art Fair

Advice to collectors 8

A list of common themes at the Basel Art Fair.

Mirrors and glass
Deer antlers
Peacock heads
Neon words

Image: We were not allowed to photograph inside the Basel Art Fair so the image above was snapped in our hotel’s breakfast room.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Big ears 1

Overheard at the Basel Art Fair’s events Art Statements and Art Unlimited and Liste 07: the young art fair in Basel.

“The really interesting artists don’t come from painting.”
“I keep adding and adding. I just love his work.”
“When Juliet Man Ray came to my house she said, ‘It’s fantastic.’”
“When I went to sell it the one I owned was the only picture of his that had pubic hair. I had to do three months research and write a fucking seven- page report to prove it was his.”
“I always wanted one of those works in particular. Now I’m sorry I sold the one I owned to those nice people in London.”
“He’s a genius, he’s closed so many doors.”
“I’m tired, I need to sit down for a lifetime.”
“He’s a bastard…he’s a journalist. (silence)
“There’s a general problem with his art, that people don’t get it.”
“I find that people think I’m more important than I am.”
“Did owning it make you happy?” “Very much happy.”

Fair’s fare

The images above are: on the left, Michael Lett Gallery at Liste 07 showing Michael Parekowhai’s sculpture My sister, My self ; top right Michael Stevenson’s installation Persepolis 2530 at Art Unlimited at the Basel Art Fair; bottom image is of the party thrown by the Shah of Iran at Persepolis on which Michael Stevenson’s abandoned version of one of the party tents was based.
Click on images to enlarge

Monday, June 11, 2007

Table stakes

As a rule large public art galleries have trouble with artists, and their often challenging requests. Building walls is fine, some mud on the floor can be ok if it’s not trekked through the rest of the galleries, a bit of building here and a video projection room there… well, ok. But last week we saw a gallery taking an artist seriously, to an amazing degree. The artist (who seems to be a favourite of over the net) was Maurizio Cattelan and the museum the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt. In an upstairs gallery Cattelan had placed a long table head-first against an exterior wall of the building. The thing was that over half the table continued through the wall and out into the open air above the street that ran alongside the museum. Our guess is most art institutions would either say no or, at the very least, argue for a solution that presented each half of the table attached to its own side of the wall to create the illusion of table pushing out into space. Not the MMK. Here the stone wall of the Hans Hollein building was sliced through and the table assembled through the gaps. As you approach the table from the gallery side, you can feel a cold draft whistling into the gallery. Air conditioning clearly takes second place to what the institution considered to be the integrity of an important work. The idea of doing anything to a Hans Hollein building is awe inspiring, but cutting a hole in it shows fantastic commitment to what matters most. The work.
Images: Cattelan Untitled 2007 inside and outside the building

Copy cat VIX

Image taken in Mulhouse, twenty kilometers from Basel

Sunday, June 10, 2007

I Will Need Panels

Over at stimulusresponse is a futuristic history of an artist not fully appreciated in his own time.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Painting the town yellow

As mentioned, Julian Dashper was in New York recently.

Silly Seurat Saturday

Given the unrestrained response to our M C Escher tattoo-on-the-head post, here is another in what could become a series. This time it’s Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte on an arm, at least we think it’s an arm. For anyone wants to pursue the different ways this painting can be used and abused (live performances, topiary, ties, clothing) go here.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Cue queue

Last night we met someone who had been to Gregor Schneider’s one time only performance held at the State Opera in Berlin. We had seen Schneider’s Ur House at the Geffen in Los Angeles and a couple of his disturbing rooms at the Rubell collection in Miami, so missing this event by only a few days was a disappointment but our friend was there to join the queue to see the performance. By the time she arrived the line stretched around the block and only inched forward over the next two hours. Eventually she got to a door at the Magazin, a building used by the Berlin Opera for storage. Before being allowed to enter a bouncer asked for her address and other details, gave her a ticket, and let her into a large courtyard where another queue slowly moved forward. Her ticket was ripped again by another bouncer-type and she continued to shuffle forward. Then, after having her tickets checked for a third time, she was guided to a small door and allowed to enter in slow single file. On the other side of the door was a short corridor and at its end she discovered she was back outside on the street on the other side of the Magazin The whole event took more than two hours. For Hannah Dübgen’s more elegant accountk, go here.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Art is where you find it 7

Having seen this sculpture outside the Berlin airport terminal we promise never to be mean about public sculpture in Wellington ever again.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Three card trick

These installation shots have just reached us from Venice where the Brett Graham and Rachael Rakena installation Aniwaniwa is on course to open this Friday at the Venice Biennale. The project could still use any help it can get, but the invitation indicates at least eight sponsors (excluding Creative New Zealand) are already involved.

In a stroke of bureaucratic genius, however, CNZ satisfied its undertaking not to fund a project to Venice this year and managed to slip Aniwaniwa $24000 at the same time! The money, approved in the latest funding round, is pegged to bringing the work back to New Zealand after the Biennale has ended.

Advice to collectors 7

This story from the International Herald Tribune will ring a bell with anyone who lives with contemporary art.

“When a guest thanked Philip Johnson for his hospitality during her visit to his famous Glass House, that he had designed as his weekend home in New Canaan Connecticut, she couldn’t resist adding that she wouldn’t want to live there. “Madam, I haven’t invited you,” was his reply.”

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Is there anyone who is not a sucker for before and after images? We also love those photos of views that artists have interpreted alongside the paintings. So imagine our double pleasure when, after photographing Max Beckman’s 1936 painting of Frankfurt”s railway station the Hauptbahnhof at the Stadel Art Institute, we went over a bridge, round a corner, and saw almost the same view in front of us.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Photographer’s block

Yesterday we went to visit Block Beuys at the Hessisches Landesmuseum in Darmstadt. It is one of those art pilgrimages to complete soon as the word is the place will close for renovation in October. Block Beuys is a six room installation created by Beuys himself and he continued to make adjustments for years. The rooms are on the second floor of a combined museum that also features archaeology, natural history and old art. The Beuys rooms today feel rather forlorn as their fate is debated but we told you about them so we can tell you about photographing in museums. At Block Beuys we attempted to take a picture of Kate Newby and Simon Denny who were there with us. We posed them sitting in front of Beuys’ felt screened TV set which had been apart of a performance work. As we took the shot a guard came and announced that photos were not allowed. Fair enough, but too late as you can see above.

Museums have a very strange relationship with photography. At the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt, where we took the pic of Cattelan’s horse (that’s for you pm), we were able to sign up for a pass that let us take photos for personal use (and what could be more personal than blogs which are pushing an increasingly wide definition of what constitutes private use). The Museum of Modern Art in New York allows you to photograph anything you like, while many other museums have a no photographs at all policy. Often the copyright of images has long passed into the public realm so the only rationale seems to be to hold onto the commercial rights. Some museums have seen the light and put up their images of out of copyright material on the Internet. They are simply accepting the inevitable.
Images: Left, Joseph Beuys Filtz TV, first enacted in Copenhagen in 1966. Beuys later re-presented it as his only performance ever made specifically for the camera. In the performance Beuys sits in front of a felt screened TV set cutting sausage and boxing the screen. In confirmation of the confusion around copyright, you can watch the whole 10 minute and six seconds of it here. Right, Kate and Simon sitting in front of Filtz TV at Block Beuys. Please do not use this photograph without our permission (just kidding).

Blog of a lifetime post

Despite our continuing interest in CNZ’s Trip of a Lifetime Tour, we have not forgotten those of our readers who are packing their trunks and checking their first class tickets on departure on their own Summer European sojourn. Here for all of you is the very helpful Grand Tour of the 21st century site dedicated to “supporting you with our friendly hospitality service on planning and organizing your personal route through art this summer.”

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Earthly delights

Andy Warhol has one, so does GI Joe and Princess Leia. So, why no action figures for Jeroen van Aken, aka Hieronymus Bosch, the iconographic Dutch painter? That’s obviously the question the folk at Talaria Enterprises asked themselves. Here, for museum stores all over the world, is the result.
Images: From left to right: Bird with letter grande and Fish with tower (from The temptation of Saint Anthony), Egg-monster and Headfooter (from The last judgement)

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Look Alike XIII

As you all know everything in life is only a couple of handshakes away. On the left a soccer ball sculpture by overthenet’s favourite, ping pong artist Laurant Perbos. On the right Peter Peryer’s wonderful photograph After Rembrandt.

Of course, of course

The first work of art we saw in the first German art museum we visited? A full sized horse hanging out of the wall. And why not.
Image: Untitled 2007 by Maurizio Cattelan

Friday, June 01, 2007

New china

Our friend John Parker has been on a residency in the Fuping Ceramic Art Village in China along with other ceramic artists from Australasia. Unlike most residencies, however, this one culminated in the opening of a museum built to display the work made in Fuping. As part of the deal John worked with the local brick and tile factory to create a new series of work that is now on display. You can follow John’s account of working in China and the opening of the museum on his blog.
Images: Top, the recently constructed New Zealand ceramics museum in Fuping. Middle and bottom, work in progress and the final display.

31 days in may

if you had any sense in may, being the unnaturally mild month it was, you were outside in the sun and missed the fact that on overthenet we: felt the quality of gus mckay’s tailoring, put out a warning about comercialised art curation, pointed out all the pointy public sculpture in wellington, lamented john mccormack’s withdrawal from the cnz trip of a lifetime tour, wondered why the city gallery in wellington invited eleven art dealers to dinner, outed the speculation cover, shared your astonishment that stephen farthing ra was brought to new zealand as a hood fellow, enjoyed the art fair, announced and immediately sold out of our trip of a lifetime tour t-shirts, searched in vain for anyone involved with visual art on the cnz arts board, welcomed hamish mckay’s new gallery and sneaked a peek at the mega-parekowhai book.