Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dealer take all

The art world talks about über dealer Larry Gagosian in Sarah Douglas’s 4000 word plus profile, The art of the deal, in Intelligent Life.

“He's like a visitor from another planet, an extraterrestrial trying to communicate with our species.”

“He's like a shark or a cat or some other perfectly designed biological mechanism."

“He's sort of a combination of a corporate raider, a dark lord, Peggy Guggenheim, and a railroad magnate.”

"Of two great paintings, Larry can determine what makes one greater".

“It's a perfect storm where Larry becomes art.”

On brand, Gagosian wouldn’t talk. The best of three short quotes from him in the piece came from way back in 1980. “If I weren't doing this, I'd probably be in real estate.”

The two towers

The images above are of a 30-floor themed apartment towers, named Turanga in Sydney’s Redfern. We chanced on Turanga walking from the Grantpirrie Gallery to Danks Street. The Maori theme with a Pacific Island overlay is expressed in the garden and entranceway and carried inside with more carvings, including the panel with the kangaroo motif. As strange as they are, these Maori additions to the grounds and foyer are significantly better than those of a sister tower, Matavai, which stands near by and is themed Hawaiin. That looks more like the entrance to a down-at-heel Vegas casino, or maybe a Palm Springs motel. The Turanga had a moment of notoriety in 2004 when it was where young T.J.Hickey died at the end of a police chase sparking the Redfern riots. Soon after that the council talked about demolishing the Turanga and Matavi to make way for high-class residential apartments. The scheme obviously fell flat, although there are plenty of signs of other flash high-rise building projects in the neighbourhood.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Auckland bus shelter takes off from Peter Robinson’s Strategic Plan

I see dead people

Te Papa announced last weekend that it will be the only New Zealand venue late next year for the Boston Museum of Fine Arts’ package tour Monet and the Impressionists. The CEO of Te Papa described scoring this exhibition as "a major coup" but in reality exhibitions like these are more a matter of getting a consortium together and stumping up with the fees required by the lending institution. The director of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Malcolm Rogers, has been flogging the Museum’s Monets around the world for many years now. They even made it to Las Vegas where they were shown at the Bellagio Casino Gallery in 2004. The fee? $US1 million. As Rogers said at the time, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts must “always be searching for new ways to make money.” For Te Papa Monet and the Impressionists is an attempt at both profile and profit. Te Papa’s CEO “expected it would have the same kind of appeal as Monet held at the Auckland City Gallery in 1985 which attracted more than 175,000 visitors in six weeks and grossed more than $1million from door sales, catalogues and merchandise.”

So do these exhibitions create fat profits for museums like Te Papa? It’s hard to get figures but it is reasonable to guess that most of them are lucky to break even. Fees, Freight, Marketing and Security most often conspire to make such shows high on impact and low on returns. For example Te Papa’s last annual report calculated the income from temporary exhibitions for 2006 to be $2,061,000 against costs of $4,124,000 and in 2007, $3,432,000 against costs of $3,725,000, a year that featured their “block buster” Constable show.

Still the lure of the Impressionists remains strong. Every decade or so one lucky museum can expect to roll the dice and go home with a success in the style of Dunedin’s Guggenheim show, Auckland’s Monet bonanza or the old National Art Gallery’s exhibition of the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection. Waiting to hear what ex Auckland Art Gallery director Rodney Wilson, the current holder of the Monet Championship Belt, will have to say about Te Papa’s claim that this show is “the most significant collection of works by Monet that has ever come to New Zealand or Australia”, that is another thing altogether.
Image: Monet, a recent portrait

Monday, April 28, 2008


Images: Left, random sand sculpture. Right, William Trethewey’s The Coming of the Maori originally designed for the 1940 New Zealand Centennial Exhibition in Wellington.


What’s happened to the Walters Prize? It’s only the fourth time round and already two of the four artists selected for having made an outstanding contribution to contemporary art in New Zealand are repeats. The judges obviously didn’t have a very high opinion of the depth of New Zealand contemporary art. And then there’s the blonded elephant in the room: et al. Their non-selection for the Artspace exhibition the fundamental practice - regroup, reorder, restore (easily one of the best shows in the two year prize period) makes us think there must be a Tiger Woods’ clause to ensure that no single artist (ok, ok, or a group of artists), don’t win the prize 3 or 4 times in a row. Fair enough. But what about the inclusion of John Reynolds with his work Cloud? Unlike all the other works that have ever been selected, this installation was shown as part of an exhibition (the Sydney Biennale), not as a solo show. We only make this point because the short list is explicit that the selections are based on specific exhibitions. Still good luck to John and Edith and Peter and Lisa.

Of course, like us, many of you will have your own a handful of exhibitions that you feel should have propelled their makers into the short list. And you do have to wonder whether the four institution-based judges: Govett-Brewster’s Rhana Devenport, University of Auckland’s Jon Bywater, and Andrew Clifford and Te Papa’s Elizabeth Caldwell (not the City Gallery’s Heather Galbraith as we guessed) get out enough. After all they claim their selection identifies “… those exhibitions that have done the most to focus and to steer the concerns of art and the way it is discussed in Aotearoa New Zealand.” So, did they all see et al. at Artspace, or Fiona Conner at Gambia Castle and Artspace, or David Hatcher’s Semantic Bliss at the Govett-Brewster, or Michael Parekowhai at Michael Lett, or Judy Millar at Gow Langsford, or Simon Denny at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery and Michael Lett, or Rohan Wealleans in Dunedin with Tatunka, or Julian Dashper at Sue Crockford or Michael Stevenson at the Arnolfini in Bristol? Or, if we’re in format-stretching mode, Australian Hany Armanious’s Morphic Resonance at the City Gallery?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Art is where you find it

A Peter Robinson spotted at the Woollaston winnery in Nelson. Click on image to enlarge.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ceci n'est pas a painting

You can only wonder why artist Luc Tuymans agreed to participate in this witless experiment on context conducted by Belgium’s art radio and tv channel. Their question: “what if you take art out of its usual context and expose it in the street – would people even notice it?" Um… let us think for a moment …. er…. no.
The results? Of the 2856 people who walked by the painting Luc Tuymans had created on a concrete wall, only 107 stopped to look at it. Hey, we’ve got an idea. If you put a pile of road working equipment in the middle of an art gallery, would people stop to consider it seriously as art?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

For Katrina

The price of oil

Today we missed out on getting a ‘one-of-a-kind’ free commissioned portrait of us painted by Julian Schnabel as part of a Mastercard promotion. Is the portrait genre going to make a comeback or is this just like Brad Pitt flogging aged whiskey in Japan? There are some signs. A few years ago at the Frieze Art Fair, Jake and Dinos Chapman were offering quick portraits to anyone who wanted to buy one. (They cost $US10,000 and took about half an hour each). And someone mentioned last week that Auckland dog owners are hot on getting their mutts done in oils. So what if you want to get your portrait painted? In New Zealand Kerrys Art Portraits look like they cost out at around $300 (He also does elephants). Ecole des Beaux Arts trained-Rosemary Campbell can do you in the South Island, and Lindsay Mitchell will run up your pet (you know what we mean) at a 20 x 24 inch job for $500 or you, same size, for $950. If you want to go off-shore you can get a 36 x 48 inch oil from Roger Bissett for $US3,320 and be assured “if you’re not 200% happy you get a 100% refund”. Then there is always the possibility of a quick trip to Dafen. Back home, for those interested in portraiture in general, you can get a good dose at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery. They hold an annual best portrait award, this year won by Irene Ferguson.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Over the net gets painted into a corner

Several zoos across the country now sell paintings done by animals. The Houston Zoo, for example, offers a $500 experience, in which you can sit and watch an orangutan make a painting just for you. Well, that's according to the National Public Radio. Weekend Edition Saturday, April 12, 2008. You can listen to their story here.
Image: Photographed at the Lourve last year, artist unknown (ie, we've lost our note book.)

Fall guy

Given our obsession with Wellington’s public sculpture, we should have mentioned at the time that Weta wizard Max Patte’s sculpture Solace in the Wind was damaged when someone attempted to push it into the sea. The sculpture is of a naked bald guy (possibly castrated - hard to tell, but a nasty bump whatever) that leans at an angle off the edge of the wharf in front of Te Papa. It appears to be getting ready to take a dive. Which was what it did. Now it is back in place, as promised, and ready to once again take up its role as a diving platform for local kids. To celebrate its return, some lookalikes.
Images Top left Max Patte’s Solace in the Wind.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Note taped inside the front door of the now closed Auckland Art Gallery building.

Glass house

It was kind of sad to see the George Rickey sculpture Double L Excentric Gyratory had been removed, from what had always seemed its permanent position next to the Auckland Art Gallery. This in preparation for their new extensions.

The drawings for the new building are puzzling. The architect is Richard Francis Jones, an Australian glass guy. This seems an odd choice given the problems the Christchurch Art Gallery has had with its own glass-skin foyer (too cold or too hot) and the amount it will inevitably cost to heat or cool such a massive volume. It feels a long way away from current architectural efforts towards sustainability. Then there is the tinting required to stop UV getting through the high-tech double glazed hush glass. Having just had it installed in our own building, it is ok for looking out but very dark to look into, and does change the interior light. It also makes the drawings of the Gallery as a transparent box, revealing the green hue of the park behind the building, a bit of a stretch. It certainly won’t be surprising to see blinds or some sort of elaborate louvring system being added to the picture at some stage.

There's another oddity in the recent rash of galleries adding large foyers - mostly to cater for conferences and large events. What most of these corporate events really need (Powerpoint still rules) is a black box with a fixed AV station. Foyers most often produce groans from event managers. A foyer too far? Time will tell.
Images: Left, the New Old. Right, Rickey RIP.

Monday, April 21, 2008

China Art Objects

Check out this story on Boing Boing. Can it be true that 60% of the world's paintings come from one village in China? Someone needs to get over to Dafen and find out. An OTN cap for that person.


Smith & Caughey's run Bill Culbert up their flag pole

The missing link

Jar Space, Auckland’s drive-by-Dia, has had a change of installation. Stephen Bambury’s slick oil install, Room for Reflection, has vacated for a room full of polystyrene links by Peter Robinson. If Bambury’s work sought to disappear in the small glass-fronted exhibition space, Robinson’s has chosen to turn up the volume with Closed Cell Construction. We have mentioned this exhibition space before. It is as near a perfect art experience as a vitrine can give - smart, savvy, and beautifully complemented by an elegant and informative web site. We followed the Jar experience with a visit to the Auckland Museum. Boy oh boy, could those Kings and Queens of clutter do with a fact-finding trip down to 589 New North Road in Kingsland.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Value ad

We certainly wouldn’t want to encourage anyone to do this in any of our own art galleries but, you have to admit, it is a great idea.

Friday, April 18, 2008

You say artist we say artiste

This post has nothing about art, and everything to do with Ping Pong. Australian Tim Tyler, in the role of Mr P.P, “delivers a variety of astonishing feats, including his world famous oral ping pong ball juggling.” Anyone who can equal (or beat) Tim’s three-in-the-mouth record, just has to send us a pic, and we’ll send you a cap, if your an artist, we'll send you two.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

On the road

On the road is an ongoing series celebrating the Ministry of Land Transport and Local Body support of New Zealand artists.


Yesterday we received an extremely formal letter from Creative New Zealand responding to our request of 16 February. We’d asked was on the Visual Arts Assessment Committee for the February round of visual arts grants. If you are still interested they were:
Ali Bramwell
Heather Galbraith
Haruhiko Sameshima
Linder Tyler
Ruth Watson
The reason CNZ has sat on this reply for 60 days is that they did not want any artist to know who these people were before their decisions were made. As CNZ staff explained to us last year, knowing this sort of thing could give artists the opportunity to lobby (read annoy) Committee members and perhaps even effect their decisions. While CNZ is itself a lobby organisation, it doesn’t believe the rest of us should share the privilege. Forget for the moment that lobbying is one of the central principles of the democratic process – haven’t these people heard of select committees? Incidentally, anyone we have spoken to who has been on one of these panels tells us that conversations with artists who have missed out are far more ‘annoying’ after the announcements than during any lobbying period.
So far every question we have asked CNZ has been refused or answers delayed beyond their use-by date. It's probably time CNZ became part of a more service-oriented organisation, with greater commitment to transparency and public accountability. Perhaps the Ministry of Culture would be the right place, where scale and breadth break down silos and stone-walling. At the moment they are just hiding in full-view.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Model behaviour

In the early 80s we worked with Marti Friedlander on her book Contemporary New Zealand Painters Volume 1 (don't ask). So it is great to see Marti's return to print in the next issue of Prix-Choc. Marti has turned out 252 images of around 50 agency models. Prix-Choc is available next week for around 1.1 cent an image.


Attention Ricky Swallow fans.

Give us a sign … no, cancel that.

Someone once said that the sign of a great building was a lack of signs. Someone should mention that to Ian Athfield so he can go back and do a clean-up of the New Dowse in Lower Hutt. It’s not just the number of signs but what they are telling you to do. First up is “Main Entrance ->” in bright pink and carefully placed across what you think is the way in. The arrow points you around the corner to what can only be described as a hidden front door. On that door are the usual rash of taped notices reminding people of stuff like the shop is having a closing-down sale and just inside the door there’s a batch of don’t-do signs, no alcohol etc. The most unpromising pair, from an architectural point of view, well art museum architecture anyway, is one on an interior glass door that says “Galleries” (hey thanks for that, we were wondering) and another that, with the aid of a pictogram of a figure climbing stairs, “Upstairs Galleries”. In all we counted over 50 signs which were a mix of taped sheets of paper and the the official signage system, colour-coded on perspex. If you're off to the New Dowse, go early, and give yourself time, there’s a lot to read, .

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Art follows life…or is it the other way round?

Left, publicity shot of musician Phillip 'Snakefinger' Lithman (1949 - 1987) and right, the world’s ugliest sculpture.

When art goes to the movies 1

When Oliver Stone started shooting Wall Street in April 1987, he “called on friends, called on collectors to put the best paintings on the walls to evoke the era.” His friend Julian Schnabel, who published his autobiography CVJ: Nicknames of Maitre’Ds and Other Excerpts from Life the same year, acted as advisor to the film. One of his portraits on broken plates is featured in the expensive apartment purchased by young stockbroker Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) and decorated by Darien Taylor (Daryl Hannah). It was also the year Time magazine’s critic Robert Hughes wrote 'Schnabel is to painting, what Stallone is to acting - a lurching display of oily pectorals - except that Schnabel makes bigger public claims for himself.' Schnabel doesn’t appear in the Stone film but artist James Rosenquist makes a brief appearance at an auction where his work is purchased by Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) for $2.1 million. It is a spectacularly high price for a ‘normal-sized’ Rosenquist, considering that his mural-sized F1-11, (the largest painting - about 26 metres long and 3 meters high- to be sold at auction up to that time, and a record for the artist) sold at auction for $2.09 million in 1986, a year later than the date the movie is set in. As Darien Taylor says to Bud Fox, “Gordon is one of the most astute collectors around. He has a great eye and he only buys the best.” Artists whose works also make brief appearances include Jim Dine and John Chamberlain. Other art scene people to appear are Christopher Burge, Sotheby's legendary auctioneer, who gets the remarkable price for the Rosenquist, and dealer Richard Feigen whose book Tales from the Art Crypt: The Painters, the Museums, the Curators, the Collectors, the Auctions, the Art caused a brief flurry in 2000, the year it was published.
Images: Top left, Christopher Burge calls for $2.1 million for the James Rosenquist painting on display to the left of the image, right Gordon Gekko makes his final bid. Middle left, A Julian Schnabel plate painting is hung in Bud Fox’s apartment, right the Schnabel painting, this time resting on the floor between Budd and Darien. Bottom left, a couple of John Chamberlain sculptures at Gordon Gekko’s beach house, right Pop artist James Rosenquist, on the right, makes a guest appearance at the auction.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Finalists in top art award named
10:18AM Monday April 14, 2008

Four finalists have been announced for New Zealand's most prestigious contemporary art award, the $50,000 Walters Prize.

Finalists Edith Amituanai, Lisa Reihana, John Reynolds and Peter Robinson each receive $5000.

The winner will be announced in late October.

New Zealand Herald

et tu?

There’s a Michael Frayn short story we read a few years ago. It was set in a provincial newsroom and related how the reporters had reduced their news gathering to filing cabinets full of index cards. On the cards were all the classic stories and phrases they’d used over the years. Hot day: “man cooks egg on pavement” - that sort of thing. When a story was needed one of the cards would be taken out of a drawer (often at random) and the same ideas recycled. Sounds familiar? It certainly will if you read the Sunday Times story on et al. this weekend, The Day Art Died. In a rash attempt at humour (don’t do it guys), Sunday Times reporter Kim Knight went to the Take-the-piss-out-of–a-highly-respected-New Zealand-artist cabinet and pulled out the following cards.

1 Artist makes work of art that is a braying toilet

2 Money wasted on contemporary art again

3 Creative New Zealand wastes our money sending a portaloo that brays like a donkey to Venice. (er Kim… it was different work altogether).

4 Elitist artists try to make fools of an unwitting public with in-jokes

Next week, All Black in bar brawl.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sign of the times?

Oxford Street, Sydney April 2008

”That’s a damned talented elephant”

Can you trust, really trust, OTN? Doesn’t look like it. We promised no more animal art, and here we go again. Trunk or sock puppet? You be the judge. Thanks P.
Header quote: Willem de Kooning

Friday, April 11, 2008


"There is no doubt in my mind that Len Lye is an extraordinary artist and national icon."
Dr Seddon Bennington, Chief Executive, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa promoting the proposed Len Lye Centre on the Govett-Brewster web site.

Te Papa has only one Len Lye work in its Collection. It is a painting.


reckless guesswork, insinuations and possible inventions that have arrived at word on the street has walters prize finalists as: photographer edith amituanai, sculptor peter robinson, painter john reynolds and new media artist lisa reihana. best guesses from multiple readers reckon walters judges to be andrew clifford, jon bywater, rhana devenport, and heather galbraith. simon denny has been selected for the 2008 biennale of sydney. francis upritchard, who has a morbid fear of flying into wellington, persuaded creative new zealand to have her venice biennale shortlist meeting in auckland. new zealand artists inclusion in the next documenta 13 hangs on the whims of just-announced finding committee member liz ann macgregor, director of the museum of contemporary art in sydney. daniel du bern, maddie leach, lisa reihana and wayne youle are set to “explore the social dynamics and architecture of cultural gatherings” at the field museum in chicago. any missed details, indignant denials or additions gratefully received, and the best (the very best), rewarded with overthenet caps.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Climb every mountain

More info on the living artist who attracts the biggest bucks. Apparently the price paid for the Hotere at Dunbar Sloan's was $280,000 plus premium. The AASD ( a list of Australasian auction prices published online from Australia) which lists the price at $308,000 adds the buyer's premium but not the GST. With that figuring the recent Webb's price would be $326,250. In fact the price paid by the buyer, including GST, ended up at $330,781.25. Thanks S, thanks Roger Douglas.

Uh… gee, great

It takes a while for life to follow art and it looks like the same thing applies to satire. Last week the New York Times featured some nifty interactive versions (you could fold them online) of Mad Magazine’s back page Mad Fold-in. Amongst them was this one busily applying itself to the old art-is-a-con-job argument. Warhol had pretty much dispensed with the Campbell’s soup can line by the end of 1962 although he did do the odd variation up to 1964 (as you can see in the Apple/Warhol pic we posted last month). This September ‘65 cover by Mad Magazine’s Jaffre says more about of Warhol’s impact on the culture than Pop Art as a fraud on the nation.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Big Ears

“…rather importantly, they asked for it.”

Philanthropist John Kaldor telling Emily Sharpe, a reporter for the Art Newspaper, why he gave 260 works of contemporary art to the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Smoke signals

As the dust settles over the Hammond price “record” smoke signals have been sighted from all corners questioning just what the $290,000 paid for the bird work represents. Most seem agreed that we are talking about a record for a living artist and that the likes of McCahon need not apply but there are the usual problem for dealers (or gallerists as some of them are now known). Although they often, even most often, set the highest prices for living artists, their discretion prevents the public from ever hearing about it. And so, the auction houses tend to own the records. If the way the auction business is headed in the rest of the world is reflected here, dealers better get used to it. Indeed they might start looking around for another way to sell art. You don’t have to be a genius to see, that while dealer galleries have retained pretty much the same model since the late 19th century, auction houses have radically changed for the times.

And so, as auction houses merge and dip their toes into private treaties, exhibitions and dealer gallery ownership, the space for traditional dealers is getting cramped. Many artists, even here in New Zealand, baulk at 40 percent dealer commissions, so selling wet off the wall via auction must become increasingly more attractive. Apparently Webb’s have apologised for jumping the gun and claiming their “record”. They needn’t have bothered. Apart from disgruntled muttering, who’s going to prove them wrong and what can they do about it?
Image: How to light a smoke generating fire

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The undead

Having just posted Webb’s on Webb’s announcement of a record price for a living New Zealand artist (Bill Hammond at $290,000) we were kinda surprised to hear from a reader that back in 2004 Dunbar Sloane in Auckland got $308,000 off an estimate of $300,000-400,000 for lot 25, Ralph Hotere’s Song Cycle The Voyage, 1976. So competition rules in the auction record business like many others. Hotere (still alive) also beat the Hammond price in 2003 with lot 27, Black Window, which achieved $302,500 off an estimate of $230,000-280,000. And that was at Webb’s. No doubt there will be talk of commissions not included etc etc. which might end up giving Bill the edge on the Webb’s price, but Dunbar can probably still claim the record.


Images: Left, New carny ride in the June, 1934 issue of Modern Mechanix. Right, Phil Price Nucleus 2003.

Follow the money

The only thing that excites the media more than fakes, thefts or monkeys knocking up artworks, is art selling for high prices. Well old art that is. TV3 showed unusual interest in art at auction when John Campbell crossed live to a reporter at Webb’s to give out the price paid for a water colour of Simpson’s donkey. The painting went for a respectable $110,000 but was eclipsed by Bill Hammond’s large green bird picture that was sold for $290,000, reportedly the highest price paid for a living artist. Did the reporter change the story to reflect this now obvious shift of the market from pre 60s work to the contemporary? Not a chance. This morning newcasts all have, as Variety might put it, Bill’s big buck birds leading donkey dollars.
Images: Top the purchaser of “Simpson” and his donkey. Bottom a quick mention of the Hammond record before closing down.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Letter to Listener (not published)

In a recent Curmudgeon column Hamish Keith blames the building for Te Papa’s woes. He needs to understand that bricks don’t make museums, people do. We’ve all seen great museums in bad buildings and bad museums in good ones. Hiding behind a building is a cop-out. Sure we live in a small country, but if Keith really wants to explain why Te Papa turned into a kid’s museum, he needed to name the people responsible. First up there is Keith himself, along with all the others who were closely involved in the culture in the late 1980s and 1990s, ourselves included. In Keith’s case that included being on the National Art Gallery Board for 15 years, and its Chair from 1985 to July 1992. He was also a member of the MONZ Project Development Board. We all knew the model was wrong and we couldn’t stop it. It was people like us who allowed Te Papa to happen, not the carpenters and floor layers. Then there were the architects and builders of the idea at the time. Ken Gorbey (Museum Team Leader) who was there from the beginning and is still proud to be the conceptual architect of the project. James Mack (Assistant Director of the National Museum) who helped invent and test the ocka-gothic story telling techniques. Ian Wedde (Founding Visionary and Concept Leader Humanities) who gave the relegation of art to illustrating Te Papa’s stories some intellectual credibility and, of course, Cheryl Sotheran (CEO) who got the building built on time and on budget.
Image: Hamish Keith at Te Papa Museum Project Board meeting, published in a Museum of New Zealand newsletter.

Last (Last Supper) post

One of our readers has been fossicking around in the OTN archives and saw the post on variations on Da Vinci’s Last Supper. Wouldn’t you know it, there’s a web site devoted to the subject. If you need more of this sort of thing this is where to go. Thanks G.
Images: Top left, Lego (Bless them) right, Popeye. Bottom left, Robert Altman’s Mash, right - the ever subtle - Simpsons

Thursday, April 03, 2008

A total riot

The Last Riot, the Caravaggio inspired video, currently on exhibition at the City Gallery and featuring Russia’s best-known male model Danilya Polyakov, is apparently in an edition of three. Even the Russian Group AES+F (Tatiana Arzamasova, Lev Evzovich, Evgeny Svyatsky and Vladimir Fridkes) must have been surprised at its incredible success at the 2007 Venice Biennale, which resulted in two of the copies of the edition winding up in Australia. The one on show in Wellington comes from Dick Quan’s Sydney collection, the other Aussie copy went to Tasmanian collector David Walsh. The third copy was variously described as having been “purchased” or having been “gifted” to the Tate in London. Not so according to a correction in this month’s Art Newspaper. “In fact no such offer has been made and Tate has not acquired the work.” So now it looks like there is the chance for someone else in the Lucky Country to snap up their own copy of The Last Riot and claim the trifecta. Meanwhile, back in Moscow, and possibly regretting they had only made three saleable copies of their runaway success, AES+F have produced Last Riot 2, images from The Last Riot in the handier format of photographs on canvas with panoramas priced at $US150,000.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Jolly good company

et al. will be in good company when they exhibit in Art Unlimited in the Basel Art Fair. Other artists in the grand hall include: Rosemarie Trockel, Thomas Ruff, Pipilotti Rist, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Damián Ortega, Takashi Murakami, Karen Kilimnik, Thomas Hirschhorn, Douglas Gordon, Jan Dibbets and Bruce Conner. There are also familiar names from NZ exhibitions, Shintaro Miyake from Auckland Art Gallery's Mixed up Childhood, Jessen Gallery’s Tony Tony Oursler and Artspace exhibitor Diana Thater. For the full list, go here.
Later... Auckland Art Gallery adds to the list: Joachim Koester at Jan Mot - was in Mystic Truths with a 16mm film, photographs and two-channel video work. Jesús Rafael Soto has a work from the collection in this year's Sydney Biennale.

Pick up art

This months Art Newspaper reveals that the site that ex Govenor Eliot Spitzer checked out for online profiles of $1000 an hour prostitutes, also offers art to its high rolling (sorry) clients. International escort agency Emperor’s Club VIP has a, wait for it, “private art acquisition venue.” Emperors go on to add “We act for a select group of educated, refined, successful, international clients who give their best in all they do and who in return only wish to receive the best.” remembering that “The greatest gain is how a beautiful painting always evokes a sense of miraculous reward in your parlour.” But don’t forget that, although “much fine museum quality contemporary art becomes more precious with time, yet, the best advice is always the same: make visual pleasure and quality the benchmarks of your buying so you are certain to derive a deep satisfaction from the piece.” Unfortunately you can no longer play Governor for the day, as the Emperors Club VIP escort site has been taken down, however, you can still visit their art site here.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Ads up

Because we like Picasso, and have always loved Apple.

Art + Object lesson

We've mentioned before how much we enjoy getting the Art +Object catalogues, and the latest one is no exception. So far we haven’t timed a visit to Auckland that coincides with one of their auctions, so it is always interesting to see the pics (and videos) of the work on display. It is a sign of the times that auction house exhibitions are vying with public museums in terms of showing contemporary art in a way that is both engaging and insightful. The best part is that you get to see so many images. The strange case of public museum sites with so few images of current shows continues to be a puzzle. You can go here to get more views and watch a video of Art + Object’s exhibition featuring the Art and Text collection.
Image: Top: Hamish Coney and Ben Plumbly on the Art + Object video. Bottom, exhibition of works to be auctioned by Art + Object this Thursday at 6.30 pm