Friday, October 31, 2008

Highly prized

The Walters Prize was awarded tonight to Peter Robinson for Ack, his exhibition at Artspace.

Frog marched

"Hulk not like. Hulk smash." And so it proved with the career of Corinne Diserens, director of the Museion museum of contemporary art at Bolzano. A while back we told you how a crucified frog by artist Martin Kippenberger had upset the Pope. Bad idea, as it turns out. This week Diserens was sent down the road because of “the difficult financial situation” caused in part by “unauthorised spending”. You can read the full story here.

Dome sweet dome

This satellite image is of the Rita Angus cottage in Wellington. We were there last week when Ronnie van Hout was in residence while putting up his Te Papa installation. The Google image was pulled up to see if there was any sign of the geodesic dome that until recently sat on the cottage’s back garden. It might be there in the image, it’s hard to tell. The dome was built by someone we only knew as Frank, and from memory he lived in it for a while when Alister Taylor was in the cottage in the early seventies. There was a book on how to build geodesic domes published by Alister Taylor, but it wasn’t by Frank. Rupert Glover, son of Wellington poet Denis, did the honours.

The reason for all this dome fever is that we noted that it is 50 years since Buckminster Fuller’s patent for the geodesic dome was first used for specialized industrial use for the Union Tank Car Company. A more famous structure was the dome he created for Expo 67 in Montreal. We visited it years ago but even then its plexiglass covering had long been destroyed by a fire that swept through the structure in 1976.

Image: What might be a blurred sighting of Frank’s effort in the back yard of the Rita Angus cottage via Google Earth.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Best of 3 is on a chocolate jag today which reminded us of a great story we read about the Frieze Art Fair. This from Adrian Searle the Guardian art critic on one artist's attempt to undermine the tight selection process the Frieze Art Fair puts attending dealer galleries through.

“Frieze is a fair, and the commercial angle must never be forgotten, however stringent the vetting of galleries that want to attend. This process - carried out by committee - has this year been undermined by artist Cory Arcangel, who sent out bars of chocolate to all the galleries who had made unsuccessful applications to exhibit. One bar contained a golden ticket, offering a free stand at the fair.”

The winning chocolate bar went to Studio di Giovanna Simonetta, from Milan. Searle described the gallery’s presence at the fair as “…dismal stuff, and the gallery a total dud, but it is actually not much worse than a lot of things on view elsewhere.”

Image: A rare chocolate bar used in the film Willy Wonkas Chocolate Factory that has a golden ticket inside. Most of the chocolate bars used on set were eaten. Chocolate fans can bid for this one here.

Drawing conclusions

These stills are from the University of Canterbury’s current TV ad for Ilam Art School.

Voice over: “I grew up in an artistic environment, so creativity is in my blood. I wanted a quality arts degree, and at UC that’s what I’m getting.”

What we are getting is a screenful of mixed messages. In front of a background that looks like it comes courtesy of Vincent Ward and Robin Williams, a nicely dressed young woman sketches realist drawings of heads. To reinforce this old-school impression she is sitting on a chair that would have been more familiar to her grandmother. Let's face it, this hasn’t been anyone’s idea of quality artschool teaching since Bill Sutton left the building.

To get a more accurate view of what UC actually offers, prospective arts students and parents would be better off visiting the “UC” site.
An OTN hat for anyone who can reveal whether this is a real student or an actor.

Wednesday, October 29, 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.
For others in the series search 'on the road' in the blog search box above.

By the numbers

In an email from Parsons Bookshop a while back we got notification of a book by Oliver Stead due for publication later this month. It’s called Art Icons of New Zealand. The email gave a sample of a few of the icons represented including Pat Hanly’s Figures in Light No 17, Tony Fomison’s Each Must Decide and rather off left field, Ralph Hotere’s Rosemary.

We decided to use that well-known visual icon calibrator Google Images to check out the iconic status of Stead’s selection. First we did a test run with New Zealand’s most loved painting Rita Angus’s Cass according to The Sunday Star Times. It scored 14. Then we put Parsons’ sample to the test. Here are the results in terms of number of images found. Firm, but fair.

Neil Dawson Ferns - 31
Michael Parekowhai Ten Guitars - 11
Pat Hanly Figures in Light No 17 - 3
Edward Fristrom Pohutukawa - 3
C F Goldie Tamehana from Life - 2
Tony Fomison Each must decide - 1
Jeffrey Harris Family - 1
Frances Hodgkins Summer - 0
Ralph Hotere Rosemary - 0
Robin Morrison K Road - 0
Filipe Tohi Lavalavaometry - 0

Image: If its in the New World supermarket, its an icon – end of story.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Big Ears

“He won’t be told, but he’s easily led.”

Australian art dealer talking about an NZ collector

To go

Ethnic restaurants in K-Road have taken a hit with the opening of Split Fountain the art bookshop /design studio. It has moved into the space previously occupied by Murli Indian Takeaways (nee Dinnis Indian Café). Now news that Sue Crockford is to move from her harbourside buzz-up to replace the Saigon which is next to Split Fountain which is next to the entrance to Gambia Castle.

Images: Top, the Murli with Teststrip entrance on right. Bottom, wideshot courtesy of Teststrip, showing Saigon next to Dinnis next to Teststrip

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saucy art

You’re stuck in that same old steak restaurant you always end up in, and no one is paying you any attention - as in NO ATTENTION AT ALL. So, what are you going to do? Make art, that’s what. The first 15 seconds will give you the idea.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Art is where you find it

Wellington’s Bucket Fountain is revitalised as a conceptual piece while the figurative stuff is away being repaired.

Family time

In our Last Supper frenzy we missed out on this version featuring the cast of the Sopranos. It looks like a Last Supper pic is on the tick-sheet of any big tv show, we've also seen versions for Battlestar Galactica and House.

Be careful what you wish for

The Otago Museum reckoned that Te Papa owed them $4625.44. Te Papa said nuts to that, and over the last couple of years letters have flown up and down the island fuming over who owes what and to whom and calling for resolution.

Then, just when Te Papa and the Otago Museum threatened to become New Zealand’s Jardine v Jardine, Otago’s Shimrath Paul wrote Te Papa’s Seddon Bennington.

"We wish this matter to be resolved and all correspondence to cease. Should you find it beyond you to settle in full, then don't pay at all - we will consider the matter over,"

On 19 September Seddon Bennington replied regretting "the tension this has caused between our institutions" and announcing Te Papa was pleased to accept Paul’s proposal that the matter be settled in full, without further payment.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Massey University has reached back again to find a visual artist to induct into their hall of fame. Last year it was Len Lye (1902-1980) and now the university has announced it will honour Gordon Walters (1919-1995) who was a student at the Art Department Wellington Technical College and taught there 1945. Sally Morgan, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the College of Creative Arts said Walters demonstrated “the contribution that an art and design education can make to the stamping of New Zealand’s mark on the world.”

Artists in Ad Land: Gilbert & George

In the days when it wasn’t cool for major movie stars to shill for luxury brands, actors like Brad Pitt snuck across the ocean to do it in Japan. The rules were simple: what plays in Japan, stays in Japan. How ironic is it then that just as luxury brands start to struggle under the onset of the credit crunch, a couple of UK artists were pulling the same stunt.

Take the appearance of Gilbert & George flogging suits for Comme des Garçons in Tokyo. The two lads were careful not to use images that would offend high-end shoppers selecting their 1986 work The Long March to background the pinstripe. This is the same G&G who once said, “We don't have anything to say except with our pictures.” And the same ones who inspired Comme des Garcons in the 1990s with the models wearing either wigs of slick hair parted on the side, like Gilbert's, or hair nets to mimic the receding hairline of George. Like Tracey Emin they like it have it all ways. She was happy to pitch for Bombay Sapphire in the UK under a “Taste. And see” by-line.

The film-stars-for-fashion phenomenon is well documented. You can see a good range of it here. Who’s up for the artist version?

Images: top: G&G for CdG. Bottom, Comme staff fuss over the G&G display.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


In Wellington, thinking about Christo.

Of course, of course

There are those who say that while all horses paint well, when it comes to art that will resonate across decades, you need a Mustang Quarter horse. And if you are in the market, you might as well go for Cholla, the “elite of Painting Horses.’

As Horse whisperer Monty Roberts says on Cholla’s own web site, and we guess in reaction to Cholla’s work, "This is absolutely wild. However you taught your horse to paint, you are to be commended."

The question we are often asked is, “Ok, buying animal art is fine for the rich collector, but what about the average Joe the plumber?” Well, we have news for you. Cholla’s art may be too rich for your blood, but a limited edition print ships out at a very reasonable $US100. In fact, you can buy one here.

Image: Left, Cholla’s Nectar, Giclee Print on archival paper in a limited edition of 250 numbered (no, not by the horse) and documented (again). Right, a more vibrant work copyrighted by the same horse.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Spam Jnr.

A reader tells us the the Dominion Post has just dumped its arts column and, by default, its arts reviewer Mark Amery. Wellington has had its local paper decide the arts are too boring (and too stingy on the advertising front) to bother with before. Mark Amery joins a long line of ex reviewers including Elva Bett, Rob Taylor, Neil Rowe and Ian Wedde. Auckland, on the other hand, loyal to a fault, sticks with T J McNamara.

Owner / operator

One of our readers made the point that when we said that the White Cube was Damien Hirst’s gallery that many people would have thought that he ran it. In fact it is owned by Jay Jopling. Our guess is if we had said say, “Ronnie van Hout’s gallery Hamish McKay” or “Ruth Watson’s gallery Two Rooms” everyone would have understood we meant that Ronnie was one of Hamish McKay’s artists and not his boss and that Ruth Watson was a Two Rooms exhibitor not owner operator. But Damien Hirst has taken given the gallery tree a good shake and taken artist branding to a new level. Saying that the White Cube is Damien Hirst’s gallery does indeed sound like he owns the gallery rather than being represented by it. Mind you after the recent auction and blurry ownership of the diamond encrusted skull, even that is probably up for grabs.
Image: Damien Hirst crate being moved into Jay Jopling's Gallery, and thanks for bringing it up C.

Big Ears

"Leave the financial crisis at the front door would you."
Overheard at the Frieze Art Fair

Terry and the pirates

If you’re looking for a project manager with excellent technical savvy and a long history of work in art galleries and museums, you can’t go far past Terry Urbahn. Terry, who is also a practising artist, was the project manager to sort out the last two New Zealand forays to Venice after the initial expensive, and not very comfortable, effort with an Australian outfit.

It’s easy to understand why the Australians were keen to get him for their own Venice efforts next year. And they did. Terry will now take the experience and skills he developed via CNZ funding and use it to help make the Australian presence at Venice trouble free. CNZ have advertised for a Production and Technical Manager for the next Venice Biennale and we assume they have in mind someone with as good or better skills and experience than Terry Urbahn. Let’s see who that someone is. It’s a big ask when their only other person with multiple Venice experience, Undine Marshland, has left.

You do have to wonder why CNZ did not tie Urbahn up for the 2009 tour when they had the chance. Our Venice Risk-o-metre is reading High.
Image: The Over The Net Risk-o-meter

Monday, October 20, 2008


reckless guesswork, insinuations and possible inventions that have arrived at cnz have come up three zero (museo fraserrobinson, the et al. hall and the upritchard palazzo) so far in their search for an exhibitions site for the venice biennale • one of the edition of hirst dagger hearts offered for one trillion (correction: we meant to write million) dollars in nz is up for auction at phillips de pury • the new director of the new dowse is the current director of te tuhi-the mark centre for the arts • michael stevenson presented an installation (creepily prescient) on pawn broking at the frieze art fair • te papa paid more to construct the walls in the rita angus exhibition than they did for john reynolds’ work cloud, and they paid over $200,000 for that • gallery 64zero3 in christchurch and janne land in wellington are closing. any missed details, indignant denials or additions gratefully received, and the one that has the most long words, rewarded with an international edition overthenet cap.

Ronnie’s hole

Marcel Duchamp has cast a big shadow over New Zealand art as everywhere else. In Tokyo we saw work from the mid-1980s by Chinese artists who had just found out about Duchamp and Joseph Beuys. It was like watching a banquet being consumed by starving guests responding to the complex and subtle ideas on the fly. We have already posted on the remarkable exhibition of Duchamp‘s work that toured New Zealand (you can download the catalogue here) and its unintended consequences. In 1966, the year before his work toured New Zealand, Duchamp had been putting the finishing touches to the secret work that would be revealed to the public after his death. Étant donnés is installed in a small room in the Philadelphia Museum of Art , it is approached via two peephole set into a door which is in turn set into the wall.

In 1994, at whatever the National Gallery was being called at that stage, Giovanni Intra played a cheeky homage to the work with his own peephole installation Golden Evenings. The view, from memory, was a sunset. It sure wasn’t the up-skirt view of Duchamp’s shocker.

Now, at Hamish McKay’s, you can see another response to Étant donnés, this time by Ronnie van Hout in Hold that thought. This time the peephole view is of a naked guy as far in the distance as Duchamp’s woman is in your face. Both perspectives cloud what’s going on with similar ambiguity.

Another connection to Étant donnés is set into one of our own walls - the miniature version of the Wrong Gallery. Before the original was removed from its New York Chelsea address to go to Tate Modern, the final installation was Erik van Lieshout’s Peep Show (2007) that directly quoted Étant donnés.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Time out 1

People overcome by art in public institutions. This week Britain's V&A.

Friday, October 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. For others in the series search 'on the road' in the blog search box above.

By the numbers

140,047,144 The annual turnover, in New Zealand dollars, of Gerhard Richter who tops The Guardian's list of 'Five most expensive living artists in the world based on total sales revenue'.

273 The number of pages of ads in the October issue of Artforum.

233 The number of days before the opening of the 2009 Venice Biennale.

The percentage of men represented in Vol 5 of Contemporary New Zealand Art to be published this year.

The percentage of men represented in Vol 1 of Contemporary New Zealand Art published in 1997.

21 The number of corn, cheese and onion toasties prepared by Ronnie van Hout for visitors to the opening of his exhibition at the Hamish McKay Gallery.

3 The number of Englishmen represented in the top 10 of the current Art Review Power 100.

3 The number of days the Wellington City Gallery will be showing art for the next year.

4 The number of ways you can pay for art exhibited in the Trust Waikato National Contemporary Art Award 2008 on exhibition at the Waikato Museum.

7 The number of dollars it costs you to get into the Auckland Art Gallery.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


"The Wow Machine."

Artist Gavin Turk describing Damien Hirst's Gallery, White Cube
(it's been pointed out that the gallery White Cube belong's to Jay Jopling, but we stand by the convention of associating artists directly with the galleries that represent them) in The Guardian.

Forever young

Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg around the time they were making John's flag paintings and Rauschenberg's Monogram in the early nineteen fifties.

Place settings

For an extreme example of the way museums show art and commercial venues view it is blurring, go no further than Picasso: Portrait of Soul on show at the Suntory Museum of Art in Tokyo Midtown. Of course there’s nothing strange about a major art exhibition in a store in Japan, and once inside the galleries you could be inside any white-cube public art museum in the world. The strange part of the mix though was outside in the mall (maybe shopping complex would be fairer, it was more Prada than Whitcoulls) where Tokyo Midtown’s management has set up its own exhibition Picasso’s Place.

At the top of the escalators and before you got to Picasso: Portrait of Soul, there it was - Picasso’s Place. Split into Picasso’s Private Place and Picasso’s Work Place, the consensus about just what the Spaniard would have included in his worlds seemed to be art, objects and books. The art was easy enough. A few daubs on unlikely objects with the highlight an attempt to paint Guernica on a bull’s skull (Best mixed metaphor award). Objects, not so easy. Best Object Painted Gold definitely went to Picasso’s Gnome table and Best Object with Sales Potential to the many sets of Faber-Castell pencils scattered about. There was not much to distinguish Picasso’s Private Place from his Work Place; books (some surprisingly rare and interesting), weird driftwood lamps (“he was creative”), a striped jersey and, “is that really a large wooden rat?”

As usual, Picasso’s Place came with its own guard. Unusually, he was more than happy to take photographs of visitors with the exhibits.

Images: Top, Picasso’s two worlds. Bottom from left, sales goods, a “Picasso”, the gnome table and more skull art.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Legging it

Why aren't we surprised that this is the picture et al. sent us of Martin Creed's Tate runner project, Work 850.

It’s a small world after all

Te Papa has responded to our suggestion, as reported in the Sunday Star Times, that, “Te Papa no longer collects or shows much concern for international art.” In its latest newsletter Te Papa claims:

“Although our priority is to collect historical and contemporary New Zealand, Maori and Pacific art, our acquisitions policy does provide for the acquisition of 'international' art.”

And goes on to state:

“During the past three years we have added important historical and contemporary Australian and modern British examples to our collections.“

So we looked back at Te Papa’s annual reports over the last three years in which it records all its art purchases. We found that its international purchases were:

2003-2004 - three English prints.
2004-2005 – 18 British prints (pre 1850), one painting (Australian contemporary by Rosalie Gascoigne)
2005-2006 - three donated British paintings (pre 1800), one British print (pre 1800)
2006-2007 - one painting (by Frances Hodgkins)

The newsletter goes on to comment:

“The claim was made during a week when our Curator of European Art, Victoria Robson, was in the United Kingdom assessing a painting by a modern British artist that we were very interested in acquiring.”

The artist Victoria Robson was chasing up in the United Kingdom was Cedric Morris. The Oxford University Press’s Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Art describes Morris, best known for his paintings of flowers, as ”fairly well known and successful between the wars…. After about 1940, however, he sank from fashionable consciousness, although he remained an admired figure in East Anglia.”

Cedric Morris is world famous in New Zealand for being a friend of Frances Hodgkins (see 2006-2007 purchase above) His portrait of her is in the Auckland Art Gallery’s collection.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Block heads

No, hang on… this is serious. As Nathan Sawaya says, “What would be better than another you made completely out of LEGO bricks?” Order one here at Neiman Marcus.
Each life-sized replica costs $US60,000 and is not endorsed by the LEGO Group.

A new model

The poverty-chic photo shoot in the latest Webb’s catalogue presents Peter Stitchbury (sic) and Seung Yul Oh’s paintings in what looks like an abandoned student flat. Art has often been used to flash-up fashion shoots but this takes a stranger direction. The basic approach is familiar: find a few sexy objects, a stylist and a photographer, and take them to an unusual location to give the whole enterprise a sweet/sour pungency. Many years back we remember Ralph Hotere being shocked to find one of his works as the background of a fancy jeans ad. From memory again, he either got them to pay up or at least fold up their tent. But art as the subject of a fashion shoot rather than simply decor? There’s got to be a name for it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Our picks

Taken in Tokyo.
Images: Top left to right, Sol Lewitt wall drawing in two shades of granite; crates of art to go in a dealer gallery loading dock; Gerhard Richter sells shoes. Middle left to right, foyer art, more foyer art (same foyer); Richard Serra vs the Ueno Royal Museum (Game, museum). Bottom left to right, also Japanese art, more Yayoi Kusama than you can shake a stick at, twice. Click on image to enlarge.

Things past

The Picasso with the hole in the middle, Le Rêve, has been repaired and will be exhibited this week at the Acquavella Galleries in New York. The tear across Marie-Thérèse's left forearm was caused by the painting’s owner Steve Wynn putting his elbow through it.

Well spotted

We were in the area, we were tired, and so we sat down to watch some extreme curation. Outside the Ueno Royal Museum what looked to be a curator, a head of department and a curatorial assistant were directing a team of freight packers to place a sculpture by Yayoi Kusama. (while we were in Tokyo we saw over ten large works by this artist – she is the Louise Bourgeois of Japan).

The installation process took a couple of hours and required a large number of minute adjustments. One of the final tasks was to mark the placement of each piece with small bits of gaffer tape, so we assume they were taken indoors each night, followed by, what was we assume again, the curatorial assistant, giving the works a good going over with a wet cloth. You can catch the movie of the post on OTN Stuff.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The oldest art

On the hills of Shibuya we spotted this art hotel. An art hotel! Why the hell didn’t we stay there? Whoops, wrong art.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Art is where you find it

On the way back from the Taka Ishi Gallery we wandered into the Kiyosumi Gardens featuring “Famous stones, greenery and history reflected in a pool.” On the window of the ticket office there were four A4 sheets of drawings by the staff to assist visitors recognise the birds that shelter in this serene part of a busy industrial Tokyo suburb.

The money or the bag

Vanessa Beecroft of ‘the gaze’ and anorexia fame had a new idea for her group photos of naked women. Why not get them to lie down in shapes spelling out the letters of Louis Vuitton? ("I absolutely never had the feeling of compromising myself while I made this alphabet for Louis Vuitton"). It didn’t work out. Anthon Beeke, who had been in the nudie alphabet business before her, got a court order for Vanessa to halt and desist her Vuitton project. It was the second time Vuitton had been on the wrong end of a artist copyright infrigement.

How do serious artists get into these situations? For instance, you might think a committed conceptual artist like John Armleder would be able to side-step this world. Not a bit of it. In Tokyo Mid-Town’s Puma store, we came across his range of ,Puma-branded silver luggage that would have given even Dolce & Gabbana pause. Of course it was cunningly disguised as an art edition, but you could tell the players were defending shaky ground. For each bag sold the label insisted we remember that $100 would be donated to the Serpentine Gallery in London. The bags also defended themselves against charges of blunt instrument commercialism by being packed with examples of young-people-art.

In the gallery context Armleder has been a brilliant provocateur, skillfully questioning the authenticity of art. His bag range, on the other hand, can’t help being just what it is, 1000 units of high-end bling.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Feeling up about the down

In Tokyo, thinking about Neil Dawson.

Four letter word

Sometimes a lookalike is just that. When we saw this version of Robert Indiana’s famous Love sculpture in Tokyo, it reminded us that we’d already seen two other versions, well copies really. How many could there be? The answer is 23. Of these 14 are in the United States, with half of them, for reasons we can’t think of, in the grounds of educational institutions like universities and colleges. The remaining nine are scattered around the world. And in Italy there is also an Italian version (AMOR). Robert Indiana, gotta love him. If you want to go on a love hunt, you can get the full list of locations here on OTN Stuff.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Because of his long association with New Zealand (he had a major show at the National Art Gallery in the eighties and is represented by Sue Crockford) we always notice Daniel Buren’s work when we chance upon it. Two Daniel Buren (not) sightings yesterday at the swish Tokyo Midtown shopping complex. For the reveal, as magicians call it, check out OTN Stuff.

Taken for a ride

Every now and then you see a work that encapsulates the times you live in. This installation, Old People’s Home by the Chinese team Sun Yuan and Pen Yu, did just that. In the middle of an exhibition of contemporary Chinese art we rounded a corner to see what appeared to be 13 old men in motorized wheel chairs erratically moving around the space, narrowly avoiding collisions and skittering along the walls. The figures were life-like in a corpsey sort of way and the effect both shocking and thrilling. A couple of nights before we had watched around 13 men in suits on tv telling the world they had agreed to bail out erratic hedge funders and mortgage gamblers. Only now do we realize they should have been seated in motorized wheel chairs.
Image: Sun Yuan and Pen Yu's installation Old People’s Home

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The fourth floor

A ways back, some museums and art galleries used to claim to be a “neutral negotiating ground”. The idea was that they provided a context that was as far as possible neutral so that people could debate, question etc. So much for that. This is where the idea of Te Papa came from but it was quickly subsumed by stories. Any combination of objects tells a story and tells different stories depending on who’s doing the looking.

That’s why a new collection arrangement at Te Papa, Aspects of Abstraction is so…unusual. The works on show are ten works by Julian Dashper, three by Don Driver and two each by Milan Mrkusich and Chiara Corbelletto (these numbers may not be exact, but they give a sense of the mix). The wall text claims that the show is designed to give insights into “a distinct kind of abstract art over three decades.” What “distinct kind” could this be? Mrkusich labours over hand-crafted surfaces, Dashper outsources production to fabricators, Driver makes collages out of pre-used materials and Corbelletto, while perhaps more in the Mrkusich camp, is a sculptor rather than a painter. If there is a coherent theme to the show is seems to come down to the assertion that there are many different kinds of abstraction.

That’s one way of looking at it. You could also see it as a radical elevation (for Te Papa anyway) of Julian Dashper into the company of Mrkusich and Driver. Ten works is a serious statement in a show like this and offers a virtual mini-survey of Dashper’s output from the nineties. Te Papa’s curators, however, give no rationale for us to chew on, so let’s make our own connections. Like three of the four artists are represented by one Wellington dealer. You could go on. Te Papa’s art exhibitions have mostly been of the one-of-that and one-of-this and don’t forget one-of-those style of curation. Who would have thought that a show blandly titled Aspects of Abstraction would turn out to be the feistiest animal Te Papa has released since the McCahon /fridge combo?
Image: One of the Aspect of Abstraction galleries showing work by Mrkusich, Dashper and Driver

Monday, October 06, 2008

…climbed up the spout again

Over the years we have been taking photographs of do not touch signs in art galleries and museums – ok, and do not photograph signs. A spectacular member of the species, this do not climb sign, is outside Tokyo's Mori Gallery and under a Louise Bourgeois spider.

Candle power

A classic Art at the Movies moment on the way to Tokyo. Five hours into the flight and we were reduced to movies that probably went straight to DVD. Like Deception, another of those laconic, slow-paced thrillers that step you through some process that is being subverted by the bad guy. In this case it was accountancy (honestly). Movie makers are skilful at using art to make rapid statements of context. To paint a character as sophisticated, wealthy and a shrewd collector all in an instant, the director reached for Gerhard Richter. “It’s a Gerhard Richter. You know the guy we met in the hall … he’s a hot-shot collector. He hooked me up with this fantastic dealer in Munich.” How much of the American audience did the director think would recognise Richter, or know what he represented in terms of status and market value? Virtually none, but the point Richter is being used to make is more about the mysteries of arcane, exclusive and valuable knowledge than recognition.

Before being reduced to Deception we watched Vincent Ward’s latest film. It didn’t have to use art works as ciphers, it’s an artwork all by itself.
Image: Deception Air New Zealand style

Saturday, October 04, 2008


It’s Saturday, the sun is shining, go out and balance some rocks. And while you're there, remember how mature OTN was not to title this a Chris Booth lookalike.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Art is where you find it

Hustings billboard for National's Arts Spokesperson, Chris Finlayson

Look alike

The Chand Baori stepwell near Jaipur in India precedes M C Escher by about 10 centuries.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Bad news for the King

Dominion Post 2 October 2008

Art in the movies: the extras

Not all the art works you see in movies are by well known artists, well, hardly any of them in fact. In this medium art serves up a quick signal as to social status, context, personality as well as simply livening up dead spots on the set. Most of it is either hired or created by artists who specialise in fine art as props. Their web sites are crammed with film credits like any other Hollywood services site.

Anne Silber is a good example. Her work has appeared in The Departed, The Bucket List and Minority Report. She mainly makes silk screen prints with the movie business a bit of a sideline. And she ha the key skill down pat: not to upstage the actors or the scene they are setting.

Image: Jack Nicholson not being upstaged under Silber’s print during the filming of The Bucket List

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Art in the workplace

We love looking into corporate foyers and seeing how they present art. Here is the first of a series of photographs we have taken over the years.

Artists in Ad Land: Billy Apple

Along with his contemporary Andy Warhol, Billy Apple managed to have a close association with advertising and still be seen as a credible practising artist. Unlike Warhol, Apple did it from the inside. Somehow, as he says in the terrific documentary Being Billy Apple, he was able to “drift in and make a lot of money, and drift out.”

Probably his best known campaign was for Tareyton, the cigarette company. James Jordan of BBDO came up with one of the most famous US ad lines of all times, “I’d rather fight than change”. The gag was completed by models with a bruised eye painted in make-up. When Tareyton brought out its new ‘light’ brand in the late seventies, it was Apple who came up with the “rather light than fight” line, switching the black bruise with a white patch.

In Being Billy Apple, Apple talks about other brands he worked on including a British tea print campaign, an early example of using packaging art to promote Breeze detergent and Warner ("why have half a TV when you can have a Warner TV"). One of our readers has suggested that it was also Apple, as Barry Bates, who drew up one of the first versions of the Farmers logo.

As you will know from past posts Apple is still juggling art and ads. His recent campaign for Marcus Lush has hit New Plymouth.

Image: Tareyton print advert based on Apple’s concept