Saturday, November 29, 2008

Perfect storm

It’s ping pong, it’s Bruce Lee playing the game with nunchuck, it’s CGI, you’re on OTN. What more could you ask for?

Friday, November 28, 2008


We love The Paint and Bake. We like their style and now even more we like them for showing us what went on at the art school end of year displays. These are not easy to see if you don’t live in Auckland and TP&B has done a great job with their pics, sassy commentary and obsession over bowed canvases. If you want to see what’s afoot check them out for AUT, Elam and Whitecliffe end of year displays.

Image: AUT art from TP&B (sorry we couldn’t find an artist credit.)

Bringing home the Bacom

Well in this case it’s bringing home the McCahon. Te Papa snuck one of McCahon’s great works out of Australia and at a great price. For $350,000, a price that won’t even get you a mediocre Goldie, Mondrian’s Last Chrysanthemum, one of McCahon’s most luscious paintings, has got to be a recession bargain. To top it off the purchase created a positive media response (not something that has dogged McCahon) including a front page story in Wellington’s Dominion Post.

Theme park

In the 1970s – before post-modernism made theme shows a no-go zone – there was a letter to artists that used to go something like this. “Dear Rick, Next month we are mounting an exhibition called Puppy Love, which will examine the role of the dog in art. We would like to borrow your work Seven dogs. If this work is not available perhaps you could suggest another of your works that features dog or you might even consider making a special dog work for the show.”

We were reminded of this when we saw an ad for Kinder Seeks Art in the most recent Art Forum. You can go to the web page here and read…

“Kinder has initiated an international search to find and record works of art (drawing, painting, sculpture, street art, photography, installations, video etc. etc.) inspired by the form of the Kinder egg or its surprise-toys.”

… or, maybe you would like to make a work of art that features the Kinder egg and send it to us.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


The Wellington City Gallery has emailed interested punters explaining what will keep them busy over the next year while the gallery is closed.

• Replacing the images in seven light boxes on Courtenay Place in the project known as "Give us a sign".

• Changing the videos showing on the monitors inside the main entrance of the closed Gallery each month.

• Conducting tours of public art in Wellington for secondary school students.

And not to forget the senior curator who will be writing an essay on Francis Upritchard for her Venice exhibition in June 2009.


We did say we would keep Billy Apple out of our Artist Brand series. But seriously.... this is just too good to miss.

Christmas Ho

It’s Christmas time again and the Wellington City Council have brought out their wildly inappropriate Dawson on a stick banners again. This year we are told it is the last outing for the Sculpture as Ornament theme. Looks like 2009 could be the year of the Santa Fern if the roughly Photoshopped image sent to us by one of our readers is anything to go by.

Images: Left, the current Ferns Tree banner. Right, jolly old Father Fern for 2009?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Advice to collectors

This from Dale Hickey, the only international art critic we know who regularly wears an All Black cap.

"My best advice: Talk price, condition, and provenance! This is not a bull session in the dorm. The first negotiator to mention aesthetic quality loses. Ask for a price. If the dealer says, “Oh yes, that’s a wonderful piece,” the price is probably soft. If you say, “Oh, this is lovely! What’s the price?” you have probably just raised it. You must now keep the color in your face when the dealer quotes the outrageous, unattainable number. Blanch and you have left yourself open to the wan smile and the murmur “Well, if you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it!” Billions of dollars’ worth of art have been sold this way."

Dale Hickey on buying art in December's Vanity Fair


Ever noticed how many of the New Zealand artists who have made a break-through internationally have been sculptors? Here’s a preliminary list:

Billy Apple
Chris Booth
Bill Culbert
Neil Dawson
Len Lye
Francis Upritchard
Boyd Webb

And then there’s Judy Millar, best known as a painter but looking more like a sculptor every day.

Image: Drawing of a Samsonite suitcase by Bill Culbert

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Advice to Art Museums

“It has always been my conviction that it is the museum’s responsibility not only to reflect the consensus of educated opinion by which art history is made, but also to seek out the best work at its source, rather than only after it has achieved commercial exposure.”

Marcia Tucker, ex-curator the Whitney Museum and foundation director of the New Museum, New York


Jenny Meyer watches Suzanne Carty’s nose grow in her article (link now working) on the loss of the resident arts critic in the Dominion Post.

“Suzanne Carty, editorial consultant for Fairfax NZ Ltd (and former Evening Post editor), says she can understand the arts community’s disappointment at the end of the visual arts criticism, and the paper has received a few letters about the loss…..

The Dominion Post has also targeted other areas of the paper for cut backs: “Our racing readership is not happy, either, because its coverage has been limited, too,” says Ms Carty.”

Image: Last week’s racing news in the Dominion Post

Monday, November 24, 2008

Things past

This from

“The National Gallery of New Zealand has acquired an important painting by one of Wales’ most eminent 20th-century artists.

Cardiff’s Martin Tinney Gallery has completed the deal for the painting – Spring Flowers by Swansea-born Sir Cedric Morris – for a figure above $NZ100,000 (£36,000).”

So what else is new?

The new director of the New Dowse has old problems to deal with. The new in New Dowse can be pinned to the previous director Tim Walker. True, there was a new building, but the crafternoon community approach that had reached giddy heights under a previous director James Mack, has remained pretty much in place for over 15 years.

The good news is that Cam McCracken, the incoming sixth director, told the Hutt News that he had a “particular bent for contemporary art” something that was given a very strong and successful emphasis in his last institution Te Tui in Manukau City. The New Dowse does have an art collection to build on. Over the 37 years of its existence it has lurched from an focus on South Island artists (that would be David Millar), through a fairly conventional late 70s grab-bag of NZ Contemporary work (thanks Jim) to a rather shrill, quasi-baroque collection of NZ craft (the rest of them). Also, thanks to architect Ian Athfield and Walker, the New Dowse is cursed with confused and awkward spaces, (as we’ve noted before, you know you’re in trouble when you need saying “this way to the galleries.”)

So nobody would say that dragging the New Dowse and its public back to an appreciation of contemporary art will be easy.

Image: Dressing up as animals at the New Dowse

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lights, camera, action painting

Saturday in Japan.

“Let’s go and watch Hiroyoshi Takeda doing some action painting.”


“Hiroyoshi Takeda.“

“Oh, ok.”

Friday, November 21, 2008

Growth industry

"Buyers are more selective and more speculative. Four years ago, you could buy something for £50,000. If we went back to that, it's not such a problem. What goes up must come down. It's like when John Lennon went to get his long haircut and someone asked him, 'Why are you cutting it? He said, 'What else can you do after you have grown it long?'"

Damien Hirst in the Independent

Copy cat: Webb of Venison

Thanks A.

Brand aid

Here’s someone else with the old OTN spirit. Michael Klant has been collecting brand names that are also the names of an artist. His book Art Brands: When Dogs Eat Beuys is packed with names as brands including the bright yellow crane branded Vermeer. In New Zealand we have the textbook example of this concept in brand Billy Apple. The parallel to Apple (logo included and even closer since Apple dropped the word Computer from its name in 2007) slips perfectly into the genre.

So, we’re on the hunt for brand NZ artists and any help you can give will be appreciated. Now, where was it we last saw that Angus construction crane?

Thursday, November 20, 2008


This from a reader who titled the picture "recent developments in
local council cut backs."

Water level

News from CNZ that “venues for the exhibitions of the two artists representing New Zealand at the 2009 Venice Biennale have been confirmed” indicates that Judy Millar and Francis Upritchard will not share a single space. The decision to send two artists came after pressure was applied from outside CNZ, and splitting venues is possibly a continuation of this tension. How it will impact on staffing, costs and an identifiable New Zealand presence is unknown.

Replacement for Terry Urbahn as Production Manager is Bruce Edgar who, back in the day, worked with Neil Dawson in his studio and now has a retail refitting business.


Over the years we have taken many photos of the do not touch signs (and, ok, the don’t photograph ones too) in public art museums. Public institutions struggle to weight the obvious tactile attractions of sculpture with the effects of constant handling. The results are often hilarious. We remember a long negotiation with conservators over the cleaning of a marble statue we had selected for an exhibition. We were informed that the task (probably done with cotton buds) would take around six months. The fact that a good chunk of the world’s marble statuary takes its chances outside in all weathers didn’t cut it as an argument.

So here for conservators everywhere are a couple of sculptures that wear their rubbings like badges of honour, Lincoln’s nose, a line of butts from the Riviera's Crazy Girls Club in Las Vegas and the ever patient, ever smiling, Victor Noir.

Images: Top, Lincoln's Tomb. Middle, Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada. Bottom, Victor Noir’s Grave at Pere Lachaise, Paris

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Further to item 5 on our recession list.

Two days ago one of Antony Gormley's maquettes for his Angel of the North sculpture became the first £1 million ($NZ2.7 million) object to be valued on BBC One's Antiques Roadshow.

Roadshow fine art expert Philip Mould said: "It's a great thrill to me that something produced in the last 15 years has broken the record for the most valuable item to ever have been on the show."

Series editor Simon Shaw said: "This was one of the most exciting moments that we've ever had."

On the level

Rob Cherry is reviewed in the latest issue of Art in America. Reviewer Roger Boyce describes Cherry as "a fearless, long-playing original."

10 reasons why the art world probably deserves a recession

The 287 works sold for $NZ 365 million in Damien Hirst’s September auction Beautiful Inside My Head Forever at Sotheby’s, were all made in 2008.


New Zealand art dealers opposing a five percent artist resale tax on artworks claimed the tax would make art harder to sell to collectors. Strangely this stumbling block was not mentioned back when they raised their own commissions by more than six percent from 331/3 to 40 percent.

Sotheby’s has a current stock price valuation of around $NZ999 million and has just got agreement from its bank for a loan of $NZ455 million. That’s for half its current value.

Swatch has installed a billboard in St Mark’s Square in Venice to advertise its James Bond Villain Collection of watches.

Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North in an edition of 12 maquettes sold in 1996 for $NZ 204,000, in 2006 for $NZ 817,000, and in 2008 for $NZ 1.5 million.

Auction House Phillips de Pury has been purchased by Moscow-based Mercury, a company that also owns brand concessions for Ferrari, Prada, Armani, Tiffany and Maserati.

Most dealers allowed collectors one hour to consider reserved artworks at the Frieze Art Fair this year in contrast to the ten minutes that had been usual during the Fair’s history.

The 2006 self-portrait Who needs blood when you've got lipstick? by Kate Moss in lipstick and her former boyfriend Pete Doherty's blood fetched $NZ91,500 at auction last month in London.

When asked if collectors’ needs had evolved, New York framer Eli Wilner replied, “We’ve been asked to install collections on yachts, on planes, and in people’s homes.”

The recent Richard Prince survey show was presented by the Serpentine Gallery in collaboration with Louis Vuitton. All the works were from Prince’s collection and presumably for sale.

Image: Chart by Art Market Research

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Money in the bank

If you’re after a cheap Jeff Koons Balloon dog on a plate you’ve probably left your run too late, even given the recession. The last one to go at auction got $US6500 at Phillips de Pury last month. But now, thanks probably to a factory somewhere in China, you can get yourself a Koons-like balloon dog money box. Rush here for details.

Rubber necking

Back in the dying days of the National Art Gallery, we remember an exhibition of the Queen’s pictures being blockbusted into Wellington. One of the key works, and the one featured on the poster, showed a giraffe brought to the UK as a curiosity in the nineteenth century. Memorable image. So a bit of NZ giraffe history to warm you up for the news that a (or perhaps even some) giraffes are resident on the Gibbs sculpture farm north of Auckland. Now the Serra can have a top polish too.

Then, from the OTN Interiors editor, we understand that giraffe pattern rugs are available from A chance in a lifetime to “Indulge your wild side with our exclusive animal skin design rug. Giraffe an elegantly natural attraction.” And finally, for anyone who believes we should be a giraffe-free country, check here for the Biosecurity rules pertaining to exporting giraffes from New Zealand to Australia.

Image: Giraffe looking over Serra sculpture (simulation only).

Monday, November 17, 2008

By the numbers

"Of the world's 20 top-selling artists, 13 are from Asia, with 11 coming from China. Asian artists make up six of the top 10 biggest sellers at auction, five of which are Chinese. Experts predict that within a decade, the term 'Asian art' will be as widely used as "Western art" and will be responsible for most global sales."
The Independent 16 November 2008

Art in ad land

Gavin Chilcott sneaks into a Tegel chicken ad.


A while back we were wondering why Australian public art museums didn’t take to our art as much as we to theirs. You couldn’t have said that if you were at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne last week.

Arriving at the building on St Kilda Road (it has always been a special place for us because it was where we first saw great international art. In 1971 we had written ahead to the curator of prints and drawings, the legendary Ursula Hoff, and asked to see the William Blake collection. Hoff took us to a large room and a stack of Solander boxes on a table. Opening one of them she revealed a pile of Blakes in archival mattes with their surfaces only covered by a sheet of glassine paper. We were given gloves and left to it. Each time we removed a protective sheet the hand coloured works lit up the room. It was our most unforgettable art experience.) we saw two large banners announcing the re-hang of the collection. One of them featured a work by John Pule, probably not something we would do with Australian art in similar circumstances. In the main hall a large screen advertised the current shows cycling through images. Suddenly there was a Gordon Walters koru, followed by a drawing included in the exhibition. Finally, in the photography gallery we saw a large Patrick Pound book collage as a feature work.

For all that, the visits to NGVI (for international) and NGVA (Australia) were kind of depressing. The experience was overwhelmed by escalators, circulation areas, preparations to cater corporate events, surly guards wearing shades, clunky over-the-top exhibition design and tragic location systems (aka signage). Any great art experience, if you could find it, was way down in the pecking order.

Images: Top left, John Pule leads the way, right, Pat Pound at work in the photography gallery. Bottom, a Gordon Walters lightshow in the foyer.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Things past

Six months ago, almost to the day.

"The sale, driven predominantly by American buyers, defied erratic financial markets."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Frame of reference

Over the Net has never been shy at creating a theme, and today it's gold frames. The first to get included was a wonderful use of the gold frame to spruke up a plasma screen - saw that at the Wellington Town Hall. The rabbit was neatly framed in the doorway of Peter McLeavey's gallery, one of the best sites for art graffiti in the city (a recent favourite, a picture of a snail with the header "Have you seen this mollusc?"). Last, the gold frame hard at work promoting the classy new additions promised for Melbourne Airport.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


We have mentioned the Koru Club's cheese initiative before and on the way over to Melbourne spotted the cheese prints on exhibition in the lounge. Unfortunately, in the rush to create the cheesy exhibition, the Stephen Bambury attached to the window was lost.
Image: Front Philip Trusttum cheese print. Rear Stephen Bambury installation.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


A less successful art cover for Esquire under George Lois's art direction. (see previous post)

Art in ad land

The cover of Esquire featuring Muhammad Ali as St. Sebastian was created 40 years ago by legendary American ad guy George Lois. At the time Ali was waiting for his appeal to be heard by the Supreme Court having refused military service in Vietnam as a conscientious objector. (He was sentenced to five years of jail for draft evasion).

Lois had been roped in to create covers to raise the readership of the magazine which had flagged since a flying start during the great depression as a classic raunchy man’s mag. Lois was also responsible for other great Esquire art covers including one for an article on the death of the avant-garde in 1969. Warhol and the soup can were shot separately and merged in what we would now call a Photoshop situation. Lois’s covers helped raise Esquire’s circulation from half a million to ten million over ten years. He was with Esquire from 1962 to 1972.

Images: Left illustration for the cover story The Passion of Muhammad Ali. Left top, Andy Warhol features on the May 1960 cover story The final decline and total collapse of the American avant-garde, bottom right, August 1963 Lois cover featuring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor’s romance on the set of Cleopatra.

Tuesday, November 11, 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.

The Dr. is in

We first came across DR. LAKRA (Jeronimo Lopez Ramirez) via Francis Upritchard. They share a dealer gallery in London (Kate MacGarry) so perhaps it was Uprichard who prompted DR. LAKRA, a Mexican tattoo artist, to reach for Maori moko. In his work he applies tattoos onto various objects. The image above is from a Phillips De Pury catalogue for their Saturday auction on 25 October that features a few of DR. LAKRA’s drawings in which he applies tattoo patterns onto illustrations taken from old books. Is there a price you can put on intellectual property like moko? Seems so. This work by DR. LAKRA was expected to sell at auction for between $US7000 and 9000.

Image: DR.LAKRA’s Untitled (Don Getulio), 2006

Monday, November 10, 2008

In Sao Paulo…

…thinking about Ralph Hotere.

At the back of the building housing the San Paulo Bienal are these Niemeyer designed warehouse doors. Thanks T.

40 Years On

We had a look at the Vivian Lynn exhibition at the Adam Art Gallery in the weekend. It is one of a number of revisionist exhibitions that have popped up recently. The most spectacular other example was the Tom Kreisler survey.

As you might expect in a show of this sort there are some pretty strong claims made with the goal of repositioning Vivian Lynn from her comparative obscurity. This includes an extraordinary 1968 quote from Lynn on one of the labels.

“a feminist oil painting on canvas is an oxymoron”

In 1968 most of us were just discovering the term Woman’s Liberation (used for the first time in print in 1966 and not in Ramparts Magazine until 1968), the first issue of Broadsheet was still four years away and Greer’s Female Eunuch two years, as was Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics. To see the word ‘feminist’ used in that way, with that date, is simply incredible and raises lots of questions about timing, sources and context that are not pursued in the shows labels or text panels.

Image: Detail of the Vivian Lynn survey exhibition at the Adam Gallery in Wellington

Saturday, November 08, 2008


Take that, Pricasso

Friday, November 07, 2008

Art is where you find it

A small painting clings on to its free gallery space in Wellington's Cuba Street.

Out of touch

Not often you see a kids book with contemporary art in it. Let’s Get Art by Brad Irwin and John Ward Knox has kids looking and learning from art works by Peter Robinson, Michael Parekowhai, Eve Armstrong and others. Even Simon Denny gets a literal cameo as the only artist whose image appears in the book.

There was some talk that the Auckland Art Gallery bookshop wouldn’t stock Let’s Get Art because some of the pictures have the kids near or close to touching the art works. In fairness one of them, William, does do a handstand next to Peter Robinson’s ACK, but they are cartoons. If the bookshop story is true, they need to get out more. A note with the Art Gallery’s thoughts on kids and art in each copy or on the sales desk would be a better bet.

Good news for book lovers. This just in from the Gallery Bookshop:

Just heard the rumour that I may not get out enough - so, just want to lay that to rest before too many people find out the truth.

Actually, the Gallery shop does stock the 'Let’s Get Art' book. I, the out of touch merchandise manager, brought it in to time with the kids programme last Sunday.

I loved the book actually and have great faith that kids won't be inspired to cartwheel through our hallowed gallery spaces. Although, conceptual jumping up and down with joy over art - is of course wildly encouraged.


Maree Koroitamana

Thursday, November 06, 2008

In Karori...

... thinking about Colin McCahon.

Here we give thanks

News that Russian painter Kazimir Malevich's geometric 1916 Suprematist Composition sold for a record $60 million last night at Sotheby's in New York, reminds us what a debt we owe to James Mollison.

As director of the Australian National Gallery from 1971 to 1975, Mollison gathered together the most incredible collection of art from around the world. Thanks to Mollison a trip to Canberra can put you in front of Malevich’s Stroyuschiysya dom [House under construction] 1915-16 painted at the same time as the one sold at Sotheby’s.

This work would be well beyond the budget of any museum in Australia today and hard to think of an institution in the Southern Hemisphere collecting with this conviction now. Mollison pulled off collecting coups like this time after time. Blue Poles by Jackson Pollock, purchased for $1.3 million, is probably the most famous, but others like Warhol’s Double Elvis, a breath taking Tiepolo and hundreds of others are of a similar quality.

Image: Left, Malevich on the Sotherby’s block. Right Malevich’s Stroyuschiysya dom [House under construction] from the collection of the Australian National Gallery

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


“I spent both my wages and my weekends driving to more interesting places, desperate to be distracted after another week spent in dun-coloured sweaty suburbia...During what I now refer to as my period of missionary service in the heartland.”

Ex curator Waikato Art Museum.

Look alike

Left, Takashi Murakami’s Hiropan. The male version of this figure, My Lonesome Cowboy, was purchased this year at auction for $US15.1 million. Right, ad for Radox which can be purchased at the supermarket for less. Thanks for that W.

To go

We’ve posted before about Max Patte’s iron man sculpture that looks ready to take a leap into Wellington harbour and, thanks to vandals, nearly did. It’s back in place again doing its, let’s be kind, homage to Antony Gormley.

But wait there’s more. If you’d like one of Patte’s Solace in the Wind figures to stand by the pool, you can get the mini-me version at the Te Papa shop. Cast from the original maquette they are made from iron resin and are yours for $1800.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Shirley Temple...

... waiting for Buller.

Dead man sculpting

Wind Wand 1999
“This posthumous version realises the artist’s intentions”

Ribbon Snake 2008
“An authorised 2008 reconstruction of the 1965 original”.

Water Whirler 2006
“This posthumously realised work was built by the Len Lye Foundation in accordance with drawings and descriptions left by the artist”

Monday, November 03, 2008

100 percent

It took a few years longer than it should have, but Shane Cotton was announced as an Arts Foundation Laureate last night.

By the numbers

The Arts Foundation Laureate Awards are announced tonight. For stay-at-homes we'll publish who the visual arts laureate is at 8pm. In the meantime, we can tell you that this person helps redress the balance in the battle between Elam and Ilam, the country’s two main art schools. Of the current Laureates who attended art school, three went to Auckland University’s Elam and, until tonight, only two to Ilam, the University of Canterbury’s school. The Walters Prize swings the the other way with the prize winner score sitting at Elam one to Ilam’s three. The other art schools in the country must be figuring they need to get some recognition from these prestigious affairs quick smart.

Tiny Tim

Pricasso (Tim Patch) has been at it again. This time he’s created a joint painting of US Presidential hopefuls Obama and McCain for our OTN election (sic) special. Spoiler alert. Tim uses his buttocks to fill in background.
Thanks M.

Copy cat

The Guinea pig didn't fool us, not for a second.
Image: Alexandra Owen and livestock on the cover of last week's Sunday Star magazine

I will need words

Looking through the University of Canterbury’s Art School staff list (oddly dominated by men in studio practice and women in art history) we came across Luke Wood and the tiny image of his McCahon typeface. The very next day we received a brochure from Air New Zealand with a copy cat McCahon flavour all its own. We recall an early instance of a land grab of McCahon’s famous style from Saatchi & Saatchi for the City Gallery’s opening billboard. Now via another agency (Colenso) a similar flavour comes through with McCahon-like balloons and lettering in the browns, greys, white and black McCahon made his own. Ironically, on the back cover of the brochure, a Gordon Walters-influenced Air New Zealand Koru is enclosed in a McCahonesque voice bubble. Surely an Art History masters thesis is now in the starting blocks.

Images: Top Saatchi & Saatchi ad for the opening of Wellington’s City Gallery, Middle left Colin McChon script (detail from A grain of Wheat, 1970. Collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa), right Luke Wood’s McCahon typeface. Bottom Air New Zealand Every Flight Counts brochure.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

In October …

… we followed billy apple down the rabbit hole to ad land • went to the movies on the plane • saw julian dashper get the thumbs up at te papa • found love • nearly rented by the hour • caught te papa fibbing • peered into ronnie’s holedespaired at cnz ever getting it right • indulged in a bit of horse art • tried to find the art in art school.