Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Things you thought you’d never see

A really stupid advertisement for the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Signed up

Since we last posted on a Dick Frizzell painting in Moore Wilson’s store in Wellington, another huge work has appeared as a feature in the new supermarket. This is the scale of work you could imagine Frizzell putting into a Big Painting show, like that one back in 1971 that featured McCahon’s monster Gate III. Like McCahon, Frizzell has taken as a starting point the handmade signs you see on roadsides selling fruit and veg to passing motorists. A nice twist for the Frizzell painting is the way it has been seamlessly integrated into Moore Wilson’s own signage systems. A perfect storm of sign and signifier (we've always wanted to say that).
Images: Frizzell art at work in Moore Wilson, Wellington. Roadside inspiration.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Fruit loops

Following the Billy Apple Monday theme, here’s an apple story. Hamish McKay, stuck behind his desk with an apple and a sharpie, had a go at a bit of artist-fruit-signing. Later that week Billy Apple dropped by, saw the signature and offered to sign the apple with the real thing. OTN hat for first person to identify the real Billy Apple sig.

Supper time

What is it about TV shows and the Last Supper? We’ve already posted on a bunch of these, but now that South Park has finally done its Last Supper thing here is a round-up of more TV show LS’s.
Images: From top, South Park, House, That 70’s Show and previously published on OTN, Northern Exposure and The Simpsons, The Sopranos and (still the reigning champ) Battlestar Galactica.

Missing you already

Last week Wellington had one of the highest director and curator counts in town for years. They were all here for the three day One Day Sculpture symposium. It also gave us a chance to learn a few of the rules of One Day sculpture. You can’t have a One Day Sculpture inside a public art gallery, there can only be one One Day Sculpture happening on any one day. That sort of thing.

Saturday’s ODS was Less is Moore by Billy Apple. So when we heard that Apple was going to launch his work at midnight, we figured that if Billy (at age 73) could get himself up to the Botanic Garden at that hour, so could OTN.

Sure enough, as the new day kicked off at one second past twelve Billy, Mary and their dog Macintosh Apple turned up. A small audience including Tina Barton and Laura Preston from the Adam Art Gallery and curator Andrew Clifford, stood around and watched Billy’s billboard being shifted into place and then revealed. It was quite a moment and a good starter to a conversation on both of what public sculpture can be and the role of the artist’s own intentions. On the billboard Billy Apple has called for the Wellington City Council to front up to its responsibilities and look after Bronze Form. The work has clearly been mistreated and needs some serious work done on it.

It was strangely compelling to see the Henry Moore being made the centre of attention that night. The organisers of One Day Sculpture, visiting and local Institutional curators, staff and students of the Massey School of Fine Arts, knowing they had a tough day ahead of them sitting in a seminar, all gave it a miss.
Images: Billy Apple revealing Less is Moore.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saturday at the movies

From the director that gave you the 1994 classic Degas and Pissarro Fall Out comes Little Ashes. The movie features ex Harry Potter cast member (Cedric Diggory) and Twilight Saga star, Robert Pattinson as Salvatore Dali. Is the moustache real or put on with a burnt cork? OTY.
Thanks S

Friday, March 27, 2009


This is OTN’s 1314th post, and we’re celebrating.

Never mind the quality, feel the width

The OTN statistics unit usually restricts themselves to their By the numbers feature but, every now and then, we let them go behind the bike sheds and take a measure of what’s on show. Here is their latest report.

Generally the exhibiting spaces at the 2009 Auckland Art Fair are smaller than in past years. Most galleries have opted for spaces where the longest wall averages six metres. In this camp are Gow Langsford, Roslyn Oxley, Ivan Anthony and Ray Hughes. Michael Lett at 7 metres and Peter McLeavey at 7.2 metres are probably chagrined to find their longest walls are both over half a metre shorter than Sue Crockford's, and Anna Swartz secretly delighted that hers is longer than both of them. For length, at the Art Fair anyway, the prize goes to Hamish McKay at an impressive 10 metres. Galleries with walls 4.8 metres and less have asked not to be named.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Look alike

Images: Top, Javier Tellez One Day Sculpture. Bottom, et al. Govett-Brewster 2003


You certainly can’t say that Auckland art patrons are stingy. The word is that contributions for Venice (CNZ has asked the private sector to come up with $400,000) are on track which is a remarkable feat given the economic crisis. Jenny Gibbs (Heads of Patrons for the New Zealand presence at the Venice Biennale along with Dayle Mace) has been a tireless supporter of contemporary art. It is hard to imagine the visual arts in New Zealand being as vibrant without her consistent enthusiasm and ability to convince people to put dollars into ventures that much of the country still struggles with.

Now, in a textbook public private partnership, James Wallace has joined the Auckland City Council to transform Pah Homestead into a gallery for the James Wallace Trust collection and other projects. Just think, the next time Auckland Art Gallery can’t squeeze in something like the last Bill Hammond show, from what we have heard Pah House might easily be in a position to offer an alternate venue. Then there are the many other Aucklanders who strongly support the visual arts both in dollars and services. A couple of years ago John Key talked about promoting “a culture of generosity and giving.” He reiterated this promise at a philanthropy conference last week. Let’s hope his people are talking to our people.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


A while back we looked at movies about artists. Now, thanks to some spare time in the weekend, here are the title screens for some of the great movies featuring artists. If you want more info or access to a vast store of movie title screens, go here.
Images: Rembrandt 1936, Lust for life 1956, Agony and the Ecstasy 1965, Andrei Rublev 1969, Moulin Rouge 2001

Auction fever

Is the art market collapsing? Not if you apply the thick-o-meter test to the latest two auction catalogues from Webb’s and Art + Object. Both are the same size as catalogues from this time last year, although this time both have South Islanders on their covers. It also looks like the quality of entries has gone up a bit. The only unusual thing to note is that the two houses have programmed their auctions within days of each other, Webb’s on 30 March, Art + Object 2 April.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Best served cold

Go on, admit you’ve wanted to do it a few times over the last couple of years. Now’s your chance to get your own back on Over The Net. Attack us with wasps, scribble over the bits you don’t like or, if we’ve really pissed you off, piss back. Your dreams and our nightmares made real here on netdisaster.

Who’s the blonde next to Moana?

When Germany made plans for its presence at the Venice Biennale this year, they made a couple of decisions that might help Creative New Zealand understand what the Venice Biennale is all about.

The first was to hire a curator who heads up a Dutch art museum. Nicolaus Schafhausen directs Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam. The second decision was to select an English artist to show in the German pavilion. This is not to say that these decisions didn’t cause some fuss, they did. The selection of Liam Gillick to represent Germany resulted in the Deutsche Bank Group almost immediately pulling its sponsorship. But do you know what? The world didn’t end. Instead another sponsor, Hugo Boss, stepped right up. Since then the Deutsche Bank has reconsidered and returned to the fold.

How far away this is from the nationalistic myopia of CNZ? We understand CNZ plans to send Moana and the Moa Hunters and possibly a Kapa haka team over to Venice to make the event more “NZ-ie”. It’s as though they have learnt nothing from New Zealand’s previous outings to Venice. There is some justification for this of course as all the people with experience have left the building but even so, apart from the cost (and you could be forgiven for wondering whether the KiwiConcertParty sideshows might end up costing more to produce than the art), there is the question of focus. The Venice Biennale is designed for the visual arts. Like they would send et al to help zoom up the Rugby World Cup!

We’ll ask CNZ for the budget breakdown and let you know how the figures stack up for the different components. At least this is one occasion that “commercial sensitivity” can’t be used as a reason for non disclosure!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Memory Lane

As international art prices settle back to more reasonable levels, consider this list of the ten top-selling artists of last year. Andy Warhol has been knocked off his perch by Picasso who has been the regular list topper, apart from last year. Warhol’s total auction value for 2008 dropped an extraordinary $NZ347 million from the previous year. Living artists included on the list are Damien Hirst, thanks largely to his über auction, and Gerhard Richter. A single one of his works was auctioned for more than his entire auction total back in 1998. Here is the list in $NZ.
Picasso $469 million
Bacon $458 million
Warhol $422 million
Hirst $411 million
Monet $311 million
Giacometti $236 million
Richter $218 million
Degas $198 million
Fontana $170 million
Klein $163 million
Numbers from ArtPrice.


You can say what you like about Mark Whyte’s sculpture, but you can’t say he doesn’t get a good likeness. That being so, when the curtain was pulled back as part of the launch of 12 Christchurch Heroes and revealed a sculpture of Charles Luny in her place, children’s author Margaret Mahy instantly spotted the mistake. (Mark Whyte’s other claim to attention is his membership of the artist-rich space metal band Into the Void along with James Grieg, Dave Imlay, Paul Sutherland, Jason Grieg and Ronnie Van Hout). It is hard to understand why W A Sutton was named one of 12 Christchurch heroes, or Margaret Mahy for that matter. Whyte has already bronzed two undisputed heroes –VCs Charles Upham and Sargeant Henry Nicholas – but these ‘new’ Christchurch heroes suggest heroism is simply an extension of celebrity. Well, that’s public sculpture for you, ignominy or bust.
Image: Heroes by Mark Whyte.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Grease – the movie

“Like if I got you like a hundred or so hamburgers…”
“Could you like use the grease in the meat patty to do a painting of the Mona Lisa?”
“No way Dude.”
“What if you could eat the burgers you don’t use?”

Friday, March 20, 2009

Dear OTN

Thanks for the post on Peter Mcleavey launching into cyberspace. I was blown away when he got a digital camera, but this is huge.

Until, of course one finds that it was registered in 2005 to the developer of the former Janne Land site. Then I must concede to the heart sinking a little.



On a brighter note, the domain expires in 2 months...


Going green

One response to our Moore is less post was a vote for not protecting Moore patinas with any sort of coating. Above is Henry Moore’s sculpture, Oval with points made in 1969 and located in the Princeton University Gardens. Apart from the polished bit that has served as a seat, it has been allowed to go the way the weather has pushed it. Thanks S

Things you thought you'd never see

A Peter McLeavey Website

MOORE or less

Billy Apple has never been one to shy away from controversy. The last time he used public sculpture as subject matter (or in the case of The Wrestlers, the absence of it) a good number of people in Wanganui, appropriately, lost it. Now Apple is going to take a swipe at Henry Moore’s Bronze Form that stands in the Wellington Botanic Garden. From what we have read, it seems that Apple intended to have the work’s protective coating removed, hence the title of his One Day Sculpture event, Less is Moore. It also lines up with his cleaning themed exhibition due to open to the public at the Adam Art Gallery on the same day. We say intended because we have now heard that Apple will not be stripping the protective coating but hiding the sculpture with a billboard.

That certainly makes more sense, in conservation terms anyway. It is hard to imagine any conservator in New Zealand who would be bold enough to agree to remove the protective covering from Bronze Form in one day and then walk away leaving it unprotected. There is afterall a virtual industry around the protection of Moore’s many sculptures located around the world.

For instance once a year the National Gallery in Washington “completes an intensive maintenance treatment that preserves the artist's vision and protects the sculpture from the detrimental effects of an outdoor environment “ by rewaxing its Moore sculpture. You can read a description for cleaning and removing the protective layer (“In order to treat every inch of the sculpture, at least six people must work a minimum of three days”) from the National Gallery’s Moore sculpture Knife Edge Mirror Two Piece here, and details on the rewaxing of the J Paul Getty Museum’s version of Bronze Form here.

It appears that to these institutions and their experts that patina is not something that arbitrarily builds up over time, but rather the term used to describe the finish established by the artist when a sculpture is first completed. This patina is then protected from the elements and corrosion. Henry Moore himself was famously hazy on the effects of weather on bronze and his lasses-faire approach was debated at length at the 1995 London conservation conference From Marble to Chocolate: The Conservation of Modern Sculpture and his opinions on the effects of weather on bronze have become an historical footnote in the light of contemporary conservation practice. Like other Henry Moore's the world over, Wellington’s Bronze Form was waxed by an institutional conservator and is probably long overdue for a clean and a new coating.

Bronze Form is a bit of an oddity. Made in the last couple of years of Moore’s life, it is one of three elements that initially made up the monumental sculpture Large Figure in a Shelter. Moore never saw the work cast or the patina selected by his one-time studio assistant (1936-39), sculptor Bernard Meadows (himself 70 at the time), who oversaw the work’s production. There are two copies of the complete sculpture – one at the Henry Moore Foundation and another at the Peace Park in Guernica – plus three other stand-alone forms including the one we have already mentioned at the Getty in Los Angeles.
Image: Left Wellington’s Bronze form waits its turn. Top right, Getty Museum conservators clean Henry Moore’s Bronze Form cotton bud style while below conservators give the Washington Moore its annual rewaxing.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


We’ve been fans of Ricky Swallow for a long time now. When we were last in LA we visited him and his partner artist Lesley Vance in their studio /home which is in a terrific neighborhood on the way to Pasadena. The photos we took of Ricky at the time don’t quite come up to the moody heights of those just published by Hedi Slimane (ex Dior Homme designer). They are part of a set on LA artists. The rest are on Slimane‘s site.
Images: Ricky Swallow and Lesley Vance photographed by Hedi Slimane

The Millar’s tale

CNZ have just announced that Judy Millar will show her work at the Venice Biennale in La Maddalena the same venue that was used for Michael Stevenson’s outing. The upside of this change of venue is that it puts the two New Zealand spaces much closer to one another. The downside is attracting people this distance from the main Biennale site. It was certainly a struggle for Mike Stevenson. So all the more reason to concentrate resources on getting key people (curators, critics, museum and art fair directors and dealer gallery people) to the venues and then to New Zealand. Once the work is installed, resources not spent on that task could easily be wasted.
Image: La Maddalena in action during the 2003 Venice Biennale

Bye-bye bio

What could be harder than describing abstract paintings? Describing them for over 113 pages of text is a start. But that’s just what Alan Wright and Edward Hanfling promise and exactly what they deliver. It’s an impressive thing to do as any art writer who has clung to inflated biography like someone going under for the third time will agree. Wright and Hanfling fearlessly chuck the comfort of the biographical away in the first few pages.

“The ‘facts’ of Mrkusich’s life are harder to come by. Mercifully, he does not encourage the spectator to ‘read’ his art in relationship to his personal biography.”

And, quoting Mrkusich himself, “A painting shows the facts of its own particular condition.”

Well, yes, that’s true, but for 113 pages? So far we’ve only dipped into Mrkusich: the art of transformation but even on that brief encounter it is fascinating. It brings in enough art history for Mrkusich to mix it in principle with peers like Guston, Poons and Mangold and, while biography may not be significant to Mrkusich, the book traces the story of New Zealand’s cultural swing from the UK to the US as clearly as a book devoted to the topic. And then there is a terrific selection of colour plates.

Inspired by the Wright/Hanfling achievement we talked about Milan’s paintings for an hour or so. Then we remembered the time the secretary at the Dowse addressed an envelope to Mr. Kusich.

And ruined everything.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Running on empty

”When you start working, everybody is in your studio - the past, your friends, enemies, the art world, and above all, your own ideas - all are there. But as you continue, they start leaving one by one, and you are left completely alone. Then, if you’re lucky, even you leave.”
Musician John Cage talking to painter Philip Guston, quoted in his daughter Musa Meyer’s book Night Studio

Desperate lives

The week before last we spent far too much time watching a Twitter feed from someone at the Yves Saint Laurent sale. An extraordinary result with rare items like Duchamp’s La Belle Haleine – Eau de Voilette (a perfume bottle with a Rose Selvay label) fetching astronomical sums. The YSL estate catalogue (2009 - $US 484 million) now joins the catalogues of the Andy Warhol estate (1988 - $25 million) the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis estate (1996 - $34.5 million) and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor estate (1997 - $23 million) as a marker of extreme shopping and extreme lives. It bears noting that a single Eileen Gray chair at $28 million sold for more than the entire contents of the Andy Warhol estate.

Each of these catalogues reads like a graphic novel, a sensation that has been adapted by Leanne Shapton in Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry. As you might have guessed, the book-with-the-very-long-title has been constructed as an estate auction catalogue. Through the sequence of lots and notes that accompany them the reader falls into the not very successful marriage of Lenore and Harold. And so:

LOT 1232
A brown mug A broken brown glazed mug stamped "brickett Davda Made in England" on base.
Included in lot is a note handwritten by Doolan. R " H I'm so sorry, I know this was your favorite. Will get it fixed, I promise."


LOT 1234
A series of photographs
Twenty photographs taken by Morris of his feet at the end of the bathtub. 5 x 5 in.
Not illustrated

In all 300 lots, and lots of fun.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Drawn out

We were going to make it a competition, but the thought of sifting through your thousands of entries made us feel too tired. So we can reveal that the drawing above is of Greg Burke and part of the plan by the magazine ArtAsiaPacific to produce these little cameos of each issue’s contributors.

Open Mike

The current issue of Art & Australia has a photograph of Michael Stevenson’s recreation of Ian Fairweather’s raft on the cover. There is also an article on Michael by Wes Hill who incidentally is doing his PhD on another OTN Favourite Jeff Koons. You can read a condensed version of Hill’s piece, an interview with Michael, here. The issue also features writing by Murray Bail, author of the main reference book on Ian Fairweather, and long time supporter of the work of Colin McCahon. In 1990 Murray came to New Zealand to try and get a McCahon catalogue raisonné up and running but met with opposition from the director of the Auckland Art Gallery at the time. You can re-read that sad story here if you want to punish yourself.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Art collectors are often accused of trying to influence the make-up of exhibitions. A recent transparent example was the attempt by Yves Saint Laurent’s partner Pierre Bergé to change the installation of Warhol’s Wide World in Paris. Bergé didn’t like the way the portraits of YSL were to be hung alongside fashionistas Giorgio Armani and Sonia Rykiel. YSL belonged, as far as Bergé was concerned, in the section devoted to portraits of artists. The curator held the line, and Bergé withdrew the paintings five days before the opening at the Grand Palais on 18 March.
Image: Yves Saint Laurent with the Warhol portrait.

Great stag, nice calves

By now you have probably heard the rumour that the human leg on Terry Urbahn’s stag is female. No one was more surprised than Urbahn’s (you'll see we got the spelling right this time) mate –and Govett-Brewster technical magician – Bryan James. It is after all a casting of the James’ leg that has been cobbled on to the White Hart stag. We checked out the Film Archive where the stag is revolving in front of Urbahn’s video of the White Hart reunion. Sure enough, it’s as manly a leg as you would find in a bunch of Saturdays.
Image: White Hart installation and detail. For the pics it’s thanks to The Paint and Bake – sill a favourite.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Memory lane

Something you don't see round so much these days, the artist's palette.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Look alike

The spirit of W D Hammond stalks the back streets of Wellington

I’m a little bit country

As far as we know McCahon only used two song titles in his paintings and neither were great. Buttercup Fields Forever (not 'Buttercups' as in a McCahon database entry) was to our minds easily the worst with Rosegarden hot on its heels. So it’s good news to hear the suggestion by a friend of a friend that one of McCahon’s paintings was probably inspired by singer and songwriter Waylon Jennings. His song The Door is Always Open was written in 1975 and the chorus goes:

Yes the door is always open and the lights on in the hall And you know that I'll be waiting, if you ever come to call

And this just a year before McCahon painted Open Door which is inscribed with a precise of the chorus from Jennings’ song.
The door is always open / the lights on in the hall.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

And when they were up, they were up

So how much has the art market come down? Here is a chart from the Art Market Monitor that shows, averaging out recent sales, things are back to where they were in 2006 - in the US anyway.

On the road: Night Vision

On the road is an ongoing series celebrating the Ministry of Land Transport and Local Body support of New Zealand artists. And happy birthday Rita Angus, wherever you are.
For others in the series search 'on the road' in the blog search box above.

By the numbers

1 The number of tissues required to wipe up the leak in the Monet exhibition.
2 The number of floors in the addition Wellington’s City Gallery calls its ”new tower development.”
4 The number of public art museum directors who have been at their posts for less than six months.
6 The number of dealer galleries to have closed their doors over the last six months.
62.5 The percentage of Te Papa board members (including the chair) who will have to be appointed before 31 August this year.
7 The number of solo publications by Justin Paton listed on Amazon.com.
33 The number of years Art New Zealand has been publishing.
125 The cost in dollars to attend the gala opening of the Auckland Art Fair on 30 April.
130 The number of public artworks in Wellington according to Frances Sutton’s book Art & About.
6420 The number of hits the phrase Billy Apple gets on Google.
250,000 The cost in dollars of Flour Power a sculpture by Regan Gentry erected last year on Christchurch’s Stewart Plaza.

sources: Sunday Star Times, City Gallery, The Press, Te Papa

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Things you thought you'd never see

A wine label by Lucian Freud.

A display case too far

When the first museum that we’d probably recognize as such, the British Museum, first started displaying its wares to the public on 15 January 1759, it still believed that physically holding items was essential to one’s knowledge of them. The weight and heft in particular were regarded as critical to deep appreciation. As late as 1827 The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford allowed visitors to handle artifacts with the permission of the curator. As concerns about conservation increased during the nineteenth century, the old unlockable cabinets slowly gave way to sealed ones as surely as glass has to Perspex.

Today the museum mode has been taken up throughout the retail industry as objects are shown in cases and transparent boxes to assert their status as museum-like icons. This overall design trend is why we noticed what seems to be a new move by the justice system to step up the status of its own exhibits. No more the humble sealed and numbered plastic baggy. Evidence now finds itself elevated to iconic status by this museum-like display with its two armatures raising the knife in an elegant angle above the wooden base. There also seems to be a museum-style label.

This sort of display technique has the effect of cuttting out what would seem to be important information about this weapon. The Jury cannot hold the knife and judge its weight and balance. The truth of this object is very simple: this is a kitchen knife, and it is alleged that it killed someone.

So you have to ask, why would our courts allow an object like this to be raised from its commonplace status as evidence to this higher order of celebrity weapon?

Image: Dominion Post. Background on display techniques Museum Manners: the sensory life of the early museum by Constance Classen, Concordia University

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Look alike

The funniest Look alike received from a reader this year. The Docs Rock! International Film Festival programme - Pet Rock meets Tony Oursler.
Image: From the left, rock and role model.

Style section

This just in from our style editor. The Still Life Bowl from designers Barnaby Barford & Andre Klauser for Thorsten van Elten. As they say at Areaware "Who needs a Vermeer with the Still Life Fruit Bowl? Create your own masterpiece with this bowl and frame. May orient in landscape or portrait format."

Who’ll watch the Watchmen credits?

Greg Travis joins the company of Andy Warhol movie look alikes (here are four others) in the credits of Watchmen. Standing in for sixties cool, Warhol is shown next to Truman Capote in the silvered factory gesturing to a very un Warhol-like multiple portrait of Nite Owl. The nude walk through was actor Andrew Colthart. You may still be able to see the Watchmen credit sequence here.
Images: From the top, Andy and friends and an old OTN favourite, a Last Supper set up

Monday, March 09, 2009

The S in Spam stands for Venice

reckless guesswork, insinuations and possible inventions that have arrived at overthenet.blog@gmail.com: apparently tao wells upset everyone at the fungus launch at the adam art gallery and people thought that this time he has gone tooooo far • curator conland marries painting machine guy ingram this weekend • nz trade and enterprise is paying an interior designer to deck out a bookstore in association with the biennale complete with stylish nz furniture (yes there will be wine and cheese) • the one day sculpture exhibition is having a three day symposium starting 26 march • te papa has agreed to show the venice exhibs when they return to nz • tim walker is no longer at the auckland museum and has been seen back in the halls of te papa • the venice catalogues will be sponsored by the artists’ dealer galleries • any missed details, indignant denials or additions gratefully received, and the one that has the strangest spelling mistake, rewarded with an international edition overthenet cap.

Advice to collectors

Up to a year or so ago people would visit Somerset House in the UK to view the Gilbert Collection. Arthur Gilbert put together a huge collection of stuff including enamelled portrait miniatures and one of the world’s great collections of snuff boxes including a gem-encrusted box from the collection of Frederick the Great (he paid $1,096,774 for it in 1986). Why are we telling you this? Because Sir Arthur Gilbert, who made his money in the property business in California, had an ace idea that might be of interest to other collectors. Visitors to Somerset House were often surprised to see Sir Arthur hard at work at his desk talking on the phone. Surprised, because Sir A had been dead for some years, and then possibly relieved when the life-size figure turned out to be wax. The collection and virtual Arthur have now been moved to the V&A. OTN also acknowledges Sir Arthur Gilbert as one of the great sponsors of global table tennis with the Gilbert Cup playing a key role in introducing the game to the United States.
Image: Sir Arthur Gilbert in the flesh and in wax. You be the judge.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Look alike

Images: John Reynolds, Bruce Barber and Wetex guy from Urban camouflage.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Credit crunch hits art world

The Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills has announced that this Saturday's opening of One Ton, One Kilo by Chris Burden, has been postponed indefinitely. There have been problems locating the 100 kilos (worth around $NZ6.6 million) of gold bars to create the work.

Industry ink: Number 1

Back in the eighties Hamish Keith once asked us and our son whether we’d like to see his recently inked tattoo. We were at home and on the way upstairs to look at some books. As a single person we said, “No.” But it was too late. Now, in a renewed spirit of inquiry, we are starting this series of art world tats. All contributions welcome. Absolute privacy guaranteed where absolute privacy is requested. OTN caps for the best and the brightest.

Not a girl guide

When it comes to marketing it’s usual to put one’s best foot forward. From that perspective, the promotion of Warwick Brown’s latest book is way from the far end of the left field.

Warwick Brown - Seen This Century: 100 Contemporary New Zealand Artists; A Collectors Guide
This is a natty, squat book. Absolutely not a coffee table format.
The 100 artists have come to prominence since 2000. No performance art, video art, or film art is included.

Apart from having serious reservations about whether you can actually be squat and natty at the same time, what’s with the heralding no performance, film and video as a selling point? That’s like putting out a book for collectors in the eighties and saying it won’t be featuring loose canvas, anything in black and white or cut-outs. Still one thing they would have understood in the eighties - 70 percent of the artists featured are guys.

You can get a copy of Seen this century at Parsons when it is published mid April. You can see the list of artists here on OTN Stuff

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Art is where you find it

Continuing our movie theme for the day this picture of Sean Connery with his Micheline and her kinda weird portrait of the great man.
Photo: Keith Waldegrave


Most often when art makes it to the screen it’s only to serve as background, but occasionally it does get to play a leading role as happened in a recent episode of Bones titled ’The Skull in the Sculpture’. The show opens with the news that artist Geoffrey Thorne has been crushed in one of his own works - a cross between a John Chamberlain (vividly painted) and a César (crushed into a square). Thorne’s gallery is ‘curated’ by Helen Bridenbecker who sports full Kabuki make-up (yes it’s a clue). There’s lots of art jargon, PoMo makes an appearance and it feels as though an art consultant with a sense of humour was on set, or at least in the script meetings.

Eventually, to help solve the crime, a cool 3D hologram mimicking the crushing is created and at one stage one of the lab rats, in a Sylvie Fleury moment, manipulates it to do a reverse crush so the original shape of the car with body is revealed. (Fleury had once described how she’d like to untangle a crushed car and restore it back to its original form as a comment on the macho art of John Chamberlain and César).

Anyway, as anyone who knows anything about art will have guessed, the dealer did it.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Together we stand

We found our attitude to art beautifully summed up in this exchange between Richard Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson .

Dawkins: A former and highly successful editor of New Scientist magazine-- who actually built up New Scientist and took it to great new heights -- was asked, "What is your philosophy at New Scientist?" And he said, "Our philosophy at New Scientist is this: Science is interesting. And if you don't agree, you can fuck off."

Ceci n’est pas un McCahon

Lookalikes are one thing, but here on Trademe is the next big step – the direct copy. This ‘McCahon’ is the second the vendor duncstar claims to have put up on the site. The first “in a similar style” apparently “got a rapturous email from the buyer!” Of course there are copyright issues to burn here around McCahon’s 1959 work He is calling Elias. The fact that Duncstar’s version is virtually the same size counters the tradition that copies are smaller or bigger than the original. Although the Trademe McCahon appears to be unsigned and is represented as a fake, it is not hard to imagine that somewhere down the track a signature may be added and an attempt made to resell the piece as an original. Duncstar’s only other offering on Trademe is a HMV chrome 'Pancake' heater.
Thanks for the point P. Since posting this item has been withdrawn from TradeMe

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Frank Gehry turned 80 on Saturday. So happy birthday Mr. Gehry and thanks for:

Giving the Guggenheim Bilbao human scale while still making it astonishing.

Surprising the hell out of us when we first saw your home on 22nd Street in Santa Monica.

Reminding us that wire fencing was cool way back in 1978.

Even thinking that a tar sealed driveway would make a good floor for your kitchen.

Making architectural models to die for.

Keeping on keeping on.

Image: The Frank Gehry house in Santa Monica

Putting the NZ Made boot in

The Dominion Post pursued its typically stupid approach to the Venice Biennale in its Saturday editorial. The editor still can’t get past the idea that selling NZ cheese is one of the key objectives for sending artists to Venice.

“Perhaps,” grumbles the DomPost, “it is Creative NZ that should be answering the questions. Why is it spending more than half a million dollars exhibiting work overseas that says nothing about New Zealand and can be seen only by the handful of New Zealanders wealthy enough to travel to Italy?”

Probably for the same reason we spend money on scholarships to send students overseas to study mathematics (no, not NZ maths, just plain old maths) and decline to deck out the Katherine Mansfield fellows in Swanndri.

The fact is Upritchard and Millar are from New Zealand and have serious international reputations as artists. That will be enough to attract curators to visit their shows and then perhaps develop a deeper interest in them and other New Zealand artists. That’s how it works in Venice. The Biennale, believe it or not, isn’t about attracting New Zealand tourists or selling local produce.

You can see the full editorial here on OTN Stuff.

Monday, March 02, 2009

News flash

News from CNZ on Friday that Judy Millar is looking for a new venue because of delays in refurbishing the first choice Sant' Antonin. Some new possibilities are the church that Mike Stevenson used (nice building but limited because of its distance from the main action) or Chiesa di San Fantin (near St Mark's Square which appears to be great location-wise). Apparently Millar has already made provision for possible flooding (Acqua Alta) by having her work on vinyl. Huge sheets of it will be stretched on a structure being built by Bruce Edgar, NZ’s Biennale technician. As a rule, although Venice can flood any old time, it is usually in November and after the Biennale finishes. As it is rarely higher than three feet, Millar’s work is probably safe.
Image: Chiesa di San Fantin

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.

Leaky building syndrome

You’ll recall how last week Te Papa had the good fortune to have the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston simply shrug its shoulders when water leaked into a gallery housing paintings by Monet, Cezanne and others indemnified by the New Zealand Government.

Now it is the Auckland Art Gallery’s turn to hope that the MCA in Sydney will feel equally sanguine about a leak that has caused at least one work to be removed from the touring show Yinka Shonibare MBE for conservation.

Two leading New Zealand art museums hosting two internationally significant exhibitions both suffering from problems with leaking roofs … what are the chances?