Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Water, water everywhere

"You can lead people to the water, but you can't make them drink. Steven A. Cohen loves to drink." - US art adviser on art collector Steven A. Cohen in Art and America.

Image: Damien Hirst's The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York from the Steven A. Cohen collection

Cut to the chase

What is it about the Walters Prize and the Venice Biennale? Every Venice Biennale that New Zealand has participated in has featured a winner or finalist (and one of them had one of each) of the Walters Prize. OK, Peter Robinson was a Walters’ catch-up, but the list below is a beautiful thing, synchronicity-wise.

NZ’s representation at the Venice Biennale:
2001 Jacqueline Fraser (Walters Prize finalist 2004)
2001 Peter Robinson (Walters Prize finalist 2006 and winner 2008)
2003 Michael Stevenson (Walters Prize finalist 2002)
2005 Et al. (Walters Prize winner 2004)
2007 NZ did not attend
2009 Francis Upritchard (Walters Prize Winner 2006)

Yvonne Todd is the only Walters Prize winner not to have had a spot in Venice. Maybe she was bumped for the Trip of a Lifetime tour (just kidding).

The Walters Prize seeks out the artists who have created the best exhibitions since the last prize, so it is not surprising that it is also the obvious Venice choices that get the nod. Here’s an idea. Maybe it’s time to save energy and money and drop one of the selection processes (let’s go for the cumbersome CNZ affair involving eight selectors) and make the winner of the Walters Prize (four selectors) the Venice choice as well.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Time Out 3

People overcome by art in public institutions.
San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art

Advice to collectors

Check that rabbit.

The Cairns Post reports farmer Del Manso’s discovery of two killer rabbits that were more than a match for a snake on his Cairns property. “The snake was raised up in the air in the striking position and the two rabbits worked their way around him and killed him in two minutes.” Del Manso continued, “I’ve never ever seen or heard anything like this happening, it could be a breakthrough.”

Images: Left Killer rabbit - avoid. Right, taxidermied art rabbit (Michael Parekowhai Roebuck Jones and the Cuniculus Kid Chartwell Collection -detail 2001), good to go.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Look alike

Images: Left, David Cerny’s parody of the St. Wenceslas statue, hanging in the Lucerna Palace. Right, Maurizio Cattelan Novecento

Truth and consequences

Although they couldn’t bring themselves to mention OTN as their source (all the quotes were from the OTN post, not an interview), the DomPost picked up on our item about the City Gallery taking responsibility for the Wellington City collection giving it a full page in Saturday’s Insight section.

The responses were varied with little concern for the long-term consequences.

Councillor Ray Ahipene-Mercer, “No other council has a collection like this around New Zealand.” True.

Heather Galbraith, senior curator City Gallery, ”It’s potentially very exciting [that more people might donate works].” Probably not true.

Roger Blackley, senior lecturer Victoria University felt, having seen some of the City art collection that “it is worthy of being seen.” Kind of misses the point.(When you check out the full list of the collection here you'll find most of the items are of no real interest at all and that works like the Hotere's and McCahon are only prints).

Most outspoken was director Paula Savage who agrees with OTN that the City Art collection could prove a millstone round the City Gallery's neck.

“For the City Gallery to be really the leader it is, it’s important that it is an exhibition based gallery. Not having one [a permanent collection] has made us unique and special and gives a lot of freedom and makes us light on our feet.”

Ain’t that the truth.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hair of the dog

In the spirit of Kusama fever, the iida spotty phone (My Doggie Ring-Ring) ad. You can check out the spotty bag phone here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Looks like art to me

Ladders stored in Starkwhite's shower cabinet.

On reflection

The Yayoi Kusama exhibition Mirrored Years that opens tomorrow at the City Gallery is a flagship of global culture. The curators are Dutch (Kusama exhibited regularly in the Netherlands during the sixties), French and Korean, the artist Japanese, the originating gallery Dutch, and here it is in New Zealand after a stopover in Sydney. The lead curator is Jaap Guldemond. Based at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, he has previously assembled a number of nation-based exhibitions including overviews of Brazil and China. To create Yayoi Kusama: Mirrored Years he enlisted curators Franck Gautherot and Seung-Duk Kim from Le Consortium in Dijon. The two have worked together for some time and with Kusama since 1990.

As publicity for the exhibition foregrounds, Kusama was a big presence in New York in the sixties and closely associated with many of the leading artists of the day. Her work from the critical years 1958 to 1968 was the subject of her major 1998 MoMA survey Love Forever: Yayoi Kusama. Mirrored years links her more recent work back into this period.

Like some other artists who have become favourites of public institutions, Kusama has shown a remarkable ability to popularize her work, merging her commercial brand with public art projects. Along with Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons, Kusama is a whirlwind producer who totally gets the demands of the publicity machine, the appeal of fashion and our global attraction to celebrity. Obsessed with self-image like Warhol, production-driven like Koons and commercially savvy like Hirst, she is a 21st century diva.

Kusama was the first Japanese artist to appear on the cover of Art in America and her recent work is sought after for biennales, art fairs and public display. Co-curator Franck Gautherot summed up Kusama’s driving force, "What she really wanted was to be famous, and she was very calculated and strategic to achieve that." The market, bless its heart, backs up her fame; one of Kusama’s works sold at Christie’s for $NZ7.5 million, the highest price ever paid for a female artist.
Image: Top left, Kusama as sixties provocateur and right, Kusama 2009 posing with one of her spot-branded mobile phones. Below, the $NZ1,300 version of the three Kusama branded phone made in a spotty dog bag called Dots Obsession, Full Happiness with Dots for Japanese Telco KDDI. The other two Kusama models are priced at $NZ13,500 each.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pay dirt

As we have come to expect from Creative NZ grants, the focus of the last round was institutions. Although the most recent grants are offered to “support projects by New Zealand artists, practitioners and arts organisations” there are precious few practitioners on the list. For the visual arts it’s John Reynolds with a whopping $111,125 and Wayne Barrar with $21,040 (albeit via the Dunedin Public Art Gallery for a publication rather than creating work). There was also money for a few projects like the China Beijing and McCahon House Residencies that support individual New Zealand artists, but the kind of people who can take advantage of them is always limited.

One new institution on the payroll is art critic John Hurrell who snagged $69,800.


Tonight's high-profile auction Ralph Hotere: This Land has been called off. Auction house Art + Object have put the cancellation down to "a dispute as to ownership of some of the works in the catalogue".

Branded: John Reynolds

The moment when artists become brands.
Thanks F


Over the years we have noted images that have been served up in different versions in homage or satire or simple good humour. Here it’s a photograph by Lewis Hine and it’s not just LEGOmaniacs and Charlie who have joined in the game. Hines himself produced a number of versions of his famous 1920 photograph The Man with a Wrench drawing on different poses and even different men. You can see more LEGO set-ups inspired by the greats of photography here and a run down on Lewis Hine’s own variants here.

Images: Left, two versions by Lewis Hines. Right top Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times and bottom via LEGO (Thanks P)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Wellington’s bid for the world’s most bizarre sculpture has been struck down from the sky. The sculpture was to feature onboard lasers but Civil Aviation thought they could well distract pilots coming in for an already difficult landing. Consideration was given to developing a mechanism that would permit pilots to turn the sculpture lasers off as they flew over but, incredibly, the idea was ruled out. Landscaper, Megan Wraight, commented, "Without [the lasers], the hook becomes just an object – it loses a poetic and a transcendent element."


In 1983 we purchased a copy of Peter Peryer’s Zoo Music. It came in an album of two photographs in an edition of 20. One image was of monkeys in the zoo and the other of birds on branches giving the effect of musical notes. Twenty-three years later Peter made a one note version of a bird on a wire called Kereru and yesterday we saw this musical metaphor brought to life. Brazilian filmmaker Jarbas Agnelli set a photograph of birds sitting on wires to music using the positioning of the birds to determine the notes of the score.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hirst's castle

For anyone who said there was no money in art this chart created from Artnet information will no doubt come as something of a shock. For more Hirst news go here. (chart via artmarket monitor, Click to enlarge)


Art’s paper trail the CV feeds off production and display. The format rarely changes: biography, solo exhibitions, group exhibitions, collections and biography (me, me, we, we, and me again). Sometimes, as careers grow, more is seen as less and embarrassing lists of small town shows are collapsed into the more opaque ‘selected exhibitions’. Conceptual artist Julian Dashper wouldn’t have a bar of it. His work CV grew like a watered weed, every detail of his career noted, one under the other, page after page. More recently the academic world has jumped the CV shark. Now art school CVs spawn their own exhibitions targeted at university cash wranglers and grading masters. Publish and be in demand.
Illustration: Pippin Barr

Monday, September 21, 2009

Open to view

In the past we have featured the high reception desks so loved by many dealer galleries to intimidate visitors. As an antidote, this weekend in Auckland, we saw Michael Lett goldfish-bowled, hard at work in the front of his gallery.


john hurrell has snagged more cnz funding to keep his review machine on the road • a swag of nz artists (some say 15, some say ten, let’s settle for 12) have been selected for the next sydney biennale • et al. has doubled the size of their studio and now has room enough to swing a mule • francis upritchard is slated for a show at the prestigious venue the secession in vienna following in the footsteps of such luminaries as paul mccarthy, marina abramovic, franz west , isa genzken and rirkrit tiravanaja • david treblestsky is set to open a gallery / project space in queenstown.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Singing chunks

It’s not the best song in the world but North Carolina band Superchunk did write Artclass about Yayoi Kusama the Japanese artist who opens the revamped City Gallery at the end of the month. If you can’t live without the Artclass ringtone, you can get it here.

And here, for fanatics, are the lyrics…

here we go in spurts
the colors nearly burst
and you may notice a shaking in your eye
mataphors the worst
but are you being driven or do you drive?

on a trip between two points in your infinity net
obliterate yourself from the scene but please do not forget

cover me with spots - black and red dots
until i'm crowding up your visual field
bare assed and beautiful you're climbing on your art like a

now i want - i say sang - i do
everybody dance now

welcome to art class
forget your acid-free paper and glass

welcome to art class
be a bride stripped bare of the past

why so serious?
why so serious when it's only your life that’s at stake
why so serious
when your life is the art that you make
life is the art that you make

sell anything you want
but it's worth no more and no less than a kiss
try not to represent even that
cuz this moment is all that it is
in a garden of glass there’s a red plastic tree
so shit in a can but your art is not free
i sang - i want - i do
and everybody dances with me

welcome to art class
and yes it does involve shaking your ass
welcome to art class
always keep your face to the glass

why so serious?
why so serious - when it's only your life that’s at stake
why so serious - when your life is the art that you make
life is the art that you make
why so serious?

Friday, September 18, 2009


A cheap shot, but does this remind anyone else of (your choice here) art bureaucrats?

Found: Robert Jesson

OK, we didn’t actually find him, but the OTN post on his re-mashed sculpture smoked him out.

Robert Jesson. One day he wasn’t there and the next he was everywhere. It turned out he had gone to the UK to get his art ed. and then, via Closet Gallery and Denis Cohen ended up at McLeavey and Crockford. Te Papa has a sculpture, Auckland Art Gallery has three (1984, 1985 and 1986).

And then he'd gone to Australia, which at the time was equivalent to setting up shop in the Sahara. More recently Robert Jesson - following the maxim “fuck art, let's travel”- is in the fifth year of cruising the world in a yacht with his wife. If you want to catch up with them they are “currently in Japan. Next stop Philippines, Borneo and Malaysia.” As to the rejigged Starfish, “I'm not in the least bothered by what they did with the Starfish, that reflects their bad taste not mine, and as far as I'm concerned, once it's sold, it's pretty much forgotten.”

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Just William

Turns out the rumours of Art New Zealand’s death were premature. The reason for the magazine going quiet was negotiations over a purchase bid. According to editor William Dart, “the potential buyers recently withdrew their bid, after a lengthy period of negotiations.” So it’s game on.
Dart will continue his editorship with the next issue slated for Summer 2009-2010 and number 132 in November.

Cast aside

There is an advertisement in the latest issue of The Art Newspaper targeted at museums and, rather hopefully, art schools, announcing the sale in Denmark of “one of the world’s largest private Plaster Cast Collections”. We suspect that interior designers would be more receptive to the offer today. Working from the cast was a traditional way to learn basic drawing skills at art school but even in New Zealand the technique didn’t make it to the 1970s.

At the University of Canterbury’s Ilam School of Fine Arts drawing from the cast ground to a halt in 1968. The casts were relegated to the old stables at Ilam and were slowly absorbed into student flats where the comment “Can you give me a hand” might result in a loud crash and a cloud of plaster dust. Drawing lecturer Eileen Mayo kept to the old ways giving first year students the task of drawing a crumpled sheet of white paper (shades of Martin Creed) placed on a white background. You could see in the eyes of some students the thought that even if they could draw such an illusive thing – which they plainly couldn’t – why would they want to?
Image: Plaster bits of David

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The naked truth

“Basically, you’re working with the same body. Fashions change, technology changes, but at the end of the day there you are with a brush, canvas oils, nude figure in front of you – and away you go.”
Curator of the Academy Galleries Nude exhibition, Matt Gauldie talking to DomPost’s Tom Cardy about painting the nude.

Different times

One of the great things you used to be able to do as the director of a small public art museum was, once in a while, put on your dream show. It had been eight years since the Colin McCahon survey show had toured New Zealand when in 1980 at the Dowse Art Gallery (as it was then) we gathered together some of his greatest large paintings and put them together in one room simply titled Colin McCahon at the Dowse Art Gallery.

The 16 panels of The Second Gate series were still in Peter McLeavey’s upstairs store waiting for a buyer. We wrapped each panel in a rug, carried it downstairs, and loaded it into the rental van we had hired for the day. We also borrowed Practical religion. This very large work was rolled up to transport and then - impossible to believe now - hung by two people, one up on a ladder and the other feeding the painting over her shoulder as it was progressively nailed to a batten attached to the wall.

At that time the main gallery of the Dowse was still clad in grey concrete blocks and paintings were hung on two parallel rails that snaked round all the walls. Billy Apple came to give a talk on his 1979 Alterations tour, but as an ├╝ber white cube guy the grey blocks were too much. His judgment? “It’s like being inside a sheet of graph paper.” To try to get some distance from the graph-like walls we sometimes hung works floating in mid-air from nylon fishing line. The large Milan Mrkusich corner painting owned by Les and Milly Paris was hung that way and floated like some sort of spiritual portal to another world. You can see in the photograph that McCahon’s Landscape theme and variations (series B) was hung that way because the banners had already been stuck to board by the Arts Council (what McCahon dryly called “their more official treatment”). Our trapeze-like hang was probably the least of their worries! Thanks to the ever-generous Peter McLeavey, one of The five wounds of Christ paintings he had recently commissioned from McCahon was also included. Although it only took a few weeks to organise and install, the McCahon show was a great success based on two factors: a simple idea and extraordinary work.

Images: Both images were taken during the 1980 Dowse Art Gallery exhibition. Top, The Second Gate series. Bottom, in the foreground is Practical religion: the resurrection of Lazarus showing Mount Martha with Landscape theme and variations (series B) hanging in front of the back wall.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A year ago today

When art goes to the movies: The silence of the lambs

Hannibal Lecter famously ends his conversation with Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs by announcing he is ”having an old friend for dinner.” We all knew what that meant. So, how to make a psychopathic monster even part way human? By art, of course. Hannibal the Cannibal was also Lecter the sketcher.

Clarice: Did you do all these drawings, Doctor?
Hannibal: Ah. That is the Duomo seen from the Belvedere. Do you know Florence?
Clarice: All that detail just from memory, sir?
Hannibal: Memory, Agent Starling, is what I have instead of a view.

Later in the movie Lecter sketches Clarice with a lamb based no doubt on an Italianate Virgin Mary and child. Although the lamb’s head has more than a suggestion of a demented dog, no one is claiming H as a master draftsman.

Art also played a part in the promotion of the movie with the poster and DVD cover calling on Salvador Dali and Phillipe Halsman’s photograph of him. In voluptate mors portrays Dali with a skull created from the entwined bodies of seven naked women. Based on a Dali sketch, the skull references the patterning on the back of the Asian Death’s-Head moth (Acherontia styx) and that is exactly what the serial killer Buffalo Bill of the movie inserted into the throats of his victims in the form of a pupae. We read somewhere that it was the director of the movie (Jonathan Demme) who came up with the idea of using a Dali skull on the back of the moth to cover Jodie Foster’s mouth. The poster won best film poster "of the past 35 years" at the 2006 Key Art Awards.And here as a special added bonus a link to the best moth site ever by a New Zealand artist.
Images: Top The silence of the lambs poster and the Halsman photograph. Middle, In voluptate mors used in the poster for The silence of the lambs and the Death's -Head moth. Bottom, Hannibal H's drawing of Clarice.

Monday, September 14, 2009


We were gob smacked to find the iconic Peter McLeavey Gallery couch in a New Plymouth wine bar. It’s the same make and model that et al. blonded in 1992 thus ending the shortest artist relationship with the Wellington dealer yet recorded.

The active I

New Plymouth is many things, but one of them will always be Michael Smither. There are few painters who lavished as much emotion on a place as Michael did. Sure he can also lay claim to Central Otago and parts of the top of the South Island, but it’s Taranaki, the coastline, suburbs, people and places that are his as much as Cookham will always be Stanley Spencer’s or celebrity Andy Warhol’s. In the few days we were in New Plymouth it was impossible not to see his paintings constantly. The Gables where the young Smither children played out on canvas Michael’s own childhood, the beaches he struggled to save, Pukekura Park, that mountain Taranaki. Here are a few images of Smither Land. You can see more of the Smither eye in Michael Smither Painter published by Ron Sang.
Images: Top to bottom, left to right, Taranaki, the Gables, Pukekura Park, Alfred Road Bridge, boatshed Pukekura Park.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Branded: Dane Mitchell

Friday, September 11, 2009


In Wanganui, thinking of Tony de Latour


Last year we posted a photograph of Don Driver still at work in his studio. We visited Don this week and took some pics and, as you can see from the Angelina Jolie poster on the top of the heap, Don is still able to work on his collages. While the large works that have dominated his production have probably come to an end, an exhibition is opening next week at Aratoi the Wairarapa Museum of Art and History in Masterton that features many of his large banner works. Driver was among the first group of New Zealand artists to sense the swing in attention from European to American art as artists like Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and later Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns picked up the European tradition and gave it a shake. For Don Driver that turnaround resulted in works like his painted reliefs (there is an exhibition of these powerful works in development by the Dunedin Art Gallery), the constructions of the 1960s and 1970s culminating in works like Lawn cuttings (Te Papa) and Produce (Govett-Brewster). Remarkably, classic works from these years are still stored in the studio.
Image: Don Driver's studio September 2009 (click image to enlarge)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Our Pick

The opening of the movie Seraphine in Wellington prompted us to search through our photographs for one we took of Seraphine Pick’s studio back in 1993. At that time she was sharing studio space in Christchurch with Peter Robinson on Colombo Street. The movie, based on the life of French painter Seraphine de Senlis, will always be available on DVD while Seraphine Pick’s large exhibition Tell me more, will only be around for a limited time. You can catch it in Christchurch until 22 November and a cut-down version during next year’s Wellington’s International Arts Festival at the City Gallery.
(click on image to enlarge)

Fur patrol

How long is it since we had some animal art on OTN? (102 days ago, but who’s counting). Last up was the shutter-bug pigeon, a professional animal artist specializing in aerial photography. We prefer professionals, although the odd amateur has crept in: those Thai elephants were far too sock-puppet around the trunk for our tastes. The test of a pro animal artist these days is probably a web site offering signed prints and, if that is the case, no one fits the category better than Cooper: photographer cat. You can catch Cooper’s site here and enjoy his impressive range of moody photography.
Image: Classic Cooper

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Copy cat

Images: top, Paul McCarthy 2003. Bottom, Pet Shop Boys 2007 (thanks R)

Ready when you are

If you haul yourself through the 48-page document outlining Creative New Zealand’s Statement of Intent, on page 21 you will come across OTN’s art phrase of the year: “international-ready art,” as in “The development and presentation of distinctive, high quality, ‘international-ready’ art is supported.”

CNZ sets up a category of art that is ready to go international-wise and at the same time puts it in quote marks (that familiar distancing device), so what’s going on? Turns out that they are on their usual path adorned with tables, arrows and diagrams so that everything fits neatly with everything else. CNZ and its operatives will scan for artists ready to work in an international context i.e. ‘international-ready’. They’ll also be on the look-out for those with potential to do so, and from this info CNZ will decide who to fund at what, where. The scan will be updated annually. There’s more in the international strategy on priority markets (trade fairs: Melbourne Art Fair) but you get the idea. Get yourself certificated as ‘international-ready’ and who knows where in the world you’ll end up.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Here’s some serendipity for you. Today we are on the road to see Peter Peryer in New Plymouth for a few days and last week the subject of one of his great photographs came to stay. Thea’s hand was in the building, so we took a snap.
Images: Top Peter Peryer Thea’s hand 1997. Bottom Thea’s hand 2009


If an artist were ever to wash up on a cartoon desert island complete with an iconic single palm tree, chances are his (always his) head would be shaded from the sun by an equally iconic beret. Like the easel, the palette and the smock, the beret has often stood in for the creative spirit. Originally headgear in the Basque country (although Rembrandt did paint a self portrait wearing a version of one back in 1630) the beret was cemented as an art icon in the twentieth century by Picasso, who probably popped it on his head as a symbol of rebellion. Since then the beret has been worn by countless artists, and many, many actors wanting a quick symbol to turn them into one.
Illustration: Pippin Barr

Monday, September 07, 2009

Things past

In response to a couple of reader enquiries about what the City Gallery is collecting, we asked curator Heather Galbraith for a list of the latest works to be purchased. She replied that although she is on the selection committee, the collection is owned and administered by the City Council and we should ask them. We did. Here are last year’s acquisitions to the Wellington City art collection that will be featured in the City Gallery’s new Hancock gallery's first stand alone exhibition from 21 February – 12 September 2010.

Kate Small
Thorndon Pool 2008
oil on canvas

Sandra Schmidt
Membrane dissected 2008

Simon Morris
Blue line 54 minutes 2008
Blue line 56 minutes 2008
acrylic on linen

Wayne Barrar
Twin tunnels, Manapouri Underground Power Station 2005
Colour pigment print

Rubbish in, art out

By now you may have heard that Dane Mitchell was awarded the Trust Waikato National Contemporary Art Award in Hamilton by Te Papa curator Charlotte Huddleston. His winning work Collateral is a selection of the wrappings other artists used to pack their works when sending them to the Waikato Museum to compete in the Award. Mitchell’s wry commentary on the old 'what is art?' challenge - anything an artist says, or even suggests, is so - will come with its own issues for anyone bold enough to purchase it (the work is priced at $5250).

The problem with making work that looks like rubbish is that it can easily end up being treated that way. The most famous example in New Zealand is Billy Apple’s Neon Accumulation which was binned by a cleaner at the Govett-Brewster. But this is not just a provincial problem. Even mega institutions are not immune. Cleaners at the Tate Gallery in London put a key part of a work by Gustav Metzger out with the rubish (it was later recovered) not recognising the bag of trash was not, er, a bag of trash. Damien Hirst has also had a run-in with the art rubbish problem. His 2001 installation of studio detritus at London's Eyestorm Gallery was mistaken for a pile of rubbish and swept away by a cleaner who remained unrepentant. "I didn't think for a second that it was a work of art - it didn't look much like art to me. So I cleared it all into bin-bags and dumped it." And still it goes.

Four years ago, a collector of the British artist Anish Kapor was awarded £350,000 damages when the art storage company Fine Art Logistics dumped Hole and Vessel II mistaking it for junk. In a subtle twist on the rubbish theme, an old bath that was part of a Joseph Beuys work was scrubbed clean by zealous gallery staff in the eighties.

Fortunately the institutions and professionals into collecting work like this are aware of the pitfalls. The folk at Fine Art Shipping aren’t going to be fooled, not for a moment. As packers for some of the most important galleries and artists in the world they totally get the trash/art thing. “Sometimes the most difficult objects to store or ship are those which look like everyday things and could be mistaken for same. That litter box, for example, or the artist whose artwork was a crate and, in another case, a light pencil drawing on a ragged piece of cardboard. In a working warehouse, such items must be isolated, draped with caution tape, and severely labeled so as not to be confused with supplies or trash.”
Image: the art work formally know as box.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Lack of style section

The Eames chair meets car airbags via artist Mark Wentzel

Friday, September 04, 2009

Newspaper TV

There's a short video interview with Francis Upritchard on the latest edition of The Art Newspaper: Digital. Francis talks about her Venice work and the ideas behind her sculptures.

The white stuff

Marble isn’t big with New Zealand artists even though the country boasts large marble deposits in north-west Nelson and Fiordland. Most of our marble is used as building stone or crushed into powder as a coating or an ingredient of glass. One artist who did put marble together with art was Billy Apple, but he got rid of both. His removal of Romanelli’s copy cat sculpture The Wrestlers from the middle of the dome space in Wanganui’s Sarjeant Gallery caused a great fuss in 1979. We had a brush with it ourselves when we borrowed the work for an exhibition at the National Art Gallery called When Art Hits the Headlines. The Wrestlers needed a bit of a clean, but a week before the show was set to open conservators (no doubt thinking cotton buds and distilled water) said the clean up would take at least six months. The story of how it was cleaned in the end involved a wettex and an anonymous (and pragmatic) senior gallery official late at night.

It’s hard not to feel we must be missing something about this traditional and noble material, one that has become newly fashionable in contemporary art. Artists like Jeff Koons (Bourgeois Bust), Damien Hirst (Anatomy of an Angel) and Marc Quinn (Alison Lapper) are all into it. Turns out that these guys get their marble work done in a small Tuscan village called Pictrasanta where the marble is so white it got Michelangelo excited to the point that he had a road made to access it out of the then inaccessible mountains. Pictrasanta about 20 kilometres from the more famous Carrara deposits and before Jeff and the YBAs, Henry Moore was there and so too was Joan Miro.

As you probably figured, modern marble works are made by local artisans - it’s Donald Judd meets marble. Most of the artists send plaster or clay versions and follow up with the odd visit to see how things are going. Here’s the Financial Times article on the marble shaping folk of Pictrasanta.
Images: The whiteness of the Pictrasanta marble shines on through in Google’s satellite view.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Art in the workplace

Art hard at work in the foyers of the world.

Artists in Ad land: Ralph Hotere

In 1996 the Bank of New South Wales merged with Trustbank to create New Zealand’s largest bank Westpac. Change your name and you got to change your stationery. To give the new bank some cultural clout, the design shop that landed the rebranding commissioned Ralph Hotere to create a work that incorporated 'Westpac red' to serve as the basis for the visual identity for the new brand. Hotere painted RED X2 and details from it were used to brand, via colour and texture, Westpac's branches, ATMs, credit cards and adverts.

The Hotere look lasted for around four or five years and was then phased out. Through the commissioning process the painting belonged to the bank and was lent for a time to Wellington airport where it hung above the escalators to the departures level. Since April 2003 it has been on loan to the Auckland Art Gallery.
Image: Details of Ralph Hotere’s RED X 2 in use on a Westpac ATM

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

On contemporary art

“Contemporary art is a goody bag of what’s fashionable tonight, local “cultural production” auditioning to become history. You can argue for it, but you can’t argue from it, since contemporary art lacks the same track record that invests art with historical authority.”
Dave Hickey again

If wishes were fishes

We had hoped to be back in Berlin this month but things got in the way. As a result we will miss the chance to be at Simon Denny’s opening of his show Deep Sea Vaudeo at the Galerie Daniel Buchholz in Cologne.

It is not easy being an artist in someone else’s country and with his representation by Daniel Buchholz he joins Turner Prize winner Tomma Abts, Isa Genzken, Mark Leckey, Lucy McKenzie and Wolfgang Tillmans.

The Buchholz exhibition opens on Friday. Wish we were there.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Pieces of eight

in august we fell in love with te henga • found nic spill • congratulated the ones who didn’t go under the sword • kept up with our mona lisa studies • discovered the suburbs • raised a red flag to the hutt flogging its mccahon • started our alphabet • wondered why the wellington city gallery wanted to own and show the city art collection

Well spotted 2

The last time we posted on an artist putting a mural on a key Wellington building was Victor Berezovsky’s efforts at the Fryberg Pool. Now the City Gallery is following in his footsteps with Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. This time the mural is not painted but uses stick-on computer cut decals, presumably to the artist’s design. The minimalist Hotere/Culbert window work Fault will obviously have to be blacked out while the building is in its spotty glory. It needs refurbishing anyway so the gallery so maybe the gallery will take the opportunity to do just that.
Image: The team from Sign Squad at work on the City Gallery facade

Other OTN Kusama stories:
Well spotted 1 Kusama in Japan
Well spotted 1 The movie of the post
Picked out Kusama in Tokyo