Monday, November 30, 2009


Images: Left, Artforum's annual 'Best of' format. Right, Art + Object latest catalogue

Culture shock

Only a Wellington newspaper could have a column called Meet the Mandarins but given the closed nature of the public sector‘s art divisions, such a column can reveal priorities not easily unravelled from the day-to-day bureaucratic communications. For the Ministry for Culture and Heritage – whose CE Lewis Holden was this weekend’s guest in the DomPost – those priorities do not include the visual arts. Of course when it comes to having his photo taken Lewis plonks himself down in front of an art work, but in describing the priorities of his Ministry he tells us they advise Government on how to divi up the $256 mill available to culture between, “the ballet, the symphony orchestra, television, radio and sport.” New Zealand culture, gotta love it. Oh and for the record, they also fund Creative New Zealand.
Image: a lemon. Sorry, couldn’t find a mandarin

Saturday, November 28, 2009


It’s Over The Net’s third birthday today. Hey, someone make us a cake. How about a three-layered Picasso or a substantial Warhol or even a pretty three-tiered Monet? Hang about, that Duchamp looks kind of cool on its stand and there are a couple of those Van Gogh Starry Night jobs to choose from. Not so keen on the Matisse (too much marzipan) and the Van Gogh landscape is over-piped…. But maybe the Pollock will do … ok, maybe not. So, one Duchamp and three candles. To go.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Market forces

We may be in the middle of a recession but the auction catalogues are still as plump as Christmas turkeys. With auctions only five days apart, Art + Object and Webb’s have together put up a total of 249 works, 17 with high-end estimates over $100,000 and a swag over $50,000. As you might imagine with A+O first out of the blocks last night, Webb’s will be combing over the prices achieved. They might take it as a good omen that the first work listed went for over 70 percent above the high estimate. The small (200 x 300mm) canvas by Peter Robinson ART went for a hammer price of $3,000. Another Robinson – There is no 1 God – also went well selling just shy of its $30,000 high estimate. Unfortunately when it came to the bigger ticket items, most were passed in or, on a number of occasions, received no bids. A typical tough-times exception: a Goldie that clocked $200,000. More typically a large Shane Cotton work expected to go between 130,000 and 170,000 was passed in at $100,000. Webb’s have another 1990s Cotton and will hope for better. No interest in Milan Mrkusich or auction darling Ralph Hotere. Another auction favourite, Gordon Walters, failed to get anywhere near its low estimate when his Study for Rewa faltered $20,000 below its low estimate. There is a non-koru equivalent in the Webb’s auction to follow. More surprisingly, a stunning Colin McCahon Truth from the King Country (sold at Dunbar Sloan in 2007 for $50,000) could only attract $42,000 and was passed in. There are bargains to be had if you have the cash.

Naked on Friday

Kim Cattrall has never been one for keeping her clothes on with a full-on naked life preceding her Sex in the City jag, so when the National Gallery in London was building a fund last year to keep Titian's Diana and Actaeon in the country, it seemed only natural for Cattrall to strip for art’s sake. Fifty-two year old Cattrall boldly went naked alongside a much younger group from the cast of La Clique. The resulting copycat (it really doesn’t qualify as a lookalike) apparently brought in a few pounds and helped the cause. Now Cattrall is on a roll as new Titian paintings featuring naked women are threatened with export. As we write, Kim is stripping off to do a version of Titian’s Diana and Callisto. You will be pleased to know that Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst and Lucian Freud are supporting the campaign by petitioning the Government.
Images: Top left, Titian's Diana and Actaeon, right, the Cattrall version with Cattrall second from right. Bottom, opportunity knocks with Titian’s Diana and Callisto

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Images: Top, The New Dowse. Bottom Telecom


In the new academic “whatever” culture, it was probably pointless to expect the authors of the Mrkusich book Alan Wright and Edward Hanflin to do anything about the exhibition list they included at the back of their book. In spite of caveats “… not intended as a catalogue raisonné or complete biography…” the authors could assume this will be the Mrkusich book of record for at least 20 years (going by what usually happens and their own bleak narrative of Mrkusich publishing). And yet they have done nothing to remedy their vanishing of a dozen exhibitions at the Peter McLeavey Gallery that included Milan Mrkusich. The publisher AUP, although initially interested – “What’s the story on this just so I know?” –has also slumped into “whatever” mode. No erratum for Milan.

Here, for the record (even given the ephemeral nature of blogging) are the Mrkusich exhibitions dropped from those listed in Alan Wright and Edward Hanflin’s book Mrkusich: the art of transformation.

Unrecorded Solo shows at the Peter McLeavey Gallery:
1974 Recent paintings 27 August to 13 September
1979 Works from 1949 26 June to 13 July
1984 Recent paintings 8 May to 24 May
1986 Recent paintings 27 May to 21 June
1987 Works 1946-1984 7 July to 25 July
1988 Four 1988 works on paper 15 November to 3 December
1990 Two large paintings and five works on paper 16 October to 10 November

Unrecorded Group shows at the Peter McLeavey Gallery:
1980 Group show 6 December to 24 December
1981 Group show 5 December to 24 December
1982 Group show 7 December to 24 December
1984 Warren Viscoe, Colin McCahon and Milan Mrkusich 25 September to 13 October
1989 Jacqueline Fraser, Warren Viscoe, Milan Mrkusich March

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

LOL Redux

"I think curators are ill advised and usually wrong."
British art critic Brian Sewell's response to MoMA curators putting Tim Burton up with Warhol


How often does public sculpture hit the headlines? OK, quite often in OTN we admit (105 stories and counting), but yesterday the Dominion Post went the final yard and slapped up public sculpture on its banner headline. The story, in fact, only featured the possibility of a public sculpture, which just goes to show how powerful the medium has become. What is it with all the bronze guys (they are virtually all guys, including potential Wal and potential Dog)? There was a time when cartoon characters like Wal and Co. would have been supersized in fibreglass, but no more. Now it looks like they are in for the same treatment we once saved for heroes like Scott of the Antarctic, royals like Victoria or politicians like Sir Keith. Still there is a precedent (for the dog anyway) in a life-sized bronze sheepdog (thanks David) at Lake Tekapo down South.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Famous people look at public sculpture

A brand new series. This week Castro and Lincoln.

Look alike

The European city
The American city, the New Zealand city
The road race, the shoes
The cat food
The pop singer
The video game, the film
The Auckland Museum

Monday, November 23, 2009

What's in that crate?

An OTN series looking into the inner life of art crates and the things they protect.
#2: Terence Koh Untitled (Urinal)

Don’t have a cow

Way back in the sixties Dunbar Senior of Dunbar Sloane – that’s the father of the current Dunbar Senior and grandfather of the current Dunbar Junior – was known to hold forth about how a good cow could sell art. “One cow sells, more than one cow sells even better”, he would tell the punters from the auction rostrum. As you can see from the latest Dunbar Sloane catalogue, the current Dunbars have taken this idea on board. Mind you they are not the only ones to understand the cows-for-cash equation when it comes to visual art. The Russian artists Komar & Melamid conducted a survey to find the most wanted paintings and discovered that most countries plugged for a landscape, preferably populated by wild or domestic animals, with the domestic variety most often being cows.

Today Dunbar Sloane leans more towards the views of John Baldessari. The third tip in his 1966-68 painting Tips for artists who want to sell states, “Subject matter is important: it has been said that pastoral paintings with cows and hens in them collect dust… while the same paintings with bulls and roosters sell.” And so Dunbar Sloane, in an anyone-can-make-art moment, have created their own masterpiece by cobbling together two of the works up for sale: a pastoral scene (Justin Summerton’s unfortunately titled Hobbit Hole) and Paul Dibble’s Bull on the fish of Maui.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's Saturday... who you gonna call?

Art Man.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Roundabout now

A couple of weeks ago, you may remember, we came up blank trying to find what was in the exhibition being rounded up by collector David Teplitsky on the Roundabout website. Well, never say never. The site is now up and running, so you can see what is in the collection artist by artist. Looks like there is also a catalogue in the wings for publication next year. Woe to go in 15 days.
Image: Roundabout website, up and running

Cholla the painting horse

Last year we introduced you to Cholla the painting horse. Since then, in spite of pointing to a website that sold Cholla’s work, we have had a few AA (animal art) cynics who have attributed Cholla’s work to a couple of guys in a panto outfit. OK, the Thai elephant was pretty obviously a sock puppet but Cholla? no, Cholla was the real thing. Check out this video of C creating a painting in front of the camera. No hidden wires, no Photoshop, no 4 year old hidden in a fake horse’s head. Just a creative horse, a brush and a canvas. Horse art at its very best.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

LOL: Curator Division

" the end of all this, it may be that Tim will rival Warhol when it comes to output and International reputation in the various mediums of artistic expression."
Rajendra Roy, Co-curator of the Tim Burton survey show at MoMA.


With our obsession for public sculpture in full flight, we were in early to see 2012. It has been promoted nearby with a giant billboard showing Rio’s Christ the Redeemer’s 600-plus tons toppling to the shaking, quaking ground. This end-of-the-world-is-nigh pic features a number of art works in peril as elite survivors scour the earth to save the crème de la crème of cultural artefacts from a wetting. The Mona Lisa is packed up into a super-cool metal crate and later in the movie Michelangelo’s David can be spotted in a travelling crate moving along a conveyor belt to its safe haven.

It brings to mind the last occasion the David was in peril. In preparation for the German occupation of Florence in the Second World War there was the option of spiriting him away from the city. In France the 3.2 metre Winged Victory of Samothrace had been carefully inched down the huge staircase it dominates at the Louvre, crated and moved into hiding but it was decided that moving the 5.7 meter David was more of a risk than leaving it in place. Being a big boy, he had to stay and face the music. To protect him from bombs and flying debris a brick tomb was constructed around him and other sculptures. He saw the war out undamaged.
Images: Left, not good in Rio. Right, preparing David for protection and the finished ‘tombs’, the David’s is at the rear. (Images of the David are from the TV series The Rape of Europa).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Infinity plus 842500

Yoyoi Kusama not only brings in the crowds at the City Gallery, she was also top seller in Phillips de Pury and Company's contemporary art auction in the US this week. One of her Infinity Nets paintings (Infinity Nets T.W.A) from 2000 clocked up $1.28 million ($US842,500) matching the price paid for a Warhol Brillo Box. She joins Frida Kahlo, Marlene Dumas, Louise Bourgeois, Joan Mitchell and Natalia Goncharova in an exclusive club of women who have cracked the seven figure hammer price.
Image: Kusama featured in the Phillips de Pury catalogue

Blood money

Even though everyone knows that Andy Warhol made his start in advertising before he went on to be one of the most important artists in the world, most ad guys still resent artists and the cachet they enjoy. If you have any doubts about this, just check out ads that have art as their subject matter. Most often they are insulting, demeaning or antagonistic. Comment about this is usually gets the art-people-can’t–take–a joke treatment, but it’s not a joke ad people play on sport stars or happy families living the nostalgic NZ dream in beachside baches.

Here is a particularly brutal example promoting SKY's Arts Channel (seriously). Mark Rothko’s slip into depression and suicide is used as a cheap joke for a cheap offer. “As the last drop of blood emptied out of him, he would have come to the grim realisation that his life’s work had cost him everything. Good thing he didn’t know, 39 years later, it would only cost you $2.99. Then he really would have been down.” The Arts Channel's mission statement? “Art for an insultingly low price.”
Image: The SKY ad as published in the latest issue of artnews New Zealand.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

You be the judge

"It just looks like it's an old lady in a shopping centre, looking skywards, wondering if it's going to rain, while slipping on her gloves." - Roderick Burgess, the spurned New Zealand sculptor originally chosen to create the Sir Keith Park statue in Trafalgar Square quoted in the Sunday Star Times


Green walls come and go, red paint is rolled on and painted over, but in the world of art white walls rule. This powerful context was identified by Brian O’Doherty in his 1976 essay in which the white cube gives as much meaning to the art as the artworks themselves. For a while in the late 1980s there was an attempt to argue this context was in fact neutral, but it was always a lost cause. In New Zealand dealer galleries often started as reflections of the artist’s studio, the front room at home without the fireplace. Then came the two-room gallery that has evolved over the years and now can run to polished concrete floors, dockways and loft-like spaces. There’s a nice rhythm to it all. The shows go up, the shows come down and the walls are patched and rolled out white ready for the next one.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Branded: Lisa Crowley

The moment when artists become brands

Being private in the public service

Last year we asked Creative NZ to give us some background on their staff. We thought that knowing where they came from would help us get an idea of what expertise they brought with them. CNZ lurched into secretive mode and fobbed us off by saying that this sort of information invaded the privacy of their staff. If you go to the CNZ site it’s a bit like getting info from a prisoner of war: name, rank and responsibilities. So to date we are unable to discover how many of them came from the performing arts, how many have a dance background etc.

Compare this it’s-none-of-the-public’s-damn-business attitude to the way Te Papa handles the question of staff expertise. They believe that publicly paid positions are in the sphere of public information. So you want to know what sort of jobs the senior management team from Te Papa come from? Not a problem.

Acting Chief Executive: Michelle Hippolite - the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Collections and Research Group Director: Dr Claudia Orange - the Department of Internal Affairs
Experience Group Director: Mark Donovan - the National Aquarium Institute, Baltimore
Business Group Director: Andy Millard - Sport & Recreation
Corporate Services Group Director: Brighid Kelly - Telecom
Chief Financial Officer: Graeme Quinn - the Department of Corrections

And now you know.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

It's time to play the music. It's time to light the lights

Thanks again P, you're always in our thoughts

Friday, November 13, 2009

This week's mystery picture

For this week's mystery answer, go here on OTN Stuff

Drawn in

What the hell’s that scratchy sound? We’re walking past the City Gallery and it’s 11.30 pm. Turns out to be the sound track of videos playing in the outside foyer of the City Gallery, on view for anyone who walks past, 24/7. The twin videos broadcast from each side of the entrance is perfectly in tune with the work. Made in 2006 by Australian twins Silvana and Gabriella Mangano, it’s called If…so…then. Two black-clad figures make drawings on the walls behind each other in a synchronized personal choreography that seems both mysterious and touching. Literally touching in this case as they pursue each other through a set of complicated maneuvers that career from didactic to confrontational. In the advertising world they have a process that seeks to find that single word that encapsulates a complex event. They call it the single-minded proposition, an attempt to sum up the essence of what is being produced. For If…so…then we’d go for captivating. You can read David Cross's EYEcontact review of this and the other Mangano videos that are on show here.
Images: Silvana and Gabriella Mangano hard at work in the middle of the night

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The way ahead

A number of OTN readers have sent in headless sculptures. This one is in Ostkreuz an ex East German suburb of Berlin. (Thanks R)
The photograph is by Sibylle Bergemann and you can see more of her Berlin work here and information about her here.

Wake up call

The first exhibition at On The Table is Oubliette with Dan Arps, Campbell Patterson and Sriwhana Spong. The exhibition has been organised and curated by Michael Lett Auckland.

If you are in Wellington, there will be a chance to see the exhibition and meet the artists at the opening between 6pm and 8 pm on Thursday 19 November.

From then Oubliette will be open on Saturday and Sunday November 21-22 from 12 pm to 4 pm and for the last two days of the exhibition Saturday and Sunday November 28 and 29 from 12 pm to 4 pm at Level one, 6 College Street.

“So when things get too rough, your skin is dragging on the ground, and even down looks up, down look up, bad luck, we can show you a good time, show you a good time, and we don't charge nothin’, nothin' at all, just strut your nasty stuff, wiggle in the middle, get the town talking, by god, down with the wild gang...” – Firey lets loose in The Labyrinth

Anyone who wants to see the show at any other time should text 021 385527. And, if you are caught out with nothing to do, and want to see this post looks like on another site, go here.

Image: Campbell Paterson 59 minutes

Death by sculpture

Once in a while a movie with art as its subject is so abject that it demands to be featured on OTN. Jimmy Zip is such a movie. Bear in mind that the director/writer’s first feature was about a skateboarder named Orpheus and friends who go to Hell to stop television signals because they are brainwashing America, and read on.

Jimmy Zip and his Tourette's inflicted sculptor friend, makes art from leftovers in a car wrecker’s yard. What better way to make money and escape a crime lord than to sell said art in an uptown Mary Boone-type dealer gallery? The two front up, one all puppy dog enthusiasm, the other trailing a cloud of inappropriate language, and the dealer offers Jimmy and Tourettes-guy an instant exhibition, thanks to the quality of the work and some standover tactics by the CL. As the dealer explains to Jimmy, “Your patron set this up so that you got your show or my brains were going to be used to revive Abstract expressionism.” The boys are told to tux up, “It’ll add class to the opening,” and then stick out like sore thumbs among the well-suited, open-shirted clientele. There’s wine, and speeches and canapés City Gallery style and one of the open-shirted ones buys a sculpture for $6,000.

The kinetic sculptures in the movie were made by Peter Reiquam who has an MFA in sculpture from Yale (OMG). One of Reiquam’s more recent commissions was “a sculptural scale for weighing food waste in the dining hall of the Puget Sound Environmental Learning Center on Bainbridge Island.” He is also responsible for some Scott Burton lookalike chairs for a commuter rail station in Portland.

The epic ends with Zip burning the Crime Lord to a crisp in his car using one of his kinetic-slash-pyrotechnic sculptures. As EYEcontact’s John Hurrell might say, a lot to think about.

Images: Top to bottom, left to right. Top, the boys bring their work in for exhibition, game on. Middle, tink, tink, tink, “may I have your attention.”, tux talks to dealer. Bottom, collector tests the product, sculpture versus Crime Lord - sculpture 10, CL 0.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Art in adland

Woollaston, Hotere and McCahon unwittingly help the University of Otago pinch students from Wellington's Victoria and Massey Universities.
Image: University of Otago recruitment poster Victoria Street, Wellington


Massey University has been running its art school for nine years, so time for its graduates to have made some sort of mark. To look at the website you might be excused for thinking the mark is a little on the light side. On the art school’s site, of the four “success stories” highlighted the most recent graduated in 2003 (mind you, it looks like the success section was last updated about four years ago) and if the recent display by bachelor and post-graduate students is anything to go by, they’ll be lucky to have many more alumni to skite about.

Two definite possibilities are Bruno Francis-Stanton and Andy Palmer who both presented video works. The stand-out piece is by Palmer and is easy to miss as his installation is in a small room at the far end of Block 2. The work is a thoughtful and touching reflection on our memory and memorialisation of New Zealand’s scientific history. Palmer has the advantage of being older than most of the students and his work is free of the blatant idea-swiping that is a feature elsewhere. Watching Palmer speed read his way through a stack of science classics with bodice-ripper intensity, spotlights the science that made New Zealand rich and which we are so quick to shuck off in our new enthusiasm to all be creative souls.

Bruno Francis-Stanton’s work is a video in which we like to think he has had himself interviewed about his life, work, influences, inspirations etc etc. It’s strong on charm and personality and kept us watching to the end. Whether that is actually what the work is about is pure guesswork on our part but as there was no one around to give us any context on the two days we visited, but who’s to say otherwise?

From the evidence of the 2009 fine arts exhibition, the Massey teaching philosophy seems to be to get students to study an artist they admire and then reinterpret that artist’s ideas. As a result there are lots of Gregory Crewdson lookalikes, Mike Kelly is here, and so too is Cindy Sherman, Thomas Ruff would be flattered by the attention, Rohan Wealleans not so much. On the strength of what we saw Massey’s claim that it is spending its Government funding on the “latest and most innovative Fine Arts programme” doesn’t ring any bells that we can hear.
Images: Any Palmer power reading science

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nick Waterlow 1941-2009

We have just heard the terrible news that Australian curator Nick Waterlow and his daughter have been found dead in her Sydney apartment, along with her badly injured child. Police are currently investigating what they are describing as a savage double murder. Nick was a thoughtful and generous friend to many New Zealand artists, curators and writers over the years and included many New Zealanders in the four Sydney Biennales he curated. The impact of this horrible event on family and friends is unimaginable.

Advice to gallery directors

Next time the conservation department is whining on about how they need the latest Positron Reflector for the laboratory, refer them to the Huntington Museum who had The Blue Boy varnished in a covered outdoor plaza round the back of the building.
Image: The Blue Boy gets varnished al fresco by Mark Leonard, head of paintings conservation at the Getty Museum, and Tiarna Doherty.

The Price you pay

Mentioning Neil Dawson yesterday reminded us that while Kermit the Frog might well have thought it was not easy being green, try being a Wellington icon and see how you fare. Since its installation in 1998 Neil Dawson’s Ferns has suffered a number of indignities in the service of Wellington’s PR efforts. We have already posted a couple here and here. This time round Ferns gets a pair of Phil Price ears for its troubles or are they (please dear God no) arms? This forced collaboration is teetering on top of another image familiar to anyone who has followed Dawson’s work – the expanding ripple of a water droplet used in his 1987 work Ripples outside the Waikato Museum. To make matters worse design-wise, these images rise up in a spooky way from a phone that looks like it was designed by Barney Rubble. As they say, Wellington - Creative Capital.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Jaws 2

"I adore Larry Gagosian, but I always hear the theme music from Jaws playing in my head as he approaches."
Art collector Charles Saatchi on the über US art dealer in his book My name is Charles Saatchi and I'm an artaholic

Space cadets

On Thursday 19 November at 6PM Over The Net will open a new space to show art that doesn’t get seen very often in Wellington. Not sure how many shows there will be or how long they will run but our thinking at this stage is that shows will be open for a couple of weekends after an opening. We’ll also arrange to open up during the week if you text us. We will try to be as flexible as our lives allow.

We have set up a blog for the space called On The Table where you can read more and see what it looks like.

We’ll announce the first OTT exhibition later this week.

Four to one against

Neil Dawson once said that there is no such thing as a temporary outdoor sculpture. His point was that to survive at all temporary outdoor works had to be as secure, as well designed and as robust as permanent ones. The wind – as Neil himself once discovered to his cost – blows with the same strength on the temporary and permanent alike. This reality is one faced by the four plinth project outside Te Papa: an exposed site, a lot of foot traffic day and night and a big space to fill with not just one sculpture but four.

Bearing all this in mind, how would you expect four sculptures on four plinths to cost out? Did anyone come up with $6,250 each? That’s what we’re talking about for the next project which has been awarded to Ilam trained Wellington artist Peter Trevelyan. We’ve posted before about what an absurdly small amount of money is allocated for this large sculptural project. The first contender, Regan Gentry, sensibly opted for a work using cheap rugged materials (Number 8 fencing wire) in his homage to the popular hobby art of wire tree sculpture, but Peter Trevelyan is taking a different tack with his work Mimetic Brotherhood.

Film maker Stephen Spielberg famously claimed that his big lesson from making Jaws was to never again work with mechanical sharks and never shoot a film on water. The same might be said for mirrors and hydraulics in public sculpture. That Trevelyan can even consider making four hydraulically moving sculptures for $25,000 is extraordinary, but that each work is covered in mirrors and has to stay in motion for months on end ventures way beyond the usual demands placed on temporary outdoor sculpture. Let’s hope Trevelyan’s contract with the Wellington Sculpture Trust puts the replacement of mirror parts, the maintenance of the hydraulics and third party insurance on someone other than the artist.
Image: Bruce the hydraulic shark used in Jaws

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Smile it’s Saturday

From bullyscomics a round up of ML on comic book covers.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Art in the workplace

Art hard at work in the foyers of the world.

Cover story

Andy Warhol designed a few record covers in his time and they’ve been well documented in an exhibition and catalogue. Back in 1971 his most spectacular cover – for The Rolling Stones album Sticky Fingers – made it in all its full glory to New Zealand, zip and all. The record was pressed in New Zealand by His Masters Voice, on behalf of Atlantic Records, but the cover with its working zip appears to have been imported from the United States. The letter from Mick Jagger to Andy Warhol commissioning the cover comes via one of our favourite sites, letters of note. And that's what we call a commission.

As to who posed for the cover, it remains a mystery. Jagger was always a front-runner but the general consensus is that it was Warhol Super Star Joe Dallesandro. Whoever it was he was photographed by Billy Name and the cover designed by John Pasche who also designed the famous mouth logo that appeared for the first time on this album. You can see an image of our regrettably ripped version of the album here on OTN Stuff.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

look alike

Images: Top, Ronnie van Hout R.U.R. Bottom, Fantastic Comics

A Roundabout road show

Finding out what’s coming up in our public art museums is never easy. Although the Auckland Art Gallery lists upcoming shows through to June 2010 for most art institutions it remains our-little-secret. The section ‘coming soon’ is always empty on the Govett-Brewster web site and the City Gallery tends to announce its upcoming shows with press releases a month or so before they open (there was a rush of info yesterday about the three shows they are importing as part of the International Festival early next year - Pick, MrKusich and Cardiff - but that felt like it was on the Festival's clock rather than the one the City Gallery usually uses).

So for the rest of us it’s gossip, rumour and inspired guesswork. That’s why we suspect the City Gallery’s Heather Galbraith has been working on a Love show (In and out of love?) for the last couple of years and that a Crown Lynn survey is in the wings. It’s also the basis of OTN’s prediction that David Teplitzky’s indigenous art show Roundabout would start its global roaming at the City Art Gallery. That was a matter of someone seeing Teplitzky heading in to meet director Paula Savage and dropping OTN an email. OK, it’s only one step above the amoeba in terms of fact gathering but this time it worked. Yesterday personalised invitations announced that Roundabout will open at the City Gallery as its first venue on ‘a worldwide tour’ in September 2010.

Weirdly this invitation offers a chance to “exclusively preview” the City Gallery exhibition at Hotel de Brett in Auckland in November. So that you won’t spill the beans on what is in the show, the invitation makes it clear that “exclusive preview details ... should be treated in strict confidence.” Er, even for amoebas, much of the content of the exhibition is fairly well known. Teplitzky’s buying spree has attracted a fair bit of attention and upto halfway through last year a lot of the work was listed and pictured on the Roundabout website.

The invitation also makes it clear that a number of the “major and seminal pieces” are for sale. Maybe the confidentiality clause was sparked by concern that there could be changes in content between the de Brett’s Roundabout premier and the City Gallery launch.

Our curiosity raised by the C word (confidentiality), what we amoebas want to know is, given the possibility of sales to new owners who may not want to lend, is the City Gallery show going to have all the seminal works from the de Brett's opening? For that you would need the de Brett's exhibition list.

Images: Top, the City Gallery announcement on the Hotel de Brett’s invitation Bottom left, the current image on the Roundabout site. Right, the original Roundabout logo featuring some of the works in the collection including those by Shane Cotton and John Pule. (click on image to enlarge)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Look alike

Images: Left John Baldessari’s Throwing three balls in the air to get a straight line (best of thirty six attempts) 1973 (detail of one attempt). Right, picture from front page of Tuesday’s Dominion Post.

The bucket list

The idea that a picture is worth a thousand words obviously passed Victoria University’s Marketing Department by. In the end of year rush of university advertising (tell us again why the Minister of Tertiary Education allows universities to spend mega bucks on advertising to poach students from other city's universities?) Victoria is going for sophistication.

The study of art they propose is a doorway to theatres, drama, thought meeting inspiration and so forth. And the inspirational art image in the background? The Bucket Fountain in Cuba Mall.

“Idea meets world.”

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Listen up

Listen in to the National programme around 11.45 am on Wednesday and you’ll get to hear Best of 3’s Courtney Johnson with her first report on the arts. This week she steps inside the art truck.


“I’m always challenging the role of the curator itself.”

“I have a preoccupation in my work with loss and absence.”

“I was planning to bring over Pipilotti Rist and now you tell me we don’t have the funds to stay open Saturdays?!”

Things curators say. From Art Women: A Guide to Museum Women by Polly Frost in identity theory


Frames help tell us that paintings are art. As Frank Zappa put it, without one “You can’t tell where the art stops and the real world begins.” The F in frame also stands for fashion. In the seventies stripping frames off old paintings became a museum passion. Modernism’s love of simplicity and objection to decoration helped, as did formal abstraction’s appreciation of the edges of the canvas and the authenticity of paintings as objects. Frames didn’t have a chance. The best they could hope for was standing in for past glories as a thin sliver of aluminium as for a time no frame was the best frame. In New Zealand Colin McCahon caught the fever, famously declaring, “ I’m finished with frames and all they imply.” Museum storerooms took on the look of local mints with gold frames stacked in piles. Times change. Now, once again, lavish gold frames are crafted specially to highlight the works in museum and private collections. Noland, Kelly and Ryman are probably safe for the twenty-first century but in the world of framing, the gold standard never really goes away. “If I spit, they will take my spit and frame it as great art.” - Picasso

Monday, November 02, 2009

The score

in october we: pointed at the porcelain • counted dealers • lusted for life • constructed a word cloud for cnz • worried about the warrior • put up our best post title ever • announced fake paintings were on the water • used dali and a rhino as off-course substitutes

The play’s the thing

One of the problems with installations, no matter how good they are, is that their scale often makes it unlikely you’ll get to see them again. The two photographs were taken during Stuart McKenzie’s play Biography of my skin, a one person show performed by his wife Miranda Harcourt - well two person as it turned out. The image on the screen behind Miranda is a film clip from the 1993 one hander Verbatim starring Miranda and devised by her and writer William Brandt. The set and props for Verbatim, a range of blonded items and a large text banner “if”, which you can also see on the screen, were created by an et al member, Marlene Cubewell. While the installation has probably seen its last outing we’re told it is still intact.

Stuart and Miranda have collaborated with a number of artists over the years. Portraits had four Ronnie van Hout photographs as the main elements of the set, and Billy Apple designed the audience seating every night the play was performed in Auckland. In Flowers from my mother’s garden (1998) photographs by Robin Neate were projected on the large screens that were an integral part of the set.

In theatre the striking of sets and moving onto the next production is second nature. In the visual arts it still feels like a loss.

Images: Miranda Harcout performing in Biography of my skin with et al's set for Verbatim featured on the screen behind her. Biography of my skin was performed at Downstage theatre from 9 to 31 October