Sunday, December 27, 2009

Where the hell are they now?

We will be in Bangladesh for a while and won't be posting, so no OTN until around 25 Jan. We will finish off the Saturday serial but that's pretty much it. Have a great New Year. If you sign up to our RSS feed in the right hand column of the blog you will get our first post next year automatically.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Saturday serial: Part 4

Click on image to enlarge, Part 5 next week

Friday, December 25, 2009

When good sculpture turns bad

Happy Christmas from OTN

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas greetings

To animal artists everywhere.

By the numbers

Creative NZ has put the number of people visiting the Francis Upritchard and Judy Millar exhibitions in Venice at 114,000 –around 31% of the total number of people (375,000) to visit the Biennale. The NZ Herald has claimed the full 114,000 for Judy Millar, but we suspect this is just Super-City talk and that the numbers were split between the two venues at around 57,000 each. However you cut it, it’s a lot. For example, it’s 30% more than the Irish pavilion (in the same building used by et al. in 2007) that attracted 40,000 visitors. We tried to get numbers for previous years of NZ Venice exhibitions for comparison, but they seem to have vanished from the Googlesphere. We couldn’t even find them in the report on Venice commissioned by CNZ. It would also be interesting to know the split between Upritchard and Millar visitation, so if anyone is keen to dig around over the holiday season and uncovers the numbers, let us know.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

One more for the road

Call it the Zeitgeist, call it a design fad or call it a whole lot of circles with details of art in them, it looks like something weird is going on. The Dunedin Art Gallery joins the dots with the recently published book on its collection.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Looks like Richard Killeen's imagery has been taken into the culture like Gordon Walters before him.
Image: Advert in yesterday's Dompost

Romancing Maria

Kinetic sculptures are the bane of public art museums with their I-won’t-start engines and is-that-metal-fatigue-I–see-before-me? fractures. Install one of these ADHD sculptures outdoors and you are talking repair to the power of ten. In Wellington – where we pitch sculptors up against winds that are world famous – there is a predictable ongoing repair cost for a bourgeoning family of outdoor works. The proposed amount to keep things spinning, turning and swaying on cue for 2007-08 was $50,000 (but that was the estimate made in 2003, the last time the Wellington City Council updated its Asset Management Plan for outdoor public sculpture).

Of course Andrew Drummond’s whirling windo-metre Tower of Light has suffered more from vandals breaking its coloured neons than the wind busting its ball bearings, as has Len Lye’s Waterwhirler which has been bent out of shape at least once by human intervention. Recently Phil Price’s work Zephyrometer has needed work and Leon Van den Eijkel’s Urban Forest has only recently returned from the repair shop to spin again (and that neatly segues into the lookalike that sparked this post). One sculpture that has made peace with the weather and people of Wellington is Kon Dimopoulos‘s Pacific Grass, clumps of rods that sensibly bend and sway with the wind.

Image Leon Van den Eijkel’s Urban Forest restored and a look alike in transit.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The gloved one

Back in May we posted on art gallery staff and the use of gloves to protect art work. So good to see the Italian tax police following museum procedure when they seized works hidden in an attic by Calisto Tanzi, who embezzled 800 million Euros from Parmalat a dairy company he founded.

Happy Happy Xmas

If you’re looking for multiple gifts for Christmas there is no shortage of choice. For $850 you can snap up Reuben Paterson’s Moustache Glass (half a dozen crystal wine glasses with attached whiskers) from Gow Langsford. Michael Lett still has copies of the Michael Parekowhai book - a stunning 600 pages of pics with a strap-on essay by Justin Paton that nicely segues into Objectspace’s offering of Glove Compartment. This limited edition of 10 bags by Vita Cochrane is available for $950. At Artspace the latest in a long list of multiples is Pukapuka Tohunga Mahi Toi a 240-page book with pressed objects by Daniel Knorr. Yours for $200, or for $150 you can pick up one of Pae White’s gorgeous letters A-Z at Sue Crockford.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Saturday serial: Part 3

Click on image to enlarge, Part 4 next week

Friday, December 18, 2009

When scupture turns bad

The Dompost reports on a car hitting a Chris Booth lookalike at the Carlucci Land scupture park in Wellington.

Famous people in front of art

Number 2: Woody Allen


reckless guesswork, insinuations and possible inventions that have turned up in otn's email: francis upritchard is to exhibit in vienna’s secession (gasp for air) • mark amery is to leave playmarket and freelance (cross fingers) • tara banks paid a special visit to michael parekowhai’s show at michael lett (squeal) • there is no father christmas (lip tremble) • sriwhana spong has been selected for the statements section of art basel (applause) • te papa has called it quits on its obscurely located sculpture court (sigh) • peter mcleavey is to show nick austin and andrew barber (omg) • chances of roundabout showing at the city gallery not good (raise eyebrow) • cnz to drop art-form categories for grants (say what?) • ivan anthony purchases karen walker’s house in west auckland (grudging respect) • rohan wealleans, jason greig, shane cotton, fiona pardington, reuben paterson and julia morrison are around half the artists selected for the sydney biennale (pause for reflection) and it’s not the welshman for te papa (groan) • any missed details, changes to outright lies, indignant denials or embellishments gratefully received and the best of them generously rewarded.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mark it

Rothko is clearly d├ęcor du jour on American TV this year. Lookalike fans will remember the Rothko-like-product we spotted in Mad Men. Now we’ve caught another "Rothko", this time hanging in Ari’s new offices in Entourage.


There’s a story in the biography of Lord Duveen – the fabled Edwardian art dealer – that has him guiding a collector down a red velvet lined hall to the furthest recesses of his gallery. As they passed a door slightly ajar they saw, bathed in light, a jewel-like painting by Fra Angelico. The collector is entranced and begs to have a closer look. Duveen laid his arm across the collector’s shoulder and cooed, “No, no. You’re not ready for that yet.” 

Welcome to the world of the inner sanctum. Every dealer has one, the place where all the good stuff is stored and deals are done. Even at art fairs, where desks and databases are in full view, secret white on white doors open into tiny sanctums just big enough for a couple of collectors with room to close the door and the deal. 

And then of course there is the inner-inner sanctum.
Illustration: Pippin Barr

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The gathering

“I don’t trust curators who don’t live with art, I want to be surrounded by it all the time.”
Eric Shiner, curator at The Andy Warhol Museum

No pressure

The Walters Prize selection team have no doubt been roaming up and down the country on the look out for “outstanding contributions to the visual arts over the last two years.” The kick off point for the next prize is, as best we can work out, March 2008 and will close around February 2010. So any “outstanding contribution’ made within that time frame is eligible.

Here’s our pick from what’s happened so far.
Michael Parekowhai’s astonishing exhibition The moment of Cubism at Michael Lett. It’s still on so no excuses.
Alicia Frankovich has been impressive over the period, particularly in her series of performances at Artspace in May this year.
Simon Denny must be in there with his Quodibet show at Daniel Buchholz’s gallery in Cologne.
Fiona Connor for her Gambia Castle show Notes on half the page and of course Something transparent (please go round the back) at Michael Lett.
Dane Mitchell has made an impression over the past couple of years especially with his appearance at last year’s Basel Art Fair with Starkwhite.

Then, on top of all this, there are the artists who have done great work over the last two years who have already either won the prize (can you win it more than once, like an Olympic Gold medal?) or been runners-up or – as in Peter Robinson’s case – both.

et al. That’s obvious! That’s right! That’s True at the Christchurch Art Gallery, Peter Robinson’s Snow blind at the Govett-Brewster and Ronnie van Hout’s knock-out exhibition Hold that thought at Hamish McKay in October last year.

Tough choice Walters Prize guys.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Art in the workplace

Art, hard at work in the foyers of the world.

Andy is Randy

As lookalike central we've kept an eye out for multiple Warhols. Here’s the latest break-out: Randy Harrison as the silver wigged one in the musical Pop! Today it’s playing at the Yale Repertory Theater in New Haven, tomorrow who knows.
Images: Left Randy Harrison as Andy. Right, from the left, Odine (Doug Kreeger), Gerard Malanga (Danny Binstock), Candy Darling (Brian Charles Rooney) and Randy again. Photo: Joan Marcus

Monday, December 14, 2009

Thomas Hoving 1928 - 2009

The man you can thank for the advertising banners outside Te Papa, the late night entertainments at the Auckland Museum, the invitation of Te Maori to the Metropolitan in 1984 and the focus on entertainment by so many of today’s museums, died last week. Thomas Hoving all but invented the museum blockbuster and although he had left the Metropolitan Museum by the Time Te Maori showed up, his spirit was still presiding over the box office. As director of one of the greatest museums in the world, Hoving swung the limelight away from curators and researchers and onto the announcement and display of spectacular purchases, crowd thrilling exhibitions and media stunts. He called his memoir Making the mummies dance and that’s exactly what he did. The Metropolitan is now steering a somewhat more sedate course, but like them or not, most museums and art galleries throughout the world (including our own) are children of Hoving's style.


The Taste: food and feasting in art exhibition currently showing at the Auckland Art Gallery isn’t subtle. It’s the sort of show you put together by feeding taste-related words into the collection database. “How about ‘fruit’? Let’s try ‘eat’ and ‘meat.’ What do we get with ‘dine’?” Given the small amount of space the Gallery has available until mid-2011 when the major rebuilding is completed (that’s at least another 18 months), you’d think the plan would be to make a serious effort with smart, credible exhibitions that build its reputation as New Zealand’s leading art institution rather than undercut it. And what's with entry to this exhibition (mostly from the collection) costing $7.50 while the more substantial collection show Picturing History downstairs is free?

Still, we coughed up only to find art and life weirdly merge as we sat down to watch the Ed Ruscha early seventies video Premier. The soundtrack was disrupted by a high-pitched and insistent electronic alarm beeping which was definitely not part of the work. Nearby was an open door, and through it we could see a small table with a plate of biscuits. ‘Taste!’ we thought and checked it out. As we approached we could also hear the clanking of knife and fork which we traced to a guard eating his lunch. We asked if he could turn off the door alarm. Without looking up from his meal he said, “I’m working on it.” Turned out he meant his salad.

Meanwhile, up on K-Road we saw a work made from Raro and spit at Artspace and a bronze lemon tree at Michael Lett, two works that escaped the Taste net. The artists Campbell Patterson and Michael Parekowhai are no doubt relieved.

Image: staff room as installation

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Saturday serial: Part 2

Click on image to enlarge, Part 3 next week

Friday, December 11, 2009

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.

Vote National

When Hamish Keith opens Francis Pound’s new book The invention of New Zealand, let’s hope someone has the foresight to scatter pillows at his feet because he may well faint dead away. Anyone who lived through the brouhaha surrounding the publication of Pound’s first book Frames on the land – famously described by Keith as a ‘slim pink volume’ which has to be a word play up there with Rob Muldoon’s suggestion that Bill Rowling was ‘a shiver looking for a spine to run up’ – will remember the harsh words flung between the Internationalist and the nationalists.

Gordon Brown and Hamish Keith’s book New Zealand painting had held the floor since 1969 and it was a big target starting its coverage in 1839 and running all the way through to the end of the sixties. There was harsh New Zealand light, there were unique forms of landscape and there were arrivals and departures asking the question whether a true New Zealand artist had to live in the country. The national/ international dispute flared up again when the exhibition Headlands opened at the MCA in Sydney. Here the curators dared hang internationalist Gordon Walters with nationalists Para Matchitt and Sandy Adsett in an ‘inside out’ argument and among the deeply offended was Francis Pound.

Now Pound has come up with a book that centralises proto-nationalist Colin McCahon (47 illustrations and 124 page references). Milan Mrkusich barely gets a mention (only two illustrations and 22 page references) and Walters is strangely positioned as the not-a-koru-painter (20 illustrations of abstract Walters to three koru works).

It’s a substantial book and Pound is very gracious about the contribution of his old adversaries Brown and Keith, using their book as the clearest articulation of Nationalism ideology and the triumphant ending to his story. Well nearly the end, after some Walters and Killeen talk, it’s over to Shane Cotton, Michael Parekowhai and Peter Robinson. The more things change etc. etc.

Image: the Pound book packaged with safety device

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Simply the best

Continuing our interest in living sculptures, this one in Tokyo.

Go figure

It's nearly Christmas, so let's go shopping. The Van Gogh Action Figure with replaceable head also comes with an easel painting of your choice. And, for that special someone, there's nothing to stop you putting on a GI Joe head to create your own 21st Century Action Painter.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Animal farm

"Seeing an art fair for me is like getting a guided tour of a slaughter house."
American artist Chuck Close


Since we last left him, Pointless and Absurd's David Cauchi has finished his first year's season in Massey with straight As. In the very entertaining show Cauchi entertained his fellow students (“I faced away from them, dropped my pants, and read my presentation”), leaked like a sieve (“I had a couple of amusing meetings with tutors yesterday. One of them said the problem with talking to me was that a couple of days later there'd be a blog post about an earnest lecturer talking bullshit over a cup of tea”), and never hesitated to take a contrary position (“I did my presentation lying on my back on the floor”). You can read David's account of the year here.

Will Massey sign Cauchi up for another season? In his interview for a year's post-graduate diploma course, Head of School Jeremy Dingle told Cauchi he needed to “conform if he is to be accepted for another year.” Game on. Pointless and Absurd? Not a bit of it.

Image: Our hero gears up for season 2

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Art is where you find it

Coffee and paint, paint and coffee

By the numbers: International edition

1    The number of pavilions the Vatican is planning for the 2011 Venice Biennale

1.04    The number of US dollars in millions embezzled by the former financial director of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

13    The estimated amount in billions of US dollars lost to the art market in the last 12 months

3,300    The number of Hong Kong students it took to make the world’s largest recorded finger painting

375,000    The number of people who visited this year’s Venice Biennale

17,500,000    The purchase cost in US dollars per Elvis in the sale of Andy Warhol’s 1963 painting Eight Elvises

184,000,000    The estimated value in US dollars of Madonna’s art collection in 2008

Image: Early concept sketch for Vatican pavilion
sources: Economist, Times, NYT, Artforum, Artfino

Monday, December 07, 2009

What Te Papa did

Below are the art objects that Te Papa purchased in the last financial year as listed in its 2008-2009 annual report. You can download the report here and find the full list beginning on page 87.

Paintings – New Zealand
2 x Colin McCahon
3 x Darryn George
1 x Jeffrey Harris
1 x John Backhouse
1 x Reuben Paterson
2 x Judy Millar
2 x Simon Morris
1 x Geoff Thornley
Paintings- International
1 x Cedric Morris
Works on paper – New Zealand
1 x Lois White
Works on paper- International
2 x anon
1 x Daniel Hopfer
1 x Niccolo Vicentino
1 x Anthony Gross
Contemporary art
1 x Peter Robinson
Sculptures and decorative forms
2 x Chiara Corbelletto
1 x Brett Graham
1 x Francis Upritchard
14 x Warwick Freeman
6 x Malcolm Harrison
1 x Para Matchitt
1 x Michael Parekowhai
1 x James Greirg
11 x John Parker
Installations – New Zealand
1 x Maddie Leach
Photographs - New Zealand
2 x Gavin Hipkins
1 x Peter Peryer
1 x Les Cleveland
1 x Yvonne Todd
6 x Laurence Aberhart
1 x Neil Pardington
7 x Fiona Pardington
1 x Greg Semu
4 x John Pascoe
3 x Ben Cauchi
1 x Wayne Barrar
4 x Darren Glass
5 x Megan Jenkinson
1 x Frank Coxhead
1 x Raoul Sunday Bell
4 x Anne Noble
1 x Marti Friedlander
1 x Ann Shelton
4 x Edith Amituanai
1 x Ruth Watson
1 x Giovanni Intra
5 x Mary Macpherson
Photographs – International
1 x Edward Weston
2 x William Mortensen
1 x Larry Clark
1 x J Davis
1 x Malcolm Ross
7 x pages from books with woodcut illustrations

Foreign devils

What is it about the rest of the world the Dominion Post doesn’t understand? With well over a million New Zealanders living overseas, the internet tying us all together, and New Zealanders’ passion for travel, you might wonder why the Dom labels Te Papa’s prospective Welsh director a Foreigner first and foremost. Part of it will be the newspaper’s desperation to hold its circulation, a task they have put on the shoulders of kids eating ice creams and crime reports. The other thread that makes its intense provincialism possible in this case is Te Papa’s own reluctance to play a part in the larger world we live in.

Our Place should have stood for Our Place in the world but has instead narrowed to our place as in our backyard. That’s why in the most recent list of Te Papa’s 106 art purchases over the last year, only one painting, five works on paper and six photographs came from outside New Zealand. Te Papa’s made-in-New Zealand policy extends into the rest of the collections. In its purchasing category International History and Culture there were only four items purchased last year. Maybe a “foreigner” is just the thing to turn this around.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Saturday serial: part 1

Click on image to enlarge, Part 2 next week

Friday, December 04, 2009

Nose job

This week, at the Art Basel Miami Beach, curators waited to unpack a crate from Mexico that contained Gonzalo Lebrija’s sculpture Black Marlin. It was to be installed as though it had plunged nose-first into the top of a building, but when lid was removed they found the fish’s head had been lopped off. Turned out that the carrier had transshipped to a smaller truck and when the full-length fish wouldn’t fit they did what any self-respecting art carrier would do and shortened the load. A bit of spot welding restored the work, Relations with the trucking company remain rocky. 
 What's in that crate # 2:  Black Marlin by Gonzalo Lebrija
Image: Reconstruction by OTN, story via The Art Newspaper

A Bob each way

One of the strangest appearances of art in a movie surely took place in Vanilla Sky directed by Cameron Crowe. Ok, the fact that Monet’s The Seine at Argenteuil turns up in Tom Cruise’s pad isn’t so remarkable (the title of the film is based on the colouring of the sky in this kind of Monet painting), and Van Gogh’s Wheat Field with Cypresses in the living room must be on loan from the National Gallery in London (oh the power of the rich), but casting Robert Rauschenberg as the hard-nosed father is something else altogether. Rauschenberg doesn’t personally appear (not in real time anyway), but he does have the movie listed as one of his movie credits. Confused?

The thing is Robert Rauschenberg appears as himself, but a young self. Crowe uses vintage sixties film of the artist and intercuts it into the film as flash-backs of Tom’s Dad. Other art? There’s a giant Chuck Close-like (sorry Chuck) painting of Rauschenberg that pops up in the living room and, curiously, a painting by Joni Mitchell.

Images: Top, Robert Rauschenberg in the flesh as Tom’s dad, on the cover of Dad’s book and on display in the house. Bottom left, Van Gogh in the living room, right, Cruise and Cruz peruse the Monet.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Art in the workplace

Art, hard at work in the foyers of the world.


Left, the fingerprint maze at Hove Park in the UK. Right, Te Papa reaches for a strange metaphor and uses its logo to represent the Te Papa experience maze-wise. Click on image to see lost souls trapped in Te Marae.

Other Te Papa fingerprint stories:
That's my thumb by gum. read
Footprints. read

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Perfect storm

" I do like it when I get a commission where everybody is on song, the idea is received with open arms, the execution is spot on, and the price is right and the client goes bonkers when they unwrap."
Dick Frizzell reveals the secret to commissioning art to the Dom Post

Your tax dollars at work

The latest round of CNZ grants are out and the Visual Arts continue their slow drift from the mother lode. Within the 11.3% of the total allocated to the visual arts, publishing is the new black and institutions, with their admin staff, continue to streak past solo artists in the paper assault required to win grant money. You can see who got what here.

Amount allocated to all artforms $2,284,080
Average amount requested across all artform projects $30,240
Average amount granted across all artform projects $24,300
Average amount granted to visual arts projects $21,500 

Percentage of total grants allocated to visual arts 11.3%
Percentage of total grants allocated to performing arts 41%
Number of Visual Arts grants with artists’ names attached 6
Number of those artists who were female 1

Percentage of Visual Arts grants given to publications 41%
Percentage of Visual Arts grants given to Australian institutions 30%

Image: Old gold mine seen from a distance

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

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.


Hang on. Most art makes physical connections and most of those are with the human body. Physically lifting a painting or moving a sculpture tells you a lot about its place in the world. As curators and artists are firmly ushered out of the exhibition design, hanging and installation process, many exhibition hangs have more to do with abstract design concepts than with the effect of one artwork physically relating to another.

Hang it all. Another effect of curators being separated from the physical side of hanging is the everything-that-will-fit-on-the-wall exhibition. Removed from the physical reality of hanging, curators end up pulling together as many works as they can find on their theme and passing them over to technicians and designers to fit them into the space allocated by management.

Hang ‘em high. See above. Welcome back Academy hang.

Hang about. And whatever happened to our ability to hang things straight? In some cities that knowledge is being lost like the language of a threatened tribe. The professional installer holds the knowledge like a witch doctor, the last person left in the village who can make the paintings in private collections hang in a straight line.

Well hung. Don’t go there.