Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saturday serial

Ok, enough is enough. If the kids want to find out what happens to Ernie and Co after this they can go here.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Brick work

Since we featured them back in March 2007, the Escher LEGO team have been hard at work. You can see how they create their LEGO lookalikes by following the links below. Click on the image to get an enhanced brick-by-brick viewing.

Yes, Minister

It’s not often that speeches at art openings do anything much other than send you to sleep and make you wish you’d grabbed a chair or at least a window sill to sit on. Not the case last night at Te Papa when the acting CEO of Te Papa, Michelle Hippolite, the chair of the Arts Council and the Minister for Arts Culture and Heritage all did the unthinkable in launching the exhibition New Zealand at the Venice Biennale 2009. Hippolite kicked off by alluding to the Venice works of Francis Upritchard and Judy Millar as Taonga. Alastair Carruthers did something even more unusual: he talked knowledgably about his personal experience of the work. Then the Minister, not to be outdone, showed he both understood the arts and was prepared to stand up and be counted. Not only did he stand solidly behind et al. who was treated so abysmally during their Venice tour, but he also made it clear that the ongoing New Zealand presence in Venice was now ‘to be taken as a given’. Sounds great. We’ll hold you to it.
Images: Left, Frances Upritchard's Save Yourself now available at Te Papa in a brilliant white cube version. Right Judy Millar's Giraffe-Bottle-Gun now recreated at Te Papa.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

All the pretty pie charts

Our three main art schools line up their academic staff for the year.

What’s in that crate?

This time it's ten tonnes of ice entombing a 500K bronze skeleton of a Polar bear. Very LOST. The boxed ice is being landed in Copenhagen to be carved into a meta-metaphor for the disastrous Climate Change Conference by Mark Coreth who calls himself ‘a master sculptor of animals in motion’. Coreth is considered, by those in the know, to be the successor of supremo animal artist Rembrandt Bugatti the younger brother of the famous car manufacturer. The ice bear project, which culminates in the bear melting away to reveal its bronze bones in a puddle of water, was also staged in London’s Trafalgar Square.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why Pop Art died

This interview with James Rosenquist from Bloomberg.

Kazakina: Sounds like you have a lot of famous friends.

Rosenquist: It is fun to know the top people. Catherine Zeta-Jones gave me three wet kisses recently.

: That’s pretty hot.

Rosenquist: It’s amazing how you meet people through other people. I knew a racecar driver, Stefan Johansson, who was very hot. He introduced me to Jean Todt. He introduced me to a French doctor. He introduced me to a French architect who redid the Louvre with I.M. Pei. He introduced me to Daniel Boulud.

Kazakina: Is he a good friend?

Rosenquist: I had my knees replaced and I am in the hospital. Daniel calls me and says, “Jim, what are you doing there?” I said, “Oh, man, I am starving.” He says, “I fix that.” He sent over gourmet lunches and gourmet suppers. The chocolate desserts I gave to the nurses. They all loved me.

Kazakina: Does he own a painting of yours?

Rosenquist: No he doesn’t. But I am going to give him something some day. That’s the way it goes. 

Other OTN stories that pick on James Rosenquist:
Singapore blues

Letter to Lucy

This letter sent in 1971 from artist Nancy Spero to activist and writer Lucy Lippard comes via the wonderful blog Letters of note.

Concrete poetry

We once joined an artist in the basement of the City Gallery while he was inspecting his work before it was sent off to Germany in 1995 for the exhibition Cultural Safety. The basement was a classic hard-core raw concrete space and would have been perfect for installations and performances. At the time it was being used for registering artwork coming in and out of the Gallery and was later leased to the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (or whatever it was called at the time) to store works they had repatriated from their embassies around the world. When the latest City Gallery building programme got underway it included earthquake strengthening and MFAT was asked to leave the space temporarily, a decision we understand that has now been made permanent. All this raises the possibility of the basement, or parts of it, being used for art that is less polite than is usually shown at the gallery (the muddy installation Morphic Resonance by Hany Armanious, Australia's selection for the next Venice Biennale, being a stunning exception). Now the Hirschfeld has been whitecubed, a tougher, more adaptable space is just what the City Gallery needs.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Channel surfing #1

High in the hills of Wellington at the Southern Landfill, the staff of the Second Treasure recycling shop channel Martin Kippenberger.


If French philosophers were want to scrap among themselves, you’d never have known it in mid-1980s New Zealand where they were lined up like collegial lead soldiers to marshal deconstructive arguments into order. The French connection also brought with it bemusing language that, far away from France, prompted essays headlined by pithy titles like Further toward a deconstruction of phallic univocality: deferrals, without so much as a hint of irony. So, a thought for Jean-Francois Lyotard who (ironically) had a particular aversion to generalities. And while we’re at it, a moment please for Jean Baudrillard, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault who, through no fault of their own, helped make New Zealand art writing almost impenetrable for around 20 years or so.
Illustration: Pippin Barr

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lookalike: vegetable division

A reader sent this in as a lookalike for Bill Hammond's Waiting for Buller series.(thanks P.... we think)

Andy Warhol

It was 23 years ago today that Andy Warhol died for the second time in New York hospital after routine surgery. He had already died once before after his shooting by Valerie Solanas in 1968. Today his headstone, like on most days, will no doubt have a Campbell's soup can resting on it, placed there by a fan. Jim gets whiskey, Andy gets soup.

Some other OTN posts on Andy Warhol
Andy on the fly
Andy withdrawn
Andy covered
Andy duplicated

Open Mike

Over the years the amount of insider info (ok gossip) reaching OTN has increased dramatically. Our position has always been that good news (or bad news for that matter) isn’t for the select few and everyone should know everything. That’s why most of what we hear comes your way. Occasionally, though, we are told something before we have a chance to state our no-confidentiality policy and we hold the bus. That’s why we didn’t pass on last week the terrific news that Michael Parekowhai has been chosen by CNZ as New Zealand’s next representative at the Venice Biennale. But, as the news is now all round Wellington, being emailed from Auckland and yesterday from Sydney, there’s no reason why the South Island should be kept in the dark.

So far we haven’t heard if a public art museum is to be associated with the project as in the past, but there is word that a curator will not be appointed. Well, that's always been a strange role to couple with a single artist on a mission so it’s unlikely to be missed. Let’s hope, in what seems to be a new and very decisive approach by CNZ that they will also drop what Selwyn Muru used to call haka boogie woogie, a feature of previous Venice promotions.

If anyone has any doubts as to Parekowhai’s ability to knock ‘em dead in Italy, go here

Image: Photoshop was 20 years old on Saturday, happy birthday dear Photoshop... happy birthday to you.

Other posts we've called Open Mike:
Rafting news with Mike Stevenson
Mike Parr on Cockatoo Island
Whoops, Mike Stevenson again

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Saturday serial

Who says OTN doesn't do enough for young people? 
To dampen down the growing unrest, here's a four week Saturday serial for kids.
Thanks R


Friday, February 19, 2010

If I could talk to the animals

Author Javier Marias discusses Babe and animal art in general.

"I was happy to watch it for a while, it was less demanding than Shakespeare and the little pig was a great actor, I wondered if perhaps he had been nominated for an Oscar that year, but I doubt he would have won; I would buy it on DVD for Marina, who, having been born later, might not have seen it. I was just considering the sad fate of actors - anyone can do their job, children and dogs, elephants, monkeys and pigs, but, so far, no one has found an animal capable of composing music or writing a book; although, of course, that depends on how strict you are with your definition of animal."

Javier Marias, Your face tomorrow volume 3

The museum with the hole in the middle

Nature and museum directors abhor a vacuum. Always on the look out for a void to fill, they contrive dome projects, window installations, entrance enhancements - you know the sort of thing. When it comes to voids no one has a better one than the Guggenheim, famously crafted by the great American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. We’ve posted on the Guggenheim more than a couple of times and here are some new ways to look at its extraordinary space via a current exhibition called Contemplating the void. A number of artists, designers and architects were asked to propose an installation to feature the foyer surrounded by Wright’s corkscrew gallery.
Images: From top left, Josephine Meckseper, Saunders Architecture, Anish Kapoor and Neil M Denari Architects

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Mr Tap does Michael Parekowhai

Walk with me

Our post on the corridor of hell at Auckland’s International airport prompted a few of our readers to point us to the visualisations for New Zealand’s presence at Expo 2010 Shanghai. Expos in the past were usually places where as a nation we attempted to put our best cultural foot forward. OK, time makes some of those efforts feel a little misguided but during their moment there was a conviction that artists had an important role to play in expressing who we were. Think Susan Skerman’s bush walk of silk screened sheets of Vilene (the stuff that stiffens collars on shirts) for Osaka in 1970, the exhibition of paintings included in World Expo 88 in Brisbane and the ceramic show Treasures of the underworld for Seville Expo ‘92.

All this was pre-Te Papa and the age of ‘story telling’ and the concept for Shanghai 2010 shows how far we’ve come. Called Better City, Better Life, the proposal explains how it will use “visual projections, graphics and lighting.” All this seems very much in the Te Papa mode - photographic images and generic icons like the façade of a Colonial house – which is not surprising given that a number of the people involved also helped create Te P’s Golden Days display (still doing its thing ten years on). 

The real culprit in Better City, Better Life (the rat fink that is also strangling contemporary photography) is the light box. Who ever it was who first thought of putting a photograph in front of a fluorescent light may have invented a killer app for advertising, but also helped drain creativity out of the display business. 

Image: Behind an ‘iconic’ façade a light box complete with gold frame attempts to live in the best of both worlds in the visualisation for the New Zealand pavilion at Expo 2010 Shanghai.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Art in the workplace

Art at work in the foyers of the world

What they don’t know won’t hurt them

A while back we posted about artists heading off shore to exploit their brands in the secluded havens of foreign markets. Movie stars have done it for years and before the internet mostly got away with advertising unappetizing items like booze and fags far from the critical eyes of the home crowd. In Singapore we recently saw another spin on what you might get away with.

Always on the lookout for foyer art we chanced on a pair of the biggest, and possibly ugliest, paintings by James Rosenquist ever and, to top it off, they were tarted up with the gold frames from hell. Had Rosenquist pulled that sort of stunt in New York he probably would have been laughed out of the piazza, but installed in the Far East the Rosenquist reputation was safe. He wasn’t the only one to trust in the adage out of sight, out of mind. Nearby in the courtyard a Roy Lichtenstein sculpture awkwardly looped around the space wishing it had never left the studio.
Images: Left James Rosenquist going for gold at the height of the madness in 1985. Right Roy Lichtenstein brush strokes randomly swooping around the square

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


A reader we won’t even bother to identify, has sent in this image as an example of an art photographer ape. As most of you know, we have already been sent a snail holding a piece of twig in its mouth as an example of an artist snail wielding a brush, and now this. What next? A couple of guys in a panto horse-suit making sculpture? This is clearly someone in a monkey suit, and a movie actor at that.

Hold the bus

Creative New Zealand, or as it is now referred to in Ministerial releases “the Arts Council (also known as Creative New Zealand)” is to dump its many councils and committees and go back to its original form. That’s what you get when you have a minister with a working (he was chair of the arts board way back) knowledge of bureaucracy. So now 13 people on one board will make the decisions it currently takes 28 to handle. In a Tui’s moment the Dominion reported that this rejigging will not mean a reduction in AC (formally known as CNZ) staff. You can read the Minister’s release here.

Waikato Museum rubbishes Mitchell installation

Even if you find contemporary art totally compelling there is always a niggling doubt that some of the people who use it to advance their careers and the odd institution don’t really get it. An obvious case is the art auction where artists are asked to donate art works worth thousands of dollars – way above the amount any of these organisations would dare suggest ordinary punters contribute. How is this possible? Largely because people struggle to believe that work has any real value, particularly before it is sold. Hit up the CEO of a corp for $10,000 and you are talking about one-and-a-half-weeks serious pay – that’s not going to happen – while asking an artist for a painting or a sculpture that would sell for the same amount is seen as reasonable. 

We came across another classic case of this value paradox when we happened to see how Dane Mitchell’s winning work was returned by the Waikato Museum’s Trust Waikato National Art Award. You may recall that the work comprised of the wrappings used by other artists when submitting their own work to the competition. You might think, that given the controversy over Mitchell’s work winning the Award, that the Waikato Museum would have made a crate and returned the work professionally packed. Not a bit of it. In the spirit of Mitchell himself, the institution crammed it into a pre-used cardboard box, threw in the exhibition labels for good luck (complete with blue tack) and taped it up. While they knew it was art, they were obviously confidant it didn’t have any real value.

Image: Mitchell's award winning art arrives back from the gallery

Monday, February 15, 2010

Goths rule

The final list of NZ artists for inclusion in the Sydney Biennale has been announced. It is pretty much as we reported in December: Rohan Wealleans, Jason Greig, Shane Cotton, Fiona Pardington, Reuben Patterson and Julia Morrison plus a couple of extras Brett Graham and Yvonne Todd. Once those curators get hold of that Gothic New Zealand bone, they just won't let go of it.


Surveys can be a mixed blessing for artists. Certainly they get the opportunity to overview their work for the first time and usually under good viewing conditions, but there is also a downside. Public museums often feel they are advancing an artist’s career by hosting a survey and forget how much time is taken up in organising, answering questions and cajoling collectors to part with favourite works as well as the emotional impact.

Seeing a one’s work summed up and explained can also be debilitating. When we worked with Michael Smither on a large survey exhibition in 1984 he struggled to paint for two or three years, finding the experience a huge disruption. When your work is neatly packaged the next move can be hard to imagine. This is not an uncommon response and some artists just say no to the opportunity.

And that’s why it was so exciting to see Seraphine Pick’s latest exhibition Pocket full of rainbows at Hamish McKay Gallery. Far from being oppressed by having her early career summed up in her large survey exhibition Tell me more that was organised by the Christchurch Art Gallery, she has obviously drawn new confidence and energy from the experience. Her latest show is a real eye-opener that is both epic and playful. It pushes into new directions with a stylishness that was only suggested in the final paintings of the survey. 

When Elvis is depicted leaving the building for the last time it is in the guise of an impersonator. Art is artifice, Pick seems to be saying, but real for all of that.

Image: detail from And be with you from Seraphine Pick's exhibition Pocket full of rainbows on show at the Hamish McKay Gallery in Wellington

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Good taste

From the priceless Dugway Proving Ground comes this lesson Art Museum etiquette.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Images: Top Cambridge Terrace, Wellington. Bottom, Ronnie van Hout Christchurch Art Gallery Scape project

Reversal of fortune

In the topsy-turvy world of upside down art no one has spent more time on his head than Phil V of Spain. As king of the Bourbons he burnt down the city of Xativa, at that time the capital of Valencia. Remembering their toasting by P5, and being well known grudge bearers (the town used to be HQ for the Borgia family) the people of Xativa instructed their city museum to hang the 300 year old portrait of Philip V of Spain in the gallery’s collection upside down. And so they did, and still do to this day. (Thanks D)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

In Bangladesh

We were thinking about Kate Newby

Very select

Creative NZ has just announced the advisory panel to recommend an artist to represent New Zealand at the Venice Biennale in 2011. It is a predictable line-up of institutional directors and curators. 

Jenny Harper: Commissioner; Director of Christchurch Art Gallery
Elizabeth Caldwell: Director of Dunedin Public Art Gallery
Rhana Devenport: Director of Govett-Brewster Art Gallery
Heather Galbraith: Senior Curator, City Gallery, Wellington and curator of 2009 Venice Biennale artist Francis Upritchard’s exhibition
Charlotte Huddleston: Curator, Contemporary Art at Te Papa
Jonathan Mane-Wheoki: Professor and Head at Elam School of Fine Arts

Why do CNZ restrict their selection to people working in art institutions? If you look at the record of their institutions it is not as though they are major supporters of the artists who have been selected for previous Biennales. Think about how many major public museum exhibitions our Biennale artists et al, Jacqueline Fraser, Judy Millar, Peter Robinson, Michael Stevenson and Francis Upritchard racked up before they were selected. Doesn’t take long. The people who do support these artists on a regular ongoing basis are dealers, other artists and collectors. None of them are represented on the selection panel. CNZ needs to consider more carefully the difference between having a stake in the visual arts and having a career.

Image: A closed shop

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mutt and Jeff

The announcement that art dealer Jeffrey Deitch has been appointed to head LA's MOCA has created a huge stir and no more so than in the bunkers of Berlin.

Queue and hay

The outstanding success of the Yayoi Kusama exhibition certainly puts the pressure on Wellington’s City Gallery. Already the City Council has suggested that the long queues of fee-paying patrons outside this show should be a benchmark for future exhibitions. How to replicate this unusual mix of high art and popular appeal is no doubt the subject of intense discussion in the Gallery’s inner sanctum.

When it comes to popular appeal art exhibitions usually fall into one of four types.
  • Unusual or spectacular visual effects
  • Controversy
  • High value works from overseas / Masterpieces
  • Extreme rarity
The City Gallery has had successes in at least three of these categories - Kusama and Picinnini (visual effects), Mapplethorp (controversy) and Exhibition of the Century (Masterpieces). So where to next?

Some of the City Gallery’s audience-grabber exhibitions come via the MCA whose director Liz-Anne Macgregor is also hot on the heels of mega-audiences. Both must be kicking themselves that they didn’t sign up for Ron Mueck’s OMG show presently on at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. Unfortunately for them Christchurch, under the directorship of Jenny Harper, is also muscling into the bread and circuses game and it will be that city that astonishes its own and other city’s publics with Dead Dad and the other Mueck lookalikes (30 September – 23 January 2011).

What other contemporary artists have Kusama-like crowd pulling appeal? Olafur Eliasson is probably one but his works are large and expensive to install. Damien Hirst might still grab the popular imagination and Jeff Koons, well selected, certainly would but both would come with a sky high entry fee. Artists like Kusama who thrive on creating OMG effects are not thick on the ground. So who knows, if the numbers pressure grows, we may even have a resort to curating provocative group shows.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

...and you're telling us this because?

Collector dissing, art school cussing, bad boy artist David Cauchi is not only showing in the mainstream Ivan Anthony Gallery in Auckland, he's selling like hot cakes. Oh oh.


No one seems to have a very clear idea about what the Karangahape in Karangahape Road means. There is some suggestion that it refers to ‘a winding ridge of human activity’ and that sounds about right, but others claim that the name refers to Hape, a Maori chief who lived in the area. To most people K Road has always been synonymous with being propositioned, revealing all, drunkenness and getting screwed. More recently it has become the contemporary art centre of Auckland so in that respect, not much has changed (just kidding).
Illustration: Pippin Barr

Monday, February 08, 2010

Cover story

Conservation meets Christo as Hampton Court sculptures are wrapped up warm for the Winter


reckless guesswork, insinuations and possible inventions that have turned up in otn's email: the fantastically wealthy art collector soichiro fukutake who (amongst many other things) owns all the art and museums on the island of naoshima in the inland sea of japan, is coming to live in new zealand • at te papa the welsh guy is coming and the senior curator is going • the big idea from cnz’s international committee this year is to support the melbourne art fair • the film commission has told cnz that it will no longer support the production of non-narrative ie ‘art’ films • 108, the number of works in the roundabout collection to be shown at the city gallery later in 2010, is based on the number of prayer beads in a buddhist mala • any missed details, changes to outright lies, indignant denials or embellishments gratefully received and the best of them generously rewarded.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

When good painting turns bad

As per usual, thanks P

Friday, February 05, 2010


A Parekowhai wannabe in the MoMA store.
Thanks D

Art is where you find it: Indian Division

In Kolkata we visited the Asiatic Society. Established by the British in the late 18th century by Sir William Jones, the Society was a catalyst for the rediscovery of the ancient arts, history and languages of the sub-continent. We coincidentally arrived on the Society’s 226th anniversary and were rushed up onto the roof to join a celebration lunch. Later one of the researchers took us next door to see the Society’s original building and there on the first floor, in an old office bathed in sunlight from an open window overlooking one of Kolkata’s busy intersections, was the conservation department: two young men, a couple of easels and the two large paintings they were repairing. One was of the extraordinary ruins of Mahabalipuram while the other was a portrait of the scholar James Princep who helped unravel the sub continent’s history through the inscriptions on coins. The conservator was in-painting patches of the work that had peeled away explaining that he was using paint that could be removed should future repairs be needed. Unlike the laboratory-like surroundings of most modern conservation departments, the dusty room he worked in had no technical equipment, no computers and no specialist ventilation. When we asked him how he could conserve historically priceless works under such challenging conditions his reply was simple. He told us he was an artist.

Images: Top left at work on the Princep portrait, top right the painting of Mahabalipuram waits in the wings. Bottom, in-painting Princep.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Advice to new art students

Other OTN posts on drawing:
Ronnie’s drawing book
Drawing guys: New York
Drawing students into art schools
Drawing water: Titanic edition

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Art in the workplace

Art at work in the foyers of the world

Round about now

It seems like only yesterday (in fact it was a week ago) we were asking the City Gallery to give out more information on their future programming. Then at 3.50pm yesterday afternoon, BINGO they responded. Turns out the exhibition roundabout is all on for 25 September 2010. Described by its curator as “less an art exhibition than a life statement” you can read the City Gallery’s press release here.
Image: OTN’s Ouija board (see related story)

Related story:
OTN predicts roundabout show for City Gallery in Feb ‘09

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Majestic Earth grounded

Neil Dawson has hung a lot of sculpture in the air over the years. In Wellington there are at least three works suspended in public places, The Rock, Ferns and, until this weekend, Majestic Earth. One of the reasons Dawson can hang works in the air is because he insists on a regular maintenance schedule as part of the initial contract. 

The last time we saw Neil was in Wellington late last year while he was doing a maintenance check on Ferns in Civic Square, so when we read in the newspaper that the earth part of Majestic Earth has fallen to the ground, we were surprised. Still, being in the when-good-sculpture-turns-bad business and having helped Neil install Majestic Earth, we went down to have a look. 

The globe part of the sculpture had been removed, although it was pictured in this morning’s Dominion Post, but the cloud section remains along with a few hanging wires. As we took a couple of pics we were approached by the building manager who was not a happy camper. As he, Neil and the owners had all refused to comment to the Dominion Post, we asked if the work had had regular maintenance. In fact, we asked three times.  His answer? A very firm, “YES IT HAS.”
Images: Left, Majestic Earth this morning, right, as reported in the Dominion Post

C is for Creative

It’s been six years since the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council was rebranded Creative New Zealand. It’s a name that has never been a very comfortable fit with the organisation and this is reflected in its who-we-really-are byline ‘Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa’. And, although the staff no doubt feel the brand speaks for their aspirations for the nation rather than themselves, it’s them, as they say, what wears the t-shirts. 

Creative New Zealand has never been that creative in its approach to the arts more often taking a scatter gun rather than focussed approach. The result is their tendency to deliver very generic policy that makes funding decisions end up feeling like patronage. So now is probably as good a time as any to drop the “creative” thing and get back to being an Arts Council with big goals and a sense of where to next, and why. 

We hear there are changes afoot to the way CNZ will categorise its various allocations, but don’t expect the performing arts tsunami to recede anytime soon. We plan to keep on asking questions on your behalf and the good news is that under the chairmanship of Alastair Carruthers, there is a push toward more transparency (and so more chance of getting answers) from what has got to be one of New Zealand’s more opaque organisations.

Monday, February 01, 2010

When art critics roamed the West

The down side of upside down

Some time ago, talking to Milan Mkrusich, he mentioned that he had once seen one of his paintings hanging upside down in the Auckland Art Gallery. Calling over a guard he explained the error to which the guard responded that it was highly unlikely that the work was upside down as the Gallery were very careful about that sort of thing. Mrkusich explained that he was the artist who had made the work and that in fact it really was the wrong way up. In due course someone was called from upstairs and the painting was removed from the wall. On the back there was an arrow pointing up that had evidently been helpful added by gallery staff. Mrkusich was still trying to explain that the arrow too was up the wrong way as they put the painting back the way it had been when he arrived.

To show that Auckland is not alone, check out some upside down stories from around the world.

In 1961 a fan noticed that Matisse’s Le Bateau was hung upside down at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Getting nowhere fast with the guards, she went to the New York Times and a story was promptly published: Nan Robertson Modern Museum is startled by Matisse picture on 5 December 1961. After 47 days on its head the painting was hung properly the day after The Times hit the streets.

Vincent van Gogh’s Long Grass with Butterflies was hung on its head for a brief time in 1965 at the National Gallery in London. The mistake was discovered by a visiting school student.

For 10 years (1979-89) Georgia O’Keefe’s painting The Lawrence Tree was hung upside down by the Wadsworth Athenaeum. During research for a 1990 retrospective the mistake was discovered and the painting has been hung the right way up ever since. You can see it reproduced every which way here on Google images.

In 2008 the Tate discovered that two paintings by Mark Rothko from the Black on Maroon series had been hung vertically with the stripes running top to bottom against the artist’s stated intention that they be hung with the stripes running horizontally. Over the years the Tate has shown the works both vertically and horizontally.

Other upside down hangs include Spencer Nichols’ Phantasy which was hung upside down for 18 days at a New Jersey museum in 1936 and a painting by Robert Rauschenberg which stood on its head in the Manchester Art Gallery for a while in 1963.