Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A pony

“I like what Michelangelo is supposed to have said, that the sculpture was inside the marble and it was just a matter of finding it. I think it’s a nice way to think about working – finding it, not making it.”
British artist Martin Creed interviewed by Tom Eccles

Image: A block of marble. Go here if you want to buy one for yourself

Space to Lett

When was it we all started calling dealer galleries ‘space’ as in, “what a great space!”? The first time we remember it was back in the early eighties when we chanced in on a performance. We didn't know it as first but what we thought was the real world turned out to be a performance work in an exhibition of Plaster Surrogates by Allan McCollum

Walking into American Fine Arts, all those years ago, we were greeted by a woman we assumed to be the gallery director. “Isn’t this such a great space,” she said. “Don’t you just love the way the light comes across the room.” We did. She went on in this vein for about ten minutes and then left us to answer the phone. 

It wasn’t until the next day when we returned for another look at the McCollum paintings and heard exactly the same speech addressed to other visitors by not one but three different gallery assistants, that we realized we'd been part of a performance scripted by the artist Andrea Fraser. At that time she was using the word ‘space’ to represent an art world cliché, but like many good clichés, it has resisted ridicule and remains an important part of art language.

In early eighties New Zealand ‘spaces’ were very different from those we experienced in New York. Many still followed the domestic pattern with a couple of small rooms. You can still see this model followed by Peter McLeavey, the man who practically invented the idea. Auckland galleries were always bigger but, as far as we can remember, it took Gary Langsford and John Gow to turn up with the professional art gallery configuration we are familiar with today. These thoughts come from an evening in Auckland introducing the new Michael Lett gallery on Great North Road. An old car garage it has much of the character of the galleries that opened in New York’s Chelsea and later in the Meat Packing District carved out of old taxi garages. Such great spaces.
Image: Lett's new space container

Monday, November 29, 2010


"One of our problems with the current facility ... is that we don't have the space to do justice to our art. If we could, I'd put the whole damn lot out.”
Sir Wira Gardiner, Chair Te Papa Board

"You've got art at the top of the building. You have to take two lifts to get to it and that's not easy. If you were taking a slightly cynical view, you would say art is being sent back to the attic."
Te Papa chief executive Mike Houlihan

" [I] would really like to leave Wellington with a new national art gallery".
Chris Parkin, Te Papa Board member

Te Papa’s born again approach to the arts announced today as a new National Art Gallery is proposed to sit next to Te Papa. The full story here in the Dominion Post.

Image: Left field


reckless guesswork, insinuations and possible inventions that have turned up in otn's email: cnz has abandoned its hasty attempts to organise a “new zealand room” at the singapore art fair in January given a lack of dealer interest • four (count ‘em) female institutional curators danced together at michael letts gallery bash saturday night • peter stichbury has left the building starkwhite-wise • the last three large scale mccahons works put up at auction failed to sell on the night • whispers that one of sue crockfords senior artists is due to decamp • auckland art gallery’s opening exhibition for the new extensions is being radically revised • te papa is offering ‘a selection of delicious canapés and cocktails at te papa surrounded by our national treasures’ as a christmas treat • any missed details, changes to outright lies, indignant denials or embellishments gratefully received and the best of them lavishly rewarded.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Wake up call

Whoops, "what time do they wake up at OTN of a Saturday?"

You can see the original of this excellent version of Charles Saatchi's words and more at stimulusresponse. You know where to go.

Friday, November 26, 2010

On the road

#45 in OTN's ongoing series celebrating Ministry of Land Transport and Local Body support of New Zealand artists.
For others in the series hit the 'on the road' label tag below.

Eat my shorts

We have posted in the past on Andy Warhol's art appearing on the Simpsons, Homer having a go at making art and once, in our Last Supper fetish of how the Simpsons once used an art work to arrange the characters in Moe’s tavern. Now, on the encouragement of an OTN reader we have discovered a site that has isolated out all the art references the Simpsons have made up to 2009. If you can't get enough of this sort of thing, visit our favourite French fanatics of the Simpsons art nexus and pamper yourself.
Images: From the top the Simpsons do Dali, Wood, Michelangelo and Van Gogh

Thursday, November 25, 2010

In wellington...

... thinking about Leon van den Eijkel

The whole point

It’s been a year since we last reported on David Cauchi who chose to live his experience at Massey's School of Fine Arts on his blog Pointless and Absurd. When we left him he had been accepted for a post-graduate honours course and we can now inform you he completed with an A- despite sorely testing the institution. 

His finals exhibition challenged the staff to fail him although his blog shows you how to get through honours. In June his supervisors were unimpressed - “I think it is patchy, fairly thinly attended to“ - but, by the end of the year they had resigned themselves and accepted it for assessment, albeit with the hilarious suggestion, “you might like to consider a number of other ways common-sense nihilism could expand its horizons.”

Now our ‘intertemporal avant-garde artist’ has been invited into the Masters programme at Massey. As he has also managed a couple of dealer shows this year, it's hard to see how he can avoid his worst nightmare, ending up as a lecturer at Massey University. The circle will be complete.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Blue sky thinking

Visitors who found their way up to Te Papa's Sculpture Court this week would have found that Ronnie Van Hout's work has been replaced with something infinitely more conceptual.


Chances are if someone were to walk into one of our public art museums unannounced and offer to sell them an artwork, there would be much checking of the work before any cash changed hands. Faking art is not a big business in New Zealand (although that's not to say that it doesn’t happen). 

But what if the person that knocks on your museum’s door is offering to give you the masterpiece? Maybe not so much checking. Apparently that’s exactly what’s been happening in the US over the last 20 or so years. Some guy (either disguised or genuinely kitted out as a Jesuit priest and going under the name of Father Arthur Scott) has been offering fake paintings to museums as gifts, and having them accepted. Why is he doing it? Probably for the same thrill fakers always get from their work; the pleasure of fooling the experts and usually topped up by the pleasure of receiving a big chunk of change as well. 
Image: an example of an easily identified fake. You can read the full and sorry story here.

Other OTN fake art stories:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Book it

Tomorrow evening, Wednesday 24 November, Michael Lett will be launching Video Aquarium Broadcast at On The Table.  This book looks at the recent work of Simon Denny and has been co-published by Galerie Daniel Buchholz and Michael Lett.

You are welcome to come and have a drink with Michael and check out the book that will be on sale. There will also be the opportunity to see works (including work made this year) by Simon Denny. Most of them have not been publicly displayed in Wellington before.

Where: On The Table / 6 College Street / Wellington
When: Wednesday 24 November from 6 pm

Image: Simon Denny’s installation of Deep Sea Vaudeo at Galerie Daniel Buchholz


"The last major exhibition of European Masterpieces in New Zealand was the highly successful America & Europe: The Thyssen-Bornemisza collection shown here in 1980. Now 30 years on Te Papa...."
Catalogue introduction to the exhibition European Masters: 19th–20th century art from the Städel Museum by the Chief Executive and Kaihautū of Te Papa.

1985 Claude Monet: Painter of Light, Auckland Art Gallery

1988 Edvard Munch: Death and Desire, Auckland Art Gallery

1989 The Reader’s Digest Collection: Manet to Picasso, Auckland Art Gallery

1989 Picasso: Artist Before Nature, Auckland Art Gallery

1993 Rembrandt to Renoir: 300 Years of European Masterpieces from the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, Auckland Art Gallery

1996 Masterpieces of the Guggenheim, Dunedin Public Art Gallery

1998 Exhibition of the Century: Modern Masters from the Stedelijk Museum, City Gallery, Wellington

2006 Works from the Collection of Julian and Josie Robertson,  Auckland Art Gallery

Monday, November 22, 2010

A quick plug for life drawing

Gold rush

Is the art market avoiding the recession? To read reports of the recent International Art Centre auction in Auckland you'd think so. The star of the show was Dame Kiri Te Kanawa who off-loaded a C F Goldie (Forty winks) from her collection for a record $573,000.

Promoting art through its celeb owners has always done well for the auction world. As we’ve mentioned before the modern story starts in 1996 when Jackie Onassis’s estate rang up over $34.5 million with objects fetching up to 80 times their estimated value. The fever increased with the Andy Warhol estate (1988 - $32 million), the Duke and Duchess of Windsor estate (1997 - $30 million) and the YSL estate (2009 - $622 million).

Back in NZ ICA spokesperson Richard Thomson told reporters that, “one highly encouraging aspect of the sale in the bidding for Dame Kiri's Goldie was that there were so many genuine buyers in the $400,000 range.” So maybe we can put around $178,000 of the final price down to Te Kanawa's X factor.

Kiri fever and the presence of a I’ve-got-$400,000-burning-a-hole-in-my-pocket crowd didn’t appear to set the rest of the auction alight. The nine ‘highlights’ listed by the auction house only averaged around $16,500 each, and a painting by Ralph Hotere struggled to get to half its estimated value of $100,000. If that’s not a sign of recession it's certainly a sign of a substance that is very close to it. The IAC’s reassurance that Goldies are, “prized, they are gold,” would have rung true for nervous investors in a recession. What else do you hoard when times get tough?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Style section

Artist dog bowls? Why the hell not, particularly if you can get the Edward Ruscha version. To do that though you will need to front up to the PAWS/LA auction. The charity has artists on board to help raise funds. You can see more art that’s going to the dogs here.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Art is where you find it

This time pasted inside the doorway entrance to Peter McLeavey and Enjoy galleries and complete with Helen’s receipe for Lemon Delicious. Click image if hunger strikes.

Vapour trail

It’s not always the grandest and most promoted exhibitions that stay in your mind. We were reminded of this, when searching through old files, we came across a single Xerox sheet that was the exhibition listing for the Ouse Project. This was a selection of installations that snuck into a soon-to-be-renovated (or was it soon-to-be-demolished?) building on Wellington’s Kent Terrace. The exhibition was curated by Ros Cameron who also helped start up Enjoy and is now (she was an outstanding curator) lost to teaching (regrettably to us that is, probably not to her students). 

In the Ouse Project Ros did what she did best by letting loose the artists she curated into an intriguiging space without the whole enterprise ending up as a muddle. This is never as easy as it sounds. Ros also contributed to the exhibition as an artist by waxing part of the floor - perhaps in tribute to the Porsche car dealership below. Some of the artists in the show are still working and we have seen some of them exhibiting recently including Karen Van Roosmalen, Glen Haywood and Regan Gentry. 

It was Regan Gentry who made the work that really knocked us out in the Ouse Project. It was a confident and spectacular installation he called A range. On top of a dozen or so ironing boards he had piled a huge heap of rubble gathered from the site. The slender stick legs of the ironing boards were just on the point of buckling but held the load. Dramatically lit from the floor it was both strange, ambitious and thrilling, the sort of work every curator hopes an artist will come up with. Inevitably it was dismantled and lost to the world when the show finished and the space went back to being an office or an apartment or whatever. 

Ironically though this exhibition lives on. The website was abandoned but never taken down as is often the case on the internet. It's like a ghost town in space promoting the opening of Ouse in 2004, forever. Thanks for the memory.

We spoke too soon. A year later the site stopped functioning.

Image: Left, the one page Ouse illustrated listing. Right, Regan Gentry’s installation A range

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Increasing volume

Another sign of growing recognition of New Zealand artists outside the country is the publication of the 340 page The Art of Tomorrow edited by Yilmaz Dziewior, Uta Grosenick and Laura Hoptman who is senior curator at new York’s New Museum. It is published by Distanz and features 77 artists, including Simon Denny, who are given four pages each.
You can get your own copy here.

Hunter gatherers

We were staying in Peter Peryer’s house in New Plymouth a week or so ago and saw on a window sill a battered Buzzy Bee with a feather sticking out of its tail. That took us back. It was once part of a tableau (Buzzy Bee, feather and small woven basket) that was the subject of a 1982 Peryer photograph Still life

Off on a hunt through Peter’s house for other objects that might have inspired photographs we bagged a number including: the two surprisingly small photographs of Peter’s parents from his picture My Parents taken over 40 years ago; the wooden foot that balances the tomato in Holy Tomato from 2006; the pumpkin for 2006’s Pumpkin; the rocket for.. er… Rocket 2003, and the shells that were in a number of photographs including Shell Study 2001. 

At the end of the hunt we came across the real big game, an elephant and an antelope roaming the top of the filing cabinet from this year’s Ebony.

Images: Top row left to right, objects from Peter Peryer photographs Still life, My parents, Rocket. Middle row: Pumpkin, Shells, Holy tomato, Bottom row : animals from Ebony

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Never mind the quality

"I still get more excited buying a new car or a new motorcycle than I do a new artwork, but the art thing lasts a lot longer.”
Chris Parkin, Te Papa Board member talks to the Dominion Post

The shock of the old

How is contemporary art getting along we hear you ask. Not too bad, if you're a billionaire. The last rush of big-time evening Contemporary Art auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie's has seen a return to rooms-full-of-gold prices. In a week of high intensity auctions, works by Andy Warhol cranked up $200 million, that’s $260 million where we come from. 

As one auction commentator declared with a completely straight face, “There’s a huge demand for Warhol under $10 million.” Even a single Brillo Box by Andy Warhol would send you to the bank for $NZ3.4 million so if all the Brillo Boxes (not including the copycat ones) were put on the market, they would now be valued at $NZ384 million. Also during the week a Lichtenstein painting “Ohhh…Alright…” cost the new owner $NZ55.5 million a new auction record for the artist. 

But hang on a minute. If Warhol and Lichtenstein were still alive they'd be 92 and 97 respectively, and all the works we've been talking about were made over 40 years ago. 

So when a contributor to Nicholas Forrest's Art Market blog asks why the word 'Contemporary' to describe the long-toothed art described lot descriptions, auction titles, and PR blurbs you get the point. Given that the word Contemporary in most other fields refers to something relating to the present time, the suggestion is we should dedicate the word 'Contemporary', when it comes to art, to the art of now instead of sending it back to gather up the past.

How about the auction houses adopt Twentieth Century Art to describe all the old 'contemporary' work, and leave Contemporary to the Twenty First Century. For now anyway.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Branded: Stanley and Louise

The moment when artists become brands

To the winner the spoils

Rugby has not been kind to the visual arts. There is something about the physicality of the game, the heightened passions and the hero to zero trajectories of its players that has compelled artists (and sculptors in particular) to create some of the most bizarre sculptures on the planet. OK, that might be over-stating it, but certainly some of the most bizarre sculptures in the countries that play the game. Most are men-in-action jobs who are usually reaching towards the heavens, hands outstretched. 

There has always been something uncanny about people making sculptures out of bronze (which is achingly heavy) to represent sportsmen intended to look as though they are in some kind of leaping weightless flight. It is the same paradox that has some people in spasms of anxiety as they lose faith in the ability of a large passenger jet to lift off and stay up in the air. Still, suspending one's disbelief in bronze’s ability to float like a butterfly is usually offset by the stolid realism of most footy player tributes.

In New Zealand we are about to break out of the realist mould which has been the standard way of representing rugby in bronze since the early twentieth century (you can check out some examples here on OTN Stuff). In Wellington WETA workshop are revolutionising the field with their Rugby World Cup tribute by boldly mashing two wildly different genres: the Gothic and Chinese Social Realism. 

Head of the WETA Workshop Richard Taylor was too modest when he told reporters, “Not every New Zealander is into rugby but I hope that we've designed a sculpture that is not too abstract, not too contemporary, that celebrates figurative art and will hold its own place in the eye of the general public.” The aesthetic daring it takes to put two such chalk-and-cheese genres together will do much more than hold its own in the eye of the general public; it will radically recast figuration without being either abstract or contemporary.

But why should this lavish tribute languish in Wellington with its puny population, a city already bulging with ranks of harbour-side sculptures? Auckland has laid claim to being the cultural capital of New Zealand and it is certainly the Capital of the Rugby World Cup. If Auckland is to stand up and be culturally counted, it needs to pay the price and step up to become the permanent home of New Zealand’s largest, heaviest and bronziest Rugby sculpture.
Images: Top left, Social Realism Chinese style, bottom left, classic Late Gothic, bottom right, classic modern revival Gothic by Frederick E Hart. Right WETA's Rugby tribute (click on images to enlarge if you dare)

Monday, November 15, 2010


OTN has always been interested in the signs that galleries display. A note pinned to the door can often reveal as much about the style, history and trials of a gallery as any news report. So here is the first of a series devoted to the notes and signs that galleries use to tell the world what is going on or, as in this case, not going on. Great examples from readers will be lavishly rewarded.
Image: Enjoy Gallery Saturday

Shelf life

At the Laureate Awards last week John Parker talked about displaying his ceramics at what he called “giving height”. That's around the height at which you quite naturally pass an object to someone. 

Over the years the way ceramics, paintings and sculptures have been displayed has changed significantly. Some of these shifts were driven by institutional convenience, some for fashion’s sake and some to improve the audience's experience. Paintings that were once hung in groups cheek to cheek came down lower on the wall in the seventies although many have now headed back up again. Sculpture came off plinths and onto the floor and ceramics that in the seventies were shown low to the ground on a hessian-covered door balanced on concrete blocks, are now most often displayed on white plinths. And then every now and then, artists are allowed to take over and the effect can be startling. See stellar examples from Franz West and Jorge Pardo here on OTN. 

And startling was exactly what we found when we stumbled into Karl Fritsch putting up shelves for his exhibition at Hamish McKay Gallery. Using bits of found timber and plasticine, Karl transformed display into art, balancing his brutally beautiful jewellery on hand-rolled white plasticine balls. Easily one of the best sculpture exhibitions of the year. Perfect.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Googling on a Saturday

As was to be expected there was a New Zealand media frenzy over the completion of the giant Jesus in Poland. After all, it's the biggest statue of God’s son ever to be erected and images of the giant Jesus head being bolted to the giant Jesus shoulders were dramatic enough to even warrant a good spot on the evening TV news. 

But did we get background information and pics of the other GJ’s dominating horizons around the world? No, we did not. For that kind of depth you don’t rely on journalists, you reach out to Google. 

And the nominations for giant Jesus in a permanent material are from the top, Poland’s 33 meter high (51 meters if you count the mound it is on, and the Poles do) with and without its head attached, Bolivia’s entry at Cochabamba and another big American GJ in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro at 38 meters high is way up there and Indonesia’s horse in the race is the 30 meter high Jesus on the island of Manado. Not really a sculpture but a nifty giant Jesus mural on the Biola University campus in La Mirada California begged to be included, and finally the giant King of Kings in Cincinnati which came in at 19 meters, and that was just for the upper torso. Regrettably it was struck by lightning in June this year and, being made of polystyrene and fibreglass, dutifully burst into flames and was destroyed.

Friday, November 12, 2010

They got game

There aren’t many art video games. We did once see a version of Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Series on Playstation but it was kind of cheesy. et al. made a game called O Studies a while back that had beautiful graphics but was virtually impossible to play (funny that). Now Seung Yul Oh is presenting ‘Rain’ as part of SCREENS, a new series of commissioned online art works. 'Rain' is definitely a challenge to the non-intuitive player. We mucked about on it for a while and got to see some ducks and some elephants and other droll stuff we won’t mention. For anyone completely mystified about how to play, there is a clue in the title.

Shock corridor II

It took a while for the laughter to subside when they called the trash corridor that goes between Wellington’s Cuba Mall and Victoria Street The Left Bank. Apparently this space is owned by half a million different Body Corps that are incapable of getting their collective shit together to tidy the place up and make it look a little less like 1950s Singapore on a bleak day. But now it appears that the Left Bank vibe has been just simmering beneath the surface. 

The other day when we went into the Robert Heald Gallery there was art in every direction we looked. OK, Robert had the kind we were most interested in, but there was something for everyone including live tagging in the graffiti encrusted tunnel that gets you to Ghuznee Street and a live artist actually working away on a canvas in The Seine Gallery (they got the Left Bank thing) a few doors down from RH.

Images: Incompetent photography by our OTN stringer. Left top graffiti artists as seen from the Robert Heald Gallery, bottom left, looking into Georgie Hill’s exhibition Protective Colouration at Robert Heald. Right, a customer at the Seine Gallery obscures the artist working on his easel.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

In Mahoe

Thinking about Kara Walker

Pure Bosch

We've posted before about people making 3D versions of objects in Hieronymus Bosch paintings. Irresistible. Anyone who looks at of Bosch’s overwhelmingly intricate painting Garden of Earthly Delights, in the collection of the Prado in Madrid, is bound to be astonished by the inventiveness and surreal madness of the thing. What is that couple lying inside the glass Christmas decoration up to? Can’t the naked guy see that giant robin looking over his shoulder? So this is where Takashi Murakami gets his ideas from? These are the kind of questions that might run through your mind. Unless you’re an academic that is.

For instance when a team of academics and craftspeople in Oxford, from the Bate Collection of European orchestral woodwind instruments saw the painting, they zoomed in on the right hand panel where to their delight they saw naked people up to stuff with musical instruments. The scene obviously prompted a brainwave: why not replicate the instruments and then play them to bring a little fifteenth century music to life? Problem is when they made the instruments and sat down to play, the sound was disastrous. It's reported that some of the instruments were, "either impossible to make or painful to hear."

But hold up, let’s look at the images above more closely (click to enlarge). Surely the Bate team took rather a lot of liberties with Bosch’s original designs. The Bate flute doesn’t seem to play from a reed at the centre and the bulb on its stem is not at all like the Bosch one, the harp is quite different at the top and the mandolin-like thing has its sound hole (sorry musical experts) much higher than in the Bosch version. And what about that drum? Not even close. 

What is it about looking at a painting these guys don’t understand? Someone get Justin Paton on the phone.
Source: Sam Leith's hilarious story in the Guardian

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Good luck with that

"The Holy See wants to choose the best contemporary art and not expose itself to criticism."
Antoni Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museum quoted in The Art Newspaper
Image: Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan's The Ninth Hour

True Lyes

No one’s going to be surprised to find lookalikes and copycats on OTN, but when we saw this Len Lye Wind Wand-like product just south of Otorohanga, it reminded us that if it was in fact an attempt to replicate the Lye original in New Plymouth, it was in good company. 

When Wind Wand was erected on the last day of the twentieth century it prompted a rash of copycats up and down the coast and round the mountain. On the road to New Plymouth there used to be more balls on sticks poking out of front-yards, tied to fences and sticking out of roofs than you could shake a stick with a ball on it at. Many of them are now long gone but a reminder of this public response to the power of Lye’s image is still online in the form of the Wind Wanderer’s Map. Here you can find 142 ‘Wind Wands’ listed that were made and displayed by the people of Taranaki.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Bronze rubbing

A couple of years ago we featured some pictures of sculptures that had been rubbed up the right way by fans. One of our readers (thanks L) has added to the mix with this pic of the next frontier in a shopping mall in the States.

Going for Brake

That vibrations you can feel in the air are the sounds of the Brian Brake industry revving up its engines. Nothing wrong with that: Brake was after all a commercial photographer and he would be more than happy to see his work being made widely accessible to the public. The interesting part is around how the product is described and what is actually being put on offer. 

On the more conventional side there is an auction by Art+Object of Brake prints with a remarkably upmarket catalogue that is both hard bound and cased (when did you last see that for a photo auction – or any auction for that matter?). The auction house describes the prints as 'vintage.' Normally that means they were part of the first printing of the image. In the Brake auction many of the prints were made up to 30 years after they were shot when they were printed up for the 1976 exhibition toured by the Dowse. 

And then there are Te Papa’s “gallery quality Brian Brake prints” authorised by the Brian Brake Estate and produced to accompany its current exhibition. These images are printed from digital scans of the Brake original transparencies. No signature (naturally, Brake died in 1988), different technique (Brake produced Cibachrome and Chromogenic colour prints and for black and white gelatin silver prints) and different sizes (Te Papa offers a range of sizes to select from). 

Many photographers produce digital prints and many institutions produce reproductions. The point of difference with the Te Papa prints is in the pricing. If you went to a high quality commercial lab a print from a digital file producing a 236mm x 355mm image would cost you around $150. Te Papa is charging $1,955 for an unframed print of the same size. For a 410 x 622mm print you're looking at $2,806. These prices speak much more to ‘art’ than reproduction. Even taking into account retail mark-up, you would have to say that most of the difference between the production cost and the sale price is an 'art' value backed by Te Papa and the association (albeit via digital scanning) with the original negatives or transparencies.  To add to the confusion an A4 printed reproduction of Brake's Monsoon Girl is available in Te Papa's shop for $29.99.

However, if people who buy these prints are doing so on the understanding that they are art works that are likely to significantly gain in value, they are risking bitter disappointment. Far smarter to get down to the Art+Object auction where the low estimates indicate you there is a chance to get a photographic print, made when Brake was alive and supervising production, at a better, or similar, price. For example the low estimate for Ming Temple, Western Hill-Beijing, China 1957 (500 x 400mm) is just $2,500.

Image: The Art+Object catalogue showing Ming Temple, Western Hill-Beijing, China 1957 on the left hand page

Monday, November 08, 2010

Best of the boosters

“There's nothing better than seeing an art gallery, on its exterior, declaring visually what it's about. There are few modern examples of such practice but the Pompidou comes to mind among others.”
Peter Dornauf describing the Wallace Gallery in Morrinsville on EyeContact (Thanks L)


reckless guesswork, insinuations and possible inventions that have turned up in otn's email: michael lett is moving to a large new space with twenty (count ‘em) car parks • tim melville is leaving the central city and off to help pay the rent in an established space in newmarket • andrew thomas ex-hamish mckay gallery and white cube is now working with michael lett • long-time finished justin paton's tv series how to look at a painting still languishes on the shelves at tvnz • neon parc’s comedy duo tristian and geoff are experiencing creative differences • the cnz venice web site is due to launch 17 november • 37 years after moma’s much panned primitivism exhibition te papa and the wellington city gallery are reviving the idea to run during the rugby world cup • any missed details, changes to outright lies, indignant denials or embellishments gratefully received and the best of them rewarded with one of our otn badges featuring chola the painting horse.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Style section

Had to happen. The smooth talking, smooth skinned Jeff Koons has entered the body pampering business. Partnering up with Kiehl Koons has designed the packaging for a Limited Edition line Creme de Corps. It comprises four products that feature the newest formulation: Creme de Corps Whipped Body Butter. The good news is that the money (all the money) goes to the Koons Family Institute, an initiative of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC). Koons, who has had his own desperate times after his son was taken back to Italy by his mother, is deeply involved in child care issues. He recently decorated a room in a kids hospital free, much to the surprise of the person who had simply asked him to donate a painting.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Art in the workplace

Art hard at work in the foyers of the world


Cubism is where you find it and this time it was found by OTN reader H (thanks H) on the floor of a train (don’t ask). Cubism crushed into the carpet, why not? This sound bite from Colin McCahon, our own latter day Cubist, in his Beginnings piece for Landfall in 1966 shows the floor was up for it inspiration-wise when it came to Cubism. (Thanks for that W).

“Some time, I don’t quite know when, out for a Sunday visit with the family, I discovered Cubism. This world was one I felt I already knew and was at home in. And so I was, as by this time the Cubists’ discoveries had become a part of our environment. Lampshades, curtains, linoleums, decorations in cast plaster: both the interiors and exteriors of homes and commercial buildings were influenced inevitably by this new magic.”
You can see McCahon’s lookalike to H’s Cubist revelations here.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Love affair

Because we love Duchamp, and now we love Ji Lee too.

Cave art

Over the years we have made some epic journeys to see interesting works of architecture so when we were in New Plymouth and ready to drive to Auckland, it felt stupid to not take the opportunity to see the new visitor centre at Waitomo Caves. Smart move. The building designed by Architecture Workshop turns out to be a lively mix of spectacle and practicality. Its jaw-dropping roof of some kind of inflated translucent fabric stretched over curved wooden beams. Inside the centre even though the usual services have to cater for busloads of visitors, their functionality doesn’t overwhelm a sense of openness, thoughtful detail and style. These are surely the architects who should have been asked to design the facilities for the Rugby World Cup. So there’s a local art pilgrimage for you: the visitor centre at Waitomo. Who’d have thought it?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

On the road

#44 in OTN's 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.

By the numbers

.5       The number of years the temporary exhibition featuring photographer Brian Brake will fill the space formerly allocated to the display of Te Papa’s collection of contemporary art

2        The number of days the dole of artist Tao Wells was suspended

5.3     The number of dollars in millions that Mick Jagger’s second wife Jerry Hall got for her art collection at auction

10       The number of gallery locations Larry Gagosian has opened worldwide 

11.5     The percentages of stories on the visual arts published over the last two months on the CNZ’s website news column

13        The number of sculptures on display in the Ron Mueck exhibition

81        The number of things that piss off Christchurch art writer Andrew Paul Woods

636     The cost in dollars for Damien Hirst to sign one of his publications

1,275,055     The number of visitors per year to Te Papa

1,109,678     The number of visitors per year to the Christchurch Art Gallery and Christchurch Museum combined

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


A billboard ad for Peroni down the road and Australian performance artist Leigh Bowery's Session 1/Look 2/November 1988. (Photo: Fergus Greer)


If you visit the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth at the moment you will find it filled with a survey spanning three years worth of Alex Monteith’s videos curated by the gallery director Rhana Devenport. In this respect it is an exhibition rather than a project specifically created for the gallery and contains work that has already been seen in other venues. However, in publicising the exhibition the gallery has been at pains to note (in media releases, the web site and on the exhibition signage) that, “This is only the third time in the Gallery’s 40-year history that the entire Gallery has been dedicated to a single artist, Monteith follows Leon Narbey in 1970 and Peter Robinson in 2008…”

Hang on a minute. We were visiting artist Don Driver in New Plymouth over the weekend and he had an exhibition in 1999 show that filled the entire gallery (including the Len Lye space with his installation Ritual). Titled With Spirit it was curated by Priscilla Pitts, the then director of the Govett-Brewster. Indeed to our knowledge Don also filled the whole gallery at least once before With Spirit. That was in 1976 (or thereabouts) and while the Len Lye space didn’t exist at that time, that was also the case when Leon Narbey took on the whole gallery so lets nail that one onto the honour roll as well. 

In the days before the Len Lye space was added, we would have thought quite few exhibitions took up the entire gallery and some of them must have been single person exhibitions. So it seems more than possible that Don is not alone.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Rule of thumb

“One measure of good museum design is how long it takes you to get from the front door to the permanent collection.”
Jerry Saltz in New York magazine

Style section

You might say that when Oprah gets a fashion style by the throat it’s all over bar the shouting. So listen up when the Oprah empire declares International Klein Blue (the colour that French artist Yves Klein turned into subject matter in the late 1950s claiming “the product of my pursuit of the undefinable in painting”) is having a fashion moment. It also, as you probably guessed, has its own FaceBook page too.

Apparently the blue that Klein fell in love with can’t be accurately portrayed on a computer screen but having studied the sample of synthetic ultramarine pigment that is its closest match, we say the Alexander + McQueen shoes are as near as dammit.
Images: Top left, IKB by the jar. Right, McQueen perfect blue shoes. Bottom left, Armani. Right, Sander