Thursday, March 31, 2011

Put one on before they get one off

In Cambridge, MA in the US they know a thing or two about safe-sex sculpture, something the pointy-sculpture school in Wellington might like to look into.
Via Nick Mountford’s blog Post Position. Thanks P


How much humiliation will an auction house boss endure to get a few minutes of TV time? A lot it turns out and you can’t say that Simon de Pury didn’t have fair warning. De P was asked by the Colbert Report to give his expert opinion on Stephen Colbert’s self portrait, the one tweaked by Shepard Fairey, signed by Andres Serrano and given the intellectual thumbs-up by Frank Stella (see OTN’s WTF).

In his seven and a bit minutes of TV fame, de P trades off about three minutes of Colbert insulting the art in his upcoming auction at Phillips de Pury for four minutes of Colbert insulting him. You can watch it here if you want to and get to hear C tell de P that he’s gay, the art is gay, his Swiss accent makes him sound drunk, the catalogue text is pretentious and that art is crap. Phillips de Pury sold the Colbert portrait for $26,000.
Image: Colbert puts in the boot as Simon de Pury smiles through gritted teeth

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Branded: John Walsh

The moment when artists become brands

The Hood

BMW have a long tradition of commissioning artists to paint their cars. Alexander Calder kicked the series off in 1975 and Andy Warhol famously did one a few years later (why not take a minute and watch him at work). Many others followed including Robert Rauschenberg, David Hockney, Australia’s Ken Done and most recently, Jeff Koons. You can see the 18 paint jobs that make up the BMW Art Car Collection here

Now New Zealand artists are having a go, this time restricted to the well-known BMW bonnet with its equally well-known marquee. You can download a list and images of the New Zealand efforts and how to bid on them here. Included is Rohan Wealleans who has transferred his strangely-shaped cut and paste surfaces onto the sleek lines of the European classic. The proceeds from the sale of the painted auto parts go to KidzFirst. Art+Object will be doing the business at the Puketutu Island Event, this coming Saturday.
Images: Top, Rohan Wealleans' BMW bonnet A thick cream. Bottom, Jenny Holzer for BMW.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Style section

From Dangerous Minds this curious addiction to matching David Lynch’s hair to famous works of art. If the hair thing captures your imagination you can find the David Lynch Hair Face Book page here. (Thanks for the point P)

The death of the curator

Are we seeing the slow extinction of the art curator or, at the very least, their removal to the outer reaches of the game park? There are certainly signs that the species is ailing. 

There was a time when art curators ran art museums. The curator director can boast a lineage that includes Alfred Barr (no relation, damnit) at MoMA, Pontus Hulten at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, James Mollison at the National Gallery in Canberra and in NZ people like Peter Tomory, Rodney Wilson, Luit Bieringa and, in her earlier career, Cheryl Sotheran. The expectation that directors of art museums would also be involved in the curatorial development of significant exhibitions has been widespread. It's the vision thing, the idea that great institutions need leaders for their cultural credibility and perspective, not just their management skills.

Over the past two decades more and more of the directors of our major museums - and many of the smaller ones - have dumped their curatorial hats (if they ever had them) and decked themselves out as managers plain and simple. While non-curating directors supported by strong curatorial talent can be successful (the Museum of Modern Art is a benchmark example) the stumbling block is usually good old human nature. People tend to like other people who are most like they are, so management types usually prefer those handy with a spreadsheet and a sound-bite than those who bring challenges and demands to the table. Even worse, non-curating directors bring additional forces to play that are pushing curators further and further to the periphery of how art museums define themselves and their audiences and even in the way art works are displayed. 

These excluding forces include; the ever increasing layers of management between curators and directors; the rise and rise of designers who believe that exhibitions can be better planned with models (and more recently CAD drawings) than in the space itself; the growing rejection of process as part of the development and the experience of art and, finally, the ascendance of a marketing mindset shaped by target audiences and a single-minded propositions. 

So to some specifics of how this is playing out in New Zealand. The Auckland Art Gallery is considering popping another management layer into its structure (it may have already happened) that will put the curators two levels away from a direct relationship with the director. Why they'd do this is anybody's guess as it mirrors the structure currently in place at Te Papa. This model has utterly failed to produce a lively and relevant curatorial contribution. Could the Te Papa system work with great curators? Maybe, but why load the dice gainst them in this way?

In the end the problem is one of scale. Curators might function well enough when they have to deal with one or two of these forces, but they don’t stand a bat’s chance in hell against all four. And, if you like the idea of provocative, lively and experimental curation in public institutions, neither do you.

Monday, March 28, 2011

When in Rome

The latest Mini ad is set in Rome, culture capital of Italy. You know this must be true because every corner the little red minis turn into is blocked by guys moving a large ‘marble’ sculpture. Hard to tell what the amorphous (most likely paper mache) figure is based on but it looks a bit like M’s David doing a half squat, there’s definitely a feeling that a chair would be appreciated.

Owning a car that can manoeuvrer round a statue, you know you need one.

By the numbers: international edition

2       The number recovered of the 37 works by Auguste Rodin that were stolen between 2000 and 2010

3       The different versions of the Mona Lisa revealed by x-ray

7.66 The price in dollars per seed paid for 160,000 of Ai Weiwei’s handmade porcelain Sunflower Seeds (Kui Hua Zi)

13     The amount in millions of dollars that artist Jeff Koons has spent purchasing farmland since 2006

14     The number of pets buried alongside art collector Peggy Guggenheim

47    The number of days Matisse's Le Bateau once hung upside down in the Museum of Modern Art in New York

152   The height in metres that the bodies would have to be if they were in scale to the heads on Mount Rushmore

776   The amount in millions of dollars that Australian Superannuation funds have invested in art objects

Saturday, March 26, 2011

When good models turn bad

Friday, March 25, 2011

Style section

"We must pick out what is good for us where we can find it."

The name game

As OTN readers know, we are big fans of lists and this one is right up there. It’s a list of favourite artists written by Picasso for Walt Kuhn, the artist who organised the 1913 Armory show in New York. The 27 year old Duchamp (who was to scandalise the second Armory exhibition a year later with his Nude descending the staircase) is there, which says something for Picasso’s judgement. Braque, on the other hand, appears to have been tacked on at the end as an after-thought, which probably speaks to Picasso’s acute competitiveness given that he and Braque were both on the final stretch of their shared Cubist adventure.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Best of the boosters

“Molly Samsell’s Interface has been removed from The Un-sited due to damage. The exhibition has been reshaped to accommodate this absence.”
A City Gallery label describes swapping one painting for another.

True lies

Everyone is caught out at some time or another when a close artist friend has just made a show you just don't like. What’s to be said? Sir John Gielgud had a great response to acting performances that made him wince. Gliding into the dressing room backstage, he'd charge up to the offending actor, grab him or her by both cheeks and bellow, “Well look at you then.”

And, while probably apocryphal, we did hear that Colin McCahon when faced with a particularly poor effort on a student's easel would point to a small area of painting in the top right corner and say something to the effect of, “I think that's very successful.” 

Here then, with a little help from Tom Morris, artistic director of the Ojai Festival in California and via Arts Journal are some get-out-of-jail-free responses to bad art experiences.

1 “You must be very pleased”
2 “Fascinating”
3 “What a huge amount of work you’ve done”
4 “I’m speechless”
5 “You've done it again”
6 “It doesn't get any better than this”
7 “Extraordinary is not the word”
8 “I’ve never seen anything quite like this before”
9 “No one can say you’re standing still”
10 “Wow”

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pie in the eye

In Australia no one counts like the CoUNTess counts. Does the M in MCA stand for Men? That's what the CoUNTess found, helping things along with a reconstructed piece of the Sydney based Museum of Contemporary Art's PR.

"New Acquisitions in Context celebrates five years of the MCA ’s successful New Acquisitions series of exhibitions featuring mainly male artists. It is presented throughout the Museum’s Level 4 galleries and showcases recent acquisitions of mainly male artists alongside selected works of mainly male artists from the existing MCA and JW Power Collections.

Collecting mainly male artists is a vital part of the MCA ’s activities and is crucial in terms of supporting male artists and preserving their work for future generations. The MCA is the not the only museum in Australia dedicated to collecting and exhibiting contemporary art by mainly male artists. New Acquisitions in Context provides visitors with the opportunity to experience a diverse selection of Australian and international art by male artists as well as offering an insight into how the MCA Collection of mainly male artists is developed."

Found: Cheryll Sotheran

Over the years Peter Peryer has made many memorable portraits of women, most notably of Erika Parkinson who was his wife for some time. Last week we saw a proof print of a portrait he had made back in the early eighties pinned up on the studio wall and were surprised to learn it was a portrait of Cheryll Sotheran. 

At the time of the portrait Sotheran was teaching Art History at the University of Auckland and the resident expert on the artist William Fox. She was also a founding member of the Feminist Art Network working alongside Juliet Batten, Elizabeth Eastmond, Alexa Johnston, Claudia Pond Eyley, Priscilla Pitts, Carole Shepheard and the artist now known as et al. Later she was to direct the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and started the trend (followed by John McCormack and Pricilla Pits) of leaving there to direct the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Sotheran was then the first Chief Executive of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa from 1993 until 2002. 

As Dame Cheryll Sotheran she now works for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise where she is Sector Director, Creative Industries, Industry New Zealand as well as a pin-up in Peter Peryer’s studio.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Auction fever

If there is a recession in the art world, no one has told Webb’s. Two beautifully illustrated catalogues turned up today, one for contemporary art and antiques, the other for Oceania and African artifacts. The art catalogue includes the sale of Don Binney’s well known sixties painting Kotare over Ratana church Te Kao, the proceeds of which the remarkably generous Dick Scott is giving to to the Christchurch Earthquake fund. 

While there's not much joy if you're wanting work by women artists (only six of the 77 lots) or by Bill Hammond (only two, one of which is a print), with Shane Cotton you’ll be spoilt for choice as three large and one medium sized works are available. Colin McCahon is also well represented with five works on paper and one painting.

Art to go

 As we’ve seen before, when architects want to de-bland their virtual interiors, they often reach for contemporary art to give them a lift. Here’s Colin McCahon at work again, this time for Cheshire Architects and their Rhubarb Lane development in Auckland. The paintings on the right wall are After such a matter of life and death (left) I one (middle) and a panel from the Second gate series on the right. Nicking work from the Auckland Art Gallery and Te Papa's collections (I one and Second gate series) without attribution to hang on a mock-up of a luxury apartment feels a bit market-forces-gone-mad. Or are we seeing the birth of a new trend? Virtual fakes.
Thanks for the spot B

Monday, March 21, 2011

Facing up

No one can say that OTN has been backward in giving CNZ stick over their lack of transparency, their lack of interest in the visual arts and their external communications. So now it's time to say that’s certainly not true when it comes to their approach to the current Venice Biennale outing. 

There were signs of change during the last effort when the minders of the Upritchard and Millar shows continuously blogged through the months of the event. This time round the main communications thrust so far is through Facebook. You can find pics of the Parekowhai work, a short video of the carved piano being played and enough commentary to give anyone a good idea of what’s going on. Can’t complain about that, and we won't.

Team work

At 81, as you can imagine, Don Driver isn’t out night clubbing so much, but he is still making work. In fact we helped him complete (in so far as any work is ever completed until it is physically taken away from Don) a collage while we were in New Plymouth. 

Illness has battered but not beaten Don and as we sat in his room he made it clear he wanted part of the collage pinned to the wall changed, and changed now. He had already marked the offending area with a black marker and we were soon racing through magazines looking for the right yellow or orange to fill the gap. Of course Don was the one to find it and tore the page out for us to shape and fit. 

It worked like a charm and Don let us know the work was finally finished… until next time.

Images Driver’s most recent work before (left) and after (right) the addition. The change is at the bottom left hand of the gorilla’s face. Click on the image to enlarge. You be the judge.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saturday's chART

From the wonderful folk at I Love Charts

Friday, March 18, 2011

Thinking of Venice

55 years ago this month

First the good news

Now that the Board of Te Papa has decided against a new building for a National Art Gallery, they're probably not so interested in what a high quality art museum could look like but, for the sake of argument, let's say they are still engaged with the idea. 

To pursue it they only need to make the short hop to New Plymouth and check out the current bunch of exhibitions at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. Stealing the senses, curated by Rhana Devenport, is an eclectic mix of installations that gives a smart take on current trends in contemporary art. 

In particular, it gives you a good handle on the new surge of interest in breaking down the barriers between design, art and craft in a playful installation by Karl Fritsch, Francis Upritchard and Martino Gamper. Whether you think it is diversionary, iconoclastic or virtuosic, it is bound to give new energy to New Zealand's strong craft traditions and inspire a multitude of imitators. It is an important exhibition so the big question is whether it will be shown in Wellington (aka the Cultural Capital… sorry, cheap shot) or at the Dowse. Past experience suggests not. 

What is going on? All that time, all that energy, all those resources in a country this size should not be limited to one public institution and one audience. Stealing the senses has CNZ's logo stamped on it and how often do we hear that CNZ likes to 'send signals' about what it expects of the organisations it funds. OK, here’s one: if we fund it, you will share.

(We have since been told that the Fritsch, Upritchard Gamper section of the show will be exhibited at the Hamish McKay Gallery in June)

(And the Govett-Brewster tells us that it was Dr. Gene Sherman, Director, Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation who opened the show rather than CNZ's chief honcho Wainright. But CNZ was involved in funding at least two of the big installations so we'll stick by the fund-it-if-they-tour-it angle)

Images: Clockwise from top left, installation by Karl Fritsch, Francis Upritchard and Martino Gamper, Brook Andrew’s inflatable The Cellone channel from Sonia Leber and in the back stairwell David Chesworth’s video Almost Always Everywhere Apparent (II), Various solid states one of Dane Mitchell’s installations and Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan’s Passage (The Eighth Fleet). (Click on image to enlarge)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Let there be light

“…my own proposal has become mainly an indoor routine of placing strips of fluorescent light. It has been mislabelled sculpture by people who should know better.”
American installation artist, Dan Flavin


Forgot to mention that when we were in Los Angeles we ran into this old friend. It’s another cast of the Henry Moore we have in Wellington. You may remember that Billy Apple had a go at getting it a bit of love from the Wellington City Council. You can see what constant care looks like when you look at the Getty version. Very nice. Maybe the City Council could hit the Getty up for the restoration cost for our version, being cousins and all.
More Moore on OTN here and here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Art in the workplace

Art at work in the foyers of the world

Five things to do tomorrow

It’s now nearly a month since the second disastrous earthquake in Christchurch and it is time for the Minister of Arts & Culture and his Wellington bureaucrats to get off their bums. Why they haven’t done so already is hard to understand and a disappointing but we might as well get over it. As with any critical project we need a list so here’s a start. Five things to do tomorrow.

Get your top three cultural bureaucrats down to Christchurch this week. Their job would be to listen to the arts community and find out what it is they need. They will know.

Put culture on the agenda for rebuilding Christchurch, and keep it there. The infrastructure of a sustainable city needs culture – and if you don’t believe that how the hell is anyone else going to?

Ask Hamish Keith (nicely) if he would let you put some serious resources behind It could then include all the arts, theatre props, musical instruments, manuscripts, costumes etc. Next (quickly) build a site that will work for Christchurch and later be incorporated into the standard emergency response for New Zealand, and any other country that wants to use it.

Develop an idea that the rest of us can get behind by way of a cultural gift to Christchurch, something that will express the rest of the country’s belief in their future. How about a piano with a standing bull on it for the front of the Christchurch Art Gallery? The piano to signify the enduring role Christchurch’s culture plays in our country and the bull to remind us of the spirit the city has shown over the last months.

Apologise that you allowed COCA to close and make its staff redundant at such a terrible time. Then ask them if they would be prepared to come back and be funded to open in a temporary space somewhere else in the city.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The woman in bronze

“Earth to OTN,” writes reader K, “you posted on a bronze statue of a woman a couple of years ago.” Oh right, thanks. Other readers have mentioned Queen Vic’s statue in Wellington. Nice. And there’s Pania and that one standing beside the pointing Kupe too. OK, that’s enough.

Killing you would be too easy Mr Dyke

Artist residencies used to be little more than a stipend, a cold water apartment and, “All the best” from the sponsor. We remember Jeffrey Harris, back in the seventies, freezing his sorry butt off in a garage in Dunedin as Hodgkins Fellow (not that it stopped him making those extraordinary icon paintings) with water seeping through the eaves. In the last couple of decades we have seen the flowering of a thousand residencies. You sometimes wonder if there will be enough artists to go round as the idea most often only suits people (usually young and single) who can pack up and leave home for months at a time.

Artist residency of the decade must go to the one set up by the SIS (Secret Intelligence Service to the rest of us) in the UK. Painter James Hart Dyke was awarded the MI6 Residency with access to their crew of clandestine staff. You can see the results of Dyke’s work here. At times he struggles to depict a world of shadows with anything more than…er…. shadows, and all too frequently in despair he flicks off a what-the-hell-can-I-do-now work. The red herring (described in the catalogue as ‘an indirect observation’ – it’s a fish, so yes, that description sounds about right) is a primo example of a metaphor too far.

Hard to think of our own Security Intelligence Service coming up with a residency scheme like this, but secrets being what they are, it’s not impossible that they already have.

Image: Mr Dyke at work outside MI6 HQ.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Put on

When all else fails (and hopefully they won’t) here are David Shrigley condoms to get you through the night. They are free, thanks to a joint venture between Third Drawer Down and the Victorian Aids Council. Oh, one thing, you need to go to Melbourne to get them.
Thanks to the always-worth-a-look Leg of Lamb where we pinched the story from

Heavy metal

Europe has sent a fair bit of bronze sculpture to us over the years. Most of it stands on plinths in our public places, figures of men (are there any bronze statues of women in New Zealand?) staring boldly into the middle distance. Our representative to the 2011 Venice Biennale is reversing the trend and sending a couple of large scale bronze sculptures as well as a carved piano right back at them. These Michael Parekowhai sculptures have their origins in Henderson, a light industrial suburb in West Auckland.

This is where the sculptures were seen for the first time over the last few days, and it is also where Parekowhai has his studio. Giving On first looking into Chapman’s Homer its first airing in Henderson was a generous gesture by Parekowhai; on previous occasions works destined for Venice have been shown here only after they have played the Italian gig.

The installation was laid out to reflect as far as possible the way it will be seen in Venice. A Henderson side street stood in for the Grand Canal and the carved piano was guarded at each entrance by the two bronze bulls on their piano plinths.

Over the weekend the sound of the carved piano being played indoors, was often accompanied by locals burning rubber up and down the road outside. The same locals also stopped at the fence to stare and take pics on their mobile phones shooting them off to friends with ‘OMG just cn this bull ona pno so gr8’.
Images: From Michael Parekowhai’s installation On first looking into Chapman’s Homer as seen in Henderson, West Auckland. Click on images to enlarge.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Pie shop

 Thanks P

Friday, March 11, 2011

On the road

#47 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.


Always on the lookout for artists taping other people or themselves to the wall, we have found another great example. This one is Barbara T Smith’s Nude Frieze shown at F-Space Gallery in Santa Ana California in 1972. You can see more pictures here including the artist being taped to the wall. You can follow OTN’s obsession with this strange byway of art here, here and here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Putting the flop into flip-flop

You’ll remember that Te Papa told us all they were finally going to build a new national art gallery. Well now they’re not. Te Papa Chair, Sir Wira Gardiner told a parliamentary committee yesterday the plan was all off, "The board has made the decision that if private interests want to pursue it, they can, and if they later want to approach us to use some of the collection, that's another matter – but from a board point of view, we're getting on with our vision." Whatever that is.
You can read the Dominion Post story here

Sacking Colin McCahon

Let’s hear it for Hessian. Last week in Peter McLeavey’s gallery, we were swept back in time when looking at the framing of Colin McCahon’s 1962 painting Was this the promised land. Peter McLeavey purchased the work shortly after it was painted and had it framed, with McCahon’s agreement, onto a hessian covered board. He later sold the work to allow him to carpet the new gallery he had moved into on Cuba Street. When we saw it last week the painting was back on sale and Peter and his new Gallery Manager Olivia McLeavey were checking out new carpet samples (sisal, a Central American cousin of jute) for the Cuba Street space, spooky. 

Although the Promised land painting was on hardboard, hessian was one of the favoured materials of the time. It was cheap and readily available (bolts of canvas were still a rare commodity) and gave a satisfyingly textured surface to work on. McCahon used the material (often catalogued as unstretched jute canvas) for his great series Landscape theme and variations with the width of the hessian rolls giving the paintings their distinctive format. Up to the late seventies artists like Philip Clairmont used hessian and it was also widely employed as a covering for display screens, doors (laid flat on concrete blocks for the display of ceramics) and walls. How often in the history of art is it the small practical limitations that shape how things are seen and remembered.
Image: The corner of the McCahon painting showing its hessian covered backing board frame

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Close call

Here’s another question. Assuming you did think to get a tattoo of your favourite artwork on your arm or your leg, what decision-making process would get you to choose a close-up of Chuck Close’s face hovering over a depressed bird?
You can see the original Close self portrait here at the Walker Art Center.

Go figure

You figure that one of the reasons life drawing might have vanished from art schools is that people don’t like sitting round in the nude any more, particularly when being stared at. Anyone who did life drawing at art school will remember the hilarity that usually accompanied the class. The truth is that most of us didn't get to see many naked bodies, and especially not old ones in bad repair which were the speciality then at Ilam. 

But now help is at hand thanks to an ingenious Japanese app (who else would even think of it?) that lets you take your nude model with you in your pocket. With Posemaniacs you can get a naked figure to strike a pose, any pose you like, and a few you probably won’t. Then it’s just a matter of pulling out a pen and pad and getting on with it. Life drawing in the bus, on the street, or even in the bath.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011


Following up on this morning’s art advocacy post (well lack of art advocacy), it wasn’t always so. That fact was highlighted when we heard that Hamish Keith rather than CNZ has started an internet contact point for people to register lost or at risk art in Christchurch. The idea is to compile a list that can be forwarded on to deconstructionists (the new word for demolition) and enable artworks to be removed if possible before buildings come down. Back in the day when Hamish was Chair of the Arts Council – and even when he wasn’t – his voice was always to be heard when anything related to culture was up for discussion, at threat or under ridicule. CNZ should shell out a few bob and bring him in to advise on how they can power up their public connection to daily cultural events.To register artworks that are lost or at risk in Christchurch go to:

Image: The Volcanoe Cafe and Lava Bar in Lyttelton where artworks were rescued before deconstruction

The silence of the lambs

Once a month we put three names into Google News Search: Christopher Finlayson, Alastair Carruthers and Michael Houlihan. The results are uniformly depressing. For those of you who have no idea who these people are, Finlayson is Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Carruthers is Chair of Creative New Zealand and Houlihan is Chief Executive of Te Papa.
Given that our news outlets are almost entirely driven by media releases, you might think that the three top advocates for the arts would be reasonably well represented. Not a chance. 

Let’s start at the top. The Right Hon Christopher Finlayson has given 11 speeches in 2011, none of them on the arts, and over the last six months he's given only one with art as its topic. He sticks to announcing appointments to arts organisation for his arts advocacy. His Google News listing features the announcement of the Philanthropy Report (rich-people-need-to-give-more-money-to-the-arts) in December last year but not much else. 

The Chair of CNZ doesn't seem to speak publicly at all. No Google news hits on the arts (and only one hit at all). A search on the CNZ site only turns up comments on CNZ reports and appointments and one speech given way back in 2008

As for the Chief Executive of Te Papa, OK he’s only been here around six months but his views on the arts in NZ? Go figure. The only public speech reference we can find was slated for 25 February and you had to be there at 7.15 in the morning to catch it (the TP-CE was going to “share his vision for Te Papa with the Wellington Employer’s Chamber of Commerce). We’ll ask Te Papa for a copy and let you know what he had to say. 

So public advocasy for the Arts in New Zealand, not so much. And that is why OTN readers have to put up with animal art, art in the movies and pointy sculpture stories.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Rocking result

Remember that 30 tonnes of Callum Morton-like rock that was up on Trade Me last week to raise money for Christchurch? Well, turns out the sale was serious enough and has resulted in the serious purchase price of $60,000.
Image: As the sale site is now off line we have used a rock stunt double to stand in for the original.

Ring of confidence

A regular OTN reader is clamouring for a more typical shot of an art museum director being photographed in front of an artwork. “OK, so some hick director from the Hutt Valley does it in the seventies, but no professional art manager would even think about behaving like that today?” rails C.

Image: Recently appointed Director of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, Thomas Campbell, poses in front of a sculpture by Martin Puryear.

Sculpture for nobs

Not long now before Michael Parekowhai ships his bronze sculptures off to Venice for the Biennale. That occasion seems like excuse enough to look at another Venetian bronze-animal-sculpture-story, this one about a bronze horse. Not the famous foursome on top of St Mark's, but the horse and rider by Marino Marini called Angel of the City that sits outside the Peggy Guggenheim Collection on the Grand Canal. 

When Guggenheim commissioned the piece she insisted on it having a removable rod (aka penis) that could be screwed on and off to allow for a quick manning-down in case of offence being taken by prudish guests. Hard to see how the sight of Peggy Guggenheim’s gloved hands frantically unscrewing a penis off a guy riding a horse was going to settle the guests down, but there you are. The willy has since been welded on to prevent theft and to hell with the feint hearted. 

When we saw another cast of this sculpture at the Getty Center in LA and bingo. If you think Peggy G was being overly concerned about the chances of her penis being unscrewed, you’re wrong. That’s just what a visitor did to the Getty’s one in 2009. Not sure what happened to it next, but in 2009 it was ‘sitting on a paper towel’ in the desk drawer of an intern conservator named Sarah Butler. As you can see from our photos taken earlier this year, it is either still lying there or has been nicked again, who knows for what awful purpose.
Images; Top Guggenheim with. Bottom Getty without.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Yo mouse

Saturday morning and here’s an art-clip for the kids. It’s Rastamouse episode 103 Da Missing Masterpiece

Images: the Rastamouse story in four pics clockwise from top left to save adults slouching over to You Tube. Thanks to RS for leading the way.

Friday, March 04, 2011

How to look at How to look at a painting

This morning's Dominion Post claims some mouldy doco on the History Channel is "The one to watch" today, but not so. Tonight at 9.05 pm on TV7 (Sky channel 77) is the first of Justin Paton's series How to look at a painting, based on his book of the same name published by Awa Press.

Art and the movies

The actress Jane Russell died on Tuesday, she was 89. It was Russell’s provocative appearance in the 1943 movie The Outlaw that shifted the tight morality rules that were in place in Hollywood at the time. The movie remained in the can for three years as the studio fought to have it released and when it was the promotion depicted Russell as both sexy and in control, something the guys didn’t see too much on screen at the time. 

But was it one of the guys who painted the sizzling film poster? Not a chance, it was Zoë Mozert, that’s who. And yes, you guessed it, Mozert wasn’t her real name which in fact was a less exotic Alice Adelaide Moser. Mozert was trained by the same guy who taught Maxfield Parrish and Andrew’s Dad, illustrator N. C. Wyeth. She did her best-known work out of New York where she was to become famous for her movie posters and, in particular, her OMG work for The Outlaw.

Image: Left: Zoë Mozert pretending to complete her painting of Jane Russell with what looks like the end of a cigarette. Right, the completed poster for The Outlaw.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Today’s question

Now why would a 17 metre high by 39 meter long sculpture of a nude woman who dominates a fourth century abbey that functions as a Catholic school and is entered by an exhibition centre between her open legs cause offence?


When London was bombed in the Second World War a bookshop in a demolished street that looked much like Christchurch today had a sign that famously announced, “More Open Than Usual.” There is that same spirit alive in Christchurch and throughout New Zealand on the city's behalf. This week a large rock has been offered on Trade Me.

“For sale 1 owner 25 - 30 tonne landscape feature (answers to the name Rocky).... Suitable for garden feature, or as in our case a magnificent addition to your living area. Rocky will enhance your 'indoor outdoor' flow considerably, especially if you load him in through the garage roof like we did. Sorry, but we are unable to deliver Rocky but would be happy for you to pick him up and roll him away....” 

Anyone who checks out this piece of auction black humor and who also attended the Scape Biennial 2008, is in for a big shock. The Trade Me image almost exactly replicates the Scape installation Monument #19 by Australian artist Callum Morton. Another sad reminder of Scape (cancelled at this time) is to see that the cave that acted as an out-of-world-experience for the Scape dinner is covered over with fallen rock and the home of the cave owner knocked askew. 

You can bid on the real rock here. All proceeds to the Christchurch Earthquake Relief Fund.

Images: Top, Image used on the Trade Me listing. Bottom Callum Morton Monument #19 in Scape 2008. Thanks for the head’s up W.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Love is just around the corner

"Part of the power of works of art that brings you back again and again is surprise in the midst of the familiar."
Martha Buskirk in her book The contingent object of contemporary art published by the MIT Press

Time Lord

As the media scrabbles round for good news stories from Christchurch, the visual arts came to the rescue yesterday. As we have already mentioned, most (if not all) the statues in Christchurch have been toppled and many of them damaged, but spare a special thought for Mr Godley who stood guard over the Cathedral Square for well over a century as the founder of Canterbury.

Getting John Robert Godley up onto his podium in the first place was struggle enough. The commissioning process began in October 1861, not long after Godley died in the UK, but it was quickly decided that no NZer could do the man justice. The job was given to Thomas Woolner, a Pre Raphaelite brother conveniently living in Australia, and by 1863 he was hard at work. Now settled back in the UK, Woolner started off with photographs and finished his clay model the following year. The casting was shown at the South Kensington Museum and then Godley (the bronze version) landed in Christchurch in July 1866.

Unfortunately the plinth, constructed in Christchurch, turned out to be too small and had to be rejigged. The statue was eventually put in place but a further delay of nine months meant it remained shrouded until 6 August 1867, six years after commissioning.

Godley left his plinth on 22 February 2011 revealing not one but two time capsules hidden under his feet. They have been sent to the Canterbury Museum for safekeeping and, with a bit of luck, contain a much-needed message of good hope to the people of Christchurch from the mid-nineteenth century. 

Source: Neil Roberts in A concise history of art in Canterbury 1850-2000 and the
Images: Top left, the unveiling of the Godley statue in 1867 (photo: A C Baker / Canterbury Museum). Bottom left Godley today and right Godley two weeks ago

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The name game

This one day seminar brought together leading curators, critics and scholars from a range of fields in international and local institutions to debate critical issues in curatorial practice today.
Seminar at Victoria University of Wellington. (Thanks T)

Other great art event names here