Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Art is where you find it

Philadelphian  edition

Frieze...it's Fiona

Frieze … it’s Fiona. The Frieze Art Fair is one of the two or three top fairs and it's held annually both in London and in New York. Today many dealer galleries make a significant part of their turnover from these fairs so competition to be included is fierce. In addition to the usual booths, talks and related exhibitions this year’s Frieze in New York also promises an outdoor sculpture park featuring major works by artists like Franz West (Gagosian Gallery), Paul McCarthy (Hauser & Wirth), Pae White (Andrew Kreps) and Fiona Connor (Hopkinson Cundy). Tom Eccles, who was previously Director of the New York City Public Art Fund, made the selection of 12 sculptors. Fiona Connor's contribution will be following on from her exhibition in Auckland where she installed a number of works in a field and duplicated them in the gallery. We’ll post photos of what she's come up with when we visit the fair in a couple of weeks.
Images: Fiona Connor’s work photographed at night (don’t ask) in a field somewhere in Mangere from the exhibition Mount Gabriel, Ruby and Ash

Monday, April 29, 2013

Falling for Fallingwater

Frank Lloyd Wright’s house Fallingwater has been photographed every which way. No wonder. It's hard to believe that Wright designed it when he was 67 and that it reignited his career with over 400 more projects, one of them the Guggenheim Museum.  Fallingwater was almost immediately recognised as one of the great buildings of the twentieth century; an appearance on the cover of Time magazine in 1937 sealed the deal. First there is the anticipation as you walk through wooded parkland towards this house that is so familiar through photographs. And second there is the experience of being actually inside something you know so much better from images of its exterior. Unexpectedly we were allowed to photograph inside (a recent change no doubt brought on by phone cameras) so we decided to concentrate on details of the texture and finish that make up the personality of Fallingwater. Some of them you can see here and others are on OTN Stuff.
Images: Details of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and bottom (we couldn’t help ourselves) the money shot.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Saturday at the movies: advert edition. The Nightwatch is ‘assembled’ by a flash mob in a shopping mall to advertise the reopening of the Reijksmuseum after its long renovation. You can watch it here.
Images: Top mob version and bottom the real thing.

Friday, April 26, 2013

working the wall

The Cleveland Museum of Art has been inundated with praise for its digital innovations. We drove up there to check out its prime exhibit - The Wall. This is not some cheesey Pink Floyd rehabilitation (although Cleveland does happen to be the home of the Rock and Roll Hall ofFame) but a significant advance in how to add a digital dimension to an art audience experience. And it’s impressive. It makes you feel a bit like Tom Cruise in Minority Report. Back in 2002 when he manipulated data and images with a flick of the wrist it felt like science fiction. No more. The Wall is just like that. You can theme, you can choose, you can share your selections. At its most spectacular The Wall shows thousands of small images of every object in the Museum's collection. Touch one and it expands to give you more info, connections to similar objects in the collection, ways to make your tour for others to share. You can also rent an iPad (five bucks) to locate yourself in the galleries, tell you what's close to you, give more info, tell stories, email your photos. In some ways it's art education on speed with images and info zapping past as you figure out the system, but it lacks the attitude and personality of MoNA's O. As nothing is going to stop this born again museum education fever though, get used to it.  A huge upside at Cleveland is that because they are presenting so many images digitally themselves, you using your own phone and camera is just fine. You can see a short clip of the wall in action here.
Images: top, Cleveland's digitised collection on view. Middle, visitors selecting their favourites. Bottom, using the iPad to locate, expand and photo works in the galleries.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Gone again

It looks as though the web site we pointed to for the Auckland Triennial was only the test site. It has now been password protected. Guess it will be launched some time in the next couple of weeks.

Finding gold in the Triennial maze

How do you find out what’s going on at the Auckland Triennial? There seem to be three web sites as well as a Twitter stream and Facebook. Search for the Auckland Triennial 2013 and as you'd expect you get as the number one hit aucklandtriennial.com But hang on, it turns out this isn't the site you really need. After a bit of is-this-the-best-we-can get action we literally stumbled on yet another Auckland Triennial website. Not easy to find as it isn’t mentioned on the Auckland Art Gallery site or the main Triennial site either and forget Google. But, if you scroll back to January on the FaceBook page it is mentioned a couple of times (and then never linked to again – they usually link to the other site). This much more informative site is called rather mysteriously triennial.sons. Is it some cunning ploy worked up by marketing? Will Triennial and Sons fool us all by stepping up and stepping out when we least expect it? In the meantime you can check it out and bookmark it here.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The play way

A sculpture park in St Louis turned out to be a surprise. For a start there's its superb location in the middle of downtown near the famous Eero Saarinen Gateway Arch. And then there's the way it is used. People in this city seemed to love it and want to spend time there. You forget how unusual is it to see crowds of people not only physically enjoying sculpture but also including it in the important events of their lives.

We happened to be in St Louis on Prom weekend and the place was packed with limos, anxious parents and hundreds of dressed-up kids looking for special places to be photographed. OK, the Gateway Arch was first pick but a close second was the Citygarden sculpture park. The GatewayFoundation owns the works and it obviously believes that any scuffing or wear can be readily repaired. And so there are no do not touch signs, no keep off the art notices and no barriers.

At the far end of the park a striking but sombre work by Richard Serra was left to its own devices but most everything else was in use. Kids climbed the Mark di Suvero, people imitated Julian Opie's LED walking figures, a family explored the inside of a large bronze head by Igor Mitoraj, a couple fooled around with Jim Dine's Big white gloves and prom celebrants used anything that was going to complement their striking poses.

Images: top, Climbing Mark di Suvero’s Aesop’s fables. Second row, photographing Prom outfits on Untitled (two rabbits) by Tom Claasen. Third row left, striking a pose in front of Jim Dine’s Big white gloves, big four wheels and right, kids clambering out after hiding in Eros Bendato by Igor Mitoraj. Bottom, a very McCahon-like view of the garden through a portal in Richard Serra’s Twain

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Stella work

Perhaps we’ve complained enough about the placement of barriers  in art museums but just when we thought we'd seen it all, along comes an effort that won us over.  So for your entertainment here is the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City doing its very best to protect the pointy part of Frank Stella’s wall sculpture.

Kerrie's difference engine

Around 13 years ago we saw an intriguing work for sale at the Sarah Cottier Gallery in Sydney. It was simply a cardboard box with a book of instructions, a felt pen and a piece of string. Once you purchased this numbered but limitless edition though you had the right to create six wall drawings by Australian artist Kerrie Poliness as many times as you wanted to whatever scale you chose. As the form was determined by where you put the initial markers and you had to measure by eye, the drawings never looked quite the same. We liked the wonky renditions best. As in some many things, if you made a slight error of judgement at the start, it amplified as you went on. Now the Poliness drawings have been installed at the Dowse in Lower Hutt so we'll be keen to play spot-the-difference when we eventually get to see them. Thanks to a time-lapse movie you can see the drawing in progress, along with a similar record of a more recent work being installed in Australia here.
Images: Top, Black-O installed at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, second row at the City Gallery and bottom at home around 2001

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mixed messages

The more things change

Years ago we saw the most striking building in Montreal on the St Lawrence River. It turned out to be Habitat 67 designed by a 23-year old apprentice of Louis Kahn, Moshe Safdie. The apartment complex was one of the highlights of Expo 67 that was based on the theme ‘Man and his world’ (not a million miles away in spirit from the Auckland Art Gallery’s theme for this year’s Triennial ‘If you were to live here’ with its architectural design lab). 

In Kansas City we saw a spectacular building from the other end of Safdie’s career, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.  Rolling between references to the Sydney Opera House and the Guggenheim it's a startling modern presence in a city that has had the foresight to retain much of its early architecture. Safdie’s most recent project is Crystal Bridges, an art museum in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Images: Moshe Safdie's Kauffman Center for Performing Arts in Kansas City (click on images to enlarge)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

In Colorado...

...we were thinking about Andrew Barber and Rosalie Gascoigne

Friday, April 19, 2013

On the road

Selling it to us on the road between Dodge City and Emporia

Concrete cowboy

Long before artist George Segal began casting his friends in plaster to make his famous signature Pop Art sculptural tableaux there was Oscar Simpson pioneer dentist. Simpson, who lived in Dodge City invented the gold inlay process that was to be the bad-boy brand for generations of gangsters and via his teeth modelling skills became an enthusiastic amateur sculptor. So when Dodge City was looking to celebrate its new City Hall in 1929 it was Oscar Simpson who came up with the idea for a cowboy statue. All of which was so, so news for his friend Joe Sughrue a law enforcement officer soon to be Marshal of Dodge City. But Joe was a good pal and lay down in a wooden box fully clothed in cowboy gear and allowed Oscar to fill it with plaster. When this set it was carefully detatched and used as a mould for a concrete pour. For the face a life mask was created with a couple of straws poked into Joe’s nose for breathing purposes. As is most often the case when someone is having plaster poured on his face the sculpture has its eyes closed an alarming detail in the depiction of someone who has just drawn a six shooter.
Images: Top Oscar Simpson’s cowboy sculpture standing on Dodge City’s Boot Hill. Bottom left Joe Sugharue and right detail of Simpson’s sculpture

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bit of a stretch

Come on, this does fit into the weird-use-of-the-artist’s-palette theme that OTN has discerned is of great interest to you all. And it does give us the chance to post these photos (completely unrelated to art) taken at the Colorado National Monument using the iPhone 5’s incredible - and perhaps overused - panorama function.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Lamp post

One of this year’s Most Inappropriate Public Sculpture awards will surly go to the Indian head reliefs bolted to the lampposts that help light downtown Salt Lake City. Although the Mormons started out kind of neutral to the local tribes, as their settlements grew the First Nation peoples were inevitably pushed out to reservations or induced to leave the state to avoid starvation. The placement of the reliefs at dog level is a metaphor probably not lost on the odd Indian that ventures into SLC.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Show or perish

Apart from the tertiary community itself, the announcement last week of the PBRF (Performance Based Research Funding) evaluations probably passed most people by. And yet with static or diminishing funding from Creative NZ and philanthropy’s flagship Boosted struggling to get traction, what the visual arts get out of the $262.5 million allocated to tertiary research will have a major impact on what we see and read over the coming three or so years.

Here's how it works. Virtually all academic staff have to submit a detailed portfolio of their research over the previous three years for which they are given an A,B or C.. The higher your ranking, the more access to funding you have. In the visual arts this increasingly means highly subsidised or fully funded art works, exhibitions, and publications by university staff.

So how did our art schools fare in this funding gold rush? There are only three horses in this race: University of Auckland, Massey University and AUT. The art schools are part of the subject area Arts and Craft but fortunately this time round both Auckland and Massey also had the results for their art schools recorded separately.

Auckland University art school topped the list with 7 A researchers, 9 B researchers and 6 who came in at C.

Massey’s School of Fine Arts was a close second with 5 A researchers, 10.8 Bs and 8 Cs.

AUT's art and craft subject area results made it third with no A researchers, 6.8 Bs and 49.6 Cs.

The rest didn’t really feature.

The take away? Watch out for more public museum projects, large scale installations, publications and inclusion in cash strapped biennales and exhibitions both at home and abroad by the senior staff at Elam and Massey. The names of these funded rock stars will become more apparent as the years go by.

You can read the full PBRF report here.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Figure in ground

It’s about two and a half hours drive out of Salt Lake City with the last ten or so on well sign-posted gravel roads. Despite warnings that it was too early in the season for Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty to be reliably visible, there it was. But until we got there who knew the lake, surrounding mountains and sky were going to present such a spectacular setting? As for the Spiral jetty, well it looked just like it does in the pictures. But, hang on a minute, what’s that big post stuck right bang in the middle? It turns out there’s a guy standing at the very end tip of the spiral. It’s a Spiral Jetty nightmare. In all fairness he just waded around for a few minutes and then came on in so we could take the same uninterrupted human-free pictures everyone else does.

Truthfully in the two hours we were there we mostly had it to ourselves but we did see a bunch of guys on trail bikes and customised bikers suits, a young artist who was a Perec fan and her dad from Salt Lake City, a couple of guys (one was spiral guy) with a very old dog, a small plane (the trail bike crowd raised pretend guns to shoot it down), and flocks of migrating birds. It was warm and perfectly still.

Let Smithson have the last word. “This site was a rotary that enclosed itself in an immense roundness. From that gyrating space emerged the possibility of the Spiral Jetty. No ideas, no concepts, no systems, no structures, no abstractions could hold themselves together in the actuality of that evidence.”
Image: Spiral guy.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Flavour of the month

Never thought we'd get to see OTN’s love of the artist’s palette rewarded in a big box super mart. But there it was in Ely Nevada's Safeway complete with palette / palate word play.
Other palette stories on OTN
Horror palette

Friday, April 12, 2013

The finger post

For all of you who vacillate between the IT world and the art world, welcome to the world of digital sculpture.
 Images: Top to bottom left to right. Maurizio Cattelan Middle finger, Thomas Houseago 2 Fingers, Toby Christian Finger, random sculpture in Stockholm, photograph by Ai Weiwei, Sebastian Di Mauro in Brisbane, Robb Jamieson Finger Hole, César Baldaccini Le Pouce, Constantine’s hand and hand finger in Rome, sand art fingers. (click on image to enlarge)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

By the numbers: international edition

1 the number of Te Papa touring exhibitions on show at The American Museum of Natural History (Whales: Giants of the Deep)

1  the number of New Zealand dealer galleries that will be represented at the Frieze Art Fair New York (Hopkinson Cundy)

1.79  the amount in millions of NZ dollars paid for  the Chinese Girl by Vladimir Tretchikoff 

7  the number of days a week the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will be open as of 1 July

10  the number of countries participating for the first time in this year’s Venice Biennale

14 The number of Andy Warhol exhibitions currently on tour throughout the world

24  the percentage the Chinese art market fell last year

52  the estimated percentage of total art sales worldwide that last year were handled by the primary market

89  the number of days to wait before you can see the Statue of Liberty following the havoc created by Hurricane Sandy 

154  the number of artists in Massimiliano Gioni’s exhibition  The Encyclopaedic Palace slated for this year’s Venice Biennale

200 the number in hundreds of thousands of people who have visited the Mike Kelley retrospective at the refurbished Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam since it opened last December

1,000 the number of tents to be pitched in Ai Weiwei’s installation Aus der Aufklärung in Germany

50,000+ the number of tickets the V&A pre-sold to its David Bowie exhibition

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Letter perfect

All the acronyms you need to make it in the art world gathered by OTN operatives from a text/tweet trawl.

ILTS   I’m loving the space
BAY   Bought anything yet?
DDTW   Don’t drink the wine
IAOC  Intense application of chiaroscuro (rare)
ISON   I’m so over neon
ITAC   Is there a catalogue?
ITJW   Is that James Wallace?
WIN   What is next?
MYITBS Meet you in the bookstore
NS   Nice shoes
GG Great glasses
OP  Over priced
AYTTM Are you talkin' to me?
WIC   What’s it cost?
WIW  What’s it worth?
WTF   Who’s the friend?

YOLO  Your outfit looks oresome

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Know all

One thing that came out Alistair Carruther’s chairing of Creative NZ was more transparency around funding. For instance it's now possible to compile the above chart showing the ongoing decline in funds for the visual arts. OK it’s not the best news in the world but at least now it can be seen and discussed. 

Meanwhile the new chair Dr. Richard Grant is somewhat more paternal informing us on Radio New Zealand, “You can only [succeed] internationally if you have a good base in New Zealand.” This, as he astutely points out, means that CNZ has “got a great amount of work to do in New Zealand to bring the creative sector up to speed.” Under his stewardship CNZ will be spending “sensibly so our artists develop.” After all, as Grant so patiently reminds us, “it is a very big and competitive world out there."

Monday, April 08, 2013

Top shop

Before there was the Guggenheim Museum there was the V C Morris Gift Shop. We had a look at this prototype for FLW’s spiral ramped art effort while we were in San Francisco. The shop is now called Xanadu and its 1948 Lloyd Wright interior and entrance has been fully renovated by the current owner. Like the Guggenheim the store has the same restricted entrance to give the swooping ramp maximum impact as you enter the main space. There's also an elaborate roof lighting system to complement the large single volume of the store with its display cubby holes and intricate detailing.  Xanadu is at 140 Maiden Lane between Union Square and Kearny, you can see more pics and the plans here on Stuff.

Images looking North(top) and South from the top of the spiral

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Advice to collectors

Suck it up.
One of many cards filled in by visitors in response to the exhibition of a selection of 250 works donated by Viki and Kent Logan to SFMoMA. The loan includes works by Warhol, Hirst, Nauman, Richter and Basquiat.

Friday, April 05, 2013

House call

If you want to live in Wellington in a house that's slowed the traffic for over 30 years, you're in luck. This waterfront house designed by Fritz Eisenhofer is up for rent (or was when we wrote this post). With its single living space backed by the kitchen and utilities and a two storey living area, what's not to like? Although rather blocked now by the next door garage and minus its original decorative screen, this Eisenhofer house is still one of the most stylish in Wellington.

Austrian-trained Eisenhofer was also known for his design of deeply cool (in the day) coffee bars (or lounges as they were then) like The Matterhorn and Chez Lilly. Most famously he fashioned Suzy’s CoffeeLounge out of what had been the Hansel and Gretel clothing shop in 1964. Suzy’s was a major Wellington hangout for years and the subject of a well-known RitaAngus painting

Eisenhofer was an architect with skills that encompassed ecological disciplines alongside stylish fantasy. Some of his homes make you feel like you're on a cruise ship all look-up and look-down views with plants, pools, curves and lots of glass. Maybe it was these more daring efforts that sidelined Eisenhofer so that he does not yet have the reputation he deserves as an important talent who introduced a new perspective on the modern to New Zealand.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

The volume business

For some time now Te Papa has been promising to up its art game on the fifth floor. Last week CE Mike Houlihan hit the ball right out of the park announcing on TV, “You’ll actually see the amount of space for art here at Te Papa growing by about 400 percent over the next four years.” We understand that this expansion involves refurbishing the spaces currently occupied by research collections and admin plus a big chunk of space on another floor. Over all we’re talking around 8,000 square meters of new space with access from the first floor. So what will be shown? Well, we even have a pretty good idea about that thanks to the new permanent collection hang Te Papa launched last week. 

Looking through the comprehensive presentation of art work and background material on the accompanying website, it seems the ‘new look’ has around 250 works on display in this first iteration. These are wrapped around Te Papa’s usual range of themes - Art of the twentieth century, Home, land and sea, Framing the view, Emblems of identity. It's what you might expect from a National institution but definitely more Tate Britain than Tate Modern. If you're looking for the more challenging art of the last twenty years this is not going to be for you. The most recent contribution is 25 works on paper by Andrew McLeod commissioned by Te Papa (maybe referencing its 1998 opening commissions by Jeff Thompson, Jim Speers, Gavin Chilcott, Jacqueline Fraser et al - and no, not that et al.) Then there's Michael Parekowhai with one work (the piano), Shane Cotton with a very small painting, Niki Hastings-McFall with a necklace, Yvonne Todd with a suite of images (not on the website as far as we could see) and three works from Australian Nick Mangan. Together they pretty much carry the load for the twenty first century.

Maybe the traditional wait-and-see for some consensus about who and what is important makes sense for Te Papa. Installations, performance art, video installations and more rambunctious contemporary work have always struggled on the fifth floor (although the new 8,000 squares may give new opportunities). 

More contentious though is the absence of some of the classic greats from Te Papa's collections. There is no sign, for example, of a major late work by Colin McCahon. Now that's something we'd argue should always be on display at Te Papa. And still there is the women thing. Six of the twelve shows include no women, and less than 15 are represented in the entire hang with only two of them born after 1950. 

NOTE: We did make an effort to see the new hang the day after it opened, but it was closed (who knew) so this post is based on the record of Te Papa’s new hang of their permanent collection as detailed on the website.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Can’t live with them, can’t live without them

"In Panama City US developer KC Hardin is building luxury condominiums intended for foreign buyers alongside low-cost studios and living spaces for local artists. “Our goal is to finish one affordable housing unit for every high-end condo. Keeping artists in place is the only way to maintain an area’s authenticity and attract a critical mass of visitors.” - Art Newspaper
From today and for the next three months OTN will only publish once a day in the morning. We will be out of the country but will do our best to post when we can on things that will interest and entertain you, but it may be sporadic.


unvarnished facts, reckless guesswork, insinuations and possible inventions that have come the way of otn via its readers: robert leonard has been secured as the city gallery’s senior curator and will start work in wellington at the beginning of next year • one prominent art dealer has taken up fencing (the touché kind) • jonathan mane-wheoki is back at te papa again this time bringing a marsden grant and a publication along with him • auckland art gallery is offering as little as $5,000 to nz artists making major installations for the 5th auckland triennial • the minister of the arts is off to join the fun at the venice biennale • john and jo gow's group has raised $80,000 so far for darryn george's participation in the palazzo bembo • in the last cnz funding round women artists got twice as much as men • waikato museum is advertising for a social media coordinator • maddie leach, local time, tahi moore, peter robinson, luke willis thompson and wayne youle  are included in the auckland triennial along with the 24 imports announced so far - five to go • the interview panel for te papa’s senior curator (a reader has suggested that this was in fact for the selection of a curator for NZ art up to 1970) included te papa’s acting senior curator sarah farrar and mary kisler from the aag. any missed details, indignant denials or additions gratefully received, and any that makes us laugh out loud will be suitably rewarded.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Family tree

In Auckland thinking about Michael Parekowhai

One day in the offices of J C Crew

Manager: I’m loving the sales of shirts and tops and knitwear shawls but what the hell's going on down in the pant division?

S: They’re a tough sell. I think you'd be surprised at the number of people who don’t like things with two legs.

M: OK, I'm thinking niche. I’m getting some buzz  for instance that the art world is ready for its own pant. A pant that will speak for a new generation of individualists.

S: How about a radical cut-off short pant or maybe even a rugged jean?

M: Is there something about them all being women that you don’t understand?

S: Right. So it’s all about colour then.

M: Exactly. A colour will shout out ‘I CURATE”

S: Oh. Curators. Why didn’t you say so? A curator pant.

M: Absolutely

S: Assertive but not opinionated. Inclusive rather than selective.

M: Exactly.

S: In that case we’re talking lime green