Thursday, October 31, 2013

Art at work

Art hard at work in the foyers of the world


The names of the artists participating in the 19th Biennale of Sydney next year were announced last night. There were 90 of then showing across five venues. The director of the event Juliana Engberg has called her Biennale You Imagine What You Desire but strangely this is possibly the first Sydney Biennale to not include a single New Zealand artist (well, one - see below). Strangely, because Engberg has been a strong supporter of NZ artists and art. She was even Senior Curator of the Art & Industry Biennale in Christchurch in 2002.

There is of course no rule that says New Zealand has to be represented in the Biennale but this one seems to have a penchant for smaller nations (e.g. five artists from Norway, seven from Switzerland and three from Scotland) and for this part of the world (20 artists from Australia).

And Engberg was unable to find a single significant New Zealand artist to contribute to her theme of “celebrating the power of artistic imagination”? Come on.

There were some warning signs. Back in May Engberg did visit New Zealand and her adventures are covered on her Biennale blog. No artists got a mention but in Auckland she gave top marks to a meal at Sunday Painters and in Wellington was finally able to answer a pressing question about where all the sausage dog door stoppers have gone “They’re all over here in New Zealand’s land of the long white cloud and sensible home making”.

Creative New Zealand is listed among the “Cultural Funders” of Engberg’s Biennale so we assumed they must have paid for Engberg’s trip. On checking the funding lists though we can’t find any evidence of CNZ funding for the BofS. We’ll ask them what’s the story and get back to you.

(A couple of readers have pointed out that there is one New Zealander included, Shannon Te Ao. We were fooled by the fact that Shannon was born in Australia but apologies to him) - Thanks for letting us know B and J
Shannon Te Ao

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Scare thy neighbour

We’re figuring any one of these art inspired Halloween get-ups (particularly the Freddy meets Vincent model) should scare up enough candy on Thursday to keep you in tooth decay for the rest of your life. OTY.

Time to play

So you build a game that lets players enter the Museum of Modern Art in New York and join a line to sit opposite Marina Abramovic. In a serious nod to the real world, you only allow the game to be played when the Museum is open in real time. No playing on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day, after hours or on Tuesdays when the MoMA is closed. What happens though when MoMA changes its opening hours to every day of the week? Do you change the hours for the game or leave them as they are as a bit of history?

While you are pondering this existential question, along with the game’s creator Pippin Barr and at least one bemused player, you might like to visit the games he made in collaboration with Marina Abramovic. They are now available here, and you can play them any damn time you like.

Image: top the mineral tablet room in the virtual MAI and bottom Marina Abramovic's mineral tablets spotted on a very wet day in Tachikawa, Tokyo (the same set that was used to model the virtual set #insider knowledge)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Is this the first public sculpture in New Zealand to have a Facebook page? Guess not, but maybe.

...and change

Cruising the Te Papa web site the other day brought up a window asking if we wanted to help with a survey. Happy to help. Turns out Te Papa is about to bring in a big Chinese exhibition so it wanted to test some ideas. OK, but what ever happened to "Changing hearts. Changing minds. Changing lives"? 

Since adopting its the new vision (a process that took almost a year) Te Papa's self-styled blockbusters have hardly been what you would call game changers: a big Pompeii exhibition followed by a big Aztec exhibition now to be followed by a big Chinese exhibition.

These kinds of exhibitions (whatever the quality of objects) change nothing. They are just better packaged versions of the same old ideas about masterpieces, civilization and culture that did the rounds in the 1980s in NZ and in the 1960s and 1970s in the US via Thomas Hoving at the Met. 

The last time anyone could accuse Te Papa of "Changing hearts. Changing minds. Changing lives." with art was probably right back in its opening months with Pax Britannica and the infamous Madonna in a condom controversy. It was the first and last time an imported contemporary (as in now) art exhibition was ever allowed near the place with all its attendant provocation, attitude and emotion. Not to say that having the church camped out on your doorstep is something to aim for but Te Papa now works hard to avoid any controversy at all which doesn't make that much sense given that change itself is usually controversial.

It's hard to believe we're saying this but the reason Te Papa can’t affect the sort of change championed by its new vision is because it lost a critical skill when Cheryll Sotheran left the building in 2002. That's taking a point of view.

Image: Protesting Pax Britannica, the Dominion Post Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library

Monday, October 28, 2013

How to look at an art museum

“There's nothing worse than those vast galleries in which you lose yourself in a labyrinth of rooms, with no sense of how one area relates to another or how the whole relates to the landscape beyond.”

“The crucial thing is that the building serve the art. It's not a case of building only massive rooms and then having to find only massive art to fill them.”

“Of course, the best visual art is famously resistant to being explained. That's why it's visual - it taps into something that words can't get near. But there's a lot of fun to be had talking about what that something is.”

Justin Paton, who has just been appointed head of international art at the Art Gallery of NSW, nails his colours to the mast in the Sydney Morning Herald.

It’s just not Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel survived the 1923 Tokyo earthquake and the bombing of the city in WW2 but not the bulldozer in 1968. No, that’s not quite true, a third of it survived both.
What do you do if have an itch for architecture that just won't quit? If you’re Dr. Yoshiro Taniguchi you find a rich friend (Mr. Moto-o Tsuchikawa) and start collecting buildings. Catch a train and a bus out of Nagoya and you can see them dotted around a lake and up the sides of the surrounding valley. There’s a cathedral (really), a bunch of administrative buildings, classic houses, a couple of bridges and the front end of the Imperial Hotel.

The visitors to this architectural soup were mostly kids in support of the reliance of museums worldwide on school trips bulking up attendance numbers. They were mostly bemused and probably wondering why they'd been dragged so far to see what they could see every day - buildings that is.
As for Frank Lloyd Wright's Imperial Hotel, what's to say? The idea that the entrance hall and lobby of one of his buildings would be rescued and plonked between the Miyazu District Court building and the Iwakura Substation of the Nagoya Railroad Company would, if he were not dead, surely keep him up nights.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Shock choc

It’s probably only once or twice in a lifetime that anyone thinks “God if only we had a life-sized chocolate torso to put on the table”. But these things do happen. Now, thanks to the OTN Global Research Team (OTNGRT), we can tell you that an order into Jean Paul Hevin in Roppongi’s Mid City Centre will solve the gotta-have-a-choc-o-torso problem just like that.

Other chocolate art stories that have featured on OTN:
Choc-o-not to night dear I’ve got a headache
Choc-o-de Milo

Friday, October 25, 2013

Double Dutch

"I could not imagine that a museum would exhibit such valuable works with so little security"
Speaking during his trial, for the theft of works by Gauguin, Monet and Picasso, Romanian Radu Dogaru sets the scene for a suit against the Kunsthal in Rotterdam for negligence.

What’s in that crate?

One of the big changes to moving art in NZ has been the introduction of the crate. Apart from major exhibitions, right up to the 1980s most art works were travelled round New Zealand wrapped in corrugated card and air freighted or bundled up with rugs in a truck. The introduction of crates has certainly given artworks more protection but it has also immobilised them as bulky crates add up to equally bulky freight costs.

In the late 1970s two other crate-like products appeared that have now become New Zealand art icons, the customized boxes for sculptures by Neil Dawson and cut-outs by Richard Killeen. We were reminded of this when we saw these instantly recognisable Killeen and Dawson works stored ready for auction at Art + Object. Although it's hard to imagine now, when works first appeared presented in this way it seemed like a hugely sophisticated leap in the transport of art. Killeen’s square cut handles cutting into your hand and the sculpted sponge interiors and intriguing holding devises of Dawson’s immaculately crafted boxes remain vivid memories of that period.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Design for living

You want to know about the pressures of global art dealing? Try this mantra that fills a wall in the offices of Tokyo’s Taka Ishi Gallery.



Boy oh boy

All the publicly funded art museums in the Wellington region are now run by women, but if you think that’s going to give women artists a break, think again. The 2014 New Zealand Festival programme has just been announced in Wellington and if you love what one man can do in a gallery space, you’re going to be like a pig in visual arts muck at this Festival (also directed by a woman).

City Gallery: a Noel McKenna show and a Laurence Aberhart show and William Eggleston show and a Simon Starling show

The Engine Room: a Paul Cullen show

Pataka: a Jens Parkitny show

The Adam is doing a group show but don’t hold your breath on the representation thing: 10 of the 12 artists are male. The Dowse is only down for Shapeshifter which it claims is “One of summer’s most keenly anticipated arts events. “ Although this outdoor sculpture display hasn’t exactly been a female fest in the past, you never know your luck.

So is there any chance of seeing the art of the fifty percent? There is, but apart from a commissioned work from Yuk King Tan at Te Papa, it’s out on the geographic edges that another bunch of women directors have brought a little balance to the overall programme:

Pataka, Porirua: Tiffany Singh

Expressions, Upper Hutt: Tracey Moffat

Mahara, Kapiti: Frances Hodgkins

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Hot bidder

"I had someone on the phone bidding on a lot who told me 'I have to go now, my house is on fire.'"
Nicholas Lowry of the Swann Auction Galleries reported in Art News

Crowded house

The development of the Len Lye Centre signals the Govett-Brewster's intention to increase its focus on being an art tourist destination. You can see why New Plymouth thinks it's worth a shot. The city has already had a major success with music and WOMAD. People turn up each year from all over the country (as well as enough from overseas to make up a percentage) to hear the music. Event tourism can be big business so for ideas on the art side someone from the G-B need to get to Naoshima on the Inland Sea of Japan and the islands that surround it.

When we first visited Naoshima in 2006 it essentially boasted two museums housing a rich man's collection and a luxury destination hotel for the international art world. Seven years later everything's changed. Ok, the hotel and museums remain, and we spotted a posse of international art lovers with outstandingly good shoes so we figure Naoshima still figures on the itineraries of the rich, but the overwhelming majority of visitors today (and there are a lot of them) are Japanese people of all ages.

This changes has come about very fast thanks to the launch of the first Setouchi Triennale in 2010 and now its latest iteration in 2013. Featuring Japanese and international artists this event has gone for local history, local connections and local communities. Lacking easy access the Setouchi Triennale has made a virtue of its isolation. Based on twelve small islands the challenge and fun of getting from place to place has become a huge part of a unique experience. The Triennale locates temporary and permanent art works both in buildings and industrial sites that have been abandoned as well as adding a small number of superb new buildings.

The result has been the reinvention of the islands as an arts destination. And that's where the Triennale comes in. It injects jolts of concentrated energy into a bourgeoning cultural scene full of small businesses (cafes, accommodation, bars, gifts shops) often owned and operated by young people, the same young people who had no option but to leave the islands just a few years before.  

Images: top to bottom left to right, the Seirensho Art Museum on Inujima Island reuses the remains of an old copper refinery, waiting for a bus on Teshima Island, Kimio Mishima’s giant trash can with ceramic trash Another rebirth on Naoshima Island, Sugimoto installation at the Benesse House Museum on Naoshima, giant dog statue and bottom, a SANNA pavilion on Inujima.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Spot the difference

Japanese TV channels Kusama and/or Hirst

Dick and Ches and Dale

An enduring Kiwi  tale is the one about Dick Frizzell inventing Ches. He's the little one in the Ches and Dale cheese promotion combo from the 1960s. Now, in a very entertaining essay in the book Promoting prosperity, Frizzell himself has announced that he was not Ches’s Daddy at all.

It turns out he just  “helped with the pencil ‘inbetweening” for the animation of the TV commercial. Hard to know who did the initial drawings although a Nobby Clark (really) is mentioned in some accounts. For Chesdale nuts, Robert Jenkins wrote the lyrics for the Ches and Dale jingle, Terry Gray the music and it was performed by Brian Borland and Gordon Hubbard of The Yeomen. More here on the excellent longwhitekid site.

Frizzell also begs off having created the Four Square man. As this character made his first appearance in the late fifties he wasn’t really a starter.

You can see the Ches and Dale animation here.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Just for a moment there..

T.J reviews art works featuring towels in the NZH on Saturday

Like tears in the rain

It’s something of a mission to get to the island of Teshima (#understatement) on the Inland sea of Japan. For us it meant four trains, two ferries, one bus and a lot of walking but at the end of queuing, panicking over directions, wondering how to get tickets and running between terminals/stations /(put your own transport hub here), it was one of our best art/architecture experiences ever.

The Teshima Art Museum was designed by the architect Ryue Nishizawa (half of the SANAA team) specifically for work by the artist Rei Naito. From the road the building looks like a space age object dropped at the top of terraced rice paddies but once you get through the timed entry and instruction phase the experience opens out with a meandering walk through trees before you enter the building. The number of visitors is limited and the rules are strict: no shoes (of course), no talking, no touching, no pens, no photos. The effect is to slow you down and quietly focus. 

Drops of water skid across the floor organising themselves into puddles and then slide into one of two large pools at either end of the space. Some of the pools are formed by water bubbling out of small balls and discs while others are created by water welling up from tiny holes drilled in the floor. It is so simple and spare yet mesmerising and oddly humorous. The effect is created by the precise rules water follows but it's not at all science-projecty like, say, Olafur Eliasson or researchy like …. um… just about everyone. And overlooking all this water action are beautiful framed vistas of sky, trees, hills.

People seemed to stay for around half an hour and that in all but complete silence. Some were obviously there for the day even though sitting on the floor was chilly and rather damp. It was an touching evocation of the dreamy wonder of watching water run down the window on a rainy day as a child. A great gift from Nishizawa and Naito.

Images: Top, the exterior and walk up to the Teshima Art Museum. Bottom, for once a 'no photography' rule felt the right way to go so two interiors via Design Boom – you can see more pictures of the Teshima Museum on their site here).

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Cake walk

Saturday is art cake day. These two gross outs are from La Belle Aurore. You can go here to see what else they can whip up in the icing department.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Relational aesthetics

A staff member of the Mori Art Gallery in Tokyo uses a roller on a stick to remove lint from audience seating in an installation for the exhibition Roppongi crossing.

It figures

Wellington's City Gallery will be pleased at having halted the precipitous decline in audience numbers it has been experiencing. Since her appointment as director Elizabeth Caldwell can claim near enough to a 30 percent increase (161,681) on last year’s attendances, and has got within spitting distance of the 174,995 the Gallery attracted in 2009/10 when its extensions opened.  The City Gallery has also increased repeat visiting by 12 percent and upped residents' awareness of the place by 11 percent. 

As is usually the case this improvement has largely been achieved by decent programming. Although it remains perversely male oriented (seven of the eleven major exhibitions last year were solo shows by men and the current painting show unnecessarily in this context includes three men to one woman) the City Gallery has started to present exhibitions that illuminate each other rather than just being a grab bag of what’s available. 

The Cotton/Crewdson combo was a textbook example of this. Crewdson intent on creating a painting ambiance in his photographs and Cotton using photography top animate his painting’s compositions sparked an intriguing conversation. We've got another smart move by Caldwell to thank for this in the appointment of Robert Leonard as her senior curator. Leonard has always been a strong programming curator and we can epect a more focused City Gallery.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Art at work...

... in a Roppongi shopping mall, Tokyo

Tunnel vision

In terms of strange-looking architecture a nine or ten storey rusting monolith takes some beating. When we got to the front door it turns out to be a huge gaming centre with the exterior replicating rusting steel and the entire interior designed to give the effect of being inside a first person shooter game. The centrepiece is an elaborate (although somewhat overwrought) recreation of the walled city of old Kowloon in Hong Kong complete with washing lines, rickety staircases, neon and grime. It's amazing how quickly this environment captures and convinces you and no more so than on leaving. After carefully picking your way across stepping stones in a pool of lurid green liquid, doors slide open and you are abruptly dumped out into a car park. A real world car park in Kawaksaki, Tokyo, that is.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


The 'Mona Lisa' hits the streets in Tokyo

Waving the flag

Changing countries used to be pretty punishing for artists but nowadays you can live, say, in Germany and still retain interest and maybe even a reputation back home (even a market!). It wasn’t always so. Artists like Jeffrey Harris paid a big price for relocating to Australia for a while and so too did Billy Apple when he moved to the United States in 1964 from London. In the time it took to cross the Atlantic Apple went from being a critical figure in the development of British Pop and particularly conceptual art to being virtually forgotten. For someone who was leading the UK charge for conceptual art Apple is simply not represented in British institutions (in its online catalogue the Tate has nothing) or in the British story.

All that may be changing as the UK starts to re-look at the late fifties and sixties giving the opportunity for neglected figures to be reassessed. Apple already has some serious support from the Mayor Gallery in London and now has been included in the recent Christie's show When Britain Went Pop! a curatorial/commercial mash-up designed to bootstrap UK Pop art into that rarefied 'museum-quality' air. So will Apple be sucked along in the jet stream of this promotional foray? At the moment it's still all Hockney, Blake, Hamilton and Jones in the media but Apple’s dramatic American flag featuring JFK is also attracting attention. There's another sign that Apple is being drawn back into the UK fold: he's just been interviewed by the indefatigable Hans Ulrich Obrist at the Serpentine Gallery.

Image: Billy Apple’s Xerox on fabric work The Presidential Suite: JFK in the Christie's exhibition When Britain went Pop!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Poster post

McCahon took I AM and made it his own and now the Catholic  based Oasis Community Cafe, in Wellington has literally recycled it

Promoting Promoting prosperity

Around about this time last year we were raving about a book called Selling the dream. We finished by asking, “Will there ever be a better book than this one on New Zealand’s unsung commercial designers? “ Well, yes there will be and it’s about to be published. This time round it's called Promoting prosperity and it's a companion piece to the earlier book.

Again the volume of material that has been uncovered is extraordinary. There are literally hundreds of colour illustrations of ads, posters and preliminary sketches set in the context of contemporaneous photographs. Much of this material has come from private collections (and in particular that of one of the book’s authors Peter Alsop) but there is also some terrific material from public collections. Among others are the Alexander Turnbull Library, Archives New Zealand and a place we hadn’t come across before, the Ferrymead Printing Society based in Christchurch. The result is the story of advertising New Zealand style (yes, it was pretty much pinched from overseas but with some intriguing twists and turns) giving a dynamic insight to what was important at the time and what's changed in our cultural environment.

The richness of imagery in Promoting prosperity does raise a question though. What do we have of our more recent history as related through commercial artwork? From our odd jobs with advertising agencies, we suspect not a great deal. The philosophy with what to do with most of the original artwork of advertising is trash it rather than stash it. A quick look at National Library and Te Papa collections of contemporary advertising seems to confirm that life stops in the 1970s or so. Let's hope there are energetic private collectors out there working with the ad agencies and keeping safe the kind of imagery that makes this book of such value.

In the meantime Promoting prosperity as more than enough to keep you amused, entertained and informed about the past world of the hidden persuaders

Monday, October 14, 2013


“For all its size the painting represents only part of Frizzell's enormous production. He is our Picasso. He can paint anything in any manner and does so.”
T J McNamara goes AWOL in the NZH


We’ve posted last year about Neil Dawson’s significant participation in the famous 1989 Pompidou exhibition Magicians of the world. We remember Neil coming home after his trip to Paris to install the work exhilarated but exhausted. The exhibition closed in due course and apart from the odd New Zealander who had spotted Globe hanging above the square in front of the Centre Pompidou, it was tough to tell who had noticed it.

Yesterday in Tokyo of all places we found evidence that on at least one day there had been a big crowd enthralled by the work and at least one focused observer, Daido Moriyama one of Japan’s most acclaimed photographers. Walking into the final day of his exhibition Paris + we saw a series of images he had taken in Paris and there, two along from the left, was a portrait of Globe suspended in front of the iconic architecture of the Pompidou. A skim of the catalogue brought up another shot taken at the same time, this one of people gazing up at Globe.

Images: top, the promo for Daido Moriyama’s exhibition at NADiff in Tokyo. Middle, a view of the exhibition. Bottom, an image from the publication Paris + of the crowd looking up at Neil Dawson’s Globe

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Saturday chart

(link) Thanks R

Friday, October 11, 2013

Mad about the boy

Weiner (creator and lead writer) said he recalled a Mad Men episode in which a group of employees sneaks into a partner’s office to get a closer look at his new Rothko painting. (“It’s like looking into something very deep,” says one ad man. “You could fall in.”) “There was some controversy in the writers’ room about the depth of that conversation,” Weiner said. Do people really have discussions like that, some writers asked? “They do in front of a Rothko,” Weiner replied.
As reported in the Art Newspaper

Mix and match

Each of the following sentences opens one of the essays on the four artists featured in the City Gallery publication New revised edition. In this week’s competition you get to match a sentence with its subject artist. The artists are Nick Austin, John Ward-Knox, Andrew Barber and Nicola Farquhar and the sentences:

“There is a museum dedicated to Mikhail Bulgakov in Moscow.”

“Consider the lettuce (Lactuca sativa).”

 “When Matisse painted a green stripe on his wife in 1905, everything changed.”

 “I was in Istanbul recently during a period of unrest.”

Answers (and authors) here.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Walters world

This ‘Walters’ carpet is yours if you purchase the Wellington apartment currently on sale here.

Other posts on Gorden Walters his paintings and his imitators dedicated to reader p monkey:
Fuss and bother
Hotel borrowings
Walters in Wellington
Koru madness
Plate and chair

Art in the movies

The history of painting portraits has been pretty one sided and a he-paint-she-sits kind of thing. And yet every now and then the roles have been (kind of) reversed. Take the case of Tanya Czoraki better known as Acquanetta. This New York model turned to the movies starring in B grade flicks like Tarzan and the Leopard Woman and TV like Dead man’s eyes (a Twilight Zone story in which “Born into a life of wealth and privilege, Laurel Janus has always gotten exactly what she wants. But with the murder of her husband, Laurel's life of luxury has been shattered. Now, all she wants, is to see justice done. A justice that can only be found in the Twilight Zone.”). And it was in Dead man’s eyes that Acquanetta played opposite Lon Chaney as artist David Stuart.

Maybe it was this brief brush with art in the movies that gave her a taste for being painted. A few years after filming DME, at age 29 she married Henry Clive, an Australian ex-magician (The Great Clive) turned movie celebrity painter who often used her as a model. The marriage (his sixth) only lasted a year when she left him a few months after his 71st birthday. But the experience of modelling for Clive clearly touched Acquanetta deeply. One of his paintings shows her dressed as a Cheyenne Indian with long braids. It was a look she would keep for the rest of her life.
Images: top Acquanetta is ‘painted’ by Chaney and lower with Henry Clive

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

From the stream

Lady Gaga uses Twitter yesterday to announce her new record cover designed by Jeff Koons.

Other OTN stories on artist record covers:
Warhol and The Stones I

Warhol and The Stones II
Art on albums

Drawn in

What sort karma are we talking about here? At the very moment life drawing has all but left the art schools, it's been picked up by the hen party and corporate team building crowd. At it’s all champagne and charcoal as packs of women - almost exclusively by the look of it although female models are also available (‘prices on our web site') - stare intently at the nude male model, sip, sip and put down a few broad outlines to get their drawing underway. Presumably the ‘lead in your pencil’ joke gets over-used. There are also opportunities to be photographed with the model - ‘sit on his lap, I dare you’ - or group shots with the b to b coyly resting her hand on the modelled bum.

'This was our wild card at Retreat and everyone was just blown away,' claims one of the testimonials inadvertently doubling an entendre. 'When you have to arrange a bonding session for ladies in your office,' advises another, 'this activity certainly sorts out the drawers from the lookers real quick!'
We have seen the future and it is life drawing.

Image: top, Pick a pose advertise and bottom, (sorry, couldn’t help ourselves) some LD action in Wellington

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

...and off the wall

Because we are called Over the net and because we have neglected our table tennis origins for so long here is some extreme ping pong to make amends. (Thanks P for your tireless efforts on our behalf)

Hans on

What goes on in the mind of an art curator? #longpause. Now thanks to the publishers Badlands Unlimited we will be able to take a look into at least one curatorial mind: that of Serpentine co-director and the most energetic and prolific curator in the world (perhaps ever as he claims authorship of around 250 exhibitions) Hans-Ulrich Obrist. The book Think like a cloud will include over 200 examples from 22 years of Obrist’s obsessive doodling and demo the process he has described as “constantly oscillating between order and disorder”.

In contrast, when we were on the search for records of curatorial processes (drawings of exhibition set ups, lists of artists, photos of models and the installation process, etc) we found the cupboard pretty bare in NZ. Obrist is the ultimate hoarder of information and you can see from the illustration that he is not afraid to play fast and loose with his ideas. Think like a cloud will be published this year.

Click on the image to get the full on Obrist effect

Monday, October 07, 2013

Not my problem sunshine

"It's certainly going to be shiny. You can't spray something on to dull it down, what you end up with is what you get."

Steve Scott General Manager of Rivet, the company that is manufacturing the stainless steel façade for the Len Lye Centre in New Plymouth, commenting to the Taranaki Daily News on concerns about glare and sun-strike

One day in Te Papa Press

Publisher: It’s a great idea and a great manuscript but I’m not so sure about the title.

Editor: How do you mean?

P: Well…I don’t know… 99 Amazing Tales from Aotearoa. It feels like there's something missing.

E: I’ve got an idea.

P: What?

E: How about another amazing tale?

P: How do you mean?

E: Well, with another tale we could call it 100 Amazing Tales!

P: That's inspired. But do you have another tale?

E: As it happens I do. And it is the most incredible tale of all. Frame detective.

P: Go on...

E: OK, it turns out the guy who is in charge of frames found this old frame in the back of the store.

P: Unbelievable.

E: It gets better. He thinks ‘what was this frame for?”

P: But he’s the frame detective right, I bet he figures it out.

E: He sure does. He turns the frame around and on the front glued to the front of the frame is a label with the title of a painting.

P: Incredible… and?

E: He digs deep and puts two plus two together. Four! This has got to be the name of the painting that belongs to the frame.

P: Frame detective!

E: Exactly.

P: Awesome story. Incredible detective work. We should put it in the book.

And they did

Saturday, October 05, 2013


This Saturday being International Bear Day here’s some big bear art as in depicting bears rather than by them.
Images: Top left I See What You Mean, Lawrence Argent’s 40-foot tall blue bear peering into the window of the Colorado Convention Center and right Bear by Tim Hawkinson. Bottom left Iza Rutkowska and right Urs Fischer's Untitled/Lamp bear

Friday, October 04, 2013

The best art is business art

Number four in our series is Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spiering with a King Country painting by Peter McIntyre

The returning

It’s been a long time coming but it sounds as though the new director of the Govett-Brewster has been selected. So who is it you ask? Back in July we suggested that the frontrunner was curator Simon Rees. And Bingo! Simon it is. This will be a return engagement for Rees at the Govett-Brewster. He was appointed a curator in 2002 when Greg Burke was director.

Rees is 39 and currently heads museum management, curatorial development, and fundraising at MAK in Vienna. You can bet that magic word fundraising had the appointment committee salivating. The construction and development of the Len Lye Centre will occupy much of the new director’s time and raising money is likely to be central to the job. 

Want to know how Simon thinks? There is a 2011 talk on YouTube here. We understand Rees will probably start the job (left vacant when Rhana Devenport - who was on the selection panel - became director of the Auckland Art Gallery) early next year.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Art chart

(And thanks again to G you are OTN chart person)


The visual arts aren’t the only ones who head off to Venice every couple of years. The film folk do it and so too do the architects. At least one NZ project was invited to the 2012 Architectural Biennale directed by David Chipperfield but funding  (public or private) proved impossible. The next one is being directed by megastar Rem Koolhaas and he has announced it will be called Fundementals, a Biennale about architecture, not architects. That’s going to be a lot of egos to damp down for a start.

This time round it looks like NZ will be up for it. The NZ Institute of Architects has taken charge of fund raising (with the caveat that if it doesn't hit its goal the train won't leave the station). To kick things off it has launched a competition to find a ‘Creative Director.” The job is to devise the exhibition and arrange freighting and installation. All this is to be achieved between the appointment mid-next month and June 2014. At five months this is almost exactly a year less that the time it takes to make the visual arts exhibition in Venice (Simon Denny's selection was announced yesterday for the 2015 Biennale that also kicks off in June).

The amount available for materials, fabrication, sub-contractor and consultant costs, plus the cost of transporting, installing and de-installing the exhibition is $50,000. By way of comparison the visual arts representation at Venice costs around $1 million and New Zealand spent around $6 million attending the Frankfurt Book Fair last year and almost certainly spent more than $50,000 on the architecturally designed stand.

Koolhaas has said he wants each country’s exhibitors to “show, each in their own way, the process of the erasure of national characteristics in favour of the almost universal adoption of a single modern language in a single repertoire of typologies.” Take that Regionalism. Still if you look at Koolhaas’s buildings in China he certainly puts his global architecture where his mouth is. In their brief the NZIA suggests the NZ Creative Director might want to 'reflect, provoke, challenge or elaborate on the Koolhaas theme. Lets hope they go for good hard kick in its butt.

You can read the AI's briefing paper here

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Art at work

A couple of German tourists do the holding-the-Dawson-in -the-palm-of-your-hand trick.

Simply Simon

No sign of a media release so far this morning (CNZ eventually got round to announcing the news of Denny's selection mid afternoon) but there is a lot of talk going round in Wellington that the Denny/Leonard combo has got the nod for Venice. That would makes Denny the ninth person to represent NZ and the youngest by a couple of years. This would also be good news for the City Gallery who are getting Leonard in as their senior curator next year. It would be Leonard’s second Venice stint – he co-curated Michael Stevenson in 2003.

Denny is certainly the front runner (we called it a slam dunk back in July) but always a chance of a compromise candidate when a large committee sits down to talk. We will confirm this rumour just as soon as we sight the CNZ announcement that is expected this morning. In past years take up by the press on art news is somewhere between slow to complete indifference.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Moore McCahon

Fashion house Andrea Moore channel McCahon. (Thanks M)

There’ll always be an England

As publishers scramble to bring out yet more art books featuring full page pics in all sorts of varying combinations (the alphabet being the most popular), British publisher Thames and Hudson have just announced 100 works of art that will define our age. To pump up their own picks they set the bar high. "Just as Picasso’s Guernica and Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa survive as powerful cultural documents of their time, there will be works from our own era that will endure for generations to come." OK, but which ones?

Before you rush out to order it, beware. Of the 100 artists who made the artworks that ‘will define our age’ 30 come from, you guessed it, the UK. And so, (not that surprisingly) does the author.