Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Time out

OK OTN is taking a breather for four weeks. We’ll be back on 20 January. We had our hearts set on the 19th but it’s public holiday and OTN is  a hard-line rules-based organisation as you know. The plan for next year is to post twice a week unless something newsworthy comes along. Any additional posts will be tweeted and Facebooked. Monday will probably be something OTNish and Friday a catch up on what we thought was worth knowing from the previous week. You can still expect an eye to be kept on our art institutions and any gossip that's even halfway credible (usually something we hear from at least three sources is a god-given fact) will be run up the OTN flagpole for you to make your own minds up about. Will you ever see another painting animal on OTN? Well, as we’ve said many times before, not if we can help it. Have a good break, enjoy Christmas and join us in the new year. If anything crops up before then we'll use Twitter and or Facebook.

A flip and some twisters

Too late for the spoiler alert as you'll already have seen one of the pop up surprises in Judy Millar’s book Swell with Trish Gribben and paper design by Phillip Fickling. Of all the things you might expect to pop up in a kid's book La Maddalena (a neo classical church in Venice and the site of Millar’s Venice Biennale outing in 2009 and Michael Stevenson's Trekka installation in 2003) is probably not high on anyone’s list. But it certainly lets Millar give her work the ultimate indoor-outdoor flow.

The first 3D pop up books as we know them today were probably first produced in the 1930s but the precedent for an artist book like Millar’s is probably Andy Warhol’s 1967 book Index (there 's a copy in the Auckland Art Gallery library from memory) with it’s pop up can of tomato paste.

Swell is also a testament to Boosted which raised enough funding to cover the printing and then some. Swell has been published by Lopdell House Gallery and  you can get a copy here.

Images: Top, Swell by Judy Millar showing the pop up for Giraffe-Bottle-Gun, Middle, Judy Millar’s studio via OTNSTUDIO and bottom, Andy Warhol Index book

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Less is more

"That would be vulgar"

Art dealer Leo Castelli to art collector Robert Scull on being asked to sell him all the works in Jasper Johns' second exhibition (Scull purchased two but would eventually own 22 major works by Jasper Johns)

But let’s not talk about me ...

Art museums are always on a charm offensive but who do they really think they are? Here are nine of them tooting their horns. Your job: match the statement to the museum.

So here's a quick quiz. Who….

... is a pathfinder, an innovator and a catalyst for contemporary art and ideas

... provides a vital platform for critical thinking across media, disciplines, cultures and contexts

... is renowned for being bicultural, scholarly, innovative, and fun

... focuses primarily on contemporary visual arts by local, national and international artists and designers

... is the home of the visual arts in New Zealand

... is home to one of New Zealand's most important public art collections

... aims to explore new ideas and initiatives with insight, imagination, and intelligence

... is more than an art gallery

... is renowned today for the richness of its historic collection and its close working relationship with major New Zealand artists.

Answers here on OTNSTUFF

Monday, December 15, 2014

When collectors pose on furniture

Take advantage of OTN’s holiday clear-out final editions.  Not one but 16 art collectors all posing on furniture. No seriously, it’s a pleasure.

Images: top to bottom left to right, Danielle Ganet, Garrett and Marina Leight, Ron and Ann Pizzuti , Nelson Blitz and Catherine Woodard, Alexander Ramselaar, Dani and Mirella Levinas, Peter and Jamie Hort, Joshua and Sonya Roth, Regina Pinho de Almeida, Valeria Napoleone and (apologies all round) Dasha Zhukova

All the news that fits

The news that Simon Denny is showing in not one but two Venice venues (the Marciana Library and the Marco Polo airport) was recently leaked to the Christchurch media. Creative NZ rallied after an initial omg response but if you’re interested in the whole Venice thing (news as well as PR) it’s not that easy to follow what's happening. Creative NZ has put up a dedicated website but it’s not big on news so doesn't really give the whole picture. And on Facebook and Twitter Creative NZ treats its outings at Venice as a continuous event. This means that on Facebook the doings of artists who have previously been at Venice are all interspersed among updates on what we might see in 2015. On Twitter there's been nothing since September.  So kind of confusing, especially if you hit the signature map image  for Secret Power on the NZ at Venice Facebook page. You don't go to the Secret Power site as you might expect, instead you get 25 images, 21 of them of Michael Parekowhai's work.
So here’s a roundup of the extensive media Secret Power has already attracted:

16 February Infurno magazine announces Denny's Venice and PS1MoMA shows.

17 January 2015 satirist Steve Braunias lines up Simon Denny as potential future business in his NZH column Steve Bruanias the secret diary of ...2015

21 December John Daly-Peoples does a follow up for the NBR 'Simon Denny expands his Venice Biennale project'

Nine to Noon's Kathryn Ryan interviews Simon Denny on 16 December

The NBR shamelessly digs into Nicky Hager’s relationship to Simon Denny’s Venice gig on 16 December in a story about Hager’s sister getting a writer’s residency in Nick Grant’s 'Hager named Waikato University’s 2015 writer in residence'

On 15 December CNZ write a press release on Denny's dual venue 2015 'Venice Biennale: Second venue secured for NZ pavilion' which is picked by Scoop

The Denny installation at the Venice airport story reported by Charlie Gates in The Press on 4 December. Along with the inevitable photograph of Nicky Hager it announces the airport installation ‘will be funded by private donors’. The following day the story is updated with a brief CNZ response as 'Kiwi art to greet Venice new arrivals'.

Kim Knight’s 23 November interview with Simon Denny in Stuff 'Biennale artist follows his love'

Kate Brettkelly-Chalmers profiles Simon Denny for Ocula

Ashton Cooper profiles Simon Denny in Blouin Artinfo on 4 November with 'Artist Simon Denny On Silicon Valley, Skeuomorphic Design, and Tech Conferences'

Henry Oliver, a Denny insider, writes 'Simon Denny; the fine art of success' that appears in the November issue of Metro and includes news of Dame Jenny Gibbs' withdrawal from the Venice Patrons

On 29 October Jenny Gibbs gives her side of her walk out from the Venice Patrons to Stuff’s Kim Knight in '"Ethics" behind patron's withdrawal of Biennale support'

Natalie Akoorie on Jenny Gibbs withdrawal from the Venice Patrons in the NZ Herald on 30 October in 'Dirty Politics author in arts funding row'

Sally Blundell profiles Simon Denny in The Listener on 9 October in 'Imagining the vastness' (behind a paywall)

The Dominion Post features Simon Denny in Diana Decker’s 29 September piece 'The power of one: The rise of Simon Denny: Tracking Simon Denny's rise in the art world'

Nicky Hager is announced as a member of the Venice team in Tom Hunt’s 19 August article in Stuff 'Hager's book empowers Venice-bound artist'

E-flux announces Denny’s selection as NZ's representative in Venice on 14 August

Scoop headlines Creative NZ’s 5 August media release announcing the venue for Simon Denny’s installation in Venice with 'Spectacular venue secured for New Zealand exhibition'

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Four art memes... kickstart Saturday (click image to meme on in closer)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Pay and display

Looks like the Govett-Brewster will be forced to go behind a pay wall. The New Plymouth City Council is proposing a rates cap and as part of the cuts required the museum would need to generate nearly $200,000 a year at the door. If the G-B goes with something like the MTG Hawke's Bay's pricing structure where locals get in free, they'd only need around 25,000 out-of-town visitors stumping up to meet the target. With the new Len Lye Centre promoted as a tourist magnet, a door charge would certainly test Lye’s pulling power. Unless of course the G-B can reel in a $200,000 a year sponsor to keep things free for visitors or choose to make cuts elsewhere.

Full house

It’s not often a New Zealand artist is given an entire building to fill and Yvonne Todd's exhibition Creamy Psychology might well be a first for the City Gallery in this niche category. It's a real challenge. Artist, curator, and institution all have to be convinced that the work will be enough to engage people through all seven spaces, some of them very large.  So impressive to see how Yvonne Todd, the surprise winner of the first Walters Prize (probably time to stop saying surprise by now) has nailed sport’s equivalent of the triple somersault with pike and twist. All this comes with some significant help from the curator Robert Leonard who has always had a talent for making artists look good on and off the wall.

But you do have to wonder why such a dynamic exhibition complete with a 257-page book/catalogue gets just one venue. Ok, Christchurch is out of contention at the moment but what about Yvonne Todd’s hometown crowd in Auckland? The Auckland Art Gallery has not got a great record for hosting its local artists (particularly when the shows have been mounted out of town) but Yvonne Todd? Come on. No doubt the omission will be deflected with the usual mutterings: ’we weren’t offered it’ ,  ‘it wouldn’t fit’, ’the lenders won’t agree to extended loans’ etc. There was a time when Aucklanders would head south to see an exhibition like this but, apart from a few die-hard fans, those days have long gone. Surely even a minimum of institutional collegiality could ensure an important show like this could be seen by the biggest potential audience in the country.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Art collectors pose on furniture

Has Thursday become the regular time for this series? Hope not. This time it's collectors Catherine Woodard and Nelson Blitz Jr

On the beach

As people who lived through many performance works in the seventies and eighties we're not quick to respond to a temporary installation on a beach in freezing conditions and wind-driven rain. But it was Kate Newby who we admire and the curators were Claudia Arozqueta and Rodrigo Azaola, so what’s to do? As it turned out it would have been a big mistake to miss Newby’s installation Laura, Lucy, Mark and Felix. And the stormy day was the perfect setting for the delicate interventions into the beachscape. For a start the wind chime that Claudia hung between the beach wall and a piece of driftwood she wedged into the rocks was sounding its way right through the half hour we were there. Being a Kate Newby installation there were also lots of other things to find including introduced rocks and some glass shapes that looked liked they’d been washed up in a storm. Rodrigo and Claudia will install the work each day at 5.30pm until next Tuesday so, looking at the long range forecast, there are opportunities to see the work in just about all the different weathers Wellington throws at us. You can check out all the installations in the series here at Modelab

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Jessica Johnson visited Art Basel Miami and made this list of current art trends.

- inkjet prints on canvas using imagery sourced from the web
- decorative fabrics wrapped around stretcher bars and presented as paintings
- rainbow gradients
- compounds poured on canvas with airbrushed shadow effects
- simplistic emoticon imagery (palm trees, rainbows, clouds, smiley faces, etc)
- clumpy ceramics with sloppy glazes
- exposed stretcher bars
- dirt as a medium on canvas
- framed photographs without glass
- process abstraction
- metal as a surface for painting, screen prints, etc

What was absent;

- video art
- neons
- work with any political content (or any content that wasn't about process and/or materials)

Claude punched

Years ago when we were making an exhibition called When art hits the headlines, we came across the story of a guy who punched a Jacob Epstein sculpture of Lord Wavell at the Auckland Art Gallery. A student leapt forward and saved the bust crashing to the floor and the puncher was escorted out of the Gallery by a guard who later off-handedly told the press, “The sculpture affects people in different ways.”  It was just one of hundreds of accounts we found of the public interacting with art, sometimes for the good, sometimes not.  Definitely in the 'not' camp is the story of Andrew Shannon who punched a hole in Monet’s Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat in the Dublin National Gallery a couple of years back. No escorted walk to the door for Andrew. Billionaire Steve Cohen might be able to stick his elbow through a Picasso and in the way of billionaires simply have it repaired and move on (he did own it, after all), but this week Shannon got five years in jail. And in case he didn't get the keep-away-from-us message, he also landed a no-go on visiting museums for 15 months after his release.
Image: Monet’s Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat post punch

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Driving down the North Island...

...thinking about Martin Creed

Drive by shootings

“When you're in the studio painting, there are a lot of people in there with you - your teachers, friends, painters from history, critics... and one by one if you're really painting, they walk out. And if you're really painting YOU walk out.”
Philip Guston

Six more studio visit records are now up on ONTSTUDIO. The earliest is a visit we made in 2003 to Lillian Budd’s studio in Auckland during preparation for the survey exhibition Abnormal mass delusions? at the Govett-Brewster. You can read Wystan Curnow’s review of the exhibition here (It is also published in his recent collection of essays). There are also a few pics taken during a visit to Rohan Weallean’s studio when he was the 2005 Frances Hodgkins Fellow in Dunedin. A new addition to OTNSTUDIO is our friend the ceramic artist John Parker. This set of images come from 2009, but we have known John for a long time so expect more. That same year on the way up to Auckland we also visited Don Driver in New Plymouth where we photographed him in his Heta Street studio. More recently a visit to Judy Millar’s Auckland studio in November and from earlier in the year one to see what Shane Cotton was up to in Palmerston North.

Images: top to bottom, left to right Millar, Driver, etal., Parker, Wealleans and Cotton

Monday, December 08, 2014

Grunt work

“If you want to sell your work, you have to take your pig to the market. And if you want to make more work, you have to sell your pig.”

British artist Ryan Gander talks to the Guardian about selling work at the Basel Art Fair

By the numbers: Te Papa edition

3       the percentage of Te Papa’s annual funding spent on exhibitions

7       the number of peer-reviewed research papers published by the art staff

16.5  the amount in thousands of dollars paid to each Board member as an annual fee

19     the average number of dollars put into Te Papa's donation box a day

26.2  the amount in millions of dollars that Te Papa pays in salaries and wages

29.5  the amount in millions of dollars of government funding to Te Papa

30     the number of  Te Papa staff members paid over $99,000 a year

42     the percentage of Te Papa’s annual funding spent on staff salaries and wages

44     the percentage of its total annual funding that Te Papa itself raises each year

64     the percentage of annual visitors to Te Papa who are female

273   the number of full time permanent staff at Te Papa

289   the total number of art works exhibited over 12 months during 2013/14

258   the number in thousands of New Zealanders from outside Wellington who visited Te Papa last year

Source: Te Papa Annual Report 2013-2014

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Parts of it are excellent

To get you up and running this Saturday here’s a clip from Saturday Night Live. It’s presented as a parody on art dealers but it only takes a second or two to work out that the highly-strung hosts are  much more likely to be curators.

Friday, December 05, 2014


“The art market is such a mysterious organism. I will readily admit that seeing Andy achieve such high prices is somewhat exhilarating, a bit like watching your kid perform well in a sport.” 
Eric Shiner, Director Warhol Museum

Parents, gotta love ‘em

Boy the Australians don’t get going for a couple of hours after we are all up and running. In this relaxed atmosphere we are getting ready to visit Pippin Barr’s first dealer exhibition here in Brisbane. It is at the Andrew Baker Gallery and opens tonight. You can see the work, large scale prints based on some of his games here.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

When art collectors pose on furniture

Art collector Samantha Boardmanand

Line up

Anyone in the museum business will tell you making money out of blockbuster touring shows is almost impossible. The real trick is not to lose too much as Te Papa’s Mike Houlihan discovered. Rodney Wilson must have missed the meeting and made a killing with his Claude Monet painter of light show in the mid-eighties. His recipe was a mix of heady sponsorship and excellent timing. With that in mind, here’s a bunch of exhibition ideas (budgets not included) that we reckon could get queues around the block.

Reverse Te Maori: 30 of the greatest Maori objects borrowed from collections outside New Zealand and brought home to tour the main cities.

The clock: Christian Marclay’s 24-hour film of snippets from world cinema history. A fascinating crowd pleaser. All the museum pros may have seen it but most NZers will not have had the pleasure.

Spectacle! How the spectacular and the extreme are shaping art. Kara Walker's Sugar sphinx could be the touchstone.

Pierre Huyghe: There's a big show now in LA but any selection would stun NZ audiences. Leave it to an artist to feature animals, insects, fish and other creatures in a strange and unique system. 

Sex and Death: An exhibition selected by David Walsh and the staff of MONA in Hobart. They're our neighbours and this is their specialist topic.

50 works of art to see before you die: This is pure packaging so pick a new title for a start. Then get a Louise Bourgeois Spider, Douglas Gordon's 24 hour Psycho and maybe Andres Serrano's Piss Christ. Let NZ audiences catch up.

Treasures from the Australian National Gallery: It's just waiting to be done. They're neighbours and they've got a lot of great stuff. From Tiepolo via Monet to Jackson Pollock, Emily Kame Kngwarreye and Andy Warhol.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Some of the folding to help straighten things out

Last year’s Sydney Biennale had a bad run with its principal sponsor pulling out after artist protested their relationship with detention centers on Nauru Island. Now a new sponsor has come forward with $A600,000 plus for the 2016 Biennale. Keir Neilson set up the Platinum fund and his wife Judith started the White Rabbit Gallery in Sydney. The total budget for the Biennale of Sydney is around $A10 million. You can read the full story here.

Ring side

Is there anything more fascinating than watching Webb’s and Art + Object slug it out with sales claims? (all of you who said ‘watching paint dry’ might as well stop reading now). Earlier this week Webb’s, in a carefully worded claim, pitched $1,516,529 as the total of its “November auction season.” Now this could mean a lot of things but let’s take it as meaning the total sales from their latest auction plus stuff that was under reserve on the night and sold in the following days. Art + Object, on the other hand, have so far claimed “over $1,150,000 transacted under the hammer.” This includes buyer commissions but presumably not follow up sales. Ok, so it looks as though the two auctions brought in close to the same total depending on how generous they were with seller’s fees. Both auctions had to pass in or let go subject to the seller's approval a large number of works. We'd estimate around 80 percent for Webb’s and just over 50 percent for A+O. But auctions are in large part theatre so perceptions are as important as the numbers. From what we heard  in spite of the closeness of the results Webb’s was felt to have had a disappointing night and A+O a good one. Webb’s Chairman Christopher Swasbrook has promised major changes to the auction business and has already given the Webb’s tree a good shake. If last week’s auctions show anything it’s that winning in the auction business is a lot more complicated than getting first to the finish line.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Movie magic

Here’s a great art in the movies story. The Guardian reports that a painting lost in the 1920s turned up in the film Stuart Little. It had been purchased in a junk shop by the set designer and spotted by an art historian when he saw the film. The painting is now ready to go on the block in a Hungarian auction. You can read the full story here. (Thanks for the tip A)

Image: Róbert Berény‘s Sleeping Lady with Black Vase as spotted by by Gergely Barki a researcher at Hungary’s national gallery in Budapest

Enough already

Saturday was an eight-year anniversary for OTN. A lot has changed since we started; museums weren't selling artist product, Gambia Castle hadn't opened, Twitter wasn't yet a year old, Gordon Walters korus belonged pretty much to Gordon Walters and just about every zoo in the world didn’t have an animal painting project to help with funding. In our time we've thrashed a lot of ideas that felt good at the time -- we’re looking at you lookalikes, where are they now?, art in the movies, artist street names, artists as brands, comic books, one day in the …, art in ads, artist brands and copycats. And as for Te Papa, a list of its very modest 2005-2006 art purchases made our third post. And while this is an institution that might do many things, it's not going to change its take on art.

So OTN is going to change instead. We're not sure how this will work right at this moment but early next year we'll front-end with Twitter and Facebook or whatever everyone is scanning at the time rather than with the blog. Our sense is that you're most interested in backgrounders and opinionated commentary on art news as it breaks, so that will remain a mainstay. We'll also put more time into OTNSTUDIO and making hard-to-get art documents and information available. Of course we won’t be able to hold back on the odd chart or hilarious joke but no more foyer art, promise. Thank you for your time and attention, you may now resume your seats.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Branded: Joanna Paul

Selfie abuse

The Auckland Art Gallery has responded to our post on Light Show that it had wanted to allow photography in the exhibition as it loved “our public taking selfies and tweeting as much as everyone else.” The restriction on photography comes from the Hayward Gallery that developed the show. Some time soon this sort of restriction is going to be unacceptable if shows like this are going to attract younger audiences. Exhibitions like this are not cheap to mount and given the cost of the show and the installation build the AAG will be hoping to match the huge enthusiasm the Light Show created when it was shown at the Hayward. We're talking about an impressive 190,243 visitors in a city with a population of 8.3 million with people waiting up to 8 hours in queues. Transfer the exhibition to Auckland's 1.3 million population and the equivalent is around 31,000 visitors. Ironically we suspect no one would be very happy with that as a number and it would certainly make it very tough to make any sort of a profit. They'll be hoping for things to pick up with a school holiday surge and might even pull the free day thing towards the end of the run to boost numbers, but you'd have to say the Haywood has done them no favours banning cameras.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Living the dream

The mega game Minecraft allows you to create worlds using simple (well not so simple these days) building blocks, sort of like LEGO online (#sorrytoeveryonewhoplaysforthatgrossgeneralisation). Tate has used the Minecraft platform to deliver the holy grail of every art educator: a 3D walk through paintings. You can get the links here at Tate and mine away this Saturday.

Images: top left, The Pool of London painted by André Derain in 1906 and right, in its Minecraft version. Bottom, Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson’s 1920 painting The Soul of the Soulless City (New York - an Abstraction) and right in Minecraft

Friday, November 28, 2014


"I consider most definitions of contemporary art to be magic-less, meaningless, crap and almost all the "now" kinda artists you could name to be nothing but desperately over-schooled, funding-seekers with their faces pressed up against the window of the art worlds revolting middle class dinner party."

Wellington based musician Campbell James Kneale on being asked by UTR why he didn’t call his work art

Lye's sculpture dead in the water

It’s spring and the minds of local authorities throughout the country turn to maintenance. Here in Wellington public sculpture got a bit of a beating over winter. The spinning cubes of Leon van den Eijkel's Urban forest all but ground to a halt, Phil Dadson’s Akau Tangi was rarely all systems go, Phil Price’s Zephyrometer was literally blown out of the sky by lightning and the other pointy stick sculpture Len Lye’s Water Whirler doesn’t any more.

While Price is rebuilding Zephyrometer it’s probably time to call it quits on Water whirler and admit that Wellington's Lye is a no-go. The City Council has already repaired just about every component at some stage largely because of the effects of numbers 11 and 17 on the periodic table. Anyone who lives near the water in Wellington knows about salt corrosion, it’s probably what is slowing down the van den Eijkel and Dadson as well.

Anyway just do the math. WW was intended to run for 12 minutes nine times a day adding up to whirl action for around 655 hours a year. It has now been operating (theoretically) for nine years. Most marine engineers will tell you that a marine engine is best for the first 500 hours, so-so for the next 1,000 and after that….  And it's not a complete loss. The Ian Athfield base could come into its own as a diving board or somewhere to do a selfie with Wellington's harbour.

Images: top, figuring that Water Whirler is no longer functioning the base has become a popular picnic spot. Middle, Oriental Bay's Carter fountain being repaired and bottom, Kon Dimopoulos’s Pacific grass is given a spring steam clean.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


A couple of weeks ago Thames and Hudson launched their latest artists-to-watch book 100 painters of tomorrow. It features Christchurch painter André Hemer on its cover and of course as one of the hot 100. There is a strange hybrid website for the book that includes an opportunity to buy the works of the artists and has Hemer’s New smart object #61 up for grabs should you want it.

By the numbers: close to home edition

1             the approximate number in millions of dollars it costs to represent New Zealand at the Venice Biennale (MC&H)

2.9         the number in millions of dollars that Creative NZ has allocated for distribution in Christchurch through its Earthquake Recovery Grants fund (CNZ)

16           the number of times Te Papa’s announcement of their new Chief Executive was retweeted (Twitter)

19           the percentage of the total Creative NZ budget that goes to project-based support for arts organisations and individual artists and arts practitioners (MC&H)

27           the percentage of works in the Auckland Art Gallery’s collection that are not owned by the AAG (NZH)

40.5      the number in millions of dollars that the Government has allocated to Te Papa for the 2014-15 year (MC&H)

48          the number of years T J McNamara, has been writing about the arts for the New Zealand Herald (NZH)

240.8   the annual number in thousands of dollars that Webb's will pay for renting their new rooms in Parnell (NZH)

261        the value in millions of dollars of Auckland Art Gallery's collection (NZH)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Art chart

CNZ income and expenditure trends.

You can read the full CNZ briefing to their new Minister Maggie Barry here


Staying with our friend theatre designer John Parker we came across a file box full of tiny furniture. Dozens of small chairs, tables, lamps, beds, benches and couches all made to inhabit the set models John designs. In the spirit of art-is-where-you-find-it we've put a selection of the best (ok, cutest) ones up here on their own tinyfurniture Weebly website. And because we stole the title from Lena Dunham's movie, here's a link to that too, well the trailer anyway.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

When art collectors pose on furniture

Art collector Carmen Busquet in her Paris apartment

'No' means ... whatever

The photography/no photography thing has jumped the shark with the Auckland Art Gallery banning it from their Light Show. If ever an exhibition could do with some buzz via photography this is the one. What is it about the connection between light and the camera the AAG doesn't understand? Maybe it's because Light Show is such a Po-Lite show that they don’t want too many images out there to alert the punters. Most of the works fall into one of three camps; reflected colour on the walls, reflected lights via mirrors or sparkling things. There’s certainly nothing that’s going to flare out, give you a sunburn or surprise you or the kids. "Extrasensory"? not so much. Some imaginative pics from out of the hive mind could do nothing but good.  They could make the show look more lively and give an entertaining reason to visit. 

It's a weird omission. When it suits them our museums are all too keen to invite us to post images of their exhibitions onto Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest. When it doesn’t the shutters come down. Now there’s a third even more irritating variant of the photography rules, the you-can-photograph-this-one-but-not-that-one sign. It's time to get over this. Anyone who photographs the work and tries to make commercial gain out of it, go after them by all means (if in fact this ever happens) otherwise, chillax.

Images: Pics of Light Show. In the spirit of things we only photographed the walls.

Monday, November 24, 2014


"We'll be moving away from the passive physical engagement of the past and looking to technology innovation here out of New Zealand, as well as what others are doing and learn from that and hopefully bring something quite magic alive."

Te Papa CE Rick Ellis interviewed by TV1 on 10 November 2014

OK…well, good luck

The new CE of Te Papa Rick Ellis starts work today.

"The board and chairman, Evan Williams, have reassured me that the issues that have been widely publicised over the past 18 months or so have been addressed and the organisation is actually in great shape for a new leader like me to come in and take it forward," Mr Ellis said.
Te Papa CE Rick Ellis interviewed by TV1 on 10 November 2014

“The Te Papa Board is faced with considerable challenges over the near term, as it reconciles a necessary period of fiscal consolidation with the need for significant capital investment in the museum infrastructure, and a desire to share more of the national heritage and scientific collections with the nation. These challenges are accentuated in the short term, as the museum goes through a period of capability rebuilding following its recent organisational realignment.” 
Briefing to the incoming Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage October 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

One day in the OTN editorial offices

Editor: Is that piece on the changing role of curators in the digital world ready for Saturday?

Features editor: No

Editor: Not to worry we’ll put up this Homer Simpson nail art tutorial video.

And they did

Friday, November 21, 2014

Art in the workplace

Art hard at work in the foyers of the world

Pic of the week

Is Jim Allen the oldest performance artist still standing? He’s definitely the oldest standing operating a chainsaw and with Marina Abramovic at 66, Vito Acconti 74, Gina Paine and Carolee Schneemann just a year older and even Yayoi Kusama a youthful 85, we reckon the honours most definitely go to Allen at 92. On Wednesday night about 50 people watched him recreate the performance On planting a native from 1976 that involved cutting down a small tree and representing it on the gallery wall. In the audience was art writer and critic Wystan Curnow who has been a strong supporter of Allen and the other performance artists of the seventies. It was quite something to see Curnow transfixed by the performance as though it were the first time he had seen Jim Allen at work. He even edged closer mid-performance to take more pictures. Turns out that Curnow is also that other essential glue to the art world, a fan.

Image: Wystan Curnow photographs Jim Allen at Michael Lett

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Wonder woman

"The art world is an old boys’ club. People tend to promote people who are like themselves. The barriers to financial success persist for women artists as well. Even for the women who have broken records at auction, their prices are still only one-third the value of the top male artists at auction—on a good day."

Barbara Lee, a Boston based philanthropist who only collects art by female artists

Model behaviour

There has probably never been a wackier representation of art in the movies than the 1955 vehicle for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis Artists and their models. It was the last Lewis Martin team-up and revolves around the struggles of painter  Rick Todd who has to do billboard work to keep afloat. In a parallel universe the real James Rosenquist was also a billboard painter learning the techniques that he would put into his famous Pop paintings of the early sixties. For Martin and Lewis the billboard paint job inevitably ends in spilling big tubs of the stuff on the client and a passing cop. Still, this rather sorry mess of a movie ends with a big production number on a giant palette, so not all bad. In fact the movie was presented as a satire on the paranoid delusions of the McCarthy hearings via the censorship and control of comics (Lewis is a comic nut in the movie). You can see the billboard sequence here.

Images: top to bottom left to right, Dean Martin ‘paints’ lips high above the street and James Rosenquist in action above Times Square c.1957, whoops, the palette as art signifier, again, and the small poster for the movie with obligatory palette.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

When art collectors pose on furniture

Erin Wasson model and art collector

By the numbers

To anyone (that’s anyone living below the Bombay Hills) who doesn’t believe that Auckland is now the Cultural Capital of NZ, here’s some numbers based on the Walters Prize and the Venice Biennale. And they are kind of compelling. Compelling that is if you believe that representation by a dealer gallery is one possible measure of an artist's standing. Anyway, of the 25 artists who have been finalists in the seven Walters Prizes, all are represented in Auckland and just seven in Wellington. Then in the last two Prizes non of the eight finalists are represented in Wellington at all. Of the nine artists who have carried the NZ flag at the Venice Biennale, only three are represented in Wellington. Over both of our major art events then less than 30 percent of the exhibitors are represented by a Wellington dealer. As to the South Island, someone down there can do that sorry sum..

And for the record, the lists:

NZ’s representation at the Venice Biennale:
2001 Jacqueline Fraser and Peter Robinson
2003 Michael Stevenson
2005 et al.
2009 Francis Upritchard and Judy Millar
2011 Michael Parekowhai
2013 Bill Culbert
2015 Simon Denny

Walters Prize:
Yvonne Todd
Gavin Hipkins
John Reynolds
Mike Stevenson

et al.
Jacqueline Fraser
Ronnie van Hout
Daniel von Sturmer

Francis Upritchard
Stella Brennan
Phil Dadson
Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson
Edith Amituanai
Lisa Reihana
John Reynolds

Dan Arps
Fiona Connor
Saskia Leek
Alex Monteith

Kate Newby
Simon Denny
Alicia Frankovich
Sriwhana Spong

Luke Willis Thompson
Simon Denny
Maddie Leach
Kalisolaite Uhila

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Parts of it are excellent

Nice illustration by Robert Neubecker for Ellen Gamerman’s piece on everyone being a curator in the Wall Street Journal. You’ve probably heard some of it before but you can read it here.

One day in the New Plymouth Art in Public Places Trust boardroom

Trustee 1: …and then it whistled through the air almost decapitating the… (looks up) … sorry, are we all here?

Trustee 2: (looks around and counts) Yes, we seem to be.

T1: Excellent. Well it’s that time again. Two years have passed and again we are required by our Deed to invent ... I mean reconstruct, another of Len’s works. Yes, another public sculpture.

(There’s a shuffling of feet and several averted eyes).

T2: Come on everyone. We had a huge success with the big noisy one that went up and down hitting that ball ...

T1: Yes, and the very long one that writhes across the floor is well on the way.

T2: Not to mention Water whirler in Wellington. (looks down at briefing notes) Oh sorry. I see it says not to mention -Water whirler.

T1: This time what we need is something more visually commanding. Something that's more than just one unique single thing on its own moving this way and that by itself in isolation.

T2: How about a whole lot of unique things? You know, more than one.

T1: Brilliant.

T2: Like how about we make a Quadrilogy version of Trilogy, or even a Septilogy…that’s seven of them.

T3: I’ve got it. A Wind wand farm.

(several heads turn)

T4: Do you think Len Lye would have ever done something like that?

T1: Definitely.

T3: It could be a whole cluster of Wind wands bobbing their heads in sprightly dance.

T1: Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. What are we talking. 50? A 100?

T3: I reckon we could easily do six, as long as they’re kind of small.

And that is what they did

LATER: Initially we thought it was the Len Lye Trust proposing this wacky idea. But reading the article again, who exactly is going to do this thing is a bit of a mystery. We are assuming the Len Lye Trust is in there somewhere, the City Council probably, maybe the Govett-Brewster - all jumping the shark together?

Monday, November 17, 2014

To go

We posted on this great house designed by Austrian architect Fritz Eisenhofer last year when it was up for rent. Last week when we drove past it was playing second fiddle to the art garage-sale from hell.

Elvis has entered the building

When the first director of the Australian National Gallery James Mollison purchased Jackson Pollock’s Blue poles all hell broke loose. One of the newspapers headlined with 'Barefoot drunks painted our $1 million masterpiece'.  One reason for the uproar was the painting’s price of $A1.3 million. Once a work was over the million mark it required Government approval and in this case the PM Gough Whitlam (a staunch Mollison supporter) told the ANG director, "Buy it and disclose the price."

Another of Mollison's spectacular purchases was Elvis a 1963 silkscreen by Andy Warhol. This cost the Gallery just $25,000, didn’t need ticking off, and slipped into the collection virtually unheralded the same year as the Pollock uproar. Many of Mollison's purchases have been vindicated by the market many times but he must have laughed last week when an Elvis painting from the same series as the ANG’s one sold for $A93.6 million at Christie's. This was a world record for Warhol. OK there were three Elvises in this one but it’s still $31.2 mill an Elvis however you look at it.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

House paint

As you’re no doubt set to paint the house this weekend (or someone else’s house) why not double up and make art at the same time. That’s what they did in the Hungarian People’s Republic during the years of what was tactfully known as “Goulash Communism”. By combining traditional patterns with a touch of Russian constructivism painters also raised a painted finger to the regime. In our DIY-mad culture painting your house this way would be sure to get the neighbors and possibly the local Council going. Many of the Hungarian houses have been photographed by Katharina Roters, and you can see more here on Picturesdotnews where we saw them first.

Friday, November 14, 2014

One day in the tattoo studio

Customer: Have you got time for me today?

Tattooist: Sure, take a seat. Whaddaya got in mind?

C: I was thinking Sistine Chapel Ceiling.

T: The whole thing?

C: Yeah, the touching hands, the Last Judgment.

T: I think you’re on the back wall now.

C: I don’t want walls.

T: So maybe you should think about something that’ll take a little less time, like less than ten years.

C: Fair enough. How about that one where eyes follow you round the room?

T: The Scream?

C: No, no. the older one. Lisa something.

T: You want the Mona Lisa?

C: Yeah. That one.

T: Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa?

C: Yeah.

T:: The painting by the Renaissance genius who was the greatest artist who has ever lived?

C: Yeah.

T: OK.

And he did.