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.