Thursday, September 29, 2016

Pre post studio post

The French artist Daniel Buren, who visited NZ to oversee his remarkable installation at the National Art Gallery in 1990, is no lover of artist studios. ‘My studio is the place where I am working,’ he claimed in October magazine decrying the studio’s ‘simultaneously idealizing and ossifying functions.’ Of course Buren, like most artists, even those of the post studio generation, still has a place to settle down and think about his work. The Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco calls his space an ‘operating centre’ and even post studio's poster boy John Baldessari works in a space that to anyone not a member of the no-studio club might well think was a….studio. All this to announce that more studio shots are now up on OTNSTUDIO. Four sets were from visits over the last couple of months - Andrew Beck, Judy Millar, John Parker and Peter Peryer – and there’s an earlier set taken in et al.’s studio in 2009.

Image: Judy Millar in her Anawhata studio, September 2016

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Art chart

(Thanks S, that certainly nails it)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Pay to play

In this age of free, can you even charge a fee? That’s the question the New Plymouth City Council is going to decide tonight. Should the addition of the Len Lye Centre push the combined LLC/Govett-Brewster into pay-to-play? Realistically it would be a dumb move. Globally museums have faltered as they move from free-for-all to paid entrance with attendances (the metric so loved by councils and trustees) plummeting. In the United States a review by the American Association of Museums found that charging at the door has not only reduced attendances but also helped ensure minorities and those on low incomes only make up 9 percent of visitors. So what’s a regional art gallery director to do?

Simon Rees, the director of the LLC/G-B, came up with an idea. What if, instead of charging an entry fee, they encouraged donations beyond just putting a perspex box with a slit in the top at the entrance?  An Active Donations Strategy (ADS) in fact, using Paywave. OK, it’s only one of five options - and some of those include charging too - but it’s hard to see how reasonably minded (#suckup) Councillors could not at least give it a go. (the New Plymouth District Council has since voted to trial of an electronic donation system, which members hope could net $100,000 over 12 months)

If you want to read everything the Councillors will have to wade through to make a decision like this (26 pages and five options including option 4 that would charge adult visitors $10, seniors, beneficiaries and Unwaged $7 and kids at school $5) you can download it here. Scroll down to page 62 and you’ll find the numbers that show that introducing an entrance fee would only raise revenue by 10 percent. Go figure why the Council has even  got to debating this in the first place. Anyway, tonight’s the night. Hold onto your hats.

Image: a hat.

Monday, September 26, 2016

This post is brought to you by the numbers one and two

Maurizio I-will-never-make-another-sculpture Cattelan is at it again. This time he’s attempting to put a final nail into Marcel Duchamp’s defining gesture Fountain. Cattelan’s toilet is made Trump-style in 18-karat gold and called America. You’d think, wouldn’t you, that this title alone would be enough to stop any American sitting down to do business in it, but no such luck. Queue time is often over an hour at the Guggenheim where the work is installed in the fourth floor bathroom.

Images: top to bottom, left to right, America by Maurizo Cattelan, Marcel Duchamp’s 1917 Fountain, Sherrie Levine Fountain (after Marcel Duchamp), Lady Gaga Armitage shanks, Michael Parekowhai Mimi (currently on exhibition at Te Uru), Robert Gober Three urinals, Untitled by Prague & Kutna Hora, and Eli Hansen and Oscar Tuazon’s Huh

Friday, September 23, 2016

Listing toward the future

The Govett-Brewster has finally published the history originally commissioned for its fortieth anniversary in 2010 (mumble … mumble … declare … mumble … interest … mumble … mumble … involved … mumble). As the owners of the fearless-supporters-of-contemporary-art brand for so many years, the GB has of course put its contemporary foot forward but also included is a list of 45 ‘moments’. These are of varying page lengths, fully illustrated and take up 100 pages i.e. about one third of the book. It’s one of those best-of-what-we’ve-done in 45 key events. There are a few conferences, an auction, the launch the Len Lye Foundation, but most of the moments are the bread and butter of art museums, exhibitions. And so to the counting. 

Of the 35 exhibitions listed just four are solo exhibitions by women; 31 exhibitions or 89 percent of the total selected are by men. The list also only gives three moments to solo exhibitions by Maori artists (Michael Parekowhai’s Kiss the Baby Goodbye, Lisa Reihana’s Digital Marae and Peter Robinson’s Snow Ball Blind Time). Women do a little better in the pages devoted to illustrating the collection with 24 percent of the pages. Yes, lists can be risky and so revealing. 

Take the spread of ‘moments’ attached to each of the Govett-Brewster’s directors, for instance. Top of the list, with seven moments each, are Gregory Burke (1998-2005) and Rhana Devenport (2006-2013). Lowest on this scale with four or less (we exclude John Maynard who was primarily involved in setting the place up rather than running it) are Bob Ballard (1971-1975), Ron O’Reilly (1975-1979) and Dick Bett (1979-1984). The list makers, like list makers everywhere, clearly thought that the quality went up as they got closer to their own time.

Image: Now showing: a history of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (with cover image, Dane Mitchell's Your memory of rain released 2011) plus spread featuring Christine Hellyar's Country clothesline 1976

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Clone torture

Another actor is going to take on our favourite art icon Andy Warhol. Many years ago we listed some of the films that had featured Warhol and the actors who portrayed him. This time up it’s Jared Leto. Now that feels like a stretch although (#spooky) he is the second Jared to take on the role. The film itself is adapted from Victor Bockis’s 1990 book The life and death of Andy Warhol so this time it looks like it will be a bio pic. When you add Leto (who has just come off playing The Joker in Suicide Squad) to Terence Winter (who is adapting the book and is well known for his work on The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire and The Wolf of Wall Street) we can probably expect something a long way North of standard. Still, as Warhol said himself, ‘Art is what you can get away with.’

Images: top, sorry Jared. Bottom left to right, Guy Pearce, David Bowie and Jared Harris

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Inside out

It’s not often that Te Papa pauses from telling ‘our story’ to let the world beyond these shores creep in. Simon Denny has certainly thrown open a window up on the fifth floor. Te Papa’s bold purchase of a chunk of Secret Power, Denny’s contribution to the last Venice Biennale, has just been installed and it is wrapped in an antipodean version of the Marciana Library in St Mark’s Square. Drawing on his colonisation last year of the Venice airport, Denny has transformed the floor and walls of the Te Papa exhibition space. They’re covered in an enormous colour photograph of the Marciana Library complete with its famous murals, ornate mouldings and arched windows, but inverted. The idea of being upside down at the bottom of the planet is a perspective NZers understand all too well, but this time our point of view is radically modified. By shining light on the evil darkness of the spy world Denny reminds us how inextricably attached we are to the rest of the world, whichever way up we like to think we are.

Image: Simon Denny’s Secret Power installed at Te Papa

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Memory palace

When Christchurch Art Gallery director Jenny Harper decides to leave a legacy, she doesn’t muck about. She set about delivering five mega purchases to Christchurch, and she’s almost there. She has just announced that the Gallery is to commission work number four: a wall work by the 84-year old British artist Bridget Riley. And there’s a personal Harper link. Her Masters thesis Product and response: the art of Bridget Riley presented at the Courtald Institute in London in 1982. But wait there’s more. The purchases kicked off with Michael Parekowhai’s On first looking into Chapman’s Homer. The link to Harper for this one is Venice. She was Commissioner in 2011, the year Parekowhai exhibited this work as part of his presentation at the Venice Biennale. It’s the same Venetian link to Bill Culbert and the purchase of his installation Bebop. Hard to find a link to UK artist Martin Creed who contributed the neon Everything is going to be alright, apart from Harper’s obviously high regard for UK based artists, but the fifth and final purchase will certainly deliver the goods. Word is that it will be by Ron Mueck another UK based artist who happened to give Christchurch Art Gallery and Harper as its director the largest ever audience for a single exhibition back in 2010.  

Image: Bridget Riley photographed the year Jenny Harper completed her PhD thesis Product and response: the art of Bridget Riley

Monday, September 19, 2016

One day at the Philip Johnson Foundation

Chair: Exciting news Yayoi Kusama has agreed to put spots all over Phil’s Glasshouse

New Trustee: That’s a terrible thing to do.

C: Why? They did it at the City Gallery in Wellington

NT: But that’s not an architectural masterpiece of international importance

C: Isn’t it? Are you sure?

NT: Positive

C: Anyone else got any problems with dotting up the GH?

So that is what they did

Images: top, not the City Gallery and bottom the City Gallery

Friday, September 16, 2016

Walt to Walters

With apologies to Dick Frizzell (and Gordon Walters).

Images: top left, Mickey Mouse Club Mousketeer’s Ears Hat designed by Roy Williams c.1955 and right, Wendy Maruyama’s Mickey Mackintosh chair 1988. Bottom, Gordon Walters Study for an Auckland Art Gallery poster 1982 (detail). (and thanks for kicking this off K)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Praise be

OTN is beyond thrilled to announce the exhibition of its acclaimed website and outstanding publication Tiny Furniture. This remarkable once in a lifetime opportunity to be immersed in the thrilling spectacle of John Parker’s exquisite theatrical set models has been made possible by the partnership of a master ceramicist and theatrical wizard, the renowned art museum Te Uru and the award winning blog OTN. No one will be left unmoved by this extraordinary experience which has been described by leading commentators as ‘outstanding’, ‘unforgettable’, heart-stopping’ …ok that’ll do it.

Image: two extraordinarily evocative views of the hauntingly powerful exhibition

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The ups and downs of Michael Parekowhai

September has sure been an up and down month for Michael Parekowhai in Auckland. Out at the end of Queens Wharf, the plastic-sheathed form of his house is swarming with builders busy on what must be the biggest public sculpture in the country. And then across the street in Britomart, Parekowhai’s installation The Story of a New Zealand Forest is being taken down in preparation for major rail redevelopment. Public sculpture, can’t live with it, can’t live without it.

Images: top, installation of Michael Parekowhai’s public sculpture on Queens Wharf and bottom, The story of a New Zealand Forest before and after

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

No show

OK, so it wasn’t the most original idea in the world, but Te Papa always said it was going to tell us our stories, the stories of Our Place. It then went on to spend many millions of dollars in purchasing items that would help that story telling. Most recently there’s the $1.5 million it paid for View of Mt Egmont, Taranaki, New Zealand, taken from New Plymouth, with Maoris driving off settlers’ cattle painted in 1861 by William Strutt.  All this means that when Toss Woollaston’s painting Poet by the sea (1959) came to market in the Tim and Sherrah Francis auction, it seemed a natural fit for Te Papa.

The Poet by the sea is a knotted array of cultural aspirations. Its subject is Charles Brasch, acknowledged as the cultural big cheese of the 1950s (poet, friend, editor, collector, high-minded fan). The painter is Woollaston who at this time carried the burden of finding the soul of NZ. The collectors were Tim and Sherrah Francis who were committed to the importance of a distinctively NZ culture and history. And to cap it off, Peter Simpson’s recent book Bloomsbury South describes the story in detail (with photographs). It’s a heavy-duty painting showing real cultural dynamics at play. It could hardly be more central to the National Collection and the story of NZ art.

But as we all know, Te Papa didn’t even make an appearance at the auction and made not a single purchase. Te Papa didn’t lose out to some deep-pocketed Auckland art fanatic at the auction either; it simply decided that it wasn’t worth the effort. Something’s afoot, especially when you remember that Te Papa spent $700,000 at the Paris Family auction in 2012 and hasn’t been shy to spend big bucks. Let’s recall:

Colin McCahon, A painting for Uncle Frank, 1980, purchased in 2000 for $2 million
Colin McCahon, Walk (series C), 1973, purchased in 2004 for $2.75 million
John Webber, Poetua, 1785, purchased in 2010 for $1.97 million
Michael Parekowhai, He Korero Purakau mo Te Awanui o Te Motu: story of a New Zealand river, 2011, purchased in 2012 for $1.3 million

In the very active Te Papa rumor mill it’s claimed that the institution’s collecting policy for art is shifting. Buying back to fill out the collection is out. Buying forward to prioritise the contemporary is in.  Can this be true? The last four curatorial hires all specialise in earlier work. Smart move Te Papa. Crazy times ahead.

All this would certainly help to explain why Te Papa wasn’t at the Francis auction to pick up high quality works by both neglected and well-known artists. Our top ten of these would be:

Philip Trusstum Pale blue square $9,000
Douglas MacDairmid Portrait of Akbar Tyabi $6,250
M T Woollaston Poet by the sea (A Portrait of Charles Brasch) $80,000
Richard Killeen Rot $9,500
Ross Ritchie After Ingres $10,600
Adele Younghusband Still life with candle and vase of flowers $9,250
Charles Tole A map of the Auckland province $5,600
H Linley Richardson Self portrait $2,500
Robert Ellis City $4,000
Dennis Knight-Turner Untitled $9,000

Image: Poet by the sea (a portrait of Charles Brasch) in the Te Papa storage racks (#notgoingtohappen)

Monday, September 12, 2016


unvarnished facts, reckless guesswork, insinuations and possible inventions that have arrived at the smart money is settling on ron mueck for the final of the christchurch art gallery’s five big sculptures project • the nz organising team are gearing up for crowd control management for lisa reihana’s opening next year at the venice biennale (#dreamon) • in more venice news, it has been floated that uk celeb chef peter gordon, partner of venice commissioner carruthers, is going to man a pop-up food stall near the nz venue • misal adnan yıldız is tipped to be off to join a project with serpentine’s huo when his term is up at artspace in may next year • wellington enjoys a mini-renaissance with rohan wealleans and andrew beck both now working out of the city • te papa is threatening to move its art exhibitions down a floor or two (#believeitwhenweseeit) •  it’s recently been confirmed that weta is definitely making a big bug show for te papa as predicted by otn in a spam five months ago • any missed details, indignant denials or additions gratefully received, and any that makes us laugh out loud richly rewarded.

Friday, September 09, 2016

One day in the Mayor’s office

Mayor: I’m lovin’ the way Hamilton keeps putting up statues of stuff. Soldjers, cattle, naval commanders, all sorts of shit.

Councillor: Indeed. It is becoming the bronze capital of New Zealand.

M: I want us to get in on some of that bronze action. We need a big local name to celebrate, someone we can bronze up and put in a park somewhere.

C: Turn Kurow into one of those cultural capital things?

M: That’s the spirit. Who’ve we got, famous-wise?

C: There’s that Wilson family who had the kid that won New Zealand has Talent.

M: drugs.

C: I’ve got it. McAwsome!

M: Ritchie? Oh, I don’t know. He’s a big fellah … take a lot of bronze … expensive..

C: Not if we use the lost wax process.

M: True enough.

C: We could get that guy Patterson to do it, he’s a civic sculpture whizz kid.

M: Whatever. First thing we need to sell the idea.

C: We could get a maquette made

M: What, show them a tent?

C: No, not a marquee, a little version of what we’ve got in mind made out of butter or something.

M: You mean a tiny statue of Ritchie we could show people and say ‘look, it’s only small, it won’t cost hardly anything’?

C: Yeah, a conceptual model.

And that is what they did