Saturday, September 20, 2014

Art and the movies

Here’s a site after our own hearts. Film and Fine Art 101 has saved us a heap of Google time putting together art images adapted for film posters. You can see more here. (Thanks L)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Collectors on furniture

Art Collector Indoo Di Monteluce at home, London

Drawing the line

Who was it said that drawing is dead? Not the people of Bristol who are busy this month creating the biggest drawing in the world in a meaningful mash up of art and politics. OK the drawing is basically a long line but a line that has great moment for Bristol: it is the predicted high water mark in the expected flooding of the city in the future. The line is being drawn by volunteers pushing sports field markers over what will eventually be a super long drawing wending its way through the city. Latest news has a drone hired to fly over High Water line and capture the full 52 kilometers. You can see other High Water Line drawings from around the world here.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

All fired up

Continuing today's animal theme bad news for lovers of giant animal sculpture installations in the public domain as Florentijn Hofman's over-sized rabbit on show in Taiwan catches on fire. The rabbit was being shifted from its site to be recycled when a truck set fire to the grass nearby.
Image: the Hofman rabbit ablaze (OTN reconstruction)

The a in art is for animal

“From a philosophical perspective, the general issue is whether a non-human animal has moral ownership rights over its artistic works.” So says philosopher Mike LaBossiere on the Philosophers magazine blog. That got OTN’s animal art antennae twitching. According to LaBossiere, “Higher animals like dogs and primates seem to grasp the basics of ownership: they distinguish between what is their property and what is not.” LaBossiere went on to be more specific about the monkey who made a selfie and then was legally denied copyright. “In the case of the monkey the key question is whether or not the monkey understood what it was doing and acted with intent.”

Stay with us animal artist lovers.

He concluded that even if the monkey was in control of the art tools it may not know it was in the process of making art (tell that to all the OTN animal stars). The result? “There could be art but no artist.”  On behalf of animal artist all over the world, stick it where the sun don’t shine LaBossiere.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Space man

“Metaphysics and megalomania mixed on a daunting scale…”

The Guardian’s Michael Prodger describing the German artist Anselm Kiefer’s 36,000 square meter studio on his 81 hectare property in Barjac, France

Uplifting or in your face

Eight years ago Auckland artist Campbell Patterson stood in his parents' living room and picked his mother up in his arms. He then stood holding her like some sort of Bizarro World Pieta for as long as he could. That first attempt (one minute 47 seconds) features trembling legs and a few near drops as the artist’s strength ran out but he got stronger. Every year at around the same time Patterson and his mother perform the same feat and each time it is videoed becoming part of a series known as Lifting my mother for as long as I can.

Different cultures, different responses. In Greenland the Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson has also been making a long term series of videos. Since 2000 Kjartansson and his mother have repeated their performance once every five years. Titled Me and My Mother, in these works Kjartansson’s mother repeatedly spits in his face.

Smiling or spitting, mothers, you’ve got to love them.

Images: top, Ragnar Kjartansson Me and My Mother and bottom, Campbell Patterson Lifting my mother for as long as I can

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Branded: Andrew Beck

The moment when artists become brands

Going, going. Gone.

The resignation of Sophie Coupland from Webb’s has been in the air for a couple of weeks but she has now resigned her position as head of Webb’s Fine Art Department.  As of Monday the Webb’s staff list had no head of department for art which is surprising given their recent moves to make art their major focus. 

Coupland’s departure certainly marks the end of an era for Webb’s. She has knocked down a sack full of record prices for artists and from her position behind the rostrum seen the rise and rise of the contemporary art market since the wobbles of the last recession. It also sees the severing of Peter Webb’s final connection with the business that still bears his name.  Starting out with an auction company named Cordy’s (after Hamish Keith’s middle name) he later started Peter Webb Galleries that morphed into the auction house Webb’s. In 1990 when Peter Webb married Annie Coupland he gained a daughter who worked her way up through what was now the family business to take her place running the art department.

So with the departure of Coupland and Neil Campbell who was Managing Director, watch out for further big changes for Webb’s. Never shy to use statistics based on past auctions make its claim as the number one house in the country there's a big reputation to hold onto. It's going to take some inspired hires or a major step-up by the relatively inexperienced people left behind to do the job.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Here comes d'smudge

Any conservator will tell you that one way to check on damage or over-painting is to look at a canvas under a raking (angled) light. And that’s what someone should have told Arnold Schwarzenegger when he unveiled his official Governor’s portrait. That big smudge is a clumsy patch-up blotting out an image of the Governor’s ex wife who’s portrait appeared on a small lapel pin when the painting was originally commissioned. You would have thought that of all people Schwarzenegger would have known that lighting is all.

Going for broke

How dinged is busted? Not a question you're going to hear in the conservation lab of an art museum but if you’re on the look out for a cheap Hotere you might want to consider it. An insurance claim has taken a damaged work by Hotere onto the market via Turners the outfit you probably associate with second hand cars. As you can see it’s one of those painted-on-glass works and in this case the glass on the right hand panel is cracked. Still the Venus de Milo only has one arm and Duchamp certainly made hay out of broken glass. So will a crack leak all the value out of a 1992 Hotere work? Someone didn't think so as it sold yesterday for $6400 even if that is around $50,000 shy of its value in pristine condition. Turners were totally up front about the condition and suggest that it was beyond repair. “The glass surface is an integral part of the work. Repairing it would remove a large part of the original and you're probably better off just living with the crack.” In fact some of our museums might look at Turners Q&A as a great example of the art (we’ve copied it onto OTNSTUFF so you can read it here incase Turners take it down after the sale.)

If you want a transcendent Hotere experience on the other hand you need to get to Wellington where Robert Leonard has devoted the entire upstairs gallery to one painting the Godwit / Kuaka mural. There are not many artworks in this country that can hold that sort of space and this is certainly one of them. As we've mentioned in a previous post, the Kentridge playing at the City Gallery is very good but to see a great work by Ralph Hotere displayed like this is worth a return trip from anywhere in the country.

NOTE: news in that the final price for the Hotere was $19,950. (Thanks N)

Images: top, the Godwit / Kuaka mural exhibited at the City Gallery in Wellington and bottom, damaged Hotere for sale (thanks R and thanks yet again to you P without whom etc.)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Ruby Saturday

Nowadays artists working with designers and the fashion industry has become a commonplace like was it back early in the last century when the Ballet Russes took in many artists and Elsa Schiaparelli played with the Surrealists. Such collaborations are back in earnest but there's a clear frontrunner. Let's hear it fors American all purpose hotshot Ruby Sterling . He has teamed up with Belgian designer Raf Simons for around six years now and between them they've produced some very convincing challenges to men’s fashion. Simons also works with Roger Hiorns the English Turner Prize nominee who back in 2008 covered the entire interior of a London council flat with a layer of deep blue copper-sulphate crystals. And it works both ways: Simons is a major collector of both artists' work. Here’s Simons and Sterling’s latest runway show. It starts slow and you need to push through an ad at the start but as they say, it rewards effort.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Pillow talk

In a series double artist/collector Jeff Koons does 'artists pose' and 'collectors on furniture' in one go.

Added value

Advertising has always loved to use art as a sign of wealth and taste. No matter how much our art museums push to open their doors to a wider range of audiences, advertising always manages to pull it back to the gold frame. Take this Lexus ad as an example. Interestingly it has also latched onto the idea of photography finally being in the art mainstream (#alertpeterperyerimmediately) but still manages to frame the labels and wall texts in a weird mash-up of ideas about how art can be displayed.

Apparently (well according to academics Vanessa M. Patrick of the University of Houston and Henrik Hagtvedt of Boston College in their text Advertising visuals), the use of art in advertisements can be reduced to four main types:

  1. Mere Presence versus Integrated Presence
  2. Telling a Story with the Artwork versus Creating an Artwork for the Story
  3. Mimicking the Original Artwork: Reminding versus Parodying
  4. Symbolic Connection versus Substantive Connection
But we all knew that already, right?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The price is right

“One should only discuss the price of a work to be acquired up to the point of its acquisition.”

Art Museum director  and writer Horst Keller speaking against a Hans Haacke installation that revealed the owners and prices paid over the years for Manet’s 1880 painting Bunch of asparagus.