Friday, April 25, 2014

Makes sense

Recently we saw Janet Cardiff’s Forty Part Motet for the fifth time. The first was at the City Gallery in Wellington and since then we've come across it in Japan, Europe and the US twice. It’s a beautiful work and a guaranteed crowd pleaser with a depth that allows it to expand into many curatorial combinations. It set us to thinking that perhaps a standard repertoire is begining to develop in contemporary art institutions when it comes to their international programmes. These are the works that are brought out again and again building name recognition and familiarity. They may be presented in slightly different ways but they could easily become a big chunk of what we get to see.  It's like what La Traviata does for opera and Swan Lake for ballet and Mid Summer night's dream for the theatre. There are already signs. The Monet exhibitions that circle the globe are certainly in the repertoire school. Warhol too.

In the most recent airing we saw of The Forty Part Motet it was standing in for sound as one of the five senses in a simple but hugely effective exhibition of the same name. Five installations for five senses although most of them seeped into one another. Cardiff of course carried sound. Touch was covered by a bank of computer-controlled household fans installed by Spencer Fincher in his work 2 Hours, 2 Minutes, 2 Seconds (Wind at Walden Pond, March 12, 2007) that replicated the wind on a specific site for a specific time. Sight was a rainbow emerging from a water mist created by Olafur Eliasson, Smell came from both Ernesto Neto's hanging pods of spices and Roelof Louw’s pyramid of 6,000 ripe oranges. Strictly speaking the oranges were primarily there for for taste as visitors could select and eat some fruit if they wished. Louw's pyramid was first installed in 1967 over 20 years before Felix Gonz├ílez-Torres made this sort of interaction with the audience his own in the early nineties. The five senses, simple idea, big impact.

Images: top, Roelof Louw’s 1967 work Soul City (Pyramid of Oranges), second row left Ernesto Neto's Cai Cai Marrom and right Janet Cardiff’s Forty Part Motet. Next to bottom Olafur Eliasson's Beauty and bottom Spencer Fincher 2 Hours, 2 Minutes, 2 Seconds (Wind at Walden Pond, March 12, 2007)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Less is Moore

Here's a lookalike we missed on its way through, actor Julianne Moore vamping John Currin’s 1997 painting The Cripple. The photograph was taken by Peter Lindbergh for Harper’s Bazaar back in May 2008.

Hello cheap art and good buy

Recently dealers in the US and Europe seem to be following a strong trend to look back to find talent.  As the art market grows and the competition for work heats up, they're starting to work with and promote older artists whose reputations may have faded or who never quite hit the commercial jackpot.  Who might fill that spot in NZ?

There are some signs that this trend is already rolling here. For example, Hamish McKay with Don Driver, Michael Lett reaching back into the career of Jim Allen, and FHE giving Marti Friedlander new opportunities to shine. In fact if you’re interested in high quality work at very reasonable prices there's an amazingly rich list to select from.

Don Peebles, possibly hobbled by only ever working in Wellington and Christchurch, is a bargain, particularly for his more experimental works of the mid to late seventies. Gretchen Albrecht is of a later generation but her body of work, the seventies stained canvases (very sought after in the late seventies and early eighties), are now undervalued. Contemporary criticism that they were too close to the work of Helen Frankenthaler was a sideshow (it would hard if not impossible to make as an argument actually standing in front of a work by Frankenthaler). And while there's interest in Don Driver's formal abstractions (still at a very undervalued level) his large scale collaged banners, some of his most important work, are almost given away. Other artists who sell well under what you would expect from the depth and significance of their achievement: Tosswill Woollaston (maybe simply because his work doesn't reproduce well), Giovanni Intra, Richard Killeen and Robert Ellis.

Here by way of examples is what you would have expected to pay for a work based on the average paid at auction over the last five years.

Albrecht seventies colour field paintings $17,300
Driver banner works $9,700
Harris seventies paintings $10,000
Don Peebles small constructions $2100
Woollaston paintings $22,000

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Art at work…

…in the Mineapolis Sculpture Garden.

Images: photographing people ‘holding’ the cherry balanced on top of Claes Oldenberg and Coosje Van Bruggen’s sculpture Spoon bridge and cherry. Middle sitting on the Scott Burdon's Chair's Bottom, left riding Mark di Suvero’s Arkides and right getting a twosome in front of the Elsworth Kelly’s
Double curve

Face to face

One of the largest lookalikes ever made was the one created by Robert Boyle for the Hitchcock movie North by Northwest around November 1958 (the same month McCahon was painting the Northland panels). Biggest public sculpture? Movies? Lookalikes? Spurious connections by date? OTN was there.

Looking at the movie it's obvious that while the lookalike model was very large, it was definitely not at one-to-one scale. The Rushmore Presidential eyes alone are 5.5 meters wide. Plus when you're at the Mount Rushmore National Monument in South Dakota it turns out that Hitchcock’s set was not so much a lookalike as a look-the-other-way. The orientation of the heads (particularly Lincoln) appears to have been tweaked to get the shots Hitchcock wanted for his chase sequence. Of course clambering around the 18 metre high faces without specialist equipment is impossible so for his set Boyle added flat surfaces, hand holds and, down the side of one face, all but a set of stairs.

In fact Hitchcock nearly didn’t get to build his Mount Rushmore at all. It was only by making a few promises about not having any violent scenes associated with the monument (whoops that didn’t happen) and not showing the faces above the mouths (that didn’t either) that he got started and then he followed the old rule - don't ask for permission, beg for forgiveness.

You can see the Mount Rushmore sequence from North by Northwest here

Images: Mount Rushmore last week and ‘Mount Rushmore’ 1958

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Drawn to it

Here’s one from the world of unintended effects. At the Walker Art Centre attached to an exhibition of the figurative artist Edward Hopper (Nighthawks) they had set up an old-school life-drawing studio. When we were there the subject was a classic arrangement of cones, cubes and cylinders.  Two people were sitting at their boards hard at it. Then we noticed that the guy was drawing a nude based on a picture he had on his phone. #impressed

The best worst kept secret in the world

In a city where the daily newspaper selects three dead people to represent NZ's coolest artists, a story about one of the Auckland Art Gallery’s most prized possessions traveling off overseas Te Maori style is probably not going to be either above or below the fold. Still it's harder to understand why the AAG hasn’t trumpeted the news on its website specifically dedicated to the artist, or anywhere else for that matter. Most art interested people will only have only discovered via The Art Newspaper that after ten years of negotiation Udo Kittelmann, curator (he did the recent Martin Kippenberger survey in Berlin last year) and director of the Nationalgalerie in Berlin, has secured the loans from the AAG for a big exhibition of Gottfried Lindauer. The plan is for it to kick off its tour at the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin in November.

The Czech city of Plzen where Lindauer was born also claims its West Bohemian Gallery is putting a Lindauer survey together. This one is co-curated by Roman Musil with  45 works approved for loan by the AAG. We figure this is the same exhibition as it opens in Plzen in Spring 2015.

According to The Prague Monitor (we’re looking at you NZH) “A team from the Plzen gallery met Lindauer's grand-daughter, 86, in New Zealand. She gave them some valuable documents as well as memories. The preparation of the Lindauer exhibition was on the agenda of the talks between then foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg and his New Zealand counterpart in the spring of 2013.” The story also mentions that Auckland University’s Leonard Bell is attached to the project.

Why the AAG is keeping this good news story secret when the rest of the world already knows about it is anyone’s guess.

Images: top, the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin and bottom, the West Bohemian Gallery in Plzen both of which have secured Lindauer loans from the AAG

Monday, April 21, 2014

The rest

Today being a public holiday there's no OTN. That's Easter for you.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


At the end of our first month of posting back in December 2006 we featured the man-with-a-dog-stuck-to-his-leg sculpture in Wellington. Imagine our surprise to see a virtual replica (1) in downtown Pierre - it's the capital of South Dakota although in appearance looks more like a giant Hamilton. Anyway Pierre's bronze sculpture is of the twenty-fourth Governor of the state in a rush to pass some kind of legislation but obviously encumbered in the same way as Wellington's Plimmer steps guy by a random dog being stuck to his leg.

(1) DISCLAIMER: the staff and all subsidiary bodies of OTN (Overthenet) are not responsible for any readers who looked at the right hand image and accepted as genuine what is obviously an amateurish use of Photoshop to paste the picture of a
living dog (most likely taken off the internet) onto a photo of bronze statue seen in the streets of Pierre, Dakota.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Over egged

OTN will post on Saturday but today being a public holiday you only get this barely relevant picture of Jeff Koons's Baroque Egg with Bow (Orange/Magenta) and Monday, being another public holiday, there's nothing. Nothing at all. That's Easter for you.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Art is where you find it

Painted barn, outside Dinosaur, Colorado

Counter measures

Valerie Solanas wouldn’t have been impressed. In front of her SCUM manifesto displayed as part of the exhibition Take it or leave it at the Hammer Museum, a guard (it gets worse, it was a male – they’re the one’s “who’ll swim a river of snot and wade nostril deep through a mile of vomit” to get a woman) had set up shop. A small stool and, just to remind Val she was history, the perfect spot for his people counter: the frame around the man-hating proclamation. He wouldn’t have been so casual if V Solanas had turned up in person like she did at Andy Warhol’s factory in 1968. That time she was carrying a gun and seriously wounded the great Pop artist.

Images: Valerie Solanas’s SCUM manifesto with chair and counter

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

“I was flattered, I can only be flattered. I don’t know that I can say it’s art, but I think it’s weirder that Pace would show them than that he would make them.”

Cindy Sherman responds to James Franco showing versions of her Movie stills in New York

Buy the book

When we wrote the text for the book Contemporary New Zealand Painters back in the early eighties it was a new idea for NZ but a familiar one in the rest of the world. Of course Marti Friedlander herself had been there well before CNZP photographing artists from as early as the sixties. The lineage is even longer though. There are many, many photographs of artists in their studios since the invention of photography but the first book gathering them together we can find was probably Alexander Liberman’s bluntly titled The artist in his studio. This legendary book showing the modern masters of European art was certainly a big influence on Marti. And then there were the photographs of Lord Snowdon (aka Antony Armstrong-Jones) collected together in the 1965 book Private View. It too played a part in the style of CNZP and there’s a fascinating account with lots of images of Snowdon’s work on this book here.

We were thinking about this long history in preparation for a talk a few weeks ago but were astounded to discover recently just how current the idea still is. In just one US bookshop we found no less than six books on artists and their environments. Images of the artist in the studio still fascinate. Stalkers, voyeurs, peeping Toms, call us what you will but just leave that door open a crack so we can have a quick look inside those studios.

Which all leads us to tell you that there are another five new studio photo sessions up on OTN Studio.

Lillian Budd, December 1992
Shane Cotton, April 2003
Don Driver, May 2003
Ross Ritchie, November 2010
Peter Robinson, September 2003

Image: Snowdon working on the proofs of Private View in his home, 1965.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Stand in

The tie up with art and fashion has always interested OTN. In NZ you can trace it back at least to the late eighties. We still have a John Reynolds Amour windbreakers designed for Workshop around that time and more recently Max Gimblett and Martin Popperwell have also come on board. Now Michael Parekowhai has also jumped in to the fashion world. His work has been seen at Karen Walker’s North Shore store but this time he was collaborating with designer Tanya Carlson for her exhibition Not all white at the DPAG for ID Fashion week. Carlson was showing off 15 years of her work staged on Parekowhai Cuisenaire rod stands.