Saturday, July 26, 2014

Big blow

So what’s happened to that giant inflatable duck sculpture? you all ask, well a few of you did … ok it was N (thanks N). Since our last report of it puddling out in Hong Kong Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman’s much loved sculpture has been all over the place and was last sighted floating on a river in China's Guizhou province. But last week an intense storm with heavy rain ripped the yellow one from its moorings and swept it away. To date no one knows where it has gone beyond 'somewhere down river'. A duck double is on the way.
Images: top, the rubber duck is welcomed in China and bottom deflation in Hong Kong

Friday, July 25, 2014

Art in the workplace

Art hard at work in the foyers of the world

Post studio post

For a New Zealander to make a big impression on the global art scene is not easy. So far it’s required an artist to leave the country and live in one of the major art center. And so Frances Hodgkins went to England as did Boyd Webbb in the late 1960s. Webb went on to become probably our most successful global artist so far. More recently Michael Stevenson and Simon Denny have both based themselves in Berlin and the work of both has attracted attention in the global art discussion. 

Stevenson has just been exhibiting in the Berlin Biennale and the Liverpool Biennial and Denny currently has a show at Portikus in Frankfurt. This is one of Europe’s key contemporary art spaces and indeed Michael Stevenson has also shown there recently. Both artists are loosely described as post studio but as a visit to OTNSTUDIO to check out Stevenson, June 2014 and Denny, June 2014 will demonstrate, studios are still alive and well.
Images: left, Michael Stevenson and right Simon Denny in their Berlin studios, June 2014

Thursday, July 24, 2014


The ghost of the Wellington art space On the table will be raised again this Saturday. OK, On the table may have had only five or six exhibitions but one of them was The estate of l budd and featured a table tennis tournament with l budd prizes. In the current spirit of re-presenting important exhibitions the tournament will be restaged at Michael Lett’s new gallery in Auckland. For the record the trophy winners of the first event were overall winner Chris Bleakley and runner ups Michael Baker and Karl Fritsch.
Images: Clockwise from the left Chris, Michael and Karl
with their trophies

Court out

Can’t get enough of this series on art collectors posing on furniture. This time it’s Australian collector Louise McBride who is currently involved in a case against the auction house Christie’s. The trouble started when McBride purchased the Albert Tucker painting Faun and parrot on the advice of her friend (maybe ex friend now) art consultant Vivienne Sharpe and then goes to re-sell it. Oh, oh, not so easy. It now looks as though the painting might be a fake. Usually this situation plays out with oh-how-embarrasing-let’s-settle-out-of-court but McBride happens to be a barrister and she’s not backing off. This of course means the rest of us get to hear of all the machinations that go on backstage when the rich and art meet. Brilliant.

Top in the embarrassment stakes is the revelation that Christie’s catalogued the Tucker painting's provenance as having been purchased by a Mr Ivan O'Sullivan from the Tolarno Gallery in Melbourne in 1969. Whoops! Tolarno wasn’t even up and running until 1978. Next is the appearance of one Peter Grant. He owned the Irascible Gallery and it turns out that the Tucker passed through his hands at some stage. Unfortunately this is the same Peter Grant who we posted on some years ago in a story about Brett Whiteley, Charles Blackman and Robert Dickerson fakes. None of this did a lot for the integrity of the provenance of Faun and parrot

But Christie’s defence team has also had the opportunity to put the boot in. Now we’re hearing all about how McBride transferred works from her private collection into her pension fund which you are really not supposed to do. We’ll keep you posted but in the meantime you can read the most entertaining version of the story here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Good to know

"New Zealand has been blazing a trail with Creative New Zealand’s Optimise online marketing capability building programme and the Optimiser online benchmarking project, led by The Audience Connection."

Presentation at the CNZ conference The Big Conversation (download report here)

Starkwhite comes to Wellington

The relationship between dealer galleries and public art museums has changed a lot. There was a time when the museums stood on their ethics and kept the dealers at arm's length in case their curatorial independence was compromised. That stand feels rather quaint now with big international dealers like Gagosian and Hauser & Wirth having a huge impact on what goes into (or possibly more importantly what’s not made available for) public museum shows, biennales and commissions. These galleries fund exhibitions and publications on a lavish scale and of course present substantial exhibitions of their own. The boundaries are well and truly blurred and the results not always to the benefit of museum independence. When visiting public museums shows today studying the labels to see who claims who and who's credited for what and who gets thanked is simply another part of the filtering process.

If you visited the current suite of exhibitions at the City Gallery in Wellington you'd think you'd hit the nexus of the public museum/dealer relationship. The City Gallery's spaces are all but filled on both floors with three solo exhibitions by artists (and yes in the City Gallery tradition they're all male) who show at a single Auckland dealer gallery - Starkwhite. Then stir in some personal history. The City Gallery’s Senior curator Robert Leonard was Starkwhite director John McCormack's curator at the Govett-Brewster and the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. And what about the transparency issue? The Starkwhite connection is credited on two of the exhibitions (Martin Basher and Grant Stevens) at the City Gallery but is nowhere to be seen in the biggest exhibition where the three ground floor galleries are filled with Seung Yul Oh’s work. And this in an institution that raised eyebrows in the past over the multiple appearances and support of artists from the Sydney-based dealer Roslyn Oxley.

But as it happens it turns out the Starkwhiteathon is actually a mixture of loose programming and poor timing: the Seung Yul Oh show was developed in conjunction with the Dunedin Public Art Gallery and had no association with Starkwhite, Leonard has been a long-term supporter of Grant Stevens (he introduced the artist to Starkwhite way back) and the Martin Basher exhibition was already on the books.

So not exhibition programming's finest hour but a King-hit for Starkwhite

Image: Seung Yul Oh (detail)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Big bird

Like the animal artist line up there seems to be no end to the out pouring of giant sculptures in general of animals specifically or in this case bird life. This 15 meter long parrot (a Norwegian blue) was made by Dave Crosswell, Iain Prendergast and Toby Crowther as a commission work to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Dead parrot sketch by Monty Python.
Images: The Norwegian blue being installed

Big eyes

After a scan of some dealer galleries, a best-of show in LA and too much time on Google, here’s some of what to expect from art in the next 12 months.
  • Plants in pots, in arrangements and in fragments
  • Large mirrors and reflective surfaces
  • Installations in stand-alone rooms
  • Tiles and more tiles, on the floor, on the wall and on the ceiling
  • Performances (many of them based on work by Yvonne Rainer)
  • Collectives and groups
  • Ceramics, ceramics and more ceramics
  • Rumbling bass sound tracks
  • Small abstract paintings that remind you of other paintings you've seen
  • Artist statements printed onto the gallery wall
  • Things made of bronze that look like they are made of something else
  • Artists writing printed in handouts
  • Artists curating other artists as their own work of art

Monday, July 21, 2014


We're on a roll. This from a reader (Thanks M), ├╝ber art collector Eli Broad and his wife Edythe sitting on furniture, in this case designed by Frank Gehry

Prize list

Once again the NZ Herald has dusted off Adam Gifford to harrumph about the Walters Prize. Last time Gifford was appalled by the four finalists who he decided “are in fact deeply conservative – a new academy." In a turn around this year Gifford is shocked by the radical nature of the final four. As the Auckland Art Gallery hasn't bothered to answer the obvious mistakes and misunderstandings in Gifford’s piece either on FaceBook or Twitter, here's our take on it:

 “The Walters Prize is the way Auckland City Gallery Toi o Tamaki deals with contemporary art. It outsources the selection of the finalists to four people from elsewhere in the New Zealand art world.”

Two of the four on the selection panel live in Auckland while a third, Tina Barton, graduated from Auckland University and was for some time a curator at the Auckland Art Gallery. Three of the four finalists went to art school in Auckland.

"There's no cover charge for the Walters Prize this year."
Admission to the Walters Prize was also free in 2012.

“The Walters selections so far have shown a bias against older artists and object makers.”
Five of the six winners of the Walters Prize (et al., Francis Upritchard, Peter Robinson, Dan Arps, Kate Newby) are object makers and Yvonne Todd is a photographer. Seventeen of the 28 finalists to date have been object makers. The average age of Walters Prize winners is 36 and 12 of the 28 finalists were over 40.

“As to the question of what contemporary art is, the answer seems to be, "It's what contemporary artists do."

This idea was first proposed by Marcel Duchamp 100 years ago in 1914.

“Worth noting is that the Walters Prize was opened by Mayor Len Brown, whose council passed a bylaw that includes a ban on "nuisance" begging. 'Uhila would have breached the bylaw when he pitched a tent alongside the gallery to shelter from the winter chill.” 
As far as we know direct begging is not part of Kalisolaite 'Uhila’s work.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saturday chart

This week Hyperallergic took apart the latest Top 200 Collectors list . You can see more of their results via the link.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Centre of attention

Four years ago LACMA had Franz West and Hamish McKay Gallery artist Andreas Reiter Raabe design a set of galleries for a Pacific collection that they had purchased. Now a new addition to the collection Shigeyuki Kihara’s video work Siva in Motion has been given a prime position.

Image: LACMA’s Pacific collection with Shigeyuki Kihara’s Siva in Motion centre

Signature style

The I’ll-never-wash-my-hand-again syndrome is common enough in the world of popular music and entertainment. Once touched by greatness (ok celebrity) you’ve got an association you want to remember. That’s why people collect signatures (preferably not on their arms with black felt tip pen) although you do have to wonder what these associations are worth. Someone on Trade Me is testing the water at the moment with a ‘Philip Clairmont, Signed, Nostalgic Object, Icon’.

The icon offering is a copy of the album Soon Over Babaluma recorded by the German band Can in 1974. We know it was owned by Clairmont because he hand printed his name on the sleeve presumably to make sure it came back if borrowed. It ended up with Clairmont’s friend the artist Allen Maddox and was in turn passed on to the Trade Me seller. 

So, there you go, two associations for the price of one.

And what do you pay for a record that was once owned by Philip Clairmont and presumably touched by Allen Maddox? Bidding starts at $500. OTY.

Image: top, the associated Can album and bottom, the crucial Clairmont name on the reverse of the sleeve. (thanks for the heads up P)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Skin condition

As you wander round the Getty Museum in LA you start to feel there is a theme to the contemporary sculpture collection. What could it be? Got it. Naked women.