Friday 29 June 2007

Sharing the love, 50-50

I've written before about New York dealer Edward Winkleman, and his honest and insightful posts about the nuts and bolts of the dealer scene.

This week, Ed takes on the 50-50 split of sales between artists and the dealers (or gallerists) who sell their work. He notes that while the split might seem crazy at first - the artist does all the work and the dealer gets half just for hanging something on the wall for a while - when you factor what a good dealer does for their artists, and what it takes to actually run a business, the numbers start to stack up:

"Because emerging artists are most likely (and understandably) the least likely to understand the business, I took a small survey of youngish) galleries with bare bone staffs and predominantly emerging artists in their stable in New York. They reported that it costs between $6,000 to $12,000 per exhibition for the overhead/rent alone (these are all galleries with relatively modest spaces). This is before the gallerist takes a salary, let alone sees any profit for the business. That means, that with the 50/50 split, those galleries must sell between $12,000 and $24,000 of artwork per exhibition before they even break even. Before they can pay themselves anything. Before they can expand the business and reinvest in more resources to promote their artists."

Full post

In the comments (43 of them when I last looked) there wasn't the outrage that I expected, but there were some thoughtful questions. What if an artists introduces a collector to a gallery? How do splits work when an artist has more than one dealer? How do you ask a dealer to do more for their cut without sounding like a high-maintenance problem?


I'm not ashamed to own up to coming from New Plymouth. My parochial funny bone has been getting quite a tickle this week, with the news that Pukekura Park has not only landed the Mayfair spot on the NZ version of Monopoly, but also been named in the world's top 6 cricket grounds by Wisden (would you believe the Taranaki Daily News has removed this news item from their site?) .

Peter Peryer has honoured the park this week by photographing a palm tree seed he found there. He describes it as 'vivid'. I'd go with 'lady who got 3rd degree burns while inadvisedly sunbathing naked', but that's just me.

Peter's original post

Monday 25 June 2007

Q. How do you measure greatness?

A. By counting reproductions in art text books.

David Galenson, a professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Chicago, has brought quantitative research methods to bear on questions like "how do we decide which artists are 'great'?" and "why do some artists peak early, and others peak late?".

For example, in a paper titled 'Who were the great women artists of the 20th century?', Galenson tallied the number of illustrations of artworks by women in art history text books and found that "art historians judge Cindy Sherman to be the greatest woman artist of the twentieth century, followed in order by Georgia O'Keeffe, Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse, and Frida Kahlo."

You can read abstracts of a number of Galenson's papers on the National Bureau of Economic Research website.

David Galenson's papers

Friday 22 June 2007

5 things you might not know about William Fox

  1. He served as New Zealand's Premier four times.
  2. In an 1850 publication, he described Auckland as 'altogether rotten, delusive, and Algerine'.
  3. He is widely credited for ensuring New Plymouth became a separate province, rather than part of Auckland.
  4. He predicted that Wanganui would ultimately become identified with Wellington.
  5. Aged 80, he climbed Mount Taranaki, to demonstrate the benefits of a temperate lifestyle.

Image: William Fox, Bird's eye view of Waitoi [Waitohi], 1848. Alexander Turnbull Library. Reference number: C-013-001. Image from the Timeframes website.

Thursday 21 June 2007

Attention Wellington readers

Michael Parekowhai is giving a talk tonight at Te Papa. Details:

The Big OE and other stories with Michael Parekowhai
Te Marae, 4th floor, Te Papa
6.30 - 7.30pm
Free entry

Image: Michael Parekowhai, The Big OE, 2006. Image from the Te Papa website.

Wednesday 20 June 2007

Residency Round-Up

Joanna Langford,Regan Gentry, James Robinson - Tylee Cottage Artists-in-Residence, Wanganui 2007-08

Peter Peryer - William Hodges Fellowship, Southland

Ronnie van Hout - Artists To Antarctica programme

Tanya Marriot, Louise Potiki Bryant and Tracy Duncan – Wild Creations residencies

Kingsley Baird - residency at the In Flanders Fields Museum, Ypres, Belgium

Phil Dadson - Sanskriti Foundation residency at the Sanskriti Kendra campus, New Delhi

Mladen Bizumic - Creative New Zealand Berlin Visual Artists' Residency at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien

David Hatcher - Currently showing at the Govett Brewster, work from his 2006 residency

Judy Millar, Andrew McLeod, Gavin Hipkins, James Robinson - McCahon House residencies 2007

Ben Cauchi - Frances Hodgkins Fellowship

Johnny Penisula - Creative New Zealand/Macmillan Brown Pacific Artist in Residence, University of Canterbury

Friday 15 June 2007

Friday morning 'aww' moment

I'm not normally one to get all nationalistically sentimental, but when I found a New York Times review of the 'Flight of the Conchords' TV pilot in my feed reader just now - and it didn't say it sucked - I must admit I felt a little glow.

Flight of the Conchords: Digi-Folk Now! - NYT online

Thursday 14 June 2007

The next best thing

As Jim Barr and Mary Barr have noted in their blog postings about the Basel Art Fair, antlers are big in Europe this year.

If you're not so fortunate as to be in Germany right now - but are fortunate enough to live in the Wellington region - you can see Regan Gentry's gorse wood antlers (pictured above) in his current exhibition 'Of Gorse of Course' at the Dowse, Lower Hutt.

Image: Regan Gentry, Oh Dear, 2006. Gorse wood. Image from the Massey University website.

Wednesday 13 June 2007

Schrödinger's sh*t

Speculation is afoot that Piero Manzoni's Merda d'Artista (a 1961 work in which Manzoni filled 90 30-gram cans with his faeces and then sold them as art, as a critique of the art market) might not be exactly what they seem.

In an article titled 'Solo gesso, nella scatoletta di Manzoni' published in Corriere della Sera (Italian) Agostino Bonalumi, who worked with Manzoni, claims that the tins are actually filled with plaster.

The problem: no one can confirm this without peeling open one - or all - of the tins. The tins, mind you, have a current market value of £81,000 (as paid at Sotheby's Milan last month).

Stuart Jeffries has posted on the Guardian arts blog about the conundrum, quoting a Tate spokesperson statement that "Keeping the viewer in suspense is part of the work's subversive humour." (The Tate purchased a can in 2000 for £22,350).

Monday 11 June 2007

Why do I love my feedreader?

Because every week it serves me up a big dollop of Jerry Saltz goodness, without me ever asking.

This week Jerry has reviewed 'Richard Serra Sculpture: Forty Years' - the show MoMa was made for (perhaps literally).

Buona Serra - Jerry Saltz review, NY Magazine website

And here for your viewing pleasure: a 1 minute super-speed video of the installtion of Serra's works in the MoMA sculpture garden.

Friday 8 June 2007

I know, he sighed

Sometimes just one word can add such flavour to a piece 0f criticism.

Take this excerpt from The Telegraph's art editor Tom Horan's article, recording his tour around Tracey Emin's Venice Biennale installation with Telegraph art critic Richard Dorment:
We stood in front of a pale blue neon light installation that spelt out in Emin's handwriting 'I know I know I know,' Dorment sighed.

"The problem with so many artists from our little island is that they are flattered by the attention they get in the British media. When they step on to the international stage they see the standard of work that goes on in the rest of the world."

It's the 'sighed' that gets me. Can't you just see it? The slump of his shoulders. The knot in his brow. The air of disappointment is so much more damning than outright dislike.

Wednesday 6 June 2007

And now for a change of pace

Today I stumbled over the Dear Miss Griffis blog (not very quick off the mark I'm afraid - it started in March last year).

The blog's got it all: love, war, suspense, censorship, weather conditions - and it's all horribly out of date. Which is why it's great.

The blog is being run by the Glenbow Museum in Calgary. In their archives are a stash of 200+ letters written between two Calgary sweethearts during World War One: Miss Emma Griffis, a nurse who went to England and worked in a military hospital, and Harold McGill, a doctor who served with the Canadian forces.

Every week, in chronological order, the Museum is loading one of Emma and Harold's letters up to the blog. You can follow their story by visiting the blog, or signing up to the RSS feed.

What I love about this is the very simple use of Web 2.0 technology (which is the newest sparkliest thing out there in the museums and libraries world) to surface a collection item that normally wouldn't get a lot of attention.

I'm also quite struck by the funny little likenesses and dissimilarities: the weekly posting maintains the pace of international mail, and the sense of a story unfolding over time, and yet this is a very public posting of private emotions.

Tuesday 5 June 2007

Kick ass, yet immaculate

After several years in the doldrums, the Adam Art Gallery at Victoria University is re-emerging, with the appointment of a new director, Tina Barton, earlier this year and the opening of her first show Four Times Painting on Saturday morning.

Bucking the Friday night trend and opting for a morning opening had two advantages. First - people weren't all end-of-the-week bitchy and trying to get drunk quick. Second - the Gallery looks its best in daylight, a fact you tend to forget.

Four Times Painting brings together the work of Simon Ingram, Shane Cotton, Julian Dashper and Isabel Thom. According to the website:

Four Times Painting focuses on the work of four contemporary New Zealand artists, who each critically engage with the history and practice of painting.

Acknowledging painting as a medium that has come back into critical focus, the exhibition enlarges on this medium’s current situation and considers how painters today engage with its history, purpose, and material practices. Curated by Christina Barton, Director of the Adam Art Gallery, it features the work of Simon Ingram, Julian Dashper, Isobel Thom and Shane Cotton, four artists whose works can be approached as complex and multilayered meditations on painting’s relation to time.

Each of the artists got their own space within the Gallery: Ingram in the Chartwell gallery on the first floor, Cotton in the cave-like Kirk gallery on the mid-floor, Thom in the bottom of the stairwell, and Dashper in the ground floor Chartwell (his paint-splattered drum kit from the Auckland Art Fair is also displayed in the top floor window).

Cotton's and Dashper's installations were particularly strong. The Kirk gallery was painted black, and Cotton's three statuesque recent paintings hovered spotlit on the walls. It could have been too spooky for its own good, but I think it worked.

Cotton gave a quick talk as part of the opening events, and it was interesting to hear him focus on mark making and painting as an activity, rather than about what the paintings 'mean' (though there were several bird-related queries at the end of the talk).

Dashper's installation on the ground floor gallery was both immaculate and kick ass, and beautifully set off by the natural light. The installation brings together a number of untitled works from 2006 including the work shown above, which at the Adam is hung vertically, giving it a looming, giant-like effect. Dashper will give a floor talk in July.

Friday 1 June 2007

Creative NZ grants announced

CNZ's second round of funding for the 2006/07 years has been announced. 245 grants totalling more than $3.9 million have been awarded; nearly $13 million was requested from 723 applications.

The visual arts grants include:

  • William Hsu: to participate in the 14th annual Stazione di Topolo in Italy - $5,940
  • Natural Selection and Daniel Arps: towards participating in Documenta 12 - $17,390
  • Art & Industry Biennial Trust: towards the new work component of SCAPE 2008 - $82,500
  • Simon Ingram: towards creating a series of telephone painting machines - $12,410
  • Ryan Moore: towards a collaborative artists’ book project - $11,080
  • Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki: towards commissioning three new works and an exhibition catalogue for “Mystic Truths” - $40,000
  • Neuer Berliner Künstverein: towards an exhibition of contemporary New Zealand art in Berlin - $45,000
  • Alice Hutchinson: towards the participation of “Aniwaniwa” in the Venice Biennale collateral exhibition - $24,000

Full list of grants - CNZ website (PDF)

p.s. From this week's International Institutue of Modern Letters newsletter (PDF)

Which acclaimed New Zealand writer has just had a book published without Creative New Zealand assistance – even though a note in the book itself thanks CNZ for their publishing grant? Publishers have their print deadlines, and funding agencies have their decision deadlines, and sometimes the twain don’t meet. Likewise, it would seem, some literary judgements.