Saturday, April 30, 2011

Review of Billy Apple®: $23,610 Top Up

This month we present three exhibitions - two at Starkwhite and one in Auckland's Central Business District. We have a group show in our ground floor gallery and Matt Henry's Vernacular Painting in the first floor galleries. Our third show, Billy Apple®: $23,610 Top Up, is on display in the foyer and reception areas of Minter Ellison's Auckland offices. You can read an eyeContact review of the exhibition here.
Image: Billy Apple®: $23,610 Top Up, installation view, Minter Ellison Rudd Watts, Auckland

Friday, April 29, 2011

frieze d/e: a global-local perspective on contemporary art

Published in German and English, frieze d/e is a new fully bilingual magazine that offers in-depth coverage of contemporary art through Austria, Germany and Switzerland. The first issue engages with the question of what it means to produce a geographically specific publication and to be provincial in the art world. You can read more about the new magazine here

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Censored Algerian artist talks about his part in the Sharjah Biennial controversy

Recently, Jack Persekian, director of the Sharjah Art Foundation, an umbrella organisation overseeing the biennial, was sacked by Sharjah ruler Sheik Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi. The reason, according to the Foundation, was a "public outcry" caused by the inclusion of an artwork by Algerian artist and writer Mustapaha Benfodil, an installation consisting of mannequins in soccer uniforms emblazoned with Arabic phrases that were deemed blasphemous.

The art world has been quick to gather around Persekian. An online petition is currently circulating to show support for the administrator and condemn the censorship. Persekian, however, disavows the the petition. "I have not authorised the online petition that has been launched in my name by certain people associated with the Sharjah Art Foundation," he said. "I am not an advocate of boycotting any institutions to effect changes in the Middle East art scene. I have always believed in the benefits of respectful dialogue and routine interactions to effect change. Those personal beliefs still apply today and going forward into the future for the Sharjah Art Foundation and its artists."

So far, the media focus has been on the act of censorship and firing of Persekian. However, ART INFO UK caught up with the artist in London to discuss his work and hear his version of the story. You can read the interview here.
Image Mustapha Benfodil's Maportaliche/It Has No Importance 2011, before it was removed from the Sharjah Biennial

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Matt Henry: Vernacular Painting installation views

Vernacular Painting runs in our upstairs galleries to 14 April 2011. You can read our exhibition release here.
Images: Matt Henry, Vernacular Painting, installation view, Starkwhite, 2011; Untitled (Cadmium Red) 2011, acrylic and lacquer on linen, 565 x 665 x 60 mm; Untitled Dyad (Signal Yellow/Grey) 2011, acrylic and lacquer on linen, 1600 x 1800 x 72 mm; Signal Yellow (Letterbox) from the 16:9 series 2011, acrylic and lacquer on linen, frame, acrylic glazing, 618 x 1001 x 69 mm; Achromatic Grey (Letterbox) from the series 16:9 2011, acrylic and lacquer on linen, frame and acrylic glazing, 618 x 1001 x 69 mm; 2050 x 843 Signal Yellow 2011, acrylic and lacquer, installed in door frame, 2050 x 843 mm; Untitled (Titanium White) 2011, acrylic and lacquer on linen, 210 x 210 x 45; 2050 x 843 (Signal Yellow) 2011, installed in door frame

Monday, April 25, 2011

Leigh Davis Flag Poems in Time, Text & Echoes

Image: Leigh Davis, Te Rongopai and Where is Arikirangi, flag poems presented in the JAR exhibition Time, Text & Echoes (2010-2011), a sequence of ten-day hoists over 300 days, New North Road, Kingsland, Auckland, NZ

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Jae Hoon Lee project goes online at SCREENS

SCREENS is presenting a new work by Jae Hoon Lee in collaboration with Jeff Nusz. Wanderer digitally weaves together satellite imagery along with environmental sound to form a series of new terrains, familiar yet wholly other. Users drift along macro views of cracked roads and grassy berms, stitching together their own narratives and non-places together based on the fluctuating juxtaposition of image and sound.

Founded and curated by Luke Munn and Jeff Nusz, SCREENS is series of commissioned online works by artists seeking to redefine the artgame/interactive field with pieces that create new relationships, deal with untouched themes, and utilise on and offline media.
Image: Jae Hoon Lee, Wanderer (still), 2011, SCREENS

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Russia launches a new art investment fund

Last week the Moscow stock exchange listed Sobranie.Photoeffect, an art fund established by the Russian Management firm Agana. Valued at $467 million, the fund deals exclusively with photographs and holds over 290,000 works.

Sobranie.Photoeffect has a point of difference from other art funds. Instead of raising money from investors to buy art, it has obtained its works from a group of anonymous Russian collectors. The fund will sell 5-10% of its stock at auction every year, paying its final dividends after 15 years and then ceasing to exist. Agana's deputy director-general Ekaterina Aleksandrova told the Financial Times that the fund expects to provide annual returns of about 12-14%.
Image: Sobranie.Photoeffect includes work by Alexander Rodchenko

Friday, April 22, 2011

Russian youth organisation protests Voina's art award

Nationalist youth organisation Rossiya Molodaya (Young Russia) picketed Russia's ministry of culture on 15 April in protest over the awarding of a contemporary art prize to the controversial art collective Voina, demanding that the ministry stop allocating funds for the prize and "return by any lawful means funds spent on a prize for extremists and provocateurs".

Voina was awarded the Rb400,000 ($14,000) prize for Dick Captured by FSB!, a 65 x 27m spray painting of the outline of a penis on a bridge opposite St Petersburg's Federal Security Service (FSB) office. The collective will distribute the winnings to orphans and inmates.

Voina did not attend the awards ceremony. Spokesperson Leonid Nikolayev told Russian News Service radio: The prize is secondary and insignificant. Our country has its own prize for artists who deal with social and political issues. We were nominated for a state prize in the form of a criminal case that could land us up to seven years in jail."

Nikolayev and collective artist Oleg Vorotnikov were jailed after overturning police cars in another performance in St Petersburg last September. They were bailed out by Banksy in February, but are not allowed to leave St Petersburg while they await trial.
Image: Voina Collective's graffiti penis on a drawbridge in Moscow.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Serrano's Piss Christ attacked by Christian fundamentalists

Controversy has followed Andres Serrano's Piss Christ ever since he plunged a plastic crucifix into a glass of his own urine and photographed it, but it reached an unprecedented peak on Palm Sunday when it was attacked with hammers and destroyed after an "anti blasphemy" campaign by French Catholic fundamentalists in the city of Avignon, The Guardian reports that the violent slashing of the picture, and another Serrano photograph of a meditating nun, has plunged France into soul-searching about Christian Fundamentalism and Nicolas Sarkozy's use of religious populism in his bid for re-election next year. Read more...
Image: Andres Serrano, Piss Christ (1989)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Andy Monument, Union Square NY

A new public art work has appeared in New York's Union Square. Commissioned by the Public Art Fund, Rob Pruitt's The Andy Monument (2011) is a statue of Andy Warhol made from chromed, glass-fibre-reinforced polyester resin and stood atop a concrete plinth. His Warhol shares the square with monuments to George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Mohandas Gandhi, and is the Warhol of the 1970s and 80s: big glasses, shirt, tie and casual blazer, a Bloomingdale 'medium brown bag' in his right hand and a Polaroid camera slung around his neck. Read more...
Image: Rob Pruitt's The Andy Monument (2011) commissioned by the Public Art Fund, NY

Starkwhite opening tonight

Matt Henry's exhibition Vernacular Painting opens tonight at 5.30pm.
Image: Matt Henry, Signal Yellow (Pillarbox) from the series, 16:9 2011, acrylic on linen, frame, acrylic glazing, 618 x 1001 x 69 mm

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Showing that philanthropy can work, even when times are tough

The UK's biggest art charity has announced plans to increase funding to museums and galleries to buy and show art by over 50% by 2014. The Art Fund is committing £7m a year to their funding programme, up from £4.5 million. They also launched the National Art Pass giving special access to art all over the UK.

Demonstrating that philanthropy can continue even when times are tough, the Art Fund is taking steps to support the delivery of art around the UK and to help people to experience great art at first hand. They include:
  • Making more money directly available for the purchase of important works of art
  • Running more public fundraising campaigns
  • Supporting curatorial development
  • Supporting the collecting of international contemporary art
  • Celebrating, advocating and supporting the museums and galleries sector through the art fund prize for museums and art galleries
  • Campaigning for ways to make it easier for institutions to acquire art
  • Helping people make the most of art through the introduction of the National Art Pass
All funding for the art charity is raised from donations, public appeals, trusts and foundations and through its 80,000 supporters
Image: artist Grayson Perry at a National Art Pass launch

Monday, April 18, 2011

Turner Contemporary aims to revitalise the town of Margate

Locals in Margate are hoping the new Turner Contemporary gallery will help to revitalise a town where a declining tourist trade has left buildings empty and high levels of unemployment. They are hoping that the new art gallery and its links with 19th century artist JWT Turner will transform Margate in the way the Tate gallery turned a sleepy seaside St Ives in soutwest England into an artistic mecca, or the way the Guggenheim revived Spain's industrial city of Bilbao.

The "art effect" is already having an impact. Anticipating a cultural resurgence, entrepreneurs have begun moving into Margate's quaint but rundown Old Town, opening galleries, cafes and vintage boutiques. Some 40 new businesses have opened since last year. Others hope to re-open the old Dreamland amusement park and preserve its antique rides which include Britain's oldest roller coaster as part of a raft of visitor attractions that could once again draw vacationing families to the beach resort.
Image: the new Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate, England

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A new addition to Billy Apple's transaction series

In 2005 Minter Ellison Rudd Watts advanced Billy Apple $100,000 credit for legal services for an artwork staged as a site-specific wall painting in the firm's reception area. Five years and one Top Up later the project has evolved into the exhibition Billy Apple®: $23,610 Top Up, a new addition to the artist's list of transactions dating back to Art For Sale, 1981. You can read the release for this Starkwhite exhibition presented in the foyer and reception areas of Minter Ellison's Auckland offices here.
Image: Billy Apple®: $23,610 Top Up, installation views of the Starkwhite exhibition at the Auckland offices of Minter Ellison Rudd Watts

Friday, April 15, 2011

Coming up at Starkwhite

Matt Henry's exhibition Vernacular Painting, opens in our upstairs galleries on Wednesday 18 May. You can read the exhibition release here.
Image: Matt Henry, Untitled (Titanium Dioxide) 2011, acrylic and lacquer on linen, pine stretcher and masonite panel, 210 x 210 x 45 mm

Challenging the notion of the national pavilion at the Venice Biennale

In the first of a series of interviews with art-world figures operating outside the Venice Biennale's official channels, ARTINFO spoke recently with Georges Rabbath, who is planning a Lebanese project in Venice titled Lebanon as a State of Mind, about the pitfalls - and benefits - of working on the margins of the official national pavilion system, and how it is appropriate for the Arab world today. Read more...
Image: curator Georges Rabbath

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Slim pickings at the Museo Soumaya

"There is something tragic about the Museo Souyama, the spectacular-looking private museum in Mexico City that opened to the public on March 28. It is owned and operated by the Carlos Slim Foundation and contains the collection of the world's richest man, Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim. With so much money at his disposal I was expecting to see something extraordinary. But unfortunately it falls short." Read more...
Image: the exterior of the Fernando Romero-designed Museo Soumaya

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

In Praise of Doubt opens at Pinault's Punta della Dogana gallery

In Praise of Doubt has opened at Francois Pinault's Punta della Dogana gallery, a former Venetian Republic Custom House located at the centre of the lagoon on the Grand Canal. Assembled to explore "the questioning of certainty of identity" and "the relationship between intimate and personal dimension", the exhibition features works by Maurizio Cattelan, Dan Flavin, Roni Horn, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Subodh Gupta, Donald Judd, Jeff Koons, Paul McCarthy, Sigmar Polke and others.

This link takes you to a conversation between Jackie Wullschlager and  Francois Pinault published in the Financial Times. You can also see our recent post, Francois Pinault hones his Ventian projecthere.
Images: Venice's Punta della Dogana and Felix Gonzales-Torres' Sturtevant in the exhibition In Praise of Doubt

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Alicia Frankovich @ VVORK

Alicia Frankovich's Revolution (Martini Fountain) features on VVORK, a daily website that offers a curated collection of contemporary art. You can visit VVORK here.
Image: Alicia Frankovich, Revolution (Martini Fountain), 2010 

Ai Weiwei: the latest developments

You can catch up with the latest Ai Weiwei developments here.
Image: a billboard near Ai Weiwei's Beijing studio

Monday, April 11, 2011

Radical art collective wins Russian Ministry of Culture prize

The New York Times reports that the radical art collective Voina has won a contemporary art award sponsored by Russia's Ministry of Culture and the National Centre for Contemporary Art for a project that consisted of a 210-foot penis painted on a drawbridge in St Petersburg. Pointed at the the headquarters of the state security service, the FSB, the penis stood for several hours before authorities scrubbed it off. Yana Sarna, who acts as a spokesperson for the group, said in a statement that the group would not keep the prize money, but would forward it to political prisoners in Russia. Read more...
Image: Voina Collective's graffiti penis on a drawbridge in Moscow.

Free-market logic at work at the Musée Picasso

The director of the Musée Picasso has defended her decision to organise an international touring exhibition to raise money for the renovation of the Paris museum. Anne Baldessari, the museum's director, told Le Monde that producing exhibitions abroad was their only resource, adding that the money received helps to finance conservation and exhibitions.

Baldessari revealed that the museum raised between 1m and 3.5m a year from the touring exhibition Masterpieces from the Picasso Museum. So far the exhibition venture has returned 16m.

The criticisms of the museum follow comments made by the General Association of Curators of French Public Collections expressing concern about cuts in state funding for French museums and the "extreme free-market logic" increasingly adopted by national museums, a barb directed at the Musée Picasso.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

New Minister of Culture says mega-ads in Venice must go

Italy's new Minister of Culture, Giancarlo Galan, has told the La Nuova Venzia newspaper that the mega-ads in St Mark's Square and down the Grand Canal must go. "Tourists should not be faced with such a horrible sight, and the advertisers themselves must be finding the ads are bad publicity", he said. "The money to pay for the restoration that the advertisements are financing will have to be raised in other ways."

The decision follows stinging attacks on the Italian Government over the use of giant advertisements on some of Venice's most historic sights. Facing a funding crunch as masonry began to crack and tumble from some of its ancient palazzi, Venice began to offer adversing space in 2008 on the awnings used to cover scaffolding erected for restoration around St Mark's Square and up and down the Grand Canal.

But local conservationists said the advertisements to pay for essential maintenance got out of hand when a Coca-Cola advertisement all but obliterated views of the Bridge of Sighs behind the Palazzo Ducale. Dubbed the "Bridge of Signs", the structure is being rented out for 40,000 a month.
Image: A mega-ad covers the area surrounding Venice's Bridge of Sighs

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Museums and artists call for the release of Ai Weiwei

The Tate, MOMA, the Guggenheim and other museums have joined art figures including the Gao Brothers and Cao Fei demanding that China release Ai Weiwei. Read more...

Peter Zumthor to create a secret garden for the 11th Serpentine Pavilion

Peter Zumthor, master of meditative, highly crafted buildings, has released images of his design for this year's Serpentine Gallery pavilion in London's Kensington Gardens. The pavilion, which opens in July and closes in September, will take the form of of a contemplative garden courtyard created by the Dutch designer Piet Oudolf.

"The concept", says Zumthor, "is the hortus conclusus, a contemplative room, a garden within a garden. The building acts as a stage, a backdrop for the interior garden of flowers and light. Through blackness and shadow one enters the building from the lawn and begins the transition into the central garden, a place abstracted from the world of noise ands traffic and smells of London - an interior space within which to sit, to walk, to observe the flowers. This experience will be intense and memorable, as will the materials themselves - full of memory and time."

Zumthor's pavilion is the 11th in the series which began with Zaha Hadid in 2000 and has included giants such as Oscar Niemeyer, Alvaro Siza, Rem Koolhaas and Frank Gehry. Read more...
Image: A garden within a garden. Peter Zumthor's design for the Serpentine Gallery pavilion

Friday, April 8, 2011

Leigh Davis Flag Poems in Time, Text & Echoes

Image: Leigh Davis, Adoration of the Bleeding Edge, flag poem presented in the JAR exhibition Time, Text & Echoes (2010-2011), a sequence of ten-day hoists over 300 days, New North Road, Kingsland, Auckland, NZ

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Review of Dane Mitchell's Radiant Matter Part 1 at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery

"I suspect this is the best show of Mitchell's career so far. It is particularly cohesive conceptually, with its methodical ruminations on art viewing processes, 'radiant' but invisible matter and how we might detect it, and the authoritative power of language". Read more...
Image: Dane Mitchell, Radiant Matter Part 1, installation view, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, 2011. Photograph by Bryan James

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Art of the Steal

Detailing the Machiavellian power plays for a collection of paintings amassed by a Philadelphia physician and now valued at over $20 billion, The Art of the Steal is described as a lucid primer on the politics of the public ownership of cultural property. Dr Alfred C Barnes made a fortune by developing an antiseptic, then spent it on paintings disdained by the city's cultural elite of the day: Renoirs, Cezannes, Matisses, Picassos, Modiglianis.

When he died in in 1951 his will stipulated that the collection never be broken up or leave the two-story villa that houses it in suburban Merion. For 60 years the city's power brokers - not to mention the art institutions Barnes mocked - have manoeuvered to assert their vision for the collection over his: moving the collection downtown to be positioned as a major tourist destination.

In Time Out New York Joshua Rothkopf said: "Don Argott's documentary has plenty of criticism to spread around: digs at self-serving curators, monolithic endowments and even Albert C. Barnes himself - prophetic enough to see the brilliance of his favourite French talents but naive enough to leave his collection in the hands of a financially unstable trust."

The Art of the Steal screens this week at Auckland's Sky City Theatre as part of the World Cinema Showcase. This link takes you to the screening schedules for Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin and you can view a film trailer here.
Image: The Barnes Foundation, Lower Merion Township, Philadelphia

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Billy Apple®: Art Aid

The Billy Apple Charitable art project continues with another artwork gifted to Art Aid. This time his supported charity is the Christchurch Public Art Fund administered by the Christchurch Public Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu to help artists and artworks in the aftermath of the recent earthquake. You can place a bid on the work here.
Image: Billy Apple®, 2011, low-fire ceramic, 78h x 77 x 77 mm

Monday, April 4, 2011

Starkwhite group show - final week

Our current group show of works by Alicia Frankovich, Laresa Kosloff and Ruth Proctor closes on Saturday 9 April 2011. You can read a review of the exhibition here.
Image: IF SAMENESS IS IN THE CENTRE, THEN DIFFERENCE IS ON THE  PERIPHERY: Alicia Frankovich (NZ), Laresa Kosloff (AUS). Ruth Proctor (UK), installation view, Starkwhite, Auckland NZ, March 2011

Arts funding in the UK: "Salami slicing" out, selective funding in

With 118 million pounds less cash to hand out, the Arts Council of England has cut grants to arts organisations in its latest funding round. However not all organisations fared badly. The Serpentine was one of the institutions that benefited from Arts Council's new policy of funding fewer organisations realistically as opposed to the old "salami slicing" approach (the practice of handing equivalent amounts to all).

Serpentine director Julia Peyton-Jones and co-director of exhibitions and programmes Hans Ulrich Obrist said in an email release they were "very grateful for the uplift" from the Arts Council, "although it is bittersweet news at a time of swingeing cuts to the sector."

Last year the New Statesman published an entertaining piece by Sophie Elmhirst on the use of the word swingeing and the way it is linked to cuts. She also predicted that it would appear at least once a week in a news headline for the rest of the year "as it is deployed around the country, scythe in hand, towards shivering schools and subsidised arts centres, libraries and nurseries. It's like the threat of a serial killer - where will swingeing and its evil little sidekick, cuts, strike next?"
Image: Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Mickey Mouse takes top billing at vintage movie poster auction

A never-before-auctioned 1932 Mickey Mouse poster from United Artists fetched $35,850 at a recent Vintage Movie Poster auction. The second spot on the podium went to a 1953 Paramount poster from War of the Worlds. Close on its heels was a 1938 Universal poster from Frankenstein featuring Boris Karloff  as the most famous monster to ever stalk the silver screen.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Perversion of Chinese Flavours at the Venice Biennale

China has finally announced its plans for this year's Venice Biennale. Curator Peng Feng has invited five artists to participate in his exhibition Perversion of Chinese Flavours. The artists will each create a separate installation taking as their staring point a different Chinese flavour or scent. The five artists and the flavours/scents they will evoke are: Cai Zhisong (tea); Liang Yuanwei (the pungent scent of China's traditional white spirit, baijiu); Pan Gongkai (the smell of lotus); Yang Maoyuan (medicinal herbs); and Yuan Gong (incense).
Image: Peng Feng, curator of China's pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Museum of Censored Art

The Museum of Censored Art was the brainchild of Michael Blasenstein and Michael Iacovone, the duo who were banned from all Smithsonian museums following their attempt to show David Wojnarowicz's video in the National Portrait Gallery after it had been removed from the institution's Hide/Seek exhibition on the history of gay identity in art. They screened A Fire in My Belly in the Gallery on an iPad suspended around Blasentein's neck with Iacovone shooting a video of the action.

Blasenstein and Iacovone later set up the Museum of Censored Art in a trailer outside the National Portrait Gallery where they attracted over 5,000 visitors to daily screenings of the censored video.

This link takes you to Wounded in the Crossfire of a Capital Culture War, the NYT's latest story on the collision of art and politics at the Smithsonian.
Image: The Museum of Censored Art set up outside the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery to screen David Wojnarowicz's video A Fire In My Belly.