Posts Tagged ‘Swallow’

This takes the cake

A friend sent this in today (hat tip Helen)

Art  – where has the fun gone


Artist Inez Crawford’s Bouncy Marae piece, a bouncy-castle style wharenui (meeting house), part of the Land Wars show at the Te Tuhi Galleryin Pakuranga. 3 March 2008. Someone obviously thinks I have a thing for inflatable art.

Something I’ve been wondering about lately is that most galleries advertise that you can hire them out as a ‘venue’. Even Te Papa – “the galleries on Levels 5 and 6 offer unique opportunities to hold private functions surrounded by treasured artworks and artefacts.” and this from Auckland “The Auckland Art Gallery is much more than just another venue. Hold your next function here and join your guests in experiencing some of New Zealand’s finest traditional and contemporary art. Like the works of art we display – your event will truly be a masterpiece.” So I could get married in front of a McCahon? Have a cocktail party in the gallery? So ummm, what happens if someone spills the bubbly? I just find it scary.

I am taking questions from the floor by the way. For those who asked..

– Yes, I do know Ricky Swallow is Australian but the Blanket Shark work was in a sale here and he is from ‘the ‘hood’.
– No, I can’t sneak in more kitsch – even in a design entry.
– No
– No
– 42

and so in lieu of Vogon poetry

Cyclic Events  (1971) – Rudi Gopas

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Art Shark

I finally got around to listening to Kim Hill’s interview with Don Thompson about his book “$12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art and Auction Houses”. The title comes from the Damien Hirst’s artwork The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living which is/was essentially a stuffed shark in a tank of formaldehyde.


Its interesting because of its conceptual nature and also because of its mythology. The shark was poorly preserved and started rotting and then apparently the Saatchi gallery skinned it and put it over a fibreglass mould which changed the work. Even curiouser is that when it was sold to Steve Cohen in 2004, Hirst replaced the shark with a whole new one which was about a foot shorter, and supposedly better preserved. Cohen said he was buying (for the aforementioned $12 million) the concept not the art. I have Thompson’s book on order so I am really looking forward to reading about the workings of art economics but this does raise a whole lot of questions about what is art and for me if collectors/galleries are actually buying simply the concept? An entry on Overthenet a while back, got me thinking about this too. I can see why public galleries would have difficulty buying (and storing) a concept. I struggle with conceptual art myself and for example, while I like Inanga by Finn Ferrier (oh look more fish art…) , how does someone buy or “own” that? At least a big rotting shark is tangible. I have to admit if I had a few billion lying about (which would make $12 million seem like smaller change) I don’t think I’d be buying a Hirst but you never know. He had this to say:

It’s a big dilemma. Artists and conservators have different opinions about what’s important: the original artwork or the original intention. I come from a conceptual art background, so I think it should be the intention. It’s the same piece. But the jury will be out for a long time to come.”

There is an thought-provoking (and funny) commentary here too.

too reminiscent of Monty Python’s “Dead Parrot” sketch…Conjuring images of John Cleese indignantly reeling off a stream of euphemistic invective: ‘this shark has expired, passed away, snuffed it, kicked the bucket, gone the way of all flesh, shuffled off this mortal coil’

We have our own shark art example here in NZ too in Blanket Shark by Ricky Swallow (snapped up for the bargin price of $38,000 in 2007).


From the Art + Object Catalogue: “Blanket Shark, sculpted in 1996 is a work that seemingly effortlessly brings together the art historical and the personal that characterizes Swallow’s stunning work. It makes a nod both to Damien Hirst’s iconic 1991 tiger shark pickled in a glass tank of formaldehyde, which ushered in the uber-cool of the previous generation; and the carpet sharks – such as the spotted wobbegong – reeled in by the artist’s father.”

Personally I’d much rather have Blanket Shark. I have this weird mental image of a school of little toy sized ones though. What is the word for baby shark?

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