Recent necrology, August-September 2010

Necrology – a list of notable people who have died recentlycover

  • Geoffrey Burgon, 1941-2010
    Composer who won accolades for his film and television scores including the theme to Brideshead Revisited
  • Tony Curtis, 1925-2010
    Actor who rose from the New York ghetto to achieve cinematic immortality in Some Like It Hot
  • Robin Gibson, 1944-2010
    Pillar of the National Portrait Gallery for 30 years who revitalised its 20th-century collection
  • Sally Holloway, 1926-2010
    Journalist who became only the second BBC woman reporter and wrote a history of firefighting in London
  • Tony Judt, 1948-2010
    Eminent historian who chronicled both postwar Europe and the progress of his own fatal disease
  • Frank Kermode, 1919-2010
    Outstanding scholar and literary critic who sought to bridge the divide between the academic world and that of the common reader
  • Edwin Morgan, 1920-2010
    Scotland’s first ‘Poet Laureate’ whose vision encompassed both the trivial and the miraculous
  • Patrick O’Dea, 1919-2010
    Quintessential NZ public servant, involved in the organisation of six visits by the Queen to New Zealand
  • Arthur Penn, 1922-2010
    Director of stage and screen whose violent examinations of exclusion included Bonnie and Clyde
  • Laszlo Polgar, 1947-2010
    Formidable Hungarian bass who brought passion and a brooding presence to his many operatic roles
  • Eric Tindill, 1910-2010
    World’s oldest Test cricketer who kept wicket for New Zealand and also played for the All Blacks

Down the rabbit hole at Ron Mueck exhibition?

I didn’t find a mysterious bottle labeled, “Drink Me” to make me extraordinarily small (that’s me pictured next to Ron Mueck’s sculpture, In Bed). Nor did I eat any cake that made me grow to great heights (see picture below). I attended the sneak peek of Ron Mueck’s exhibition at the Christchurch Art Gallery. Wow!

Many people initially respond to Mueck’s works with: how lifelike! That has to be the first reaction. The lifelikeness smacks you in the face. The skin is so real you would expect it to be warm and supple to touch. But it’s not. It’s hard and room temperature. (I didn’t touch the artwork! A small resin sample is available to provide this tactile experience.) Pimples, goose-flesh, veins, folds in the hands and feet… It’s all there. The ability to so  absolutely render the human form is a tremendous skill, a skill Mueck refined in his past life as creator of photo-realistic props and animatronics. His craftsmanship is impeccable.

But how does a work of extraordinary craftsmanship transcend craftmanship to become “art?” Continue reading