Saturday, 28 March 2015

Looted Constable?

To repatriate or not to repatriate? That is the question hanging over John Constable's Beaching A Boat, Brighton (1824) a preparatory sketch for a later painting. It was owned by a Jewish Hungarian artist who fled the 1944 Nazi invasion and went into hiding. He died in 1958. His descendants found the painting in Tate's collection and submitted a claim to the Spoliation Panel in 2013. The painting was first recorded in London in 1962, and was donated to the Tate by Mrs P.M. Rainsford in 1986. The Spoliation Advisory Panel decided that Tate had "a moral obligation" to return it. Since then, new information has come to light (CLICK).

Friday, 27 March 2015

Cpl Cross Cured

UK military medic Corporal Anna Cross has been cured of ebola, contracted while she nursed patients in Sierra Leone. She gave a press conference in the Royal Free hospital in London, where she was treated. She is the first person in the world to be given the experimental Ebola drug MIL 77, made in China. Her doctor said it was too soon to know what role the drug played in her recovery (CLICK).

Defining Beauty



I previewed The British Museum's exhibition Defining Beauty: the body in ancient Greek art in February (CLICK). It is now open. See the YouTube trailer.

Downton Abbey

Season six of ITV's award-winning period saga Downton Abbey will be its last. The show will culminate in a concluding special on Christmas Day this year. Its creator Julian Fellowes has signed up to create The Gilded Age, an American TV period drama set in New York (CLICK). I missed the first series of Downton Abbey, because I hate all the commercials that break up programmes on ITV and because I didn't fancy another version of Upstairs, Downstairs. But when the accolades started piling up I gave it a chance. I've been hooked since 2011. Back then, Matthew Crawley was ducking and diving in the Battle of the Somme.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Geffrye Museum

On Tuesday the Geffrye Museum of the Home opened Homes of the Homeless: Seeking Shelter in Victorian London. Shown is Augustus Edwin Mulready's oil painting A recess on a London Bridge (1879) on loan from the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Victorian artists certainly knew how to pull the heartstrings. The exhibition runs until 12 July, admission £5 adults, £3 silver surfers (CLICK).

Pavilion 2015

Yesterday Serpentine Galleries revealed the design for the 15th annual Pavilion: an amorphous, double-skinned, polygonal structure made of panels of translucent, multi-coloured fabric. The effect inside will be like huge stained-glass windows. Shown is SelgasCano's computer generated image of the Pavilion 2015 by night. SelgasCano is a Spanish firm of architects founded in 1998 by José Selgas and Lucía Cano. CLICK for a CGI of the Pavilion in its parkland setting of Kensington Gardens in daylight.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Clarkson Sacked

It's official. Politically correct BBC has sacked its star presenter politically incorrect Jeremy Clarkson for biffing a producer who failed to organise a steak-and-chips dinner for him at the hotel where the Top Gear team were staying while on location. Top Gear has an estimated worldwide audience of 350 million and earns BBC Worldwide about £50m a year from overseas sales. Now that's all kaput (CLICK).

Body Art: No Meat

Take a close look at this photo taken in Barcelona last week, on World Without Meat Day. It shows a naked "AnimaNaturalis" activist with her body painted in fruit and veggies to get her message across, which is "every day without meat reduces by 12% the emission of gases". Don't panic, young lady. The British are working hard on reducing flatulence in cattle. The aim is to eliminate cow farts as soon as pos.

Unity Spencer

Today, to mark the publication of her candid autobiography Lucky to be an Artist, The Fine Art Society in London opened Unity Spencer. Together with 50 of her oil paintings from all periods of her career, the exhibition will include samples of work from her artistic family: father Stanley Spencer, her mother Hilda Carline, her uncles Gilbert Spencer and Richard Carline and her grandfather George Carline. Thus her art is put into context. Shown is her Self Portrait (1954). She looks a daunting young lady (CLICK).

Design Museum

Today the Design Museum in London opened Designs of the Year 2015. The categories include everything from architecture to computer games. In the running this year is the Google self-driving car. The photo is picturesque, but doesn't fill me with confidence, because the car seems to have rolled down an embankment and halted in the middle of a read. BUT IT DIDN'T HIT ANYTHING. The Museum has revamped its website since I last visited. It's now strong on photos and weak on information (CLICK). Entry costs £13.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Anish Kapoor

Tomorrow the Lisson Gallery at 52 - 54 Bell Street, London. opens Anish Kapoor. Huge new paintings in silicon and red and white resin protrude from the walls like hideous bas-reliefs. The idea is that you absorb yourself into these caverns of raw, bloodied flesh. Rather you than me. Yuk! CLICK.

Christ's Cross

The National Gallery in London has put on display this painting Christ Carrying the Cross by an unknown artist. It is early Italian Renaissance, probably from the workshop of Giovanni Bellini. It was generously donated to the National Gallery by Angus Neill, who has owned it since 2002. You'll find it in Room 62, alongside works by Bellini, Mantegna and Cima (CLICK).

Monday, 23 March 2015

Kenwood House

The daffodils in my back garden are just coming into bloom. This is the best time of year to visit Kenwood House on the northern boundary of Hampstead Heath, London. because its lawn has banks of naturalised daffodils and the midges shouldn't be biting yet. This former stately home houses the Iveagh Bequest of old-master paintings and the superb library restyled by Robert Adam from 1764 to 1779 (CLICK).

BBC News!

Why do people feel the need to tinker with something that is working okay? This afternoon BBC News switched PC users to a "responsive" new website . The graphic allegedly shows the new BBC website working on a desktop PC, tablet and mobile. It's a lie. It doesn't work properly on my version of Internet Explorer 8 and told me to use a modern browser. So I loaded in a modern browser - Google Chrome - and the appearance was just as pathetic, The only difference was that the BBC website didn't tell me to use a modern browser. So it hasn't just stopped being compatible with IE8. It has excluded Microsoft XP Professional too. My PC is too old to update. I'm damned if I'm going to buy a new computer to please the BEEB. So it's goodbye licence fee, BBC, unless you sort out this mess.

Pratchett Pub Sign

Landlord Antony Yateman has unveiled a new pub sign for Uncle Tom's Cabin, Wincanton, Somerset, in tribute to the late fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett. He commissioned the Mended Drum Terry Pratchett pub sign (2015) from Discworld Emporium illustrator Richard Kingston before the author's death and had hoped that Sir Terry would unveil it. Sadly, Sir Terry died too soon (CLICK).