Friday, 31 October 2014

BAFTA Britannias

Emma Watson enjoyed herself at the Jaguar BAFTA Los Angeles Britannia Awards in the Beverly Hilton Hotel yesterday. She received the award for British Artist of the Year. Maybe host Rob Brydon some something funny, although I doubt it. Other awards went to Dame Judi Dench, Robert Downey Jr, Mike Leigh, Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Excellence in Comedy) and Mark Ruffalo for his humanitarian work (CLICK).

Before The Dawn

On 5 November La Galleria Pall Mall in London opens Before the Dawn - An Artist’s Journey through Afghanistan by portraitist and official war artist Arabella Dorman (CLICK). The exhibition represents her visits to Afghanistan over the past five years, showing British troops and Afghan civilians, such as this group with the central figure of a father comforting his son. The exhibition runs until 15 November. Admission is free, except for evening charity events (CLICK for Arabella's website).

East Anglian Sale

Don't you just love those tales of discarded art rediscovered? A man cleared a car load of old prints and paintings out of his shed and drove them to a valuation day at Bonhams Reepham office. Most were worthless prints, but then emerged this watercolour of two cows by famous East Anglian artist Sir Alfred Munnings, worth £8,000 - £12,000. It comes up for grabs in Bonhams East Anglian Picture Sale in Knightsbridge, London, on 18 November. Around 150 paintings by many of East Anglia’s top artists will be on show (CLICK).

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Wildlife Artists

Today the Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA) opened its 51st Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London. This year the "Out of Frame" room will feature the Society’s bird migration project with the British Trust for Ornithology. Four artists visited wintering grounds in Senegal with BTO scientists. Shown is Sahel Wintering Redstart 1 by Bruce Pearson SWLA. My favourites are Richard Tratt's beautiful paintings of butterflies against landscapes, two of which have already been sold online. Both the landscapes and the butterflies are brilliant. CLICK to view them. Admission to the show costs £3 for adults, £2.50 for silver surfers.

Robert Devriendt

Yesterday Marlborough Fine Art at 6 Albemarle Street, London, opened Robert Devriendt: Unsolved Cases (CLICK). This is its first exhibition by the Belgian artist, whose work is extremely unusual. He creates very high quality comic strips in which the crimes are ambiguous. It's up to the viewer to figure out what's going on. As long strips are hopeless when limited to 400 pixels and single pictures taken out of context are meaningless, I've taken the liberty of altering his shortest and least ambiguous strip - only two paintings - and placing one on top of the other to show the quality of his art. This is Unsolved Case 9 (2014).

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

From Forest to Sea

On 1 November the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London opens From the Forest to the Sea: Emily Carr in British Columbia. Who? you might ask. Emily Carr was a Canadian artist virtually unknown outside Canada. This is the first UK exhibition dedicated to her work. Shown is her War Canoe (1919). The exhibition runs until 8 March (CLICK). Admission costs £11 for adults and £10 for senior citizens aged over 65. Ripoff!

No Foreign Land

The Fleming Collection began in 1962 as a corporate collection of paintings intended to hang on the walls of bank Robert Fleming & Co. The aim was to collect only Scottish scenes, preferably painted by Scottish artists, but a Scottish scene painted by a foreign artist would do. But Scottish artists worked in other countries too. Today The Fleming Collection at 13 Berkeley Street, London, opened No Foreign Land: Landscapes from the Fleming Collection (CLICK). Shown is a most unusual work by William Crozier painted on both sides of the canvas. Left is The Slopes of Fiesole, Tuscany. right (verso) Edinburgh from Castle Street.

Willy Lott’s House

The Ashmolean, University of Oxford, has acquired John Constable's Willy Lott’s House from the Stour (The Valley Farm) c.1816–18, accepted by the nation through the Acceptance in Lieu scheme to settle £1,012,200 of Inheritance Tax. This is the first finished work by Constable the Ashmolean has acquired. Willy Lott's House features in a number of Constable's paintings. CLICK for more pictures and information.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Cardsharps Tiff

A painting of Caravaggio's The Cardsharps bought by the Thwaytes family in 1962 for £140 was auctioned by Sotheby's in London in 2006 for £42,000. Nice profit, you might think. But no. The new owner, British art historian Denis Mahon, found the painting has a pentimento (an alteration) which strongly suggests it was by the original artist - Caravaggio - not by a copyist. Copyists copy what's in front of them. Original artists change their minds and make alterations. Caravaggio is well known for painting different versions or copies of his paintings for different patrons. The new owner reckons his version is a genuine Caravaggio worth about £11. "Preposterous" ripostes Sotheby's. Bill Thwaytes is hopping mad and is suing Sotheby's in the High Court for negligence. The undisputed original of Caravaggio's The Cardsharps (c.1594) is owned by the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, USA. This is the one I've shown (CLICK). There are many copies, at least 50 early ones; but you can buy modern copies for peanuts. Chinese artists churn them out. The court case is expected to last for 4 weeks and will cost a fortune (CLICK).

Ghoulish Gardens

Half term holiday! Here's a neat little graphic from Valentines Mansion & Gardens in Redbridge advertising its Ghoulish Gardens on Friday 31 October from 4pm - 4.45pm. Spooky stories will be read by torchlight in the Old English Walled Gardens, suitable for ages 8 years and over. Booking is essential, cost £5.50 per person. There's a prize for the spookiest costume. Phone 020 8708 8100 or CLICK.

Sea Sculptures

With winter approaching in the UK, it's time the Australians rubbed our noses in it with the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition. Sun, sand, bikinis and mainly terrible abstract art, bigger and sillier than ever. Shown is a real boy walking along the handle of Andrew Hankin's giant We're fryin' out here (2014). How's that for imbuing a sense of scale? The exhibition spreads along the coastal path between Sydney's Bondi Beach and Tamarama Beach. If you have some spare time, CLICK to view this year's sculptures.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Freedom Passion

The 52 artworks shortlisted for the Passion For Freedom Art Festival 2014 will be on display at the Embassy Tea Gallery on Union Street, Bankside, London, from 5 to 15 November (CLICK). Winners of the competitions for art, books and journalism will be announced during the award ceremony on 8 November. Shown is Seamus Moran's excellent Harness - the technical term for a suit of armour - in the shape of a bird taking flight. I can't think of a better symbol for the passion for freedom. Seamus is currently in discussion with the Tower of London to have Harness exhibited there. In the White Tower?

Public Art Debate

Why do public art commissions spark such controversy? wonders the Whitechapel Gallery and attempts to answer its own question with Sculptors Papers from the Henry Moore Institute Archive. Shown is Laurence Bradshaw in his studio sculpting the clay model for his Karl Marx Memorial (1956) destined for Highgate Cemetery, where it became subject to both pilgrimage and attack. Jacob Epstein’s explicit nudes for the British Medical Association also became a battleground. Too rude! The display runs in the Pat Matthews Gallery (Gallery 4) until 22 February 2015, admission free (CLICK). London artists at least 26 years old might like to know that the Gallery has issued a Call For Entries for its next summer open show. The closing date for entries is 12 December (CLICK).

Rembrandt Video

If you're still dithering over lashing out on The National Gallery's exhibition Rembrandt: The Late Works, see if Jeremy Paxman's recently published YouTube video can persuade you. Jeremy admires his favourite painting, but doesn't name it. It's The Jewish Bride (1667) on loan from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. CLICK to read my preview of this expensive exhibition.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Rockwell Photos

The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, USA, has announced that it has digitized tens of thousands of black-and-white photographs from its Norman Rockwell Photographic Print Collection, previously uncatalogued. These are now freely viewable online at the Museum’s website: CLICK. Shown is detail from Reference photo of Norman Rockwell's portrait of Ann-Margret (c.1965).

Stephen Lawrence Prize

The Royal Institute of British Architects has awarded the 2014 RIBA Stephen Lawrence Prize to Denizen Works for turning what was a dilapidated B-listed Tiree black-house crofter’s cottage into a contemporary family home and guest house united by a central glass atrium. The RIBA Stephen Lawrence Prize is sponsored by the Marco Goldschmied Foundation in memory of the murdered teenager whose ambition was to become an architect. This annual award recognises fresh architectural talent using a construction budget of less than £1 million. You'll need to go to the Isle of Tiree, Inner Hebrides, to view House No 7 in person. CLICK for a larger photo and more information.