Friday, 19 December 2014

Ennio Morricone

The BBC's art editor Will Gompertz grabbed the chance to interview veteran film composer Ennio Morricone during Il Maestro's visit to London to reshedule his concert at the O2 Arena (CLICK). Originally My Life In Music was booked for 10 December. It will now take place on Thursday 5 February 2015, beginning at 6.30pm. Tickets are transferable. If you haven't booked, you're probably too late. Console yourself with the thought that you've saved £66.25 or £142.75 (CLICK). Morricone has scored over 500 movies and TV shows during his career and is the only composer to receive an honorary Oscar. Shown is Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone's western The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966). Its score is ranked No. 2 in the Top 200 best film soundtracks ever composed (CLICK).

Museum Night 3

The British Museum is celebrating its starring role in Night At the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, which hit UK cinemas today. Much of the film was shot in The British Museum after hours (CLICK). This is Ben Stiller's third visit to a museum in the dark and surely it must be his last. The trailer is enough to put anyone off (CLICK). More dire American tripe. The only fun to be had is spotting all the celebrities playing bit parts, like Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney. The film also stars the late Robin Williams in his final role.

Rossetti Sketch

Here's another gem to be auctioned in Bonhams New Bond Street sale of 19th Century European, Victorian and British Impressionist Art on 21 January. Dante Gabriel Rossetti drew this intimate pen-and-ink sketch of his muse Jane Morris reading a book in 1873. Lost for 150 years, it turned up in a private collection in America. Its estimated value is £20,000 to £30,000. CLICK to view the full sketch.

Sony Hack

It looks as though North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un is having the last laugh on Sony Pictures. Chubby Chops was miffed when he heard that in The Interview his head explodes like a ripe melon. Sony has since been hit with some very costly hacks. The last straw came when hackers The Guardians of Peace (#GOP) threatened cinema goers that "the world will be full of fear" if the film were screened. Sony caved in and cancelled the release of the film altogether. Critics in Hollywood have bemoaned this as an attack on freedom of expression. The White House has classed it as a national security issue (CLICK). The film is dire American tripe that should never have got past the script stage. I'm reminded of the Yanks' decade-long attempt to extradite Briton Gary McKinnon to punish him for the "biggest military computer hack of all time" (CLICK). They need to recruit hackers like Gary, not persecute them.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Churchill Record

Yesterday Sir Winston Churchill's The Goldfish Pool at Chartwell (1932) fetched a record-breaking price at Sotheby's auction in London. It had been estimated at £400,000 to £600,000, but in the event it sold for almost £1.8 million. Undoubtedly one of his best paintings, it was accepted for the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition in 1948. If memory serves me correctly, the fishes are golden orfe (Leuciscus idus), not common goldfish. The sale raised £15.4 million for the estate of Mary Soames, who died this year (CLICK).

Towa Takaya

The 5th Base Gallery at 23 Heneage Street, London, E1 5LJ, has opened Plastic Rendez-Vous by Japanese artist Towa Takaya. The blurb has the smack of teenage angst about it. "These paintings and drawings will unravel the transient shapes of love that mainstream pop-culture chooses not to present" (CLICK). So much for Tokyo. It's all fleeting, plastic liaisons. The exhibition runs until 21 December.

Twilight Painting

This atmospheric oil painting Yew Court, Scalby by Twilight (1877) by that fine British artist John Atkinson Grimshaw has emerged from a private collection to be auctioned in Bonhams New Bond Street sale of 19th Century European, Victorian and British Impressionist Art on 21 January. This painting - Lot 97 - is estimated at a conservative £70,000 to £100,000. It isn't the only gem in the sale (CLICK).

Wednesday, 17 December 2014


If you're into the naked female body as landscape, then Ladyscapes - A Celebration of the Female Form, photography by Sean Pines, is the exhibition for you. It's on at Gallery 320 in Bethnal Green, London, until 28 December. "Sean explores different ways to capture form and light and the interaction of both to convey differing moods, styles and interpretations of womanhood from a male perspective" (CLICK).

Elvis at The O2

Seeing this monstrous Lincoln Continental reminds me of Ralph Nader's Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile (1965). But that's beside the point. The photo shows Priscilla Presley posing with Elvis Presley's Lincoln Continental at the O2 in London (15/12/14). The O2 is staging the "largest Elvis exhibition ever in Europe" over the next nine months, with over 300 artifacts direct from the Presley family’s Graceland Archives, Two prices: £10 or £20, plus "service charges" (CLICK).

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Four Times of Day

The National Gallery in London is celebrating acquiring The Four Times of Day by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, which the Gallery boasts is "A Christmas present for the nation" (CLICK). Corot painted these four large panels to decorate the studio at Fontainebleau of his friend and fellow painter Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps. They represent Morning, Noon, Evening and Night in that order. Corot completed the cycle in one week. I've combined the four panels into a single graphic so that you can view them side by side.

Peshawar Outrage

There are some evil sons of bitches in this world, not the least of them belonging to the Pakistani Taliban. Their brutal attack on an army-run school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar killed at least 140 people, mostly children. This is the same cowardly mob that shot Pakistani Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai for campaigning for the right to an education. The object of today's attack was to kill as many children as possible before security forces regained control. Five or six Taliban gunmen marched through classrooms firing indiscriminately at children. A Taliban spokesman said the assault was in response to army operations, a feeble excuse for murdering children (CLICK).

William Blake

The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, attached to the University of Oxford, is currently showing William Blake: Apprentice and Master, which brings together more than 90 of his most celebrated works and offers new insights into his remarkable originality and influence (CLICK). Shown is Blake's Los howl’d from The First Book of Urizen (1796). Tickets cost £10 for adults, £8 for silver surfers.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Sydney Siege

You might think that a refugee who was granted political asylum would owe his host country a debt of gratitude, but that's not how self-styled Muslim cleric Man Haron Monis saw it. He was soon convicted of sending offensive letters to the families of dead Australian soldiers. He set himself up as some kind of healer with the emphasis on the hands-on approach. At the time he took hostages in the Lindt Chocolat Cafe in Sydney's Martin Place, he was on bail facing more than 40 sexual and indecent assault charges plus being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife. He decided to go out with a bang and commandos from the Tactical Assault Group obliged him (CLICK).

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Stuart Little Art

If you look above the head of Jonathan Lipnicki, the small boy between Hugh Laurie and Geena Davis, you'll see Hungarian artist Robert Bereny's avant-garde daub Sleeping Lady with Black Vase (1928) on the wall. It was used as a prop on a set of the Columbia Pictures' film Stuart Little (1999). A decade later art historian Gergely Barki spotted the long-lost daub while watching the film with his daughter Lola. Yesterday the painting fetched over 200,000 euro-thingies at an auction in Budapest. It's a long story (CLICK).

Small Stories

Yesterday the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green opened Small Stories: At Home in a Dolls' House, which runs until 6 September 2015. The museum has a fine collection of dolls' houses, dating back 300 years. For this new exhibition they've been updated with characters that light up and tell their stories when buttons alongside the showcases are pressed, the small stories of the title. Entrance is free. There are also daily activities: storytelling, arts and crafts, tours and trails. So this is a venue to keep in mind for school holidays, when bored cherubs are driving you crazy. There's a lot more information on the website: CLICK.