Tuesday, 31 January 2006

Quote of the Year 2005

"Steady on Gromit or you'll buckle me trunions." This from Steve Box - Nick Park's co-director on Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit - when explaining the problems he had trying to get across British dialogue to their US backer: Dreamworks. Box admits "..but to be honest, English people don't particularly understand what it means either." True. It tickles your funny bone or it doesn't. What's to understand?

Oscar nominations announced

Nominations for the 78th Annual Academy Awards were announced today. Clips and stills from the nominated movies have been floating around for weeks. Here's where we all get to play judge and jury, whether we've seen these movies or not.
Coxsoft's red-hot tips are:
Rodrigo Prieto - Cinematography: Brokeback Mountain
Luc Jacquet and Yves Darondeau - Documentary Feature: March of the Penguins
Nick Park and Steve Box - Animated Feature Film: Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-rabbit.
This is Steve's first Academy Award nomination. Nick is an old hand at the Oscars (3 so far).

Hitler's paintings come to light

Here's some unexpected and unwanted continuity. Only two days after the UK's National Holocaust Memorial Day, the Telegraph reported that 21 of Adolf Hitler's paintings and sketches, which had lain in a suitcase in a Belgium attic for nearly 70 years, are to be auctioned at Jefferys in Lostwithiel, Cornwall, England, in March 2006.
Okay, art lovers, here's your chance to sneer at the Fuhrer's amateur daubs; but at least they're not Anti-art like unmade beds. The evil slob was trying his best; anti-artists such as Tracey Whatshername are just taking the Mickey. (Try the title link for more info.)

Monday, 30 January 2006

Qing Dynasty vases smashed!

A visitor to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England, tripped over a shoelace, tumbled down a flight of stairs and smashed three priceless porcelain Chinese vases from the Qing Dynasty, reign of Kangxi (1662-1722), into "very, very small pieces" according to Margaret Greeves, the museum's assistant director. Although the accident happened last Wednesday, the news appeared only today. For the most complacent, not to say idiotic, quote of the week, museum director Duncan Robinson's words will take some beating: "...it is important not to over-react and make the Museum's collections less accessible to the visiting public"!
This story brings together two of my themes: 1. Who are the nincompoops guarding the world's treasures? and 2. Why don't they insure good colour photographs are taken of our treasures and posted on the Web, so we have a visual record of them? The broken vases shown by BBC News are in dismal monochrome. Click the title link to see them. Would you spot these vases in a car boot sale, if they had been stolen instead of smashed?

Sunday, 29 January 2006

London's Chinatown celebrates

An estimated 200,000 people turned out for the Year-of-the-Dog celebrations organized by the London Chinatown Chinese Association. This is a much bigger turnout than last year, when 80,000 people watched the parade and other Chinese entertainments. The event is now reckoned to be the largest outside China. For photos visit BBC News by clicking the title link.
This year's parade helped launch China in London 2006, a season of more than 100 events celebrating Chinese culture and historical links between London and China, which runs until the end of March. Its biggest event is China: The Three Emperors, 1662-1795, which continues at the Royal Academy of Arts until 17 April 2006. (See Coxsoft Art's London Page.)

Saturday, 28 January 2006

Contemporary Chinese art

Having decided that the Chinese new year should be heralded with something more modern than dragons and lotus flowers, I was pottering around the web in search of something suitable when I chanced upon this startling work: Discrepancy between One Idea (1998) by the Shanghai-born artist Chen Yan Yin. At first glance it looks like an imperial throne or a modernistic four-poster bed. It is in fact a "sculpture" comprising intravenous bags, tubes and needles, water, cut flowers, sound and nylon thread! Most "modern" art looks old-fashioned, tawdry and about as aesthetically pleasing as a dog's poo; but this work is imaginative, ultra modern and rather beautiful. It was exibited in the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, and was photographed by Kim Clarke. I assume the flowers have since wilted. I hope I'm not infringing anyone's copyright by showing this image, but I wanted to share it with you in time for the Chinese new year.

Friday, 27 January 2006

Mozart's liberation of Miserere

In case you don't know this story, Mozart risked excommunication from the Catholic Church when he memorized and wrote down Antonio Allegri's Miserere. By papal decree, this was the punishment for copying the work or performing it outside Rome. However, the Pope was so impressed with Mozart's ability to memorize the work on a single hearing that he bestowed upon Mozart the Cross of the Order of the Golden Spur, instead of punishing him. What a shrewd move! Fancy going down in history as the Pope who excommunicated Mozart! And now we can all enjoy Miserere.

250th Anniversary of Mozart's birth

Mozart's birthday: 27 January 1756. I can't find any really good images of Mozart on the web. He doesn't seem to have inspired the top artists of his day. This is the best I found: a dingy old photograph of a portrait by Jean Baptiste Greuze, depicting the young master at the age of 10, painted in Paris in 1766. Among his many accomplishments, Mozart freed Antonio Allegri's breathtaking Miserere from the clutches of the Vatican.

Thursday, 26 January 2006

Happy Chinese New Year

Today the lights went on in London for Chinese New Year. This weekend, 28/29 January, promises to be a Chinese extravaganza in the Brit. Metrop. with many events planned. So I thought Coxsoft Art should join in with its own Chinese Dragon (retouched, recoloured and switched around). Yes, I know it's going to be the year of the dog, but who wants a Pekinese on his website? I prefer Jack Russell terriers, but they're too Brit. A dragon's the thing. Click on the ghastly jpg to see the GIF in all its detail.

Caravaggios found in French church!

Two Caravaggios have been found in the Church of Saint Anthony in Loches, France, where they had been kept under the organ loft! Pilgrimage of Our Lord to Emmaus and Saint Thomas Putting his Finger on Christ's Wound are similar to other Caravaggios in London and Potsdam, but not exactly the same. Caravaggio made copies of his works for different patrons. For two pairs of Caravaggios shown side-by-side, visit Coxsoft Art's Comparisons Page. Click the blue C in the right-hand frame, then go to Comparisons.

Andy Warhol: 10 Portraits of Jews

How's this for continuity? February's National Portrait Gallery newsletter, delivered by e-mail today, announces that the Andy Warhol exhibition Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century will continue until 2 July 2006. Admission free. That's my kind of price. No doubt the Muslim Council of Great Britain will be boycotting this exhibition too.

UK National Holocaust Memorial Day

Edvard Munch's The Scream (1893) is another stolen work of art in the FBI's top ten most wanted list. What has this to do with 27 January, the UK's National Holocaust Memorial Day (the date of the liberation of Auschwitz)? I can't think of a better painting to represent human suffering. The Muslim Council of Great Britain will again be boycotting this memorial day. No Comment!

Londoners, lock up your bronzes!

A gang of cheeky criminals is stealing bronze statues in and around London, it is thought for their scrap value. Last month they stole Henry Moore's Reclining Figure, worth £5000 as scrap. Their latest theft is one of the figures from Lynn Chadwick's modernist sculpture The Three Watchers (1960), worth £1000 as scrap. So far the gang has stolen 20 bronzes. They use a flatbed lorry and lifting equipment and work at night, when all our bobbies are fast asleep! (A fair assumption, considering the size of what is being stolen, the equipment needed for the heist and the travelling time to the breakers yard.) The police officer in charge of the investigation urges owners to move their statues indoors at night! How do you move a 4 tonne statue indoors at night, for Goodness' sake? Hire the gang to help you?

Wednesday, 25 January 2006

Cellini's Salt Cellar recovered!

Benvenuto Cellini's gold Salt Cellar (1540-43) has finally been recovered by the Austrian police. This Renaissance masterpiece - worth £35m - has been missing for the last three years and was listed among the FBI's top ten art thefts. Hard luck, FBI, the Austrian fuzz beat you to it and collared the thief. Could we now have a set of top quality photographs of this masterpiece on the web? And no copyright! I would have thought any sensible insurance company would demand this precaution. What if it had been melted down? Come on, world art custodians, get your fingers out and put your collections on the web before it is too late.
(For a bigger pic. visit Coxsoft Art.)

Tuesday, 24 January 2006

The Royal Ballet at 75

The Royal Ballet at Seventy-five is one of the National Portrait Gallery's current photographic exhibitions. This exhibition runs until the 23 July 2006.

National Portrait Gallery: 150

The National Portrait Gallery in London was founded on 26 February 1856, so it will be celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2006. It houses many photographs as well as oil paintings. See the next blog for an example.

Monday, 23 January 2006

Mercury inventing the Caduceus

Here are two views of Jean Antoine Marie Idrac's superb statue Mercury inventing the Caduceus in a single graphic. This is the latest addition to Coxsoft Art and completes the Statues Page 4 I've been working on. What's a Caduceus? Visit Coxsoft Art and find out.

Sunday, 22 January 2006

New angle on The Dying Gaul

Here's an unusual photograph of the Roman statue The Dying Gaul (3rd c. BC), sometimes called The Dying Warrior, which I found on the web recently. Flash had overexposed the statue, and people passing through a brightly lit doorway ruined the background. I've removed the people and doorway and adjusted the colour and brightness of the statue. Click the title link to view the larger version at Coxsoft Art.

Saturday, 21 January 2006

Whale up the Thames conclusion

Sad news: the whale didn't make it. Despite a major effort to save the animal, it died on the Port of London Authority barge carrying it down the Thames to the sea.

Whale up the Thames update

The northern bottlenosed whale lost up the River Thames has been caught near Battersea Bridge in London. A team from British Divers Marine Life Rescue have the whale in a specially constructed pontoon, where it is being examined by two vets. KY Jelly is being used to keep the whale lubricated while its condition is assessed! A barge is waiting to help the 4-tonne, 18-foot whale back to sea if the vets think it is fit enough to survive. Click the title link to go to BBC News for the latest information.

Whale up the Thames!

Nothing to do with art, but a unique event I thought you might like to know about: a bottlenosed whale is swimming up the River Thames. It is presumed injured or sick. Volunteers are standing by to stop it beaching itself and to help guide it toward the sea.

Thursday, 19 January 2006

New V & A Sculpture Gallery

The new sculpture gallery in the Victoria and Albert Museum (V & A) is due to open this Spring (2006). Bit vague: could be March, April or May. Keep in touch. I'll let you know as soon as I get the date. Visit Coxsoft Art's London page (click title link) to keep abreast of worthwhile exhibitions in the Brit. Metrop.

Tuesday, 17 January 2006

Realise Your Right to Art

Here we go again. The above title (Brit. spelling of realize) is the latest campaign cooked up by a bunch of patronizing, overpaid wallies with time on their hands who want to teach the UK proletariat to appreciate contemporary art! This campaign was spawned last year by the Visual Arts & Galleries Association (VAGA) and will be on the offensive during Museums & Galleries Month (MGM) from 29 April to 4 June 2006. Brace yourself for Focus on Art days (FOA).
Look, guys, so long as the Brit. proletariat and its kids are giggling at Wallace and Gromit and queuing to see the latest Harry Potter movie, they're appreciating the best in British contemporary art. What more do you want? A few more knighthoods for the Old Boys Club (OBC)?

Monday, 16 January 2006

Home Builder loading screen caught

Here's the one you've all been waiting for: Coxsoft's mental arithmetic game for kids: Home Builder (1987). I finally managed to pause the loading screen to download it. Click the title to see the original GIF on my Museum page. I wrote this game for my then-five-year-old son. He went from maths duffer to budding genius in only a few weeks of playing Home Builder. I was amazed. Visit World of Spectrum to download this game and a ZX Spectrum emulator, both free.

Sunday, 15 January 2006

Paddington Bear illustrators found!

Apparently "many" illustrators have worked on Paddington Bear. Two of them are Peggy Fortnum and Bob Alley. (See Happy Birthday, Mr Bond below.) Recently Paddington Bear was featured on a Royal Mail 1st class stamp in the Animal Tales series (issued 10 Jan 2006).

Michelangelo's David, 3 views

As promised, here's a new graphic combining three views of Michelangelo's David (1504). See the full-sized version (1024 x 768) by clicking on the title link. In case you haven't visited Coxsoft Art before, it isn't devoted to statues of male nudes. I'm currently adding a fourth page to my Statues Combined section, and I've run out of female statues suitable for...er...combinations.

Friday, 13 January 2006

Happy Birthday, Mr Bond

No, not James: Michael, the author of the Paddington Bear stories. You know the one: the illegal immigrant from Darkest Peru, sporting wellies and a sou'wester. But who created the illustrations that brought Paddington Bear to life? Anyone know? Anyone care?

Wednesday, 11 January 2006

BBC abandons Arts link

The BBC has dropped its Arts index. Now a visitor is redirected to the BBC's Entertainment section, which is full of pop drivel. The BBC informs me it still intends to cover arts news, but these items will now be found in its News or Entertainment sections. Pity. But then the BBC is very weak on art, being a part of the Art Establishment. Stick with Coxsoft!

Coxsoft Museum adds new graphics

Actually I mean old graphics (1987 and 1988), but new to Coxsoft's museum page. I've been waiting for months for two of my old programs to become available on the Internet. The graphic above is the map from Nature Trail. Unfortunately it looks foul, because Blogger has changed my GIF file into a jpg. Click on the title link to see this graphic as a GIF.

Monday, 9 January 2006

Advertisers shun modern art

Whoops! Sorry, Google. I see the paid-for advertisements have disappeared from my blog, replaced by a public service announcement. And all because I wrote an article (below) on Marcel Duchamp's Fountain!
I guess the advertisers feel that Duchamp's distasteful humour has no place on a decent art website. I tend to agree. I certainly wouldn't insult the discerning viewer by putting a graphic of Fountain on this site. I just thought the attack newsworthy. Anyway, so much for those art critics who voted it the most influential modern art work of all time! I'll shortly be posting a new combination graphic of Michelangelo's David. What a contrast! True art. That'll bring the advertisers back.

Friday, 6 January 2006

Marcel Duchamp's Urinal Hammered

Breaking news! A 77-year-old Frenchman attacked a replica (1919) of Marcel Duchamp's signed urinal named The Fountain (1917) at the Pompidou Center in Paris, with a hammer. He claimed the attack was "performance art"! Arrested, he spent the night in a police cell. The newly chipped replica is still worth an estimated £2 million. The attacker previously urinated on this urinal in 1993. A man with a grudge or a weak bladder or both. Yet he makes more sense than any idiot who is prepared to fork out £2 million on a urinal. It's a nice urinal, but even so...

Note: in December 2004 a poll of 500 art experts established Duchamp's Fountain as the most influential modern art work of all time! Duchamp clearly expressed his contempt for the art establishment by submitting this signed urinal, lavatory humour at its best. Eighty years on and the art establishment still hasn't spotted the joke or the contempt. Thick as two short planks!

Praxiteles - Apollo watching a Lizard

This is a Roman copy of a Hellenistic statue attributed to Praxiteles. It is sometimes called Apollo Sauroctonus (Apollo the lizard killer). I don't see why it is assumed Apollo intends to kill the lizard: catching one is a very difficult task. What else was there to do before TV?

Thursday, 5 January 2006

Coxsoft Art's Latest Graphic

Here's the latest graphic from Coxsoft Art: Peter Stavasser's statue Boy Fishing (an old black and white photograph enhanced). To see the large version, click on the title link and scroll the What's New page.

Tuesday, 3 January 2006

Rolf Harris paints Queen's portrait

Have you seen Rolf Harris's portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II? If not, click on the title link. We must admit the artist has produced a kinder, more realistic portrait than Spitting Image, but those teeth! Every time I see them I think of that other great British institution: Wallace and Gromit. "Pass the cheeeese, Gromit."

Tesco.net in dispute with Yahoo!

If you use Tesco.net as your ISP and aren't receiving emails from friends who use Yahoo, the reason is that these two firms are currently in dispute and Tesco.net is bouncing Yahoo mail! I know I have 22 messages waiting for me that are being bounced. If you're in a similar position, complain!

Beatrix Potter, Artist and Illustrator

This exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, ends on 22 January 2006. Note the title. Do you detect an implied distinction between artist and illustrator? Like maybe artists are something above illustrators, who are merely skilled manual workers? Who do they think creates illustrations but artists? (See my previous blog in similar vein.)