Tuesday, 28 February 2006

Giant Squidess named Archie

Statue of Giant Squid
The Curator of Molluscs at the Natural History Museum, London, England, is skipping about like a lamb with two tails. He's just stuffed a 28ft giant squid into a 30ft tank and he wants you all to come and see it.
Usually these creatures are washed up as decaying bits of rubbish. This one is in excellent shape...for a corpse. View it when you take the Museum's behind-the-scenes Darwin Centre tour.
Yes! I found a statue to illustrate this story. The photo above shows a life-sized replica of the world's largest giant squid - according to the Guiness Book of records - which was landed near Glover's Harbour, Newfoundland, in 1878. It measured 55ft. So does the statue designed by Don Foulds and built with collaborating artists Edward O'Neill, Niel McLellan and Jason Hussey (2001). Click the squid for a bigger pic. (Sorry. I couldn't resist that.)

Jains anoint Bahubali statue

Fed up with your faith? Bored with barnies over female clergy and gay bishops? Too soft-hearted to sacrifice goats to Kali? Frustrated by bans on family planning? Embarrassed by fundamentalists running amok? Annoyed that people think your religion makes you rich? Had it with reincarnation? Too hot under your turban? Then join the jolly Jains.
You must be vegan and abjure violence to any creature, though nuns may swat flies using peacock feathers. Monks can worship in the nude. The down side is they can't catch a bus; they must walk everywhere. You can purify your soul and escape reincarnation by participating in the Jain anointing festival, which takes place every 12 years and looks fun, judging by the mess and smiling faces, a sort of holy action painting.
Award-winning photographer Karoki Lewis went to Shravanabelagola, Karnataka, southern India to photograph the 2006 festival, which celebrates the life of Bahubali. Pilgrims came from the UK and USA to help anoint the 59 foot statue with rice flour, turmeric, spice paste, milk, holy water and other stuff.
Click the title to view Karoki's photos; then reflect. Isn't it refreshing to see people enjoying their religion, instead of being oppressed by it?

Monday, 27 February 2006

Gold for Shizuka Arakawa

Shizuka Arakawa (2006)
The Olympics tends to pass me by as a financially crippling non-event, but on Sunday evening I was lucky enough to catch a replay of Shizuka Arakawa's gold-medal-winning free programme in the Women's Single Figure Skating, perfectly timed with Puccini's Turandot. Wow! Her performance wasn't mere sport; it was art of the highest order. Beautiful.

French Cesars? Forget 'em.

Les Cesar Academie des Arts et Techniques du Cinema 2006. Long title, short verdict: a flop, parochial, out of date. No mention of Wallace and Gromit, for God's sake!

Sunday, 26 February 2006

Rio Carnival Art Heist

Anne Brewster - In the Luxembourg Gardens (1926)
Henri Matisse - Luxembourg Gardens (c1900)

Robbers armed with guns and a hand grenade raided the Chacara do Ceu museum, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, stole at least four paintings and escaped into a crowd of carnival revellers doing the Samba. The robbers must have an ironic sense of humour, because they stole Picasso's The Dance! They also lifted Salvador Dali's The Two Balconies and a couple of pitiful Impressionist daubs: Henri Matisse's Luxembourg Gardens (illustrated) and Claude Monet's Marine.
Of course the painting by Dali - the one artist of the four who actually mastered the art of painting - is the only one I can't find on the web. My question to museum director Vera de Alencar is: "Oi, Vera! Why didn't you put the Dali on the web?"
To show you just how bad the Matisse is, I've placed beside it another view of the Luxenbourg Gardens, by the American impressionist Anne Brewster, which beautifully captures the atmosphere of a misty day.

Friday, 24 February 2006

Tulips in Amsterdam?

The Sacrifice of Isaac (1596)
Thinking of a romantic weekend in Holland in March or April to see the tulips in flower? Here's another incentive: the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is celebrating the 400th anniversary of Rembrandt's birth with an exhibition that, for the first time, compares the art of Rembrandt with that of the Italian painter who so obviously inspired him: Caravaggio. The exhibition opened today and runs until 18 June.
Caravaggio, Rembrandt and Rembrandt's teacher Pieter Lastman all painted The Sacrifice of Abraham/Isaac. To see the Rembrandt version, click the title link. To see a full-screen graphic of the Caravaggio version - my favourite -, which has been enhanced by Coxsoft-Art adjustments to contrast, gamma and brightness settings, click the Caravaggio above.

Bought a Picasso lately?

Fake PicassoTwo nights ago, during a raid on a house in Leysdown, Isle of Sheppey, UK, Kent Police seized 10 paintings and drawings that they believe are forgeries "intended to be passed off as Picassos". I'm surprised the British Plod can spot a Picasso. Those I've met have never struck me as arty types. Probably they found some rubbishy amateur daubs, and a joker in blue said "They must be Picassos". Understandable mistake. To see the animated Picasso GIF, click on his fake portrait.

John Donne portrait appeal

Portrait of John Donne
The National Portrait Gallery has launched an appeal to buy a portrait of the acclaimed Elizabethan poet John Donne (1572-1631), due to its national importance. The Gallery has until the end of June to raise the £1.6 million needed. Got a few bob to spare?

Happy New Year, Kurds

Newroz is coming up (pun: newroz means "new sun" or "new day") on 21 March. A Kurdish Cultural Festival will take place in London during the month, culminating in music and dance performances at Finsbury Park on 26 March. Telephone Halkevi - 020 7249 6980 - for details.
Coxsoft Art must admit it knows nothing about Kurds, except they wear colourful bobble hats with ear flaps instead of bobbles and were persecuted by Saddam Hussein. That must make them the good guys. I'll keep an eye open for any Kurdish art that crops up.

London's annual Irish bash

London's St Patrick's Day Festival, on Sunday 12 March, kicks off a week of celebrations including art exhibitions and a performance by the London Irish Symphony Orchestra. The St Patrick's Day Parade leaves Hyde Park Corner at noon on Sunday. Ceili dancers will perform in Leicester Square. Irish music will replace anti-cartoons protesters in Trafalgar Square. Covent Garden will host an Irish food fair and market throughout the weekend. For details click the title link.

Thumbnail-graphics lawsuit

The BBC News website's title for this story - Google rapped over adult photos - must go down as one of the most misleading and titillating headlines ever. I expect this type of headline from the gutter press, not from the BBC. If you read the story, about a lawsuit brought against Google by a magazine selling "adult" photos, you'll find that 1) the magazine is complaining that Google's graphics search engine shows thumbnails which guide surfers to websites which infringe its copyright, 2) the judge in the case took a sympathetic view of Google's defence and gave both parties time to sort out their differences, and 3) neither the magazine that brought the lawsuit (Perfect 10) nor the BBC reporter seems to have a clue as to how search engines work.
To these three points one can add that any firm which attempts to stifle its own potential for worldwide publicity afforded by a search engine is trying to shoot itself in the foot! Of course, if it can gain even more publicity by suing a firm that runs a search engine...
I prefer AltaVista (© Overture Services Inc) to Google for graphics searches. The reason is a difference which might also explain why Perfect 10 is suing Google rather than AltaVista. When you click on an AltaVista thumbnail it sends you directly to the host webpage. The Google search engine superimposes the Google logo and the target thumbnail above the host webpage and invites you to click the thumbnail for the larger image. I don't want this, because I want to read any information about the graphic I'm searching for: generally a painting or sculpture with the name of the artist and the date of the work.
Anyway, I don't think we need worry about thumbnail graphics vanishing from our favourite search engine, whichever it is.

Thursday, 23 February 2006

Outrage in Iraq

Empty shell where the Bamiyan Buddha stood
The golden dome of the Samarra Mosque

The Great Mosque at Samarra - shrine, mausoleum and place of pilgrimage - is one of the gems of Islamic architecture. The destruction of its golden dome is a loss not only to Muslims, but also to the world. Although no group has claimed responsibility for the outrage, it shows the psychopathic disregard for humanity and art exhibited by those Muslim-fundamentalist barbarians who blew up the Buddha at Bamiyan and smashed centuries of Afghan heritage.
Tony Blair has suggested a financial contribution to restoring the golden dome. Good idea. Perhaps the Danes, French and Germans might like to pass round the hat too, as an olive branch for publishing certain cartoons. But the insanity of sectarian blood-letting must stop first, if it ever will. What's the point of wasting money while the fruitcakes are in charge and mob violence rules the streets?

Wednesday, 22 February 2006

Americans in Paris

The National Gallery, London, launched two new exhibitions today: Americans in Paris 1860 - 1900, showing until 21 May, admission charge £9, and Mary Cassatt: Prints, until 7 May, admission free.
The Cassatt exhibition includes prints from all stages of her career, from the collection of the National Gallery of Canada. She was the only American painter to exhibit with the French Impressionists.

"Cartoons are art"

The title quote is from Oliver Preston, Chairman of the Cartoon Museum, which is officially opened by its patron, the Duke of Edinburgh, today (Wednesday). The public can enter tomorrow (Thursday) as reported by Coxsoft Art in the small hours of this morning (see previous 3 blogs in date order).
Yes! The BBC finally got its act together and posted this news after I'd searched its website and gone elsewhere to find information. Even the Cartoon Art Trust website hadn't got the opening date; it vaguely mentioned a February opening. Your ace cub reporter strikes again!
Click the link to see a handful of the 1,200 cartoons in the collection, which spans 250 years of British Mickey-taking. Be warned: there is a really offensive one by Chris Riddell of The Observer, showing a grossly obese Uncle Sam with a speech bubble that says "Global warming? Next you'll be telling us we're descended from monkeys"!
Join the queue of complainants, Yanks. No riots, please.

London's first cartoon museum

Found it! And not on the BBC London News website. Why not?
The Cartoon Art Trust, established in 1988, is a registered charity dedicated to preserving and promoting the best of British cartoon art and caricature. It's aim to establish a museum of cartoon art with gallery, archives and reference library has succeeded. On Thursday 23 February 2006 the Cartoon Museum opens its doors to the public at 35 Little Russell Street, Bloomsbury. This street is between Great Russell Street (British Museum) and Bloomsbury Way. You can't miss it. Just look for a queue of miserable killjoys seeking something else to complain about!

Freedom to insult or to help?

Continuing the New Zealand barny, here's a quote from the bishops' letter which seems well worth answering.
"Making known the extent of our offence might give them pause to consider that press freedom is not a licence to incite intolerance or to promote hatred or derision based on religion, race or gender."
Strong stuff. Enough to make any sane editor think twice about publishing a cartoon that shows a New Zealand bishop with a ring of corks dangling from his hat! (Actually, a colleague from New Zealand assures me that her country is nothing like Australia.)
So here's the answer. Find a copy of the World Health Organization publication The ICD-10 Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders (1993) and look up Religiosity. That's a possum of a different colour. Responsible press freedom should include helping people to avoid mental illness. If this means artists lampooning religious eccentricities and giving us a mentally healthy chuckle into the bargain, then good on 'em, sport. (Whoops! That's Australia again. Sorry, New Zealand.)
P.S. Did you view CSI: Crime Scene Investigation this evening? Religiosity in a nutshell: 12 dead. Or was it 13? I lost count.

New cartoons row!

"Oh no," you moan. But this time it's not Danish cartoons and not Muslims. This time it's an episode of the USA animated cartoon series South Park that has offended Catholics in New Zealand. On Sunday, New Zealand's Catholic bishops signed a letter urging the country's 500,000 believers to boycott C4 - the TV station showing the offensive episode - and its sister station TV3. Don't these bishops understand anything about human nature? They've just guaranteed that viewing figures for South Park (a show I'd never heard of before) will shoot through the roof!

Incidentally, I found this item while trying to track down a new cartoons museum - London's first - which was featured on BBC TV London News yesterday. I tried searching the BBC News website and all I got was riots. So I tried its Entertainment section and found this barny!
And now you want to know what it's all about, don't you? I'm not telling! If you're Catholic, click the title link on pain of excommunication.

Monday, 20 February 2006

Council to sell Lowry

Lowry - Riverbank (1947)
Cash-strapped Bury Council in Greater Manchester is to sell the Lowry painting - Riverbank (1947) - it bought for £175 from the artist's agent. It is now worth an estimated £500,000. Nice one, Bury.

Song Dong's bickie city

The arts news is coming thick and fast today, and so are Song Dong's biscuits. He's using 72,000 of them to buld a city in the basement of Selfridges in Oxford Street, London, England. His building materials include digestives, chocolate digestives, rich tea, hobnobs, caramels, gingernuts and fruit shortcake. The project is due to be completed at 1600 hours GMT this coming Wednesday, when customers can admire the work before grabbing a bickie.
Click the title link to see pictures.

Coxsoft Art's latest graphic

Here's the latest: A. J. Bourj's Boy watching Lizard (c1874). I've used two old photos taken at different angles, cropped them and combined them into a single graphic. A fair amount of artwork needed to be done on the overlapping areas. I've also tidied some of the more obvious blotches. Go to Coxsoft Art's What's New Page to view the larger version, and look at those fingernails!

Other BAFTA winners

The gay cowboy movie Brokeback Mountain gallops off with a stetson full of awards: Best Film, Best Adapted Screenplay (Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Jake Gyllenhaal) and the coveted David Lean Award for Achievement in Direction (Ang Lee).
Best Cinematography goes to Memoirs of a Geisha (a Whoops Award for Coxsoft Art, but the Oscars are yet to come). King Kong grabs Achievement in Special Visual Effects, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire wins Best Production Design.
For the full list of winners, click the title link.

Wallace and Gromit win BAFTA

At last night's Orange BAFTA Film Awards 2006, Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit pulled a gobsmacked rabbit out of the hat by winning Best British Film! As far as I know, this is the first time an animated film has won the award.
Nick Park said: "This is just amazing. I was just so delighted to be nominated alongside all the proper films tonight, I never thought I'd be up here."
Proper films? Don't knock yourself, Nick. You've created a brilliant new artform in your Claymation, one that puts all that pretentious and untalented rubbish in "Modern Art" galleries to shame. Picasso, Duchamp, Hurst, Tracey Whatshername (Beaker?) eat your hearts out. This is real art.

Harry Potter banned!

Banned? What me?
Thanks to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, I've just discovered another amazing fact: extremists in both the Christian and Muslim camps found common ground in condemning Harry Potter novels! I'm not kidding you. Extremist religious groups in the USA attacked the books for promoting witchcraft and undermining Islam and Christianity. There were even crackpot complaints that children would stop believing in miracles if they saw them as merely another form of J. K. Rowling's magic. The American Library Association reported that the Harry Potter novels were in the top 100 most frequently complained-about books in US libraries between 1990 and 2000. Complaints included their occult themes, satanism, violence and anti-family values. Apparently, in some cases, Harry Potter books were actually banned from library shelves! Honest! I couldn't make up this nonsense if I tried. And this in the Land of the Free. What of those countries where religious dictatorships hold sway?
The Harry Potter novels have sold 300 million copies worldwide, and this figure doesn't include library issues. Multiply by 20 or 30. Here is a perfect example of the silent majority voting with its feet.
Imagine what life would be like if religious extremists were allowed to take control again...a new Dark Ages. And Potter behind bars!

Kali emigrates to USA

Here's a good excuse for showing an example of Hindu art (with a small modification by Coxsoft). Yesterday I discovered that there are temples dedicated to Kali in the USA. There's one in New York!
In Hindu mythology, Kali is the goddess of destruction and death, of smallpox and cholera. She demands male human sacrifice. One can perceive why some feminists have a soft spot for her.
Thuggees murdered untold thousands of Indians to honour Kali, strangling them and then burying their corpses using her sacred pickaxe. During the Hook-swinging Festival, devotees who had vowed themselves to self-torture in honour of Kali were suspended by means of hooks in their muscles and whirled in circles. The British Raj prohibited this festival and tried to capture the Thuggees.
Isn't it appalling what deluded human beings will do in the name of Religion?
Modern devotees of Kali claim that human sacrifice has been replaced by the sacrifice of goats. I guess we can believe that until the NYPD finds Central Park littered with graves dug by the sacred pickaxe.

Sunday, 19 February 2006

Quotes of the week

First prize for idiotic and impercipient quote of the week goes to Ishmaeel Haneef of the Muslim Action Committee. Referring to the Danish cartoons, he declared that the way to "get back to being a civilised world" was to "give the copyright over to the Muslim community"! I am being polite and giving Mr Haneef the benefit of the doubt when I refer to his statement as idiotic and impercipient. A less charitable person might describe his statement as blackmail.
Compare this nonsense with a wise comment from the Muslim community. Dr Guyasuddin Siddiqui of the lobby group Muslim Parliament of Britain is quoted by BBC News as saying unless we "carry the public opinion with us on whatever we stand for we are not going to achieve anything".

National Gallery faces another demo

Coxsoft Art is pleased to report that BBC TV News coverage of yesterday's anti-cartoons demo in Trafalgar Square, London, was more objective than its coverage of the previous Saturday's demo. This time it reported that 10,000 protestors turned up, but that this fell short of the 50,000 expected. It also asked the pertinent question: Who do these protestors represent? (The Muslim Action Committee this time, certainly not the silent majority.)
Full marks to the BBC cameraman, who framed an excellent shot of the National Gallery over a crowd of hairy Muslims, its impressive facade a beacon of art and civilization towering above primitive tribalism.
The protestors marched to Hyde Park. For those of you in foreign parts, Hyde Park Corner is the heart of free speech in the UK. (Forget Parliament; most politicians are too busy toeing the party line to get involved in anything as dodgy as free speech.) At Hyde Park Corner, any lunatic with an axe to grind can climb on a soapbox and expound his views to an amused and indulgent audience of sceptics. Whether the Muslim protestors went to Hyde Park to enjoy free speech or to stifle it is anyone's guess; the BBC reporter didn't follow them there. The Police reported no arrests.

Friday, 17 February 2006

Coxsoft scoops Daily Mail

Coxsoft Art published it's story about the next Batman comic on Wednesday night, then e-mailed its blog to the Daily Mail, which hadn't covered this story. On Thursday the Mail got round to it: "Batman to take on Al Qaeda". But no credit to Coxsoft Art Blog. It quotes the New York Post.
Coxsoft Art brings you the arts news first! And with humour! Its reporting is funnier than the Mail's.

Brazilian Festival: Tropicalia

Two events at the Barbican caught my eye today. The first is a major festival of art, music, film, theatre and dance celebrating Tropicalia: that cultural revolution which redefined Brazilian art in the 1960's. Check out the Barbican Art Gallery from 16 February 06 to 21 May 06.
The second is...

Nightmare Romance

Remember the murder in the shower, the knife, the remorseless stabbing, the writhing victim (Janet Leigh), the shrieking violins? Two masters at the height of their powers: Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann. Listen again to Herrmann's brilliant scores for Hitchcock classics: Psycho, Vertigo and North by North West, played by the BBC Concert Orchestra at Barbican Hall, London, on 17 March 2006, tickets from £15 to £30. Ouch!
Herrmann used strings alone for his Psycho score to create what he called a "black-and-white sound" for a black-and-white movie. His name also appears in the credits for Hitchcock's misunderstood masterpiece "The Birds" as Sound Consultant, if I remember correctly. He declined to add music to the soundtrack, advising Hitch that the sound of the birds was enough. Brave decision, and it worked! The silences before the birds attack are eerie and threatening.

Thursday, 16 February 2006

Batman to the rescue!

The rioters carry on regardless, insanely and indiscriminately attacking Western targets. Ronald McDonald is toppled. Kentucky Fried Chicken goes up in flames. The BBC wrings its hands and asks its website readers "How can the row be resolved?"
Don't panic! Batman is here. Artist Frank Miller is halfway to completing the Caped Crusader's latest exploit - Holy Terror, Batman - in which he defends Gotham City from a terrorist attack by Osama Bin Laden and his brainwashed al-Qaeda nutters.
Holy cow, Batman! Can you pull it off? Can you save Ronald McDonald's bacon and pull KFC's fat out of the fire?
Coxsoft Art's tip: Holy Terror, Batman will be a collector's item.

Tuesday, 14 February 2006

Munch theft trial begins

The trial of six people allegedly involved in the theft of Edvard Munch's The Scream and Madonna (his 1893 Madonna, illustrated) opened in Oslo today. Neither painting has been recovered, so the prosecution evidence relies on phone-tapping evidence.

To see a copy of The Scream, go to Coxsoft Art's January blog on Holocaust Memorial Day.

Received an e-Valentine?

If you don't know the name of the person who sent it to you, don't open it! It's probably spyware or a virus.
Did you know that Britain suffers more spyware attacks than anywhere else in Europe, possibly because Engish is the language most commonly targeted? The UK Government is clueless about how to stop this problem.

Cartoons lunacy carries on

Police in the Pakistani city of Peshawar fired tear gas to disperse 3,000 students rampaging over the cartoons. In the West Bank city of Hebron, hundreds of Palestinian students shouted murderous slogans against Jews and Denmark. The Hamshahri Daily, a leading Iranian newspaper has launched a competition asking people to submit cartoons about the Holocaust, which it calls an "alleged historical event"!
Ho hum. Don't these lunatics realise that all they're doing is convincing the civilized world that Islam is bad news, to put it mildly?
Much more important than all this tosh is the fact that Coxsoft Art - thanks to the Daily Mail - scooped the BBC News website on the Prince Harry art teacher settlement. Stick with Coxsoft Art.

Monday, 13 February 2006

Prince Harry's art teacher

Hot off the presses (posted on the Daily Mail website just over an hour ago): news of an out-of-court settlement of £45,000 to end the unfair dismissal case brought against Eton College by Sarah Forsyth, Prince Harry's ex-teacher who claimed during the tribunal hearings that she helped Harry cheat in his A-Level artwork, a claim rejected by Clarence House.
No comment. (Coxsoft Art doesn't want beefeaters kicking down its door in the middle of the night.)

Artists at the Savoy

Some wealthy artists, such as Claude Monet, have stayed at London's famous Savoy Hotel. To celebrate this fact, the Savoy has come up with the idea of having an artist in residence. This scheme will give selected modern artists the chance to recreate Monet's view of London from the Savoy's windows, but with today's architecture. First into the Monet Suite is UK artist Peter Brown, who specialises in London landscapes. Instead of paying the usual bill for this suite - £1,200 per night! - he will donate his painting to the Savoy and receive money from the print sales. Fancy having your burnt sienna delivered to you on a silver salver? Here's a job for the redundant Jeeves.

Sunday, 12 February 2006

Coxsoft Art wins another award

Coxsoft Art has just won a Crystal Award. This is the second award it has received for its design, writing, quick loading, clarity of presentation, user-friendliness and ease of navigation. And, between you and me, 99% of it is done with ancient HTML 3.1. No Flash Player. No fancy gizmos. Just...er...well, go see for yourself. You'll find these awards on the Queries and Quibbles page.

Jeeves gets the chop

It may not be high art (whatever that is), but the cartoonist who drew Jeeves for Ask Jeeves caught the essence of P. G. Wodehouse's famous creation and put a friendly face on the Web. When IAC/InterActive snapped up Ask for £970m, Jeeves's days were numbered. Now it's official. It must be; it's on the BBC News website.

Trafalgar Square demo damp squib

"Thousands join pro-Islam protest" trumpets the BBC website, a claim also made on its TV News broadcast. Sounds great. Then you look at the IC Wales website and find the complete truth: "But the numbers were far lower than the 30,000 the organisers hoped would take part". The Police estimate 4000 to 4500 turned up. That, in my book, is a damp squib. There used to be more pigeons in Trafalgar Square before "Red Ken" caught pijpobia! The BBC TV News camerman couldn't make it look like much of a crowd; but he found two earnest and pretty Muslim girls waving Union Jack flags who declared they were proud to be British and Muslim. Isn't that sweet?. I'll buy that.
At least the demo was peaceful and didn't inflame an already fraught situation. In this it was a success. But why did BBC News need to give us what it thinks is politically correct propaganda, instead of the full truth? It should have been asking why so few turned up and who do the organisers really represent, apart from themselves.
It might also have pointed out the irony of holding an anti-cartoon demonstration outside the National Gallery, which houses the most famous cartoon of them all, by Leonardo da Vinci.
Coxsoft Art has involved itself in this debate because of the repression of the original cartoons, tacky and offensive though they are. Their repression is also tacky and offensive and denies people the right to make up their own minds. Making up your own mind is what democracy is supposed to be about, isn't it?

Friday, 10 February 2006

World Press Photo Awards

Finbarr O'Reilly wins the World Press Photo of the Year Award 2005. The twelve photos posted on the BBC News website reflect a very grim year: disasters, brutality and starvation. Powerful images, not for the squeamish. Only one finalist managed to capture an uplifting image of ethereal beauty: Donald Miralle Jr's prize-winning underwater shot of Aaron Peirsol. The image that haunts me is that of a little boy helping his handless father to dress...

BBC's Paul Reynolds on Blogs

Paul Reynolds, World Affairs correspondent, BBC News website, has written a very interesting article entitled Bloggers: an army of irregulars. Well worth reading. Useful links too. One comment: Mr Reynolds, you omitted Coxsoft Art from your list of BBC critics!

Avoid Trafalgar Square

Avoid Trafalgar Square this coming Saturday (11 February 2006), because a large rally will be taking place there: "United against Incitement and Islamophobia" organised by the Muslim Council of Britain and the Muslim Association of Britain and supported by our own "Red Ken", a one-man band of political correctness.
Hopefully this will be a non-violent protest, but I wouldn't bet on it. A British magazine - The Liberal, in its seventh issue and with a print run of only 25,000 - has just published one of those cartoons. Scotland Yard called an emergency meeting to discuss this development.
The rally organizers want to think of themselves as "mainstream" Muslims, not extremists; but demanding that the whole of humanity obeys the laws of Islam seems extreme to me. Jews have a similar prohibition against idolatry - their god allegedly killed a community of Jews for worshipping a golden calf -, but you don't find Jews protesting against Michelangelo's depiction of God in the Vatican. They know that their religious laws are for the faithful, not for unbelievers. Even moderate Muslims seen incapable of grasping this simple fact.

National Maritime Museum

The National Maritime Museum at Greenwich has been added to Coxsoft Art's London page, due to its huge collection of nautical paintings and its awesome Painted Hall in the Old Royal Naval College.

Thursday, 9 February 2006

Wikipedia blames US Congress

Online encyclopaedia Wikipedia found that some of its US political biographies were being massaged and traced the offending alterations to computers on Capitol Hill. It blames US Congress staff for these partisan changes. Come on, Wikipedia, what did you expect? This is what politicians and their lackeys do for a living.
In case you think this news item is irrelevant to an arts news blog, I do use Wikipedia when checking art facts, such as What the hell is a caduceus? (Visit Coxsoft Art to find out.)
Note: a recent study by the UK journal Nature found that Wikipedia was about as accurate on science as the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Mm...

Bollywood: UK world first!

Here's an unexpected world first for Great Britain: Bollywood has recently been recognised as a professional dance form by UKA (The United Kingdom Alliance of Professional Teachers of Dancing and Kindred Arts) and will have its own syllabus and accredited examinations. This is all due to the hard work and persuasive powers of Honey Kalaria, founder of IAMIA (the International Association of Modern Indian Arts), who runs her own dance academy in Ilford, my home town. Budding Bollywood wannabees will need to enrole at one of Honey Kalaria's dance academies.
Click the title link to read The Stage on this story.

Sotherby's flogs Munches for £16.9m

Big money changing hands certainly got Sotherby's women excited yesterday. They were "thrilled" by the "electric" atmosphere as impressionist daubs came under the hammer. A collection of paintings by Edvard Munch fetched £16.9m! "This is an exciting moment for the art world." trilled one of Sotherby's spokeswomen. Piffle! No doubt it was great for Sotherby's and the market, but it had nothing to do with art.

Brokeback Mountain

Hot off the presses: Brokeback Mountain wins Film of the Year and Director of the Year (Ang Lee) at the 26th London Film Critics' Circle awards. The Circle doesn't give a cinematography award; it's mainly interested in actors and actresses. So much for the visual arts!

Wednesday, 8 February 2006

Cupid & Psyche standing

Here's the latest graphic at Coxsoft Art, showing two versions of Antonio Canova's Cupid and Psyche standing.
To spot the difference and find out more, visit the new Comparisons Page 2 at Coxsoft Art by clicking the title.

Watch out! Crabs!

No sooner is Muslim preacher-of-hate Abu Hamza al-Masri banged up for seven years in Her Majesty's nick than Britons face a new threat, and here is the monster.
It's prettier than Hamza, but no less deadly: the mitton crab, a Chinese invader that preys on British native species. It was first spotted in 1935, but didn't become an obvious pest until the 1990's, when it began undermining the banks of the River Thames. Environmental experts warn that it is on the verge of taking over England's major waterways.
Come on, travel agents, show some enterprise. How about organizing mitten-crab-hunting expeditions for tourists as part of our China in London season? They're a delicacy (mitten crabs, not tourists).

English syntax checking service

Coxsoft Art isn't just a pretty face. We offer an English syntax checking service for websites that are...er...a bit iffy in communications skills. Click the headline above or the Syntax icon at the bottom of this blogsite to find out more.

Monday, 6 February 2006

Chinese New Year photos

BBC London has gone overboard on the Chinese New Year celebrations 2006 and is currently showing over 100 photographs of the event on its website (click title). Look for the lovely lady above - detail from a beautiful photo by Suzanne Smith - to locate Group 4, where my local library is featured.

BBC executives in denial

Peter Horrocks, the editor of BBC TV News, denies accusations of censorship by the BBC over those Danish cartoons. What a bald-faced lie! How can he censor something and then deny that he has done so?
Steve Herrmann, Editor of BBC News Interactive, tells another porky when he claims "I believe we provided sufficient context for our users to be able to understand the story clearly." Surely Mr Herrmann cannot be so clueless as to believe his own statement.
The truth is, Mr Horrocks and Mr Herrmann, that you're both scared stiff of Islamic terrorism. This means the terrorists are winning! And you are aiding them to do so. It also means you are recruiting thousands of new members for the British National Party! Is this what you really want?
Take some advice from Coxsoft Art, which has viewed and commented upon the offensive Danish cartoons: compromise. Have an artist remove the Prophet from these cartoons, then publish them on the BBC website with properly translated captions. This cannot offend any sane Muslim, and it will allow everyone to view the poor quality artwork and flat jokes of the original cartoons. You may be removing some of the anti-semitism of the images, but by doing so you will also be removing additional offence.
And you will save face, not to mention your bacon. Whoops! Sorry about the Danish pun.

Sunday, 5 February 2006

Danish cartoons: Coxsoft's verdict

Here's an inoffensive detail from the best-drawn but most anti-semitic of those infamous cartoons. I chose to show this detail from Rasmus Sand Høyer's cartoon, because it symbolizes the shock these cartoons caused throughout the Muslim world, which now includes most of Western civilization as well!
Anti-semitic? Yes. I'm using the term in its broad sense, which includes Arabs. Most of these 12 infamous cartoons exhibit racial stereotyping of the worst kind, strongly reminiscent of Nazi propaganda against the Jews. As art they are third rate; as cartoons the majority are unamusing.
Jens Julius's cartoon was the only one that made me laugh. It shows a smoking line of suicide bombers queing to enter Paradise and being told "Stop! Stop! We're running out of virgins!". Not only did Julius manage to avoid crude racial stereotyping, but also his draughsmanship suited his subject. And I stand by my previous assertion that to lampoon these brainwashed young fanatics is the best way to dissuade others from joining their ranks.

BBC News links to Danish cartoons

The BBC News website has finally included links to those contentious Danish cartoons which have caused all the fuss. Click on the title to go to the BBC page where these links are to be found. Now we can all see what we've been arguing about for the last few days. And why not? We need to see these cartoons in order to make our own informed judgements on them. What a pity that the BBC, which prides itself as the home of free speech, didn't have the guts to publish these cartoons on its own web pages. The home of free speech has now moved across the English Channel to those foreigners in Europe we've been fighting for centuries!

Saturday, 4 February 2006

Canaletto's Regatta

Here's an interesting find. There are at least 2 versions, possibly 3, of Canaletto's A Regatta on the Grand Canal (c1740). One is in the National Gallery, London. The second is in the Royal Collection and is currently on display in the Canaletto in Venice exhibition at the Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace. (Click the London icon for more details.)
The picture above is an enhanced view of the National Gallery picture. This enhanced graphic is cleaner and more colourful than the Master Scan image of the National Gallery version (© 2003 National Gallery). Is V3 a digitally enhanced copy, a genuine third version or an excellent forgery?

Major art theft in Wiltshire

On Thursday night, a gang of thieves broke into Ramsbury Manor in Wiltshire, England, the home of property tycoon Harry Hyams, and stole art treasures worth millions of pounds, including a painting by Rembrandt.
Mr Hyams' chauffeur interrupted the thieves, who made their getaway in 4x4 vehicles driven across the estate.
Click the title link for a fuller version of this story.
What Coxsoft wants to know is: Are photos of these stolen treasures to be found on the Web? If not, why not?

Friday, 3 February 2006

The Power of Art

Who'd have thought that a dozen cartoons lampooning Islamic Fundamentalist terrorists would have caused Danish bacon to be struck from the menu? Do the Danes export anything else? Anyway, I didn't think Muslims were supposed to eat pork.
The West has a great tradition of lampooning its political leaders as well as its enemies. In fact newspaper cartoons are one of our most popular art forms. Lampooning nutters who blow themselves up on the promise of being showered with virgins when they reach Paradise is the best way to treat them. It's the only way. You can't imprison a corpse, even if you can find all the pieces. But you can and should take the Mickey out of the insanity which produced that corpse. Young men of all persuasions want to be heroes; the last thing they want is to become a laughing stock.
What scares me is that neither ABC News nor BBC News has had the guts to publish these contentious cartoons on their websites. What are they afraid of? Those deluded terrorists hate the West simply because it exists, and they've made it clear that they're determined to kill as many of us they can. So what have we got to lose? Probably a lot less than normal, decent Muslim women. Where the Fundamentalists take over, a woman's life becomes hell. And they destroy world art treasures! Barbarians!
Come on, ABC and BBC. Publish and be damned. If we daren't take the Mickey out of those lunatics, Western civilization is losing the war.

Wednesday, 1 February 2006

China in London events guide

Time Out London has produced an excellent guide to the China in London events. Click on the title link to go to Page 13 - the Art section - to read online or download the full PDF version (5.2MB).