Wednesday, 31 May 2006

John Atkinson Grimshaw

Here's one of my favourite Grimshaw paintings: Liverpool from Wapping (1875). Look out for it when you visit Tate Britain. Never heard of him? Not surprising. We Brits have been modestly keeping this great artist under wraps for well over a century. Constable painted idealized English summers. Grimshaw - a Victorian realist - captured the other nine months of the year: cold, bleak, wet; something to escape from rather than to enjoy. His views of a soggy London with horse-drawn cabs evoke thoughts of Sherlock Holmes, not birdsong and butterflies, although he did occasionally descend into the soppy Victorian obsession with fairies. Even his fairy paintings show his passion for capturing subtle light: moonlight, dusk, glowing shop windows reflected by wet pavements. No dazzling meadows with scarlet poppies for our Leeds lad. Unlike the impressionists, Grimshaw embraced the newfangled technology of photography. He is known to have used a camera obscura to project outlines on to canvas. Judging by his paintings, he may well have used his camers obscura to fix details of his views. It seems unlikely he would have sat in the middle of a wet street to make a preliminary sketch. So, a unique artist capturing the beauty of light in urban landscapes, combining traditional techniques with the new. Click the title link to visit Illusions Gallery's Grimshaw page.

Springwatch Live Festival

Sumatran Tiger (photo)
The BBC used to be an aloof corporation that broadcast Radio and, later, TV programmes. Recently it seems to have been taken over by toffs who want to organize events in the community, do good works and hobnob with the Proletariat. Saturday 3 June will see a BBC Springwatch Live Festival popping up somewhere near you. The London version will be in the Bernie Spain Gardens, from noon to 6pm. My only reason for mentioning this is that there will be a wildlife artist named Gary painting piccies there. I saw him sketching a Sumatran tiger at London Zoo on London TV News today. Don your wellies for cleaning the Thames and other Nature activities. (Bagging dog poo?) There'll be music and DJ Tony Blackburn to make sure no wildlife turn up to spoil the family fun. No charge: your TV licence pays for it! Click the title link to visit socially aware Moneybags BBC and see its elegant map.

Tuesday, 30 May 2006

New Constable Exhibition

John Constable's The Hay Wain (1820-21) is moving from The National Gallery to Tate Britain for a new exhibition of his work in London: CONSTABLE The Great Landscapes from 1 June to 28 August. Read Tate's blurb. "This summer spectacular brings together Constable's seminal six-foot canvases for the very first time and reunites them with their full-scale preliminary sketches. You'll find out about changes in composition, his revolutionary handling of paint and how recent x-rays have uncovered hidden secrets. A truly magnificent show." Convinced? £10 (£8 concessions; family tickets £28) doesn't convince me, and I'm a fan! If you feel up to paying these extortionate prices, be sure to view another of my favourites while you're there: John Atkinson Grimshaw. Also, parents might consider the half-term holiday activities for kids (title link).

Monday, 29 May 2006

World Ice Art Championships

Beach Walker by Steve Brice & Junichi Nakamura (2006)
Time to round off our thoughts on snow and ice sculpture, prompted by the start of the Brit. summer. The bees knees in this field is Ice Alaska's World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska, USA, which take place at the end of February and last until mid March. The standard is extremely high. The example shown is Beach Walker by Steve Brice (USA) and Junichi Nakamura (Japan) which won 1st Place in the Realistic Category. And no, the other claw didn't drop off: that's a male fiddler crab. Click the title link to see Allure by Heather Brown and Joan Brice from the USA, which gained only 3rd Place in the Realistic Category, but won the Ivalie Cox Artists Choice Award. It's brilliant. Next year's World Ice Art Championships start on 27 February and end on 9 March. Don't fancy frostbite? Couch potato? Too busy blogging? Then sit at your computer and visit Ice Alaska to see webcams of the sculptors at work!

Ken Loach wins Palme D'Or

Ken's victory salute
Brit. film director Ken Loach won La Palme D'Or - the top prize - at the Cannes Film Festival yesterday, with his Irish-rebel movie The Wind That Shakes The Barley. Ken's unassuming acceptance speech confirmed his love of making films that aren't just "a complement to the popcorn"! Despite his gritty, realistic directorial style, I must admit that the last of Ken's movies I watched was Kes (1969). Sorry, Ken. I can't sit through a 5-minute party political broadcast (it's a Brit. thing); don't ask me to sit through two hours of propaganda. Now that you've got the black an' tans off your chest, how about entertaining us with some real Hollywood hokum, say Lara Croft meets Batman, with Angelina Jolie
P.S. congratulations on the new Namibian citizen, Angelina. (Sigh!)

Sunday, 28 May 2006

New graphic for Coxsoft Art

Lorenzo Bartolini - La Fiducia in Dio (1835) 2 views
Here are two views of Lorenzo Bartolini's La Fiducia in Dio (1835) combined into a single graphic. Click the title link to visit Coxsoft Art's What's New page and view the 1024 x 768 version.

Muppet Central wins CASSFA

Muppet Central banner
Here's a new winner of the Coxsoft Art Silver Surfer Friendly Award: Muppet Central, a cute fansite that uses Macromedia Flash Player 8 without crashing IE6. Move the mouse curser over the top of the page to see muppets pop up. Send the wife a Miss Piggy birthday card. If she doesn't take the hint, divorce is the only answer. Nominated by Weggis.

The People's Choice

Wormcast Cherub
Chris Beardshaw won the BBC People's Choice Award for his Wormcast garden with a traditional (upper class) design which used this revolting cherub as a centrepiece. The Jurassic Coast garden came second and The Garden of Dreams third. Chris is a personable and popular TV presenter as well as a garden designer, and Coxsoft Art wonders how many punters voted for Chris rather than for his garden. This year, the Best in Show with its backdrop of rusty wall fell by the wayside. Who needs rusty walls when you've got rusty buckets, rusty swings and rusty cars?

Saturday, 27 May 2006

Karen Noles

Karen Noles - Kindred Spirits
As Coxsoft Art is being truly ecological lately, thanks to the influence of Chelsea, now is the time to mention the award-winning art of Karen Noles. She paints charming portraits of Amerindian girls wearing native costumes. Romanticizing the past? Raising awareness in the present? Whatever, here's an artist. Click the title link to view Karen's gallery of Native American People.

Silver Surfer Week ends

Coxsoft Art Silver Surfer Friendly Award
Silver Surfer Week 2006, organized by Age Concern with the help of various sponsers, is now over. How well did it do? Dunno yet. However, the Coxsoft Art Silver Surfer Friendly Award continues. Afasic UK is the latest website to be added to our list of winners. Click the title link to see all the winners so far.

BBC People's Choice Finalists

Nicky Clarke giving haircut to statue
The three finalists for the BBC's People's Choice Garden Design Award at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2006 are: Jurassic Coast Garden, Chris Beardshaw's Wormcast Garden and The Garden of Dreams, where the above statue snoozes. The rain we've had this week made her hair grow wild, so a trim was needed. Coxsoft Art wanted to vote for the Jurassic Coast Garden, which boasts a spiral-shell design that evokes the Golden Section, but the BBC webpage showing the finalists and allowing voting uses Macromedia Flash Player 8 r24, which crashes IE6! So, no graphics, no vote and no title link, in case it crashes your browser as well. The BBC's idiotic use of Flash Player is one of the reasons it failed to receive the Coxsoft Art Silver Surfer Friendly Award.

Friday, 26 May 2006

Andy Goldsworthy

Andy Goldsworthy - North Pole
Thinking of environmental artists...Were we? Yes. Snow and ice. That's environmental stuff. So's grass, leaves, pebbles, name it. Well, the father and most brilliant exponent of environmental sculpture is the UK's own Andy Goldsworthy. He's also an excellent photographer and needs to be, because of the ephemeral nature of what he creates. Sorry, Horse Serpent, but Andy's North Pole has you beat by a long way, both artistically and photographically. I can't find Andy's website - if he has one - so the title link takes you to his Artcyclopedia entry, which is as good a starting point as any for discovering his art.

Ice Sculpture

Horse Serpent (artist unknown)
Photograph by Trail Canada

Now that the Brit. summer is nearly here, it's time to think of wellies and ice sculpture. This imaginative Horse Serpent was one of the entries in last February's ice/snow sculpture competition at the Quebec Winter Carnival - Carnaval de Quebec - in Quebec City, Canada. This is the world's largest winter carnival, which runs from the end of January for about 17 days into February. Click the title for more photos. My thanks to Jacoblog.

A Young Dancer's Feet

Edgar Degas - Little Dancer of 14 Years (1881)
No, Coxsoft Art hasn't developed a foot fetish. Jacoblog wrote to me in defence of the BBC reporter who compared Damien Hirst's monstrosity No3, recently arrived at the RA, with Degas' Little Dancer of 14 years (1881). There is a superficial resemblance between the stance of the Little Dancer and the pose of the pregnant virgin, but Degas is really emphasizing the angle of that foot. He's showing us how a flexible young girl with years of dance training can hold such a pose without saying "Ouch!" or tearing her knee cartilage. Hirst isn't showing us anything of the kind. He's chosen an unrealistic pose to balance his structure. The more I see of it, the worst it gets. Those ridiculously upturned breasts remind me of Madonna in her pointy-bra phase, and the intact side of the virgin's head is that of a neanderthal. Gross!

Thursday, 25 May 2006

Another Munch nicked!

Edvard Munch - Towards the Forest II (1815)
On Tuesday, one of Edvard Munch's woodcuts Towards The Forest (1915) was stolen from a private estate outside Horby in Sweden. And would you believe it, there isn't a copy of it on the Web! So the Police don't even know what they're looking for, except it's green with a "black person" (man dressed in black) in the foreground. According to BBC News, the Police don't even know the title of the stolen work. Strange. Art Daily does. Confusion arises because Munch carved the first woodcut in 1897, then fiddled about with it until 1915, producing many editions, some with a nude woman, others with her clothed. The illustration above is one of these variations, not the stolen work. Click the title link to visit the Munch Museum.
When are insurance companies going to wake up to the value of putting images of expensive works of art on the Web, so the Police can download a copy? And of course the artwork won't be totally lost to posterity if it is never recovered. Munch's Madonna and his The Scream are still missing. At least we know they look like.

Wednesday, 24 May 2006

Chelsea Flower Show Statue

Sleeping Woman Statue, artist unknown
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is even more artistic than usual this year. It boasts a statue of a sleeping woman, presumably sculpted in soil and fleshed with living grass. The white marks on her face are actully pieces of mirror, which reflect visitors' movements and animate that part of the face. Nice one, Cyril. Better than Damien Hirst.

Bad start for RA Summer Exhibition

A worker is dwarfed by The Virgin Mother's feet
From the sublime (Lorenzo Bartolini) to the ridiculous (Damien Hirst). His latest load of codswallop is a 35ft-tall, 13.5-ton pregnant woman cut away to show her foetus and internal organs. This monstrosity was delivered by crane to the Royal Academy of Arts on Monday. It's called "The Virgin Mother"! As Hirst is a Royal Academician, he can dump what he likes on the RA Summer Exhibition (12 June to 20 August), although I don't suppose the RA objects to this cheap publicity stunt, which has made the event more newsworthy than usual. BBC News online is excited about it.
Tips to would-be artists. If you lack talent, build big. Big is eye-catching and awesome. If you want fame, then shock the punters. Entrails are good. Better still, be blasphemous. Why call this statue "The Virgin Mother" unless Hirst wants to offend Christians? Come on, Damien, you're pussy-footing. If you want notoriety, Muslims are the ones to offend. Why not build a 35ft cut-away man, call it "Prophet" and see how many people die to further your infamy?

Lorenzo Bartolini

Lorenzo Bartolini - La Table aux Amours (1845)
Here's another gem from La Scultura Italiana: Lorenzo Bartolini's La Table aux Amours (1845), also called The Demidoff Table. Bartolini is one of my favourite sculptors, whose brilliant Neoclassic art guarantees the Wow factor. How can anyone carve something so beautiful out of a block of marble? Le Duc de Loubat donated this work to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in 1903. Twit! Why didn't he give it to the British Museum, so I could admire it from all sides? At least the lucky Met has put four views on its website. Click the title link to see them.

Who broke Cellini's foot?

Hey! Look what they've done to my foot!
Eagle Eye strikes again! While browsing La Scultura Italiana, a website awarded the Coxsoft Art Silver Surfer Friendly Award, I came across a broken foot. The feet shown belong to Benvenuto Cellini's statue of Narcissus (1548) on the left. The foot in the middle is from an old black-and-white photo which I've colourized. The foot on the right is from a later colour photo. Look closely. Some clumsy clot has broken Narcissus's foot! This statue is in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello Firenze. Come on, Mario, who did it? And who's paying for the repairs?

Hitchcock at Leytonstone

© London Underground
Today (Tuesday) I had cause to visit Leytonstone Underground Station (Central Line, East London). It isn't a place you'd expect to be either a shrine or an art gallery, but it's both. When, years ago, London Underground refurbished the pedestrian underpass into the station, it employed an artist to design mosaics showing scenes from Alfred Hitchcock's movies, in homage to a successful local lad. If you're a fan, it's worth a visit. But don't try to view during the rush-hour or you'll get knocked flat! To find Hitch, just look for the Underground sign....

Tuesday, 23 May 2006

Row over Mao

Zhang Zhenshi - Mao ZedongNow it's the Chinese throwing a wobbler over art. The news that Beijing Huachen Auction Company intends to put Zhang Zhenshi's portrait of Mao Zedong under the hammer on 3 June has caused fury to explode across Chinese internet chatrooms. "Save our Mao," they cry. "Stuff him in a museum." Coxsoft Art reckons it's all a storm in a teacup. No doubt one of the new Chinese millionaires will save Mao for the Nation.

Monday, 22 May 2006

Tate Modern revamp

Roy Lichtenstein - Whaam!
Tate Modern and the Gnomes of Zurich were also in the news today. There's been a major rehang in the halls of infamy. Despite my loathing for the Anti Art Movement, I must admit to a fond spot for Roy Lichtenstein's Whaam! It's a nostalgia thing. Boys comics were my first dawning awareness of art, and Whaam! captures it perfectly. This reminds me, there's an exhibition of comic book art at the Riverside Gallery, Richmond, from 27 May to 2 July. Click the title link to go there. (You didn't want a link to Tate Modern, did you?)

Chelsea Flower Show 2006

Bit short on blooms, Clive
The Royal Horticultural Society's annual Chelsea Flower Show is with us yet again. So is the rain. Today was celebs day. Ringo was fooling around as usual. Tomorrow it opens to the hoi polloi. Despite the title, which emphasizes flowers, this show offers us what must be the most popular art exhibition in the world. Art? Eh? What? Yes. If you visit your local library you'll find Landscape Gardening somewhere between Architecture and Artists. The garden designers who win gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show are true artists. And we, the public, get to vote for our favourite garden design. Last year's nostalgic pub garden from a veteran designer was a masterpiece. Tracy Emin's rumpled beds couldn't hope for even a bronze at Chelsea.

Silver Surfer up and running!

IC - Silver Surfer avatar (2006)
Yup. Silver Surfer Week began today (22 to 26 May) and you can now view the list of websites that have been awarded the Coxsoft Art Silver Surfer Friendly Award. This is my small contribution to a merry week of getting the old'uns to drop their walking sticks and grab those mice. As they're getting only a 5-day week, they're going to need to sprint!
Click the title link to view the list of winners.

Saturday, 20 May 2006

The Slave Trade

Francois Auguste Biard - The Slave Trade (1840) detail
For weggis. This detail of a female slave being branded with a red-hot iron on board a slave ship is taken from The Slave Trade by Francois Auguste Biard (1840). This painting is most unusual in being both a beautiful work of art and a powerful piece of propaganda. It also challenges the viewer, not in the sense of making it difficult for the viewer to comprehend the work, which is all too easy to understand, but in directly challenging the viewer's humanity. Biard's avoidance of melodrama increases the power of his visual message. No one bought this painting. So Biard gave it to an abolitionist.

Quote of the Month

Michael Leunig - Woman and her Inner Duck
From Aussie cartoonist Michael Leunig: "I just like to draw the duck, you see, and it seems to represent something. It brings out what's in you, you know, your inner duck is awakened obviously for you, me, everyone. But there are some who have no inner duck, it appears, and they get very threatened by such an innocent creature."
Click the title link for Michael's website, then go to the bottom of his Home Page for the Enough Rope link to the full, very witty ABC interview.

Friday, 19 May 2006

Body Art

Guido Daniele - Hand Art
Have you come across the superb body art of Guido Daniele? This eagle painted on a hand is just one example of his work. He also paints gorgeous naked models all over. What a job! Click the title link to visit Guido's website and view more of his beautiful artwork.

Wednesday, 17 May 2006

News from the RBA

Some arts websites are determinedly boring, as though their designers are terrified of creating anything that might be criticized as pretty-pretty decorative art. "For God's sake, Carruthers! We're the Art Establishment. We can't have a chocolate-boxy website!"
The website of the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA) arrives like an old Speccy loading screen and is about as sophisticated. When I tried to look at the exhibits for last year's show, IE6 told me the page couldn't be displayed. Oh's the news. The RBA's Annual Exhibition is from 18 to 28 May 2006 at The Mall Galleries, The Mall, London. Its annual Turning Point Debate on 25 May proposes "This house believes that it is the function of art to be challenging". Yawn....
Wise up, lads. This debate would have been anachronistic 50 years ago! It isn't the function of art to be challenging. It is its inherent nature. But it is for the artist to be challenged, not the viewer. When art challenges the viewer, it proves the artist has no talent.

Be Nice to Nettles

Did you know that today is the start of the UK's sixth National Be Nice to Nettles Week? I'm not kidding. It isn't as daft as it sounds. The caterpillars of some of our prettiest butterflies munch stinging nettles. So we need to preserve nettles to save our butterflies. The "week" lasts 11 days and includes Nettle Day at the Natural History Museum, London, on Saturday 27 May, 10.00-17.00. Nettle-based refreshments will be served!
Click the title link for CONE or the Natural History Museum here.

Tuesday, 16 May 2006

Turner Prize shortlist

J.M.W. Turner - The Blue Rigi, Lake of Lucerne, Sunrise. (image copyright © Christie's Images Ltd)
Click the title link to read the twaddle. Coxsoft Art wouldn't sully your pixels with anything selected for the Turner Prize, which has become a national joke, annual proof that the Art Establishment remains determined to expunge from our minds any borne notion that art has anything to do with aesthetics. Hence this Anti Art fest with big money awaiting the worst artist. Even BBC newsreaders have trouble keeping a straight face when reporting this rubbish.
So what's a magnificent watercolour of Lake Lucerne doing on a blog about the Turner Prize? It's a publicity photo (copyright © Christie's Images Ltd) for a forthcoming Christie's auction, British Art on Paper, on 5 June 2006. The artist is J.M.W. Turner! His corpse would writhe in shame if it knew that the name Turner has been hijacked by the British Anti Art Brigade.

Monday, 15 May 2006

Queen Mother's art collection

These charcoal sketches are from The Royal Collection © 2006, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, with gracious permission.
Watercolours and Drawings from the Collection of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother isn't the catchiest title I've come across. Never mind. This new exhibition at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, from 19 May to 28 October 2006, boasts two beautiful sketches of the Queen Mother when she was merely Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, back in 1923. They were executed in charcoal by John Singer Sargent, who gave them to the Queen Mother as a wedding present. I didn't know these sketches existed until a few days ago. Now, if you want to praise Sargent as an impressionist, I won't argue with you. His use of light is brilliant. Look at the reflections on that hair! In charcoal! Forget all the French nonsense BBC TV has been broadcasting lately. It took an artist of Sargent's quality to refine impressionism into something worthwhile.
This exhibition is a bit pricey at £7.50, but those Sargent's...this will be the first time we have ever been allowed to see them!

Sunday, 14 May 2006

Love that codpiece!

Ming Yi Sung - Elven Crochet Sculpture (2005) photo by the artist
Coxsoft Art spares itself no blush to bring its readers the facts. Dipping into archives of art censorship, I found a crocheted statue by Ming Yi Sung, from 2005. This little chap and his 10 elven companions prompted staff working in that building which housed the exhibits to complain about the elves' stark nudity. The artist responded by crocheting codpieces and fig leaves to hide the offending bits. Sensible compromise. In another case in the USA - different artist - a janitor complained about a mural in his workplace depicting naked Amerindians. The moral of these tales is that artists and the sponsers of artworks must now consider workers' rights. Power to the workers! Who would ever have thought that the USA would embrace this guiding principle of Communism (in theory, if not in practice) so wholeheartedly?

Tate Modern's L o n g Weekend

Watch out, skateboarders about! (I.C. 2006)
Tate Modern must be desperate to rake in the punters. Its latest offering is UBS Openings: The Long Weekend (26 to 29 May). This is allegedly a "major new festival of live events": films, food stalls, skateboarders, workshops, family activities, Joan Miro's "fantastic" puppet show, Trisha Brown Dance company's "ground-breaking performance" of Man Walking Down the Side of a Building, John Cage's Musicircus performed by a medley of musicians and performers, a "twenty-first century psychoanalytical, cinematic cabaret with live music by The Real Tuesday Weld", and ULTRA: "Extreme Economy in Electronic Music and Visualisation". Forget about art; just read the blurb!
Tate is bringing us all this unbelievable tosh with the help of UBS. "Tate and UBS share a vision to open up art" it trills (presumably opening it up to street vendors). But Tate is too coy to identify UBS. Is it that Swiss bank group which invested $500m in a partnership with Bank of China? (Better not be; the Brits don't like Gnomes of Zurich.) Could it be the Universal Beneficent Society? Unlikely. Ah! What about the University of Bums on Seats, which claims to be the "Antithesis of Academic Excellence"? Sounds just right for Tate Modern.

Saturday, 13 May 2006

Blog Graffiti

Blog Graffiti Face
On the subject of graffiti, did you know that the Blog Graffiti Wall is back? Click the title link to make your mark. (No ASBO's on this one.)

Nigel Cooke's graffiti

Nigel Cooke - Morning is Broken (2004)
Following on from the previous blog, Time Out London's Exhibition of the Week was Nigel Cooke's graffiti A Portrait of Everything, which I have ignored until now, because what little I've seen of it makes me feel that an ASBO should be slapped on Nigel to make sure he doesn't plaster any walls in my neighbourhood with this stuff. (ASBO = Anti Social Behaviour Order; it's a Brit. thing.) But Time Out London's critic - Sarah Kent - raved about the show and awarded it 5 stars! I hope she was wearing her spectacles at the time. Nigel's exhibition, at the South London Gallery, ends tomorrow: 14 May. Nothing better to do? See what you think of Sarah's rave. Personally, I'm going to spread compost.

Time Out London renewed

George Frampton - Peter Pan (1912) in Kensington Gardens
Time Out London has revamped its website. Art is now easier to find. Click the title link to check out Sculpture Club, which takes you on a tour of London's famous statues. (Bit late for an Easter hunt, but it proves the new layout makes things easier to find. Have a Spring Holiday hunt instead: May 29.)

Friday, 12 May 2006

Dangerous Screensavers

Michelangelo - David (1504) 3 views
According to recent research by Ben Edelman and Hannah Rosenbaum, the most dangerous websites to visit are those advertising free screensavers. 64% of sites advertising free screensavers caused problems for their users by installing spyware or adware or by sending spam. I repeat: 64%! Your computer may even be hijacked to enable spam to be sent through it, making it appear as though you're the villain sending the spam! It is much safer to download a graphic for wallpaper and to stick with one of the screensavers that come with your machine. If you must have a flashy screensaver, the BBC Science & Nature pages offer excellent wildlife screensavers that I know are safe. If you want a monthly nature wallpaper with a calendar, visit the UK Phenology Network. For art wallpapers (sample shown) visit Coxsoft Art. If you have XnView, load your favourite graphic, click "Tools", then "Set as wallpaper"; it does it for you.

Art Curator verdict

Yonks ago, the Greek Orthodox Church threw a wobbler about Belgium artist Thierry de Cordier's Asperges Me, a painting showing the male member proudly doing its thing over a crucifix. Really tacky stuff! Not only was the painting withdrawn from the International Art Exhibition in Greece, but also the Art Curator was arrested for allegedly insulting public decency and the Church. Yesterday an Athens court found Mr Iaokimidis not guilty. Phew! If you must see the rude bone of contention (blush) click the title link.

Thursday, 11 May 2006

BBC promotes compost!

Compost Hero
Maybe the BBC does know something about art, after all. This cute little critter is a tiger worm, hero of the compost heap, featured in BBC News Magazine (artist's name withheld). Did you know that this little chap can protect you against identity theft? Tear up your credit card bills and bank statements and feed them to your compost heap. Once they've been through our hero's gut, no identity thief can use them. Click the title link for more amazing facts about compost.
Note: Coxsoft Art has been composting for years. Woodlice are my compost champions.

Britney Spears update

Daniel Edwards - Monument to Pro-Life: the Birth of Sean Preston
According to WENN (World Entertainment News Network) Britney Spears has finally broken her silence on that infamous statue by self-publicist Daniel Edwards: Monument to Pro-Life: the Birth of Sean Preston. She regards it as an "hilarious" joke, "...the most hysterical thing I've ever seen in my life". Big of you, Britney. Can't say I'd want my naked rear exposed to public ridicule. By the way, Britney's expecting her second baby. I wonder what her fan Dan will create for this event.

Wednesday, 10 May 2006

BP Portrait Award 2006

Angela Reilly - Self Portrait
BBC News has posted portraits by the 3 artists shortlisted for the BP Portrait Award 2006, worth £25,000 plus a £4000 commission. The winner will be announced in June and the top 56 entries will go on display at the National Portrait Gallery from 15 June. Coxsoft Art's vote goes to Angela Reilly for her Self Portrait. Click the title link to see the other finalists.

Saatchi's new Your Gallery

Fake Picasso winks
"A showcase for your art to thousands of visitors every day" claims Saatchi for a new online gallery dedicated to budding artists. 700 have joined up already. The question is: Does Charlie offer this new facility out of the goodness of his heart or is he trying to consolidate his stranglehold on British contemporary art? I mean, Saatchi buys some rubbish and the artist's stock goes through the roof. It's better than insider trading; it's legal. Coxsoft Art wonders...should I send Charlie my fake Picasso self-portrait? The animated GIF winks....

Tuesday, 9 May 2006

Jigsaw Puzzles

Three pieces to find...
Complete duffer at art? Pencil lead keeps snapping? Paintbrush does its own thing? Whoops! Can't find the UNDO button? Picasso looks like a genius? Tate Modern a wonderland? Not even the BBC can convince you you'll ever be an artist? Then why not try a jigsaw puzzle? Hours of harmless fun and you have a masterpiece at the end. is offering a free puzzle every week. Click the title link to download one. If you have a few megabytes to spare, there's also a Michelangelo screen saver with 3 fade-in fade-out views of our David. And watch a 3D David spun by Macromedia Flash Player 8, which didn't crash my PC. There's a novelty!

Monday, 8 May 2006

BAFTA Awards 2006

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts dished out its 2006 awards on Sunday evening. Doctor Who grabbed best drama series and Bleak House won best drama serial. If you want to know why I don't view much TV, click the title link for other winners!

Sunday, 7 May 2006

Happy Birthday, Sir David

Sir David Attenborough
Remember Zoo Quest for a Dragon? If you do, you're older than you care to admit. For 50 years Sir David Attenborough has been the voice of wildlife conservation in Britain and, through his many TV programmes, throughout the world. He created the art of wildlife presenting, has worked with most of the world's finest wildlife cameramen and has brought to TV some of Nature's most powerful images. Tomorrow, 8 May 2006, he celebrates his 80th birthday. For a brief biography with a list of Sir David's programmes and awards, click the title link.

The Sultan's Elephant

Girl astronaut emerges from spacecraft - photo by Shehani Fernando
A spaceship landed in London on Thursday. What did it contain? We waited with bated breath. Answer: a 16ft marionette of a young girl who is being sought by a sultan on his mechanical elephant! White slaver? Girl and elephant met on Saturday as part of a spectacular four-day street theatre created by French arts company Royal de Luxe. Congratulations to Shehani Fernando, who scooped Getty and AP by catching the girl emerging from her spaceship. This is the only amateur photo in BBC News website's top 8 images of the event. BBC London has appealed for more photos and they're coming in; click the title link to see them and a map of the event. Sunday is the last day. What will the Sultan do with his schoolgirl astronaut now that he's found her? So far the crowds are loving it...

Friday, 5 May 2006

Dino Jaws

Ten terrifyingly lifelike animatronic dinosaurs (made in Japan) have arrived at the Natural History Museum, London, UK. They're huge and they move! Scare the kids witless from 30 June 2006 until 15 April 2007. Dino Jaws promises to be a blockbuster of an exhibition. So don't turn up on spec. Book in advance. Entry is timed. Expensive at £21 for a family ticket, but members enter free. So think about becoming a member before you buy tickets. Click the title link for more info. plus a dino game!
Yes, but is it art? Depends how good it is. Modern art is all about shocking us out of our complacency (so the art pundits allege). Therefore, if it shocks you into a quivering jelly, it must be art! At least it should be more fun than the tripe at Tate Modern.

Sacred and Profane Love

Giovanni Baglioni - Two Versions (1602-3)
VikkiQueen's RoboRen 5 entry got me wondering. The style of the original is Caravaggio's, but the execution...the angel would need a broken wrist to hold her arrow at that angle. VikkiQueen was kind enough to point me in the right direction: Giovanni Baglioni, who painted two versions of Sacred and Profane Love, both circa 1602. The one on the right is known as Heavenly Love and Earthly Love. With or without armour or robotic add-ons, the angel looks a nasty piece of work. I've combined the two pictures in order to compare them. Click the title link to visit Coxsoft Art's What's New page to view the 1014x768 graphic. Spot the two silly feathers painted on Cupid's bottom. A prudish addition by an inferior artist at a later date?

Thursday, 4 May 2006

Picasso's expensive joke

Picasso - Dora Maar with Cat (1941)
Heard the latest joke? Some tasteless idiot with more money than sense paid an astronomical $95.2m (£51.8m) for Picasso's "portrait" of his lover: Dora Maar. I'm surprised dear Dora didn't sue Pablo for misrepresentation. Maybe she was short-sighted. I can accept Sotheby's burbling on about Dora's "sculptural presence" and the "gorgeous palette of colours", because they've got a bill of goods to sell. (Would you believe them if they said the same thing about a rusty, clapped out Ford Anglia with a psychedelic paintjob?) But BBC News claiming this load of tosh to be a "masterpiece"! If that doesn't prove that Aunty has completely lost the plot, what does? As for the twerp who got conned into buying this tripe, he wants to remain anonymous. Who can blame him?

Wednesday, 3 May 2006

Unsung Artists

Anon. - Zacarias Moussaoui in Court (2006)
Who are these anonymous artists who go where no camera is allowed to go? They never receive a credit for their work. They never hold exhibitions. They sketch some of the most infamous people in the world, yet they remain in obscurity. Are they even allowed to sign their work? If anyone needs a trades union, it is the humble court artist.

Tuesday, 2 May 2006

Bouguereau v Hog Heaven

Bouguereau left - Hog Heaven right
Since I viewed Hog Heaven's robo version of Bouguereau's The Ford (1895) I've been wondering what makes the girl's face seem so sinister and unBouguereauish. I couldn't remember where I'd seen the original. Jacoblog pointed me in the right direction: Yes. That's where I first saw it. Many thanks, Jacoblog. Problem solved. The original has a pretty smile, but the robo version seems to be poking her tongue out. I had to download a half-meg graphic of the original to resolve the difference. Hog Heaven's 48K JPG has lost the girl's smile, due to poor resolution and the red of the lips bleeding into the white teeth, rather than to an artistic change. Sexy Leg remains an excellent graphic, but not so subtle as I'd thought. Not much of an advert for Adobe Photoshop, is it? I've done this with XnView and it's free!