Monday, 31 July 2006

Studio Clearance Sale

Studio Sale Cartoon
The Mall Galleries, London, UK, is home to the Federation of British Artists. From 21 August to 8 September 2006 The Mall will be holding a Summer Madness - Studio Clearance Sale. All the exhibitors are members of the FBA, so there will be some big names in Brit. art flogging their unsold works at bargain prices. Anything you buy can be taken home immediately. Admission free. Not to be missed. Get there early.

Wildlife Artists Exhibition

Darren Rees SWLA - Gannet City
Now here's a treat. As you may have noticed, Coxsoft Art is interested in nature as well as genuine art. So it's cartwheels of excitement at the prospect of the Society of Wildlife Artists Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries, London, UK, from 27 September to 8 October 2006. And there will be awards and bursaries! The first prize in the Capmark Commercial Mortgage Europe Art Awards is £4000. Who? Then there's the Birdwatch Artist of the Year Award in association with Birdwatch magazine. Admission £2.50, silver surfers only £1.50! Click the title link for more info.

Tate extension (2)

The Eyesore at Night © Herzog & de Meuron
Tate Modern. Ah, yes; that reminds me. Here's another artist's impression of the proposed extension to that leading light of the Brit. Anti Art Movement. The more I see of this horrible thing, the more I'm convinced that it's a potential candidate for the London's Ugliest Building Award. The perpetrators of this hideous design are architects Herzog & de Meuron. May their names live in infamy if this eyesore ever blots the London skyline. Do the decent thing, Sir Nick. Resign.

Charity Commission corrupt?

New Chair: Dame Suzi
Hard on the heels of the Charity Commission's crass failing in allowing Tate Modern to buy a load of elephant dung from a trustee for an astronomical £600,000 and to retain its charity status comes a Panorama exposé - Faith, hate and charity - which proves beyond any shadow of doubt that a UK charity has been raising funds to support the Muslim Fundamentalist terrorist organisation Hamas! (The programme also implicated Red Ken's favourite sheikh.) American officials are gobsmacked by the Charity Commission's incompetence. They were too polite to accuse commissioners of corruption, but the question must be raised. Incompetence on this scale is unbelievable. So, will the Police investigate the Charity Commission to find out how many Rolls-Royces its staff drive and how many of them own palaces? Or will the Old Boys Network prevail? Click the title link for the BBC version of this story.
Footnote: Tomorrow, Dame Suzi Leather DBE (photo) becomes the new Chair of the Charity Commission. What a doll! What an innocent face! The perfect front! Hey, Suzi! You sure about joining this bunch of plonkers?

Sunday, 30 July 2006

Martians in Woking!

Michael Condron - Martian Walking Engine (1998)
Very late news: the photo shows Michael Condron's stainless steel Martian Walking Engine (1998), which was commissioned by Woking Council to mark the centenary of HG Wells' famous science-fiction novel The War of the Worlds. This sculpture is the artist's impression of a "walking engine of glittering metal". He also designed a landing pod (click the title link to view it). If you haven't read the book, do so. Despite its age, it still ranks as one of the best sci-fi novels ever written; many half its age have dated very badly. Then listen to the magical Richard Burton voiceover for the Jeff Wayne musical to complete your experience. Forget the movies: Hollywood still hasn't got it right.

Saturday, 29 July 2006

Butterfly Week update

Here's a scrap of good news as we near the end of Save Our Butterflies Week 2006: this morning I saw a painted lady butterfly in my garden, the first I've seen this year. These little critters are a work of art in themselves. If you want to identify any butterfly you've seen, click the title link to go to the Butterfly Conservation species list. What's the stag beetle doing here? It's one of the graphics I designed for a ZX Spectrum game I wrote called Nature Trail. It's a fun way to learn about nature. The stag beetle is just one of the species you need to find to win the game. Find Nature Trail in the Coxsoft Museum. You can download it free with a ZX Spectrum emulator, also free. And I guarantee no spyware or other nasties in the download.

Body Art (Brush) Winner

Raphaelle Fieldhouse - winning Brush Category entry, 3 views (2006)
Here are three views of Raphaelle Fieldhouse's winning Brush Category entry, which I've combined into a single graphic. The good thing about being an English Brit. is that you can claim as your own any winner from the other side of the Welsh border. Pity I can't write "Congratulations" in Welsh. Having been assiduously following the World Bodypainting Festival 2006 - the things I do for art! - I can report that the standard was extremely high. Other winners were Ferenc Hottya (Category Airbrush), Gabriele Hajek-Renner (Category Special Effects) and Bella Volen (World Fluoro Award). My commiserations to all those fine artists who created some brilliant artwork without gaining an award. Point of interest: I noticed that Salvador Dalí influenced more designs than any other painter. Maybe give Dalí a miss next year?

Friday, 28 July 2006

Hillary Clinton's bust!

Daniel Edwards - The Presidential Bust of Hillary Rodham Clinton: The First Woman President of the United States of America (2006)Remember Britney Spears on all fours, starkers? No? Come on! Now it's Hillary Clinton's turn to receive the Daniel Edwards' treatment. What? Hillary Clinton on all fours, starkers? Naw. She's too old and wrinkly to be a sex goddess. Well-groomed, mind you, in a posh-aunty-next-door sort of way. It's a bust. Edwards' title is, as usual, designed to stir controversy: The Presidential Bust of Hillary Rodham Clinton: The First Woman President of the United States of America. If this doesn't scotch Hillary's chances of becoming the Big Cheese, nothing will. Her bust is to be unveiled at the Museum of Sex, New York, on 9 August, providing the Mormons don't throw a wobbler over it. Don't all rush at once.

Thursday, 27 July 2006

More art outrage!

Joseph Smith, artist unknown
The Smithsonian Institute's National Portrait Gallery reopened on 1 July amid a storm of Mormon "outrage" over its exhibition American Origins, 1600-1900. This is the same bunch of philistines that banned Rodin's The Kiss, because of its alleged obscenity! This time they threw a wobbler over some dodgy labelling and a portrait of Joseph Smith similar to the one shown. Looks a fair portrait to me. Maybe they disapprove of Smith's effeminate pose. Did you know that the longest war the USA has ever fought was against the Mormons? Anyone know which side won? Anyone care?

Is it Car Art?

Top: the wreck, bottom: the new bodyshell by Leepu Awlia (2006)
Here's a new exhibition - Car - in a brand new arts centre: Rich Mix Cultural Foundation, Bethnal Green, London. Car was featured on BBC London News yesterday, including an interview with artist Leepu Awlia from Bangladesh. He's been renovating the junkyard wreck (top) since 30 May and the newly sprayed bodyshell (bottom) arrived yesterday. He has until 4 September to complete the renovation. But is it the car that's the art or is it the renovation that's "performance art"? Whatever, can Coxsoft Art have one, please? It would look great in my drive, amongst the shrubs. Smart nest box for the blue tits?

Rebels and Martyrs

Jean-Désiré-Gustave Courbet - Self Portrait (The Desperate Man) ca 1843 © Private Collection, courtesy of BNP (*?)
I've already posted a blog on this exhibition, but today I received The National Gallery's e-news, which quotes rave reviews from the press: "riveting" trills the Observer, "fascinating and imaginative" thunders The Times, "hugely enjoyable and informative" muses Metro. Okay, art critics suck, but on this occasion they may have a point. The two paintings I've seen from this show are excellent (the Courbet is a late addition from a private collection). The best time to visit is Wednesday evenings, when admission is only £4 and includes a free guided tour. Note: I've tweaked the gamma setting on the Courbet graphic, so you can see it better. (*BNP? What's the British National Party got to do with Courbet? I thought all they knew about art was on their T-shirts.)

Wednesday, 26 July 2006

Tate Modern extension

An artist's impression of the proposed Tate extension (a real artist!)
Tate Modern is in the news again, and I see that Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota still hasn't had the decency to resign over the scandal of paying £600,000 to one of its trustees for a load of elephant dung. Now he's telling us the proposed Tate extension will cause "an extraordinary explosion of activity in this area". Planning permission has not yet been sought for the new glass building, which will cost £215 million and increase the Tate's exhibition space by 60%, but Sir Nick knows his plan won't be rejected. The London Development Agency under Mayor Red Ken - has already agreed to provide £7m toward the project. A nice little earner, eh, Sir Nick?

The Headington Shark

John Buckley - Untitled 1986
Jacoblog sent me a link to a website showing unusual statues, where I found this old photo of the Headington Shark in Oxford, UK. I remember the kerfuffle the shark created. American Bill Heine commissioned the fibreglass shark as a protest. Created by sculptor John Buckley, "Untitled 1986" was erected on the 41st anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. It's still there! Click the title link to read Inspector Peter Macdonald's brilliantly witty report on the sculpture, and here to see modern photos of it.

Body Art: a Welsh win!

Welsh Dragon
Stop Press! Raphaelle Fieldhouse of Wales won the Brush Category in the World Bodypainting Festival 2006. Well done! More later.

Tuesday, 25 July 2006

R.A. hits new low

Ben Levene RA - Self-portrait with Mirror and Turkey Rug (c 1974}
Considering that some of the great names in Brit. art were once Royal Academicians, it is sad to see how low the Royal Academy of Arts has sunk. Is it lack of talent in the UK or are the current RA's so jealously inartistic that they blackball anyone who shows a modicum of talent? Take the tripe shown to illustrate a new exhibition by a current RA: Ben Levene RA: Paintings and Drawings. Judging by this picture, the guy can't paint for toffee. Yet his Art Establishment credentials are impeccable! He teaches art students! Aw, hell; that's another generation of Brit. talent up the spout! Avoid the Sir Hugh Casson Room for Friends until after 25 September 2006. Etchings by two dead RA's show more talent: Skin Deep: GL Brockhurst & AR Middleton Todd, in the Tennant Room until 8 October 2006. Both exhibitions are free. The etchings look worth a visit.

Frabjous Beasts

Thinking of beasts, if you have booked a holiday anywhere near Bath, why not take the kids to the Holburne Museum of Art to see Frabjous Beasts, which continues until 10 September 2006? "Quentin Blake has selected twenty beastly works by some of the country’s finest living illustrators." He's also drawn some pictures for the exhibition. Kids of all ages will love it.

Arno Breker "outrage"!

Arno Breker - You and I (1940) Salvador Dali, The Goddess Fortuna (1990)
I hasten to add that it's Hannah Cleaver of the Telegraph who's claiming outrage at the opening last Saturday of a major retrospective of work by the German sculptor Arno Breker at the Schleswig-Holstein-Haus in Schwerin, eastern Germany, not Coxsoft Art. What has shocked me is that, while researching this blog, I discovered a German National Socialist website still quoting Hitler's diatribes against the Jews! This is what makes the Becker exhibition such a sensitive issue. It was postponed last year to avoid clashing with those 60th anniversary celebrations which marked the end of WWII and is the first exhibition of Breker's work since the war. The problem is that Breker's career blossomed during the Third Reich, because Hitler used his chunky, neoclassical figurative statues to promote the notion of an Aryan "master race". If you can ignore Breker's Nazi connections and look at his art objectively, you must see him as the German Rodin. If you can't, consider this: Hitler's monstrous cleansing of his "master race" was based on Darwin's theory of evolution. Have we denigrated Darwin because of Hitler? Of course not. So why should we denigrate Breker's talent as an artist?

Monday, 24 July 2006

Notting Hill Carnival

If looks could kill...(2005)Europe's largest street festival, London's Notting Hill Carnival, takes place on August bank holiday weekend: Sunday 27 to Monday 28 August. (Sunday is traditionally Children's Day.) The photo from last year's carnival looks like a Norman Rockwell comment. What a grumpy boy! How dare his mother force him into parading around dressed like a damned fairy! He'll never live it down at school. His only hope of regaining some street cred. is to flatten the school bully, who's twice his size. It's death or dishonour. God! Will mothers never learn that their sons have male dignity to uphold? This is boy abuse!

Rockwell's America

It's only a week since I reported another Norman Rockwell exhibition. Now it's the turn of The Maryland Science Center in Baltimore, which presents Rockwell's America: Celebrating the Art of Norman Rockwell, a unique travelling exhibition that mixes 100 of Rockwell's original Saturday Evening Post covers with 35 life-size sculptures of Rockwell's most popular characters, 20 theatrical settings, live characters (out-of-work actors at a guess) and a whole lorryload of multimedia do-dads. Introducing kids to this great American artist must be a good thing, whatever the techniques employed. The exhibition continues until 7 January 2007. Click the title link, then wait for the swinging Touch Wonder icon to appear. Trust me. It's fun. Clever programming too.

Picasso up for grabs

Pablo Picasso - Lady at Eden Concert (1903)
Rómulo-Antonio Tenés has excited the more-money-than-sense crowd by bringing Picasso's Lady at Eden Concert (1903) out of mothballs and putting it up for sale, allegedly to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Picasso's birth. My guess is that the fortunes being paid for anything the old fraud sneezed on has tempted Tenés beyond endurance. Will this mediocre work by a third-rate artist set a new record? You betcha.

Dreamspace kills two!

Yesterday at Riverside Park, Durham, UK, an inflatable sculpture created by artist Maurice Agis - Dreamspace - took off in a gust of wind and rose as high as 30ft into the air before crashing back to earth. People inside the inflatable were tossed about. Two women died and 13 people were injured. The artist witnessed the accident and is said to be "very distressed". Police are still investigating.

Sunday, 23 July 2006

Daybreak goes to jail!

Maxwell Parrish - Daybreak (1922)
Here's a scrap of appalling news I found in ArtDaily today: Daybreak by the great American artist Maxwell Parrish is to be locked away in a private collection. It was auctioned at Christie's for $7.6 million dollars last May. As a feeble consolation prize the National Museum of American Illustration in Vernon Court, Rhode Island, is being allowed to exhibit this masterpiece until 25 August 2006. Then it goes to jail! So this is your last chance to see it. Somebody in the US Government should be brought to task for allowing this milestone in American art - a work of international importance - to be lost to public viewing.

Under the Skin

Jay Chastain - Asheville Art Museum Drawing (2006)
Continuing the subject of body art, the Asheville Art Museum in North Carolina, USA, has just opened an exhibition of tattoos. Under the Skin: Tattoos and Contemporary Culture continues until 29 October 2006. It includes Japanese, Amerindian and Maori tattoos as well as tracing the development of American tattoos since the 1930's to the present day. Hop on your Harley and burn there.

Body Painting update

Left Cheeky Mucha, middle artist Melanie Badizadch, right 2 Munches. Photos by Daniel Kottnauer (2006)
They've reached the judging stage at the World Bodypainting Festival in Austria, but the winners haven't been announced yet. Black backgrounds have helped the photographer, Daniel Kottnauer, although he's still not wasting many pixels on his images. There's a huge gallery of artwork on display. So far I've spotted Botticelli's Birth of Venus, a Mucha (Summer?), a Picasso and two stolen Munches: Madonna and The Scream. The last three are impressive. My graphic is a combination of the very cheeky Mucha (back view) with artist Melanie Badizadch (I.D. 217) and her model wearing the two Munches. And here's a rarity: the artist is as pretty as her model. Click the title link to browse and spot the copied artworks.

Saturday, 22 July 2006

Forensic Art

Image from the cover of Forensic Art and Illustration by Karen T. Taylor (2000)
No, this isn't the latest Damien Hirst. It's something for more useful. Think CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. The UK now his its own forensic art team. Dr Caroline Wilkinson is the facial anthropologist, Caroline Needham the artist. Click the title link to read a BBC article about their work. The image shown is taken from the cover of Forensic Art and Illustration by Karen T. Taylor, who worked for 18 years as a forensic artist at the Texas Department of Public Safety in Austin. She also freelanced for Madame Tussaud's! The importance of her forensic art was recognized when she was named as one of the "Texas Women of the Century". Click here to read an excellent review of Karen's book.

GPA attacks Christians

Advert by the Gay Police Association: in the name of the father (sic)
Here's the latest in controversial adverts. The Gay Police Association (don't laugh!) recently published an advert showing a Bible with a splash of blood, its message, put simply, that Christians are poof-bashers. This has got right up the nose of the Christian Police Association, whose view is that it's okay to be gay so long as you don't practise it, a stance which annoys the Gay Fuzz. To stir things even more furiously, the Reverend George Hargreaves complained about the ad., called the GPA "Christianphobic" and has prompted a Metropolitan Police investigation into whether the advert is a "faith crime" or not! Religiosity and homosexuality are both to be found in the World Health Organization Classification of Mental Diseases, so both sides in this dispute are on unstable ground. It's a case of the pot calling the kettle ... er ... rusty. The important thing as far as Coxsoft Art is concerned is the advert: what a powerful way to get your message across! Shocking the punters is allegedly what modern art is all about. If this advert is a "faith crime", then Big Brother and the Thought Police have taken over in the UK. Next they'll be arresting WHO officials for having classified religiosity as a mental disease!

Save UK Butterflies

Today is the start of Save Our Butterflies Week 2006, which continues until 30 July. The bad news is that we are down to only 56 species of butterflies in the UK, due mainly to loss of habitat. All the more reason to make our gardens butterfly-friendly. My back garden has done well for butterflies over the past very hot, dry week. I know this because on at least three occasions I've seen butterflies fighting over my back garden! Yes, some butterflies are territorial and do fight! I couldn't identify the fighters - they were a blur of orange wings - maybe Small Coppers, but I have seen enough at rest to identify these visitors to my back garden: Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown, Small White, Large White, Red Admiral, Small Skipper (or Essex Skipper) and Small Blue (probably). This is half the species that usually visit my garden. To find out more about butterfly conservation, view pictures of our 56 species or find a local SOB event, click the title link.

Face Painting

Boy's painted face (unknown artist)
Coxsoft Art is booked to do kiddie face painting next week. I won't tell you where, because I don't want the venue crowded with excited fans. It's a bit of fun in a good cause (avoiding real work).

Body Art update

Unfinished, but looking good....
The models are undressed. The artists are limbering up. It's all to play for this weekend at the World Bodypainting Festival 2006 in Austria. I hope the standard of photography improves. So far it's all snapshots. Quality art needs quality photography to show it at its best.

Thursday, 20 July 2006

Umarjan Karimov

Umarjan Karimov - Self Portrait
Umarjan Karimov is currently exhibiting some of his paintings at Central Library in Ilford, UK. Last day 22 July. Click the title link to visit Umarjan's website.

London Craft Fair

Wendy Steven - Handbag
Tickets for the Origin London Craft Fair, presented by The Crafts Council, to be held at Somerset House, are on sale now. Week one 3 - 8 October 2006, week two 10 - 15 October 2006. "See and buy the work of more than 300 leading designer-makers from around the world." If you can afford it. Click the title link to book or telephone 0870 145 1120 (UK).

Passion for Paint

Peter Paul Rubens - Minerva protects Pax from Mars (1629-30) © The National Gallery, London
Today saw the opening of a travelling exhibition at London's National Gallery: Passion for Paint in the Sunley Room until 17 September 2006, admission free. This is part of a cooperative venture between the National Gallery, Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery and the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. Unfortunately, all the paintings I've seen promoting this exhibition are © The National Gallery, London. Why bother to visit this exhibition if all it contains is paintings we have already viewed at the National Gallery? Londoners need to be enticed with masterpieces from the Bristol and Newcastle galleries that we haven't seen in the old Metrop. before.

Body Art Taster

Roberto Soares - Canadian Flag
For Jacoblog. Not an entry in the Austrian Body Painting Festival, just a hint of what's to come. By the way, there are some nifty tattoos - another form of body art - on Worth 1000.

Wednesday, 19 July 2006

Tut tut, Tate!

Chris Ofili - The Upper Room
The Charity Commission has politely criticized the Tate Gallery for buying works of art by its own trustees without asking permission of the Commission, which regulates charities in the UK. The artworks include Chris Ofili's The Upper Room - 13 paintings of rhesus monkeys on elephant dung supports - bought for £600,000 in 2004 when Ofili was on the Tate's board of trustees. £600,000 to a trustee for a load of elephant dung! Is this corruption or what? No, it's dung, the stock-in-trade of Tate Modern. What a waste of taxpayers' money! And the Tate spokesman on BBC TV News today seemed quite blasé about it all. Bit of a whoopsie, folks, was his attitude. Why on earth did the Charity Commission allow the Tate to keep its status as a charity? Why hasn't somebody at the Tate been sacked? And why has the Tate been allowed to keep its vastly overpriced dung? For Goodness' sake! I can remember the days when somebody at the top would have resigned over a scandel like this. Nobody is accountable any more, and the new men at the top don't have the decency to resign. Sir Nicholas Serota is the Tate Director. Come on, Sir Nick, show some decency. Resign!

Body Art Festival

World Bodypainting Festival logo
The World Bodypainting Festival 2006 is underway on Lake Millstättersee in Carinthia, South Austria. The models are currently shaving their heads and other parts. Watch this space for developments.

Banksy strikes again!

Banksy graffiti
Bristol "guerrilla artist" Banksy stencilled this graffiti on the side of a building in Park Street, Bristol, UK. It shows a naked man dangling from a window while the husband searches for him. Bristol City Council bravely decided to allow a democratic decision on whether it should be allowed to stay. Of those who visited the AskBristol Forum, 97% voted in favour of the work. Only 6 were against it. Today the City Council announced that Banksy's graffiti will stay.

Digital Art Competition

The Art of Digital Show email header
Here's another internationl digital art competition: entry deadline 6 August 2006, top prize $1,000, entry fees still images $25 for the first entry, $10 for each additional entry, video art $45 for each entry. If enough wannabees enter, the organizers will make a fortune out of this! Click the title link for more info. or e-mail Steven Churchhill:

Henri Rousseau in Washington

Henri Rousseau - Tropical Forest with Monkeys (1910)
Henri's getting about lately. His exhibition Jungles in Paris was the best thing Tate Modern has shown in a long time. The exhibition has now moved to the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, and continues until 15 October. This is its only showing in the USA.

New Horniman Aquarium

Fijian coral reef
London's Horniman Museum opened the new Horniman Aquarium on 14 July. Perfect timing for the school summer holidays. The living exhibits are underwater habitats such as the Fijian coral reef shown here. Admission is free. The price is right for families, so take the kids. Break the news gently to them that there aren't any sharks. Click the title link for more information.

V & A's Islamic gallery

The new Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art
The Brit. Art Establishment's mindless answer to Muslim Fundamentalism is to embrace Islamic "art". Yesterday, BBC London News showed a preview of the V & A's new Islamic Middle East Gallery, which is renamed The Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art. Art? Where? The imitation Moorish setting is excellent, but the arts and crafts on display were disappointing: an old carpet, various pots and pans and lots of those neurotic patterns that Islamic artists create in order to avoid making any artistic statement that might offend their local mullah. If the V & A expects these crafts to convey the wonders of Islamic art, it has another think coming. Why pretend? Islam's stranglehold on artistic expression is tighter than that of Medieval Christianity. European artists had to break free of religious oppression to create the fabulous art of the Renaissance and beyond.
The new gallery opens to the public tomorrow. If you find anything vaguely artistic that the BBC cameras missed, please let me know.

Tuesday, 18 July 2006

Islamic "values" update

Al-Ghurabaa sticker
Here's an update to my blog on London's 7/7 anniversary (July archive). Yesterday, Home Secretary John Reed announced that two UK-based Islamist groups are the first to be banned under new laws aimed at stopping the glorification of terrorism: Al-Ghurabaa and the Saved Sect. About time too! You may remember that Al-Ghurabaa is the group that published those dishonest and inflammatory stickers which agitators spread around Ilford - my home town - prior to the 7/7 anniversary. The spokesperson for Al-Ghurabaa is our old friend Anjem Choudary, who lives in Ilford. He was arrested following the Danish Embassy protests, when placards proclaiming "massacre those who insult Islam" were brandished. I hope the local Police had the sense to check those "values" stickers to see if Choudary's fingerprints were on them. And why not keep an eye on his local mosque in Albert Road, outside of which Muslims were seen celebrating the attack on the Twin Towers? NB Al-Ghurabaa's website is still online: It's pointless banning the group and allowing its propaganda machine to remain active.

Monday, 17 July 2006

Book Sale update

Books logo
You should have visited the book sale at Central Library last Saturday. Coxsoft Art lashed out 60p on Miniatures and Silhouettes by Max von Boehn, translated form the original German by E.K. Walker, published by J.M. Dent & Sons, London, in 1928. It took me 1.5 hours to track it down on the Internet today. The International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) values it at £96. Not bad for 60p! Don't miss the next sale: Saturday 28 October, 10am to 3pm. If you have any old books you'd like to value, click the title link to visit ILAB.

Norman Rockwell in Texas

Norman Rockwell - The Problem We All Live With (1964) © 1964 Licensed by Norman Rockwell Licensing, Niles, Illinois
Oh you lucky Texans: a Norman Rockwell exhibition! The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston is showing Norman Rockwell, The Problem We All Live With, until 1 November 2006. The title is taken from the above painting, which shows a pretty 6-year-old black girl looking very dignified between four US Marshals, who are escorting her to her new desegregated school to insure she arrives safely and is allowed entry. Note the word scrawled on the wall behind them. For decades Norman Rockwell's witty and socially aware paintings adorned the covers of Look Magazine and the Saturday Evening Post. His cheerful patriotism may seem old-fashioned today, but it was spot on for World War II. Anyone who dismisses Rockwell as a mere illustrator is an idiot. He was one of the great artists of the 20th Century. If you're Texan, don't miss this exhibition. The rest of us must content ourselves with clicking the title link to visit Curtis Publishing: Rockwell Art Gallery.

Sunday, 16 July 2006

World's Oldest Jewellery

Marine shell bead
Two small marine shells in the Natural History Museum, London, were artificially pierced for use as beads 100,000 years ago. This makes them the oldest jewellery ever found. Excavated in the early 1930's from Skhul in Israel, they were recently dated using modern techniques. As a pressie to Miss Gorgeous 2006 they would fall on stony ground, but as evidence of the origins of humanity they are priceless. Sceptical? Still clinging to the notion of a mythical Garden of Eden created a mere 2000 years BC? White Supremacist? Can't accept that you're descended from Africans? Click the title link to be disillusioned. Then cheer yourself up with a dinosaur game.

Musée d’Orsay goes modern!

Jens Ferdinand Willumsen - A Mountaineer (1904)
I can't help feeling that the Musée d’Orsay, which houses the world's finest collection of beautiful statues, is letting the side down by putting on its exhibition From Symbolism to Expressionism, Willumsen (1863-1958), a Danish artist. The example shown isn't too bad, although the title is a joke, but how can it compete with... er... everything else in the building! If you're in Paris between now and 17 September, you might try it.

Rembrandt in New York

Rembrandt - Self-Portrait in a Cap (1630) etching
Here's an etching I haven't seen before: a self-portrait by Rembrandt which proves he had a sense of humour. The National Gallery in London isn't the only major gallery celebrating Rembrandt's birth 400 years ago. This graphic is from The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, which owns around 300 of Rembrandt's etchings! Celebrating Rembrandt: Etchings from the Morgan began yesterday and continues until 1 October. Click the title link to visit its excellent Home Page. Tip: just wait and watch.

EAST International 2006

Keith Farquhar - 33 Red Hooded Figures Pass Judgment
No, this isn't another design for a gentlemen's convenience. It's another of those "installation" thingies: Keith Farquhar’s 33 Red Hooded Figures Pass Judgment for EAST International 2006 at the Norwich Gallery, Norfolk, UK. Personally I think it's the best loo design so far, although 44% of Malaysians might disagree (see previous blogs). The speech bubbles say: "There’s no manual work", "The fashions change so fast". Mm.... Is that supposed to be profound? If you're in Norwich for your summer holiday, ignore this EAST nonsense and visit Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, where'll you'll find a superb collection of watercolours by John Sell Cotman, one of my favourite Brit. artists.

Saturday, 15 July 2006

Greenhouse Art

Kimsooja - Breathe: Woman Mirror (2006)
Isn't it time you tarted up that boring old greenhouse or conservatory? Turf out those manky old plants, tatty benches, seed trays, dibbers and whatnot and take a leaf out of Kimsooja's book. He's a Korean artist who has transformed the Parque del Retiro's Crystal Palace in Madrid. This installation is called Breathe: Woman Mirror. All you need do is cover the floor with mirrors - you need a flat surface -, cover the windows with translucent film and add crystals to the ceiling. Bingo! You must admit the effect is rather pretty. To finish off, play your favourite music and enter. Better still, borrow some alien music from your local library: jungle noises, tropical rainstorms, Bollywood hoedowns.

Lord of the Rings

John Alvin - Arwen in Swept Away
You may never have heard of John Alvin, but his art is emblazoned on your memory. Think E.T. or Blade Runner or The Lion King or Harry Potter. John is one of the finest movie poster artists. Now he's created The Lord of the Rings Art Collection, a limited edition of his portraits of characters in the trilogy. The collection is being released through ArtInsights, a privately owned gallery located in Reston Town Center in Virginia, USA. John will make personal appearances there on 15 and 16 September. Click the title link to visit ArtInsights online.