Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Sculpture by the Sea

Frank Malerba - Girls with Dogs sculpture (2007)Strewth, mate; it's sheilas with their dingos on Bondi Beach, one of 100 sculptures in Sydney's 11th annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibition, which opened today and continues until 18 November. Frank Malerba's entry (shown) didn't win, despite catching a photographer's eye and gaining the doggie vote. David Horton collared the $30,000 top prize with his abstract Yesternight. Better luck next time, Frank.

Art of Light

Unknown German Artist - Saint Cornelius (c.1520-25) © V&A ImagesNo, this isn't one of those contemporary art displays using neon tubes. It's an unusual exhibition which combines 15th- and early 16th-century German stained-glass windows from the Victoria and Albert Museum with paintings from the same period in the National Gallery collection, enabling comparisons. Interesting, and my favourite price: free. You'll find Art of Light: German Renaissance Stained Glass in the National Gallery's Sunley Room from 7 November 2007 to 17 February 2008.

Pyramid in Hyde Park

Romero Britto - Pop Art Pyramid (2007)First it was Anubis up the Thames (CLICK). Now it's a 45ft tall pop art pyramid at Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park, created by Romero Britto from Brazil, where the nuts come from. Will the owners of the O2 Bubble stop at nothing to promote Tutankhamun And The Golden Age Of The Pharaohs? What about a touch of Stargate? A flying saucer with the boy king at the helm?

Bewhiskered Banksy

Close up of Banksy at Work (2007)And here's the news you've all been waiting for. Thanks to a bit more twiddling with XnView, Coxsoft Art News can now reveal that Banksy - real name Robert Banks - has sideburns! Yer actual cowboy/rocker sideburns. And myth has it he's in his mid 30's. Must be 60 at least with those whiskers. He's wearing well, though: no grey; spry squats.

Banksy: Gotcha!

Banksy At Work (2007)They seek him here, they seek him there,
They seek that damned elusive Banksy everywhere.
Gotcha! The anonymous woman who took this photo of Banksy in Bethnal Green was so excited that she tilted her camera. I've straightened up the image using XnView. Click the title link to see the original photo and the finished work of art ... er ... graffiti ... er ... whatever.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Marrakesh For Sale

Sir Winston Churchill - Marrakesh (c.1948)Not the town - Who wants that? - but another oil painting by that most successful of amateur artists Sir Winston Churchill: Marrakesh (c.1948) will be up for grabs at Sotheby’s forthcoming sale of 20th Century British Art in London. Provenance for Marrakesh is the bees knees: Churchill gave it to former US President Harry S. Truman in 1951 and it remains in the family. Sotheby’s estimates its value at £300,000 to £500,000. Love that jumbo strolling up the road. I've enlarged it so that you can see how well Sir Winston caught the elephantine plod.


Michael Whelan - Cover Art for Foreigner by C.J. Cherryh (1993)In the small hours of yesterday morning I finished reading the third trilogy in C.J. Cherryh's Foreigner series. It isn't often that a novel keeps me awake half the night, but each of the nine Foreigner books has done so. Michael Whelan's excellent cover art for the first book in the series shows Bren Cameron, the sole human allowed on the Atevi mainland, guarded by two aliens of the Assassins Guild. And he needs them! This year DAW Books Inc published a 10th Anniversary Edition of Foreigner, so you should be able find it in your local library. Visit Fantastic Fiction for details of C.J. Cherryh's award-winning novels (CLICK). The title link takes you to Michael Whelan's website for a treat of fantasy art.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Sainsbury Bequest 2

John Wootton - Life-size Horse with Huntsman Blowing a Horn (ca 1732)Here's the gift horse. The BBC News In Pictures link wasn't working when I posted the news below. It's now up and running, so click the title link to see 8 of the Sainsbury Bequest paintings. This one is Life-size Horse with Huntsman Blowing a Horn (ca 1732) by John Wootton. Not quite Stubbs, but still an interesting work.

Sainsbury Bequest

Henri Rousseau - Portrait of Joseph Brummer (1909)The big arts news in London today is that Simon Sainsbury, who died last year, bequeathed 18 paintings worth up to £100m to the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery. Sir Nick reckons it's the best bequest for a century. The collection includes works by Monet, Gauguin and Freud and this uninspiring portrait of Joseph Brummer by French naive artist Henri Rousseau, painted one year before the artist's death in 1910. I did see one painting I liked, but can't find an image of it ... still, never look a gift horse in the mouth. Nice one, Simon. Ta.

Beaufoy Institute: RCDT

The Beaufoy Institute, LambethThere's a pot of gold waiting in Lambeth for anyone who comes up with a great idea on how to utilize the neglected Beaufoy Institute. It's called the Riverside Community Development Trust (RCDT). Its funds are aimed at regenerating a deprived area, reducing unemployment and establishing a thriving arts and crafts community that offers training to craftspeople. What better way to gain access to the RCDT's pot of gold than by stripping the William Morris Gallery of its important collection of artifacts and offering it to Lambeth for regeneration purposes? And what will the William Morris Gallery and the residents of Waltham Forest get out of this deal? Nothing that I can see. Oh, naive councillors, what are you getting yourselves into? Click the title link to read the statement adopted by the Riverside Development Trust Board on August 2004 and see for yourselves.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

William Morris Proposal

Spencer Stanhope - PenelopeKate Catleugh of the De Morgan Foundation shocked a recent meeting when she proposed that the collection housed in the William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow, be moved "on permanent loan" to a new arts and crafts museum in Lambeth (CLICK). The picture shown here is Penelope by Spencer Stanhope, one of 11 paintings the De Morgan Foundation put up for auction at Christie's in 2001. Nine of these works were sold for £1.3 million (title link). I was therefore surprised when I found that the accounts of the De Morgan Foundation - registered charity No. 310004 - reported gross income of only £40,980 in the year ending December 2001 and even more surprised that there were no accounts at all for 2002 (CLICK). Not being an accountant, I have no idea whether money gained from asset-stripping - called "deaccessioning" in the art lark - should be entered under gross income. But what happened to the accounts for 2002? I'm sure there's an innocent explanation. So I have today written to the Charity Commission to learn what that explanation is.

16Bn Pixel Last Supper

Last Supper on Giant Screen in Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, MilanIf you fancy a close look at Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper, a new 16 billion pixel image has just been posted on the Internet (title link). This jumbo image is also being displayed on a giant screen in the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan. I assume these innovations are due to the popular interest stirred up by Dan Brown's daft The Da Vinci Code: spot the female disciple!

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Historic Raj Art Sold

Raja Ravi Varma - The Maharaja of Travancore welcomes Richard Temple-Grenville (1880)An historically important Indian painting from the days of the Raj caused a stir yesterday when it sold for 12 times its estimated value. Auctioned in London by Bonhams, this painting by Raja Ravi Varma fetched £602,400 ($1.24m). It shows a meeting between the Maharaja of Travancore and Richard Temple-Grenville, the then governor-general of Madras, in 1880. Looks as though it's on its way back to India.

Crime Against Humanity

Starving African Child in Sudan (photographer unknown)In May I posted an advert which highlighted the loss of orang-utan habitat, due to biofuel land clearance, and wrote "There isn't enough arable land on our planet to grow crops for both machines and people. We have a stark choice ahead: feed the cars or feed the people" (CLICK). Seven months later, the UN makes the same point. Jean Ziegler, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, has condemned biofuels as a "crime against humanity" (title link). I've used poetic licence to illustrate this point. The Sudanese child starving to death isn't a victim of biofuel farming, but of religion and politics, specifically a brutal and doctrinaire Islamic regime that for decades has been forcibly converting or persecuting infidels native to its country. (Islam is Peace!) Growing crops to burn will have the same effect: the weak, the poor, will starve.

Antonio Canova

Antonio Canova - Amorino Alato (1793-97)On Wednesday I posted a graphic of Antonio Canova's Dancer, currently on display at the Hermitage Rooms, Somerset House, London (CLICK). Today I found out that the Borghese Gallery in Rome is celebrating the 250th anniversary of the birth of Antonio Canova with a major exhibition of his art: Canova and La Venere Vincitrice. Sixteen of his finest marble sculptures have been borrowed from around the world, including The Three Graces from the State Hermitage Museum in Russia, with many additional works to illustrate his method of work: drawings, paintings, clay models and plaster casts. If you're visiting Rome, this exhibition is a treat not to be missed. It continues until 3 February 2008.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Gears of War Winner

Epic Games - Gears of War screenshotIt must be computer games season. This week saw first the BAFTAs (CLICK) and then the Golden Joystick Awards. It's judges (BAFTAs) vs gamers (Golden Joystick). Epic Games' Gears of War, another splat-the-alien fight fest won the Ultimate Game of the Year Award. So much artistic talent creating convincing slaughter! And the Art Establishment sits in its ivory tower and wonders why the peasants give its alleged artists the raspberry! Wii Sports snatched the best family game award. For other categories, click the title link.

Nan Not Indecent

Nan Goldin - Klara and Edda belly dancingAfter more than a month of dithering, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has finally decided that Nan Goldin's snapshot Klara and Edda Belly Dancing is not indecent. Nevertheless, BBC News is too coy to publish the snap and insists on perpetuating the sinister lie that it shows "two naked young girls", clearly untrue. Considering BBC TV has screened documentaries on Amazon Indians and African tribespeople who live in the nuddy, its dishonest stance on this story seems peculiar. No doubt Sir Elton John - the owner of the Nan Goldin Thanksgiving collection - is pleased by the CPS decision.

Forensic Art: Madeleine

Forensic Artist - Sketch of Madeleine's abductor (2007)Kate and Gerry McCann have released sketches by an FBI-trained forensic artist of a man abducting their daughter Madeleine. The sketches are based on descriptions by Jane Tanner, a friend of the McCanns. The face of the abductor has been left blank, because Ms Tanner is uncertain of facial details. She believes the child wore the same pyjamas as Madeleine. It is an appalling reflection on the Portuguese police that private detectives working for the McCanns needed to commission these pictures. Let's hope this initiative leads to a breakthrough in the case and to the rescue of Madeleine.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Wildlife Photo Winner

Shell Wildlife Photographer of the YearThe winner of the the Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition 2007 is Ben Osborne (UK) for his photo Elephant Creation. Like last year's winning photo, it gives a powerful impression of the photographer being in the thick of things; but, unlike last year's underwater winner, Ben's shot was probably taken with a telephoto lens. So his intimacy with his subject doesn't impress me. And, as the photo is neither technically advanced nor beautiful, I wouldn't have chosen it as the winner. There are some stunning shots from junior entrants. Take Liisa Widstrand from Sweden; her panoramic Serengeti Stampede, highly commended in the 11-14 years-old group, is to me more powerful and evocative than any of the winners. I can almost smell the dust and hear the thunder of hooves. Click the title link to select your own favourite from the gems on show. The exhibition at London's Natural History Museum opens tomorrow and continues until 27 April 2008.

Banksy Millionaire?

Banksy - Avon and Somerset ConstabularyBanksy must have made his first million by now. At yesterday's auction at Bonhams in London, 10 Banksy works fetched a total of £546,000. His Avon and Somerset Constabulary (above) topped the sale at £96,000. Rat With Sword made £64,800. Click the title link to see some of the works sold.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Rubbish Find For Sale

Rufino Tamayo - Tres Personajes (1970)This garish piece of junk - Rufino Tamayo's Tres Personajes (Three People) 1970 - was stolen 20 years ago by some tasteless thief who presumably couldn't find a buyer for it. So it ended up on a pile of rubbish in a New York City street four years ago. Along comes Elizabeth Gibson, perusing the rubbish as you do, and she spots it. Aw gee, that's a powerful piece of rubbish! I would have left it where it was and missed out on the $15,000 reward that Elizabeth will receive when the daub - worth up to $1m (£488,000) - goes under the hammer next month.

BioShock Wins BAVGA

BioShock graphic by 2K GamesYesterday, at Battersea Park in London, the Xbox title BioShock from 2K Games won the best game award at the British Academy Video Games Awards 2007. Nifty graphic. Nintendo's Wii Sports won just about everything else in sight. Click the title link for more information.

The Hermitage Rooms

Antonio Canova - Dancer (1806-12)Before the BBC drags us overboard on the RA's Russian biggy next January, don't forget that London's Somerset House regularly borrows artworks from the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and displays them in The Hermitage Rooms. Its current exhibition - last day 4 November 2007 - is France in Russia: Empress Josephine's Malmaison Collection, purchased by Alexander I in 1815. ("Bad House"? Naughty Josephine!) The exhibition includes this sublime marble statue by Antonio Canova: Dancer (1806-12) which is worth a visit in itself.

From Russia Update

Ilya Repin - Manifesto of 17 October 1905 (1907-1911)Brenda Emmanus's pointless trip to St Petersburg for BBC London News (next post down) has been followed by some hard facts from BBC News about the Hermitage Museum's loan of paintings to the Royal Academy of Arts. The show, due to open on 26 January 2008, is called From Russia: French and Russian Master Paintings 1870-1925. (What Picasso's gormless Dryad has to do with this is anyone's guess.) The 120 exhibits will include at least one work by a great Russian master: Ilya Repin's Manifesto of 17 October 1905. It appears Russians are scared of losing their paintings since the impounding of 55 works in Switzerland. Not only has culture secretary James Purnell written to reassure them, but also a bill to outlaw the seizure of art belonging to other countries is being put through Parliament. So here's an exhibition that seems to have instigated a change in English law!
To view Repin's Barge Haulers on the Volga CLICK and his Portrait of a Boy CLICK.

Brenda: From Russia

Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin - Bathing of a Red Horse (1912)On Monday, BBC London entertainment correspondent Brenda Emmanus reported from the Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, on its loan of 19th and early 20th century paintings to the Royal Academy of Arts, London, for a From Russia exhibition in January 2008. There is some dire tripe on offer, such as Henri Matisse's The Dance (1910). But I noticed behind Brenda, Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin's Bathing of a Red Horse (1912), which is a cut above Matisse, probably less well known and Russian to boot. Will it turn up in From Russia? I hope so. I can't see the point of borrowing western daubs when there's a treasure trove of Russian art to explore. It's as pointless as wasting money sending Brenda to Russia to advertise the RA's show. Why not wait until it opens here?

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Saving JPGs in XnView

Georgia Horsley, Miss England 2007/8I've been asked how I manage to save good graphics in small files. This JPG of the lovely Georgia Horsley, Miss England 2007/8, is only 8Kb. (Note the cross of St George on her crown.) The answer is XnView, a French graphics utility by Pierre Gougelet. I'm using the 1.68 version (2004). It's only 10Mb; it's free; and it does more than some packages that occupy 100Mb and cost £50. When you click the Save As button in XnView, the usual Windows box appears. In the bottom right corner you'll see Options. Click that and a sliding scale from Lowest to Best appears (the picture quality). Saved at 100%, this photo took up 54Kb. Too big. What I usually do is save at 25% (the minimum for quality), 30%, 40% and 50%, then see how big the JPG files are and how good the graphics look. The 40% save gave me reasonable quality in only 8Kb. Why is this important? The bigger the file, the longer the load.

Banksys For Scrubbing

Wot No Banksy?The London Borough of Tower Hamlets has decided to obliterate Banksy graffiti, in line with its policy of removing all graffiti in the borough as soon as possible. One of its councillors points out that graffiti is a crime and that it costs thousands of pounds to remove. If the Banksy graffiti to be painted over are stencilled, they're not truly original and will be no great loss. So the council has a point. But what of an original Banksy? Note: BBC News is suddenly referring to "the acclaimed artist Banksy", instead of the "guerrilla artist Banksy". You see how the art market works: a few movie stars buy an artist's work at inflated prices and all of a sudden he is acclaimed! Really? I regard Guerrilla Banksy as original, moderately talented and lots of fun; but Acclaimed Banksy invites comparison with the masters, such as William Hogarth, and he doesn't reach their kneecaps.

UK Badgers Threatened!

British Badger (not a painting, but a Victorian stuffed specimen)Yesterday's shock news that Prof. David King, Government's Chief Scientific Adviser on badger culling, is advocating giving Brock the chop has brought a sharp retort from the Badger Trust (title link). The Prof's idiotic recommendation flies in the face of the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) report on TB in cattle, published last June (CLICK). The unanswerable fact that proves the Prof. has abandoned scientific methodology in favour of becoming a mouthpiece for the farming anti-badger lobby is that the Republic of Ireland has virtually exterminated its badgers, yet has twice the incidence of TB in cattle that we have in the UK. I appreciate that British farmers have had a very bad year, what with floods, foot-and-mouth disease and bluetongue, but an orgy of badger killing won't help. Prof, resign!

Monday, 22 October 2007

Statue For St Pancras

Paul Day - The Meeting PlaceSt Pancras International - what used to be St Pancras Station - today saw it's new 30ft-high statue hoisted into position: The Meeting Place by Paul Day. It "reflects the romance that train travel used to have," the artist explained. Spot on. Nowadays we tend to associate rail travel with suffocating crushes, muggings, people smuggling and mad Muslim bombers. How sad. Day's statue puts the finishing touch to that costly redevelopment which St Pancras has undergone for its new role as Eurostar terminus. The service starts running on 14 November.

Dylan in Deutschland

Bob Dylan - Statue of LibertyNot content with being a folk-music legend, Bob Dylan will be exhibiting 170 of his coloured-in doodles at the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz in Deutschland, from 28 October 2007 until 3 February 2008. The doodles date from the period 1989 to 1992, when he was on tour. Ninety-two of them were published in his book Drawn Blank (1994). This is also the title of his exhibition. Don't call us, Bob. We'll call you.

Wulf the Briton In Action

Ron Embleton - Wulf the BritonThanks to research by the webmaster of Cameradio, plus a touch of my jiggery-pokery with XnView, I can now bring you a picture of flaxen-haired Wulf the Briton dealing with a nasty foreign invader in his usual butch, efficient way, taken from the cover of the Express. If only.... Thanks, Dave.

A.R.T. As An Acronym

Nicollette Sheridan posing for Hestia bra advertisementWhile surfing the Internet for Wulf the Briton, I discovered that A.R.T. as an acronym means Assuming Room Temperature, a paramedic term for "the casualty has snuffed it"! On the same website I found that a "backronym" is the addition of words to create an acronym from what is properly a word. The "backronym" for the Aussie bra manufacturer Hestia is Holds Every Size Tit In Australia. One assumes that before mounting its advertising campaign with the slogan Support For Women At Work, Hestia - named after the Ancient Greek goddess of hearth and home - consulted that expert on political correctness and sheila-sensitivity Sir Les Patterson. For more photos of desperate housewife Nicollette Sheridan in her bra, click the title link.

Wulf the Briton

I can't find one graphic of Wulf The Briton on the Internet, but the high-quality artwork was by Ron Embleton (1930-1988). For this, his first full-colour comic strip, he used oil paints! Published by Express Weekly in 1957, two years before Asterix the Gaul, Wulf the Briton follows the adventures of Wulf, Basta and Greatorix as they fight Roman invaders. Sound familiar? I've illustrated this post with Ron's cover art for Hadrian's Wall In The Days Of The Romans by Ronald Embleton and Frank Graham, self-published by Frank Graham in 1998 (CLICK for a bargain at £20).

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Asterix the Gaul

Albert Uderzo - Asterix the Gaul © Les Editions Albert Rene/Goscinny-UderzoDid you know that Asterix the Gaul is 48 years old? He still looks a perky little chap, despite his team being knocked out of the Rugby World Cup by Britannicus ... er ... Anglo-Saxicus? BBC's Magazine (title link) has published an interview with Asterix's co-creator Albert Uderzo, who still does all the artwork as well as the stories. Rene Goscinny, the writing half of the duo, died 30 years ago, but his name continues to appear in the credits out of "respect". The 33 Asterix comic books have sold 325 million copies. So here is one of the world's most popular artistic creations. Whatever happened to Wulf the Briton?

Saturday, 20 October 2007

A Scam for Christmas

Here's a new scam for the UK, anticipating Christmas. You find a card in your letterbox from a company calling itself PDS (Parcel Delivery Service). It claims it was unable to deliver a parcel and asks you to phone 0906 6611911. DON'T! This is a premium rate number. You will be charged at least £15 for the call. There is no parcel. This is a criminal fraud, originating from Belize. If you receive such a card, phone Royal Mail Fraud on 020 7239 6655 or click the title link for ICSTIS (the premium rate service regulator). Please pass this warning on. You might also ask your MP when premium rate numbers will be banned. Without them, this type of crime would be impossible.

Rugby World Cup Fever

Unknown Artist - Jonny Wilkinson waxwork in Trafalgar Square (19/10/07) enhanced photoRugby World Cup fever has hit England, and here's the proof. Yesterday a waxwork of England's star player Jonny Wilkinson appeared on the spare plinth in Trafalgar Square. It's an excellent likeness depicting a characteristic pre-kick stance and shows far more artistic talent than Schutte's abstract, which is due to occupy the plinth from 7 November for 18 months (CLICK). I've cropped, tidied and enhanced a photo by Stefan Rousseau. To see the original, click the title link. England meet South Africa in the World Cup final in Paris later today. Good luck, lads.

Friday, 19 October 2007

British Film Institute

Deborah KerrThe British Film Institute's 51st London Film Festival is in full swing and Time Out London has the details (title link). The BFI received good news this week: Government has pledged £25m toward maintaining and restoring the BFI's huge archive of historic films (CLICK). On Tuesday came the sad news of the death of Deborah Kerr, one of my favourite old actresses, who was always a joy to watch for her subtle changes of expression that cleverly conveyed the mood of the characters she played (CLICK). Looking to the future, Trekkies have a new Star Trek movie with a rejuvinated cast to look forward to. It's still at the casting stage, but should be released late next year (CLICK). Did you know that the inspiration for Star Trek was that classic sci-fi movie Forbidden Planet (1956)?

Turner Prize Shortlist

Mark Wallinger is favourite to win this year's Turner Prize. Here he is in his latest outfit: Sleeper, a recording of 10 nights he spent alone in Berlin's Neue Nationalgalerie dressed in a bear suit! This gave BBC's newsreaders their traditional grin at the idiotic world of the alleged "arts". (I thought Sian Williams was going to have a fit of the giggles.) My favourite is Zarina Bhimji for her stark photos that sum up complex stories, but who could beat that daft bear suit? Click the title link to see the four shortlisted ... er ... people and their ... er ... thingies.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Rockwell and Hargens

Charles W. Hargens - Mount Rushmore with the tribe of Native AmericansIf my favourite American illustrator Norman Rockwell were still alive, he would be well chuffed to know that the third US exhibition to feature his art this year will open in two days time at the James A. Michener Art Museum's Della Penna Gallery in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Norman Rockwell in the 1940s: A View of the American Homefront will run alongside Charles Hargens: American Illustrator until 10 February 2008. Both artists created covers for The Saturday Evening Post and for Boy's Life, so it's fitting that these exhibitions stand side-by-side. Hargens died 10 years ago.

Miniature Painters

Michael Bartlett RMS - Captain Royal Scots GreysHow about viewing two exhibitions for the price of one? Yesterday, the Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers (sic) opened its free exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London. This year it is showing "an outstanding collection of around 700 miniatures in a widely diverse choice of subjects, styles and mediums". Both exhibitions (see next post down) finish on Sunday 28 October 2007. Click the title link for details.

Marine Artists at Mall

Alan Simpson RSMA - A Fisherman's LifeToday saw the opening of the Royal Society of Marine Artists Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries, London. This year the exhibition showcases a new award: Young Marine Artists, sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Shipwrights. Prizewinning entries are exhibited alongside works by some of the finest marine artists in the world. At £2.50, £1.50 for silver surfers, you can't quibble.

Seduced - Art and Sex

Fragonard - The Beautiful Servant (subtitled 'Pointless Resistance')Back in August, Coxsoft Art gave you a teaser for this show at London's Barbican: Seduced - Art and Sex from Antiquity to Now (CLICK). This sexploitation of the dividing line between art and pornography opened last Friday and BBC News' Emily Buchanan is quite excited by it (title link). Whatever turns you on, Emily. Fragonard's The Beautiful Servant (naughtily subtitled Pointless Resistance) gives you an idea what to expect. I think we'd call that "rape" nowadays, wouldn't we? No under 18's. The show reaches its climax on 27 January 2008.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Schutte's Hotel Model

Thomas Schutte - Model for a Hotel (2007)This is the new "sculpture" that will replace Marc Quinn's Alison Lapper Pregnant on Trafalgar Square's spare plinth on 7 November: Thomas Schutte's abstract Model for a Hotel (2007). Schutte's pigeon perch is made of layers of coloured "Perspex glass", whatever that is, and is supposed to reflect sunlight like a jewel. To be honest, I think the plinth looks more attractive. Is this boring abstract the best we could find to fill the gap?

Terracotta Army Protest

Two of the Chinese Terracotta Army wearing Face Masks (15/10/07)Yesterday, self-professed "eco warrior" Martin Wyness hopped over barriers in the British Museum and put "CO2" face masks on a pair of those life-sized statues from the Chinese Terracotta Army which are currently on display. Security guards were alerted and turfed the twit out. He has been banned from the museum for life, but doesn't seem to have done any criminal damage and wasn't arrested. We all know that China is a filthy polluter, Martin; I think Olympic athletes coughing in the smog next year will get the point across much better than your soppy protest.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Bacon's Rent Boy Sold

Francis Bacon - Study from the Human Body, Man Turning on the Light (ca 1973-4)From porkers (next post down) to Bacon. How's that for continuity? Yesterday, Christie's in London flogged Francis Bacon's dire tripe Study from the Human Body, Man Turning on the Light (1973-74) for £8.1m. This is slap in the middle of its estimated value of £7m to £9m that I reported in September (CLICK). But BBC News detects signs of "disquiet in the art world". Works by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat were snubbed by bidders and prices for Damien Hirst's rubbish slumped. "Disquiet"? Coxsoft Art greets this news with wild jubilation. Maybe the art market is at last coming to its senses. Why pay millions for fashionable contemporary junk when you could buy an old master painting for as little as £3000 (CLICK)?

Porkers Amok!

Aussie Feral Pig (Sus scrofa)To bring you bang up to date on environmental disasters, here's my last Blog Action Day post. Aussie experts in Queensland warn that the feral pig population is "out of control". As if drought weren't enough, Aussies are plagued by Sus scrofa (a rose by any other name). It's estimated there are 23 million feral pigs snuffling about the place, more than the human population. They're riddled with disease - the porkers, not the Aussies - and are unfit for human consumption. They gorge on crops from sugar cane to bananas, and their porker poo contaminates rivers and even threatens the Great Barrier Reef! They sound almost as bad as humans!

North West Passage

Polar Bear CubIf there is one half-wit left who is in denial about global warming, the news that the North West Passage is now fully open for the first time might cause a shift in attitude. No? Still not convinced, Mr President? Then click the title link to see an Adobe Flash Player 9 routine that shows the extent of Artic ice melt since 1980. You might also read Glenn Morris's account in BBC's Viewpoint (CLICK).

'Green' Killers

Click for actionOne of the depressing aspects of attempts to save the environment is that they are often short-sighted fixes that do more harm than good. For a concise argument against the insanity of wasting land on biofuels CLICK. Wind farms - sold to us as being "green", sustainable and environmentally friendly - have proved to be another devastating attack on wildlife. The Heartland Institute reports: "According to the December 18, 2005 Riverside, California Press-Enterprise, up to 1,300 birds of prey are killed each year at Northern California's Altamont Pass wind farm alone" (CLICK). The Guardian reports that rare eagles have been cut in half by the blades of wind turbines (CLICK). What have artists to say about all this? Click the title link to visit Artists Against Wind Farms.

YouTube Whale Video

YouTube LogoJapan is the leper of the world for continuing to hunt whales. Like Britain, Japan is an island nation and relies on the sea for much of its food, but not the whale, guys. If we can't save our largest mammals from extinction, what hope is there for any creature on our planet, including us? The Australian government has come up with a novel way of getting this message across to Japanese youngsters. It has posted a save-the-whale video, subtitled in Japanese, on YouTube, in the hope that Nipponese nippers will say "Yuk, Mom," when whale meat is served to them, and add "We can't eat that, Mom; it's an endangered species; Aussie Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull says so." One might question the morality of feeding propaganda to the children of other nations, but in this instance it seems an idea worth trying. To sign an anti-whaling petition, visit Whales Revenge (CLICK).

Olympic Planet Waster

I.C. - Olympic Games 2012 Carbon Footprint (2007)Here's Coxsoft Art's first Blog Action Day post. Regular readers will have seen this graphic before: Olympic Games 2012 Carbon Footprint (2007). Has anyone bothered to ascertain how much damage this money-spinning jamboree for international corporations like Big Mac will cost the environment? No. Greed rules, KO. It's always up to the other guy to tighten his belt to save the planet. What if we all boycotted any firm that looks as though it might profit from the Olympic Games?