Friday, 30 May 2008

Anish Kapoor in Boston

Anish Kapoor RA - Inwendig Volle Figur (2006)What do you think this extremely rude version of the male symbol means? Is it an advertisement for Viagra? Is it a graphic for one of those pesky spams enticing you to turn your weeny member into a python? Is it a feeble imitation of a shiny steel Koons? Could it even be a warning of what might happen to your testis if you field a cricket ball up the crotch (not recommended even when wearing a shield)? No. This is Inwendig Volle Figur (Inwendig Full Figure?) by possibly the worst artist not to be blackballed by a Royal Academician: Anish Kapoor. Today the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, USA, opened an exhibition of his stuff: Anish Kapoor: Past, Present, Future. And I thought Bostonians were supposed to be civilized. Silly me.

Gustav Klimt Update

Gustav Klimt - Two Girls with an Oleander (ca 1890-2)I hope you noticed on Wednesday that I didn't quibble about the admission prices for Tate Liverpuddle's Gustav Klimt: Painting, Design & Modern Life In Vienna 1900, which opened today. That's because I suspect this is a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition. Not only are Klimt's works fetching astronomical bids at auction (CLICK), but also some of them are too fragile to be readily available for international loan. BBC News reports that more than 16,000 tickets have already been sold and that Tate expects to exceed its target of 100,000 visitors (CLICK). Klimt's Two Girls with an Oleander (ca 1890-2), which I've never seen before, is one of the exhibits (CLICK). It's a sad fact that subtle, beautiful artworks such as this are overshadowed by Klimt's "progressive" gimmicks. But perk up, Coxsoft. Culture Secretary Andy Burnham said yesterday the exhibition is a "major coup". Nice to know he reads Coxsoft Art News (CLICK). To book tickets click the title link.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Back-stabbing Advert!

Anti-knife Campaign Poster (2008)Today the UK's clueless government launched a £3m advertising campaign to encourage teenagers to carry knives. Pardon? Well, the Home Office in its idiocy hopes that by showing teenagers graphic images of injuries inflicted by knives it will persuade them to stop carrying knives. The message is: "If you carry a knife you're more likely to get stabbed yourself." Now teenagers will feel obliged to carry knives to show their mates they're not frightened of being stabbed! As for the pathetic artwork, how is a chopped off thumb relevant to a message about stabbings? What a waste of £3m!

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Klimt in Liverpool

Tate Liverpool - Klimt Exhibition Logo (2008)Thanks to Liverpool's being European Capital of Culture 2008 - no snickering in the back row -, Tate Liverpool has pulled off a major coup: the first comprehensive exhibition of Gustav Klimt’s work ever staged in the UK. Gustav Klimt: Painting, Design & Modern Life in Vienna 1900 opens on 30 May and continues until 31 August. It's a biggy, and the cost of admission reflects that fact: £8 adults, £6 concessions. Click the title link.

Goya's Constable

Francisco de Goya - The Constable Lampinos Stitched Inside a Dead HorseHere's another of those recently discovered Goya sketches: The Constable Lampinos Stitched Inside a Dead Horse. His head protrudes from the anus of the beast; a pile of entrails lies nearby; and the village dogs are ready to tuck in. This must count as a cruel and unusual punishment, but is it a form of execution or a very nasty form of temporary imprisonment, like the stocks used in Merry Olde England? Click the title link to see all three sketches.

Beryl Cook R.I.P.

Beryl Cook - Self-portrait: The Artist At WorkSad news: BBC 1 o'clock News just announced the death of one of the UK's most popular artists Beryl Cook, famous for her cheeky chubby ladies. This self-portrait, The Artist At Work, is typical of her gentle humour: beer and cigarette in hand, wearing an arty beret. How to prick the pretensions of the art world and raise a smile at the same time. A fine artist with her own unique vision, she will be sorely missed.

Goya Sketches Turn Up

Francisco de Goya - Repentance (circa 1812-29)I should imagine staff at Christie's London did somersaults with joy when three Goya sketches presumed lost for 131 years were offered for auction by the owners of a private Swiss collection. These sketches were sold in Paris in 1877 and haven't been seen since, until now. They're expected to fetch £3m at Christie's in July. This is Goya's Repentance (ca 1812-29). The other two sketches, from the same period, are Bajar Rinendo, which depicts four women fighting, and The Constable Lampinos Stitched Inside a Dead Horse, a punishment for persecuting women and students. That's what I like to see: zero tolerance!

Psycho Buildings

Hayward Gallery - Psycho Building! (2008)An "art" exhibition called Psycho Buildings opens today at the Hayward Gallery in London. To mark its 40th anniversary the Hayward invited 10 wannabe architects from around the world to inflict "art" installations on the gallery. These include a boating pool, a transparent inflatable dome, a "disorientating passageway", a basement staircase created from a vibrant red semi-translucent fabric.... Need I go on? Clearly this piffle is designed to please mindless yuppies who know nothing about art and who crave fairground sensation, the same breed of twerps who injured themselves on Tate Modern's helter-skelter (CLICK). £10 for this tosh? You've got to be joking.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Young Elizabeth I Found

Unknown Artist - Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I as children (1550s) slightly enhancedA rare portrait of Queen Elizabeth I as a young princess (right side of this picture) has been discovered in the Duke of Buccleuch's collection at Boughton House in Northamptonshire. Elizabeth's siblings, Edward VI and Mary I, are shown with her. The complete painting also includes dad Henry VIII and his jester, Will Somers. The work dates from 1650 to 1680 and may be a copy of an original painted panel of the early 1550s.

James Bond Art

Penguin - Cover of Devil May Care (2008)Here's a work of art that will be viewed by millions of people: the cover of the latest James Bond novel Devil May Care, written by Sebastian Faulks. The unknown artist hints at violence and eroticism by imaginative use of a naked girl's flaming red hair changing into a splash of blood as it swings round her head. The book will be published tomorrow by Penguin. Its website (title link) loaded 5% of some Flash Player routine before I clicked the X box and escaped. When are web designers going to get the message that forcing their visitors to wait for all sorts of tosh to load isn't user-friendly and people won't wait (CLICK)? 4 seconds on broadband is all you've got!

How To Photo Art 4

Silhouettes Viewing Picasso Paintings (with some help from I.C. 2008 and apologies to Ali Haider)As I've already pointed out, when in doubt pose a pretty girl in front of the daub. If you can't find a pretty girl or you live in a Muslim country, go for a silhouette instead. Here! How did that wabbit get in the picture? Sorry, folks; I can't take this art lark seriously, especially when Abu Dhabis put on the biggest retrospective of Picasso ever, with over 400 works from the artist’s personal collection on display in The Emirates Palace. I mean, those people are so backward and chauvinistic they won't allow their women to drive without a male escort. And it's a public flogging if a woman is caught!
How To Photo Art 1 (CLICK)
How To Photo Art 2 (CLICK)
How To Photo Art 3 (CLICK)

Monday, 26 May 2008

A Profound Oeuvre!

Hans Josephsohn - Er...ThingyFrom the sublime (below) to the ridiculous. How does this piece of "sculpture" by Hans Josephsohn grab you? It looks to me as though it's made out of play dough shaped by a five-year-old with learning difficulties. But, according to the blurb, Josephsohn's "profound oeuvre is increasingly becoming recognised by a growing number of curators, artists and critics". Pull the other leg; it's got bells on. See this unbelievable tosh for yourself at Hauser and Wirth London, from 28 May to 26 July.

Miss Indiana Jones

Pierre Joubert - Chefs D'oeuvre Tome 4 (detail)Here she is: "Miss Indiana Jones", another detail from Pierre Joubert's painting for the cover of Chefs D'oeuvre Tome 4 (see below). Note the slime on the stairs, the flaring torch sucked by a draft, the girl's fearful posture, her torn clothes and the look of horror on her face as though she has seen a monster. Here's an artist who knows exactly what he is doing. Brilliant.
Update: click the title link for the full image.

Pierre Joubert

Pierre Joubert - Chefs D'oeuvre Tome 4 (detail)Just for comparison with the picture below, here's a detail from the cover of Chefs D'oeuvre Tome 4 by one of the greatest illustrators of children's books: Pierre Joubert (1910-2002). Look at the girl nervously taking the lead. Miss Indiana Jones? Like Norman Rockwell, Joubert also illustrated Scouts manuals. Click HERE and HERE for graphics comparing Joubert's style with Rockwell's. The title link takes you to some very early Joubert drawings (French text).

ICA Print Portfolio

Mark Beesley - Ekow Eshun Searching ICA Basement (photo: Ryan Gander)Have you £950 to spare for a limited edition (60) of the ICA Anniversary Print Portfolio 2008? Yes or no, here's one of the six prints: Ryan Gander's photo of a watercolour illustration by Mark Beesley depicting the ICA’s artistic director, Ekow Eshun, carrying an abacus and a torch in the basement of the ICA, an image "inspired" by an illustration of a child exploring a haunted castle. Got that? The ICA believes the six artists it commissioned for the portfolio "are helping to define the art practice of the future"! I've always suspected the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) inhabited another planet. Now I'm certain of it. How does a photo of a third-rate rehash of some Enid-Blyton-story illustration shape the art practice of the future?

V&A Jewellery Gallery

The William and Judith Bollinger Jewellery Gallery, photo: Edina van der Wyck (2008)Last Saturday, after a four-year renovation costing at least £7m, the V&A Museum’s jewellery gallery reopened as the William and Judith Bollinger Jewellery Gallery, renamed in honour of the benefactors whose generosity allowed the work to be carried out. Designed by architect Eva Jiricna, the gallery displays 3,500 jewels from the V&A’s collection, ranging from jewelled pendants given by Queen Elizabeth I to her courtiers to work by contemporary goldsmiths and jewellers. This is one of the world's finest collection of jewels and you would have expected BBC London News to respond to the V&A's press release (CLICK), but no; it's having a long weekend (bank holiday today), so all we get is five minutes of stabbings, shootings and folks running in the rain! For a taste of what's on display, click the title link to view the Cartier 1928 Art Deco "Tutti Frutti" bandeau of Lady Mountbatten Vicereine of India.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Zhang Qikai

Zhang Qikai - A Legend Between Human Beings and AnimalsIf you're into giant pandas, then Chinese artist Zhang Qikai is the man for you. He portrays them with a mixture of humour and sadness in surreal settings, such as the trigger guard of a revolver or dangling from a bunch of grapes. Twenty of his latest panda paintings will be on display at Marlborough Fine Art, London, from 29 May until 21 June. Click the title link to view 16 of them online. Their quality is excellent and their surrealist social comment makes a refreshing change. This will be Zhang Qikai's first UK exhibition.

Fashion In Hand

Dancing in the 18th century: Ivory fan with vellum leaf, English (ca 1750 -1760)Look at the artwork on this English ivory fan with vellum leaf Dancing in the 18th Century (ca 1750 -1760), another gem from the Helene Alexander Collection at The Fan Museum in Greenwich, London, the only museum in the world exclusively dedicated to fans. This is one of the exhibits in its exhibition Fashion in the Palm of your Hand, which runs from 6 June to 26 October.

Art 4 Aids

Agnes Nyanhongo - Gift of LifeHere's the second of two exhibitions opening at the Mall Galleries in London on 28 May and running until 8 June: Art 4 Aids. The works on display are all by Zimbabwean stone sculptors who belong to the Mystery In Stone organisation. "This exhibition supports Zimbabwean artists, their families and community, and helps towards the education and care of family members of Mystery In Stone artists who have been lost to AIDS." So, a good cause and, judging by Agnes Nyanhongo's Gift of Life, an exhibition of sensitive and evocative works of art.

Women Artists Show

Kaija Bullbrook SWA - Egg for BreakfastThe Mall Galleries in London opens two exhibitions next week. The first is the 147th annual Society of Women Artists Summer Exhibition, from 28 May until 8 June. I can't say I'm impressed by this garish daub Egg for Breakfast by Kaija Bullbrook SWA, but it's merely one of 500 works of art in all media that will be on display, including sculpture. So don't let it put you off. The Mall Galleries website still hasn't posted its admission fees for 2008, but I doubt that adult entrance will be much more than last year's £2.50.

Tate Street Art Update

Street Art on Tate Modern: Black Cameraman (2008) artist unknownCoxsoft Art stands corrected. This photo from The Daily Mail Online shows one of the new Street Art paintings on the facade of Tate Modern overlooking the Millennium Footbridge. It looks a lot better than Tate Modern's website led me to believe, certainly up to Banksy's standard. But The Mail's caption is a puzzle: "Scary...". What's so scary about a black cameraman? Well, if you think that's a bazooka he's pointing at you, yes, scary indeed. But it isn't. It's a video camera. Perhaps The Mail's caption reflects the fact that the bulk of teenage shootings in Ghetto London is black-on-black crime. So the first thought that sprang to the caption-writer's mind was "That's a gun". Note: psychological research demonstrates that eyewitness testimony in criminal trials is unreliable, because witnesses "see" what their world-taken-for-granted leads them to expect. Now that is really scary!

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Tate Modern's Street Art

Street Art Poster (2008)Tate Modern's Street Art opened yesterday and continues until 25 August. Six foreign artists were commissioned to paint Tate's river facade: Blu, JR, Sixeart, Nunca, Os Gêmeos and the artist collective Faile. Not a Banksy in sight. And these artists can't hold a candle to him. Do genuine street artists accept commissions? Tate thinks so. It claims this is "the first major public museum display of street art in London". Don't get excited, folks. Unlike Banksy, these artists have nothing to say. But the exhibition is free.

Christie's Bids A Koons

Jeff Koons - Balloon Flower (Magenta) 1995-1999 © Christie's Images LtdIt looks as though London's top auction houses are trying to outbid each other for the attention of billionaire Philistines. First Christie's bid a Bacon on its Post War and Contemporary Art sale due on 30 June (CLICK). Sotheby's countered with another Bacon up for grabs on 1 July (CLICK). Now Christie's has upped the stakes with a Koons. Here it is: Jeff Koons' eye-catching girlie nonsense in chromium stainless steel with mirrored polish finish and transparent colour coating Balloon Flower (Magenta) from his 1995-1999 period ... er ... epoch? Over to you, Sotheby's. (Thinks: will Roman Abramovich be in a mood to buy "art" after his team ballsed up a penalty shootout in Moscow?)

Friday, 23 May 2008

Art Fund Prize Winner

The Lightbox, Woking, Surrey (2008)And the winner of the £100,000 Art Fund Prize 2008 is The Lightbox, which is both a museum and an art gallery. Clearly the judges weren't seduced by the Wellcome Collection's offer to share the prize money between the losing finalists if it were to win (CLICK). They described The Lightbox - the product of a 14-year public campaign which raised £7m - as an "ingenious jewel" of grassroots action. For a graphic showing The Lightbox team celebrating their nomination in April and for links to all the finalists' websites CLICK.

Another Side of Bacon

Francis Bacon - Study for Head of George Dyer (1967)Not to be outdone by Christie’s London sale of a Bacon in June (CLICK) Sotheby's in London has announced that it too has a Bacon for auction in its Evening Sale of Contemporary Art on 1 July: Study for Head of George Dyer (1967) Bacon's boyfriend. Sotheby's claims this is "an outstanding example of Bacon at the height of his powers". Spout bull like that for long enough and you start to believe it. So do the punters. I'll stick with Bugs Bunny. There's more art in one of his paws than there is in this mentally disturbed evocation of ambivalence.

Xstrata at Kew

Xstrata Walkway at Kew Gardens (2008)Tomorrow a new architectural feature opens to the public in Kew Gardens: the Xstrata Walkway designed by Marks Barfield Architects, the firm that created the London Eye. The new walkway is 656ft long (200 of those Euro metre thingies) and 59ft (18m thingies) above the ground and allows visitors with a head for heights to stroll among a canopy of sweet chestnuts, limes and deciduous oaks. As I get vertigo replacing a light bulb, I'll give it a miss; but for wannabe Tarzans it looks great.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

British Orientalist Art

John Frederick Lewis - Study for 'The Courtyard of the Coptic Patriarch's House in Cairo' (ca 1864)London's Tate Britain has an interesting exhibition opening on 4 June and continuing until 31 August: British Orientalist Painting. Tate claims this to be "the first exhibition ever to survey British art of the Near East: Turkey, Syria, Palestine and Egypt from the seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries". With over 120 paintings, prints and drawings by artists such as John Frederick Lewis, Edward Lear, David Wilkie, Lord Leighton and William Holman Hunt, this is a biggy. So are the admission fees: £10 adults, £9 silver surfers (90%), £8 students and the unemployed. Strewth, Tate, that's daylight robbery! Haven't you heard there's a recession?

Joseph Wright at Yale

Here's a painting by a great British artist who was rightly admired in his day for his clever use of minimal lighting to create dramatic effects: Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-1797). He also produced fine portraits as well as his "candlelight" paintings. This example is Three Persons Viewing the Gladiator by Candle-light (1765), one of the exhibits in Joseph Wright of Derby in Liverpool, which opened today at the Yale Center For British Art in New Haven, USA, and continues until 30 August. It was co-organized by the Center and the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, a city built on the slave trade, a fact which the otherwise informative blurb ignores.

Board Play

I.C. - Board Play: Learn Chess Part 2 Screenshot (1987) © CoxsoftHordes of people are using my old Learn Chess software for the ZX Spectrum 48K, mainly because I tell them to! (Title link.) Board Play: Learn Chess Part 2 is also available at World of Spectrum to use online with your PC or to download. It isn't a chess-playing program. It acts as an umpire between two beginners, blocking illegal moves and giving helpful messages, such as "The kings cannot be adjacent". Input is by algebraic notation. So, if the kids are driving you potty arguing about the rules of chess, CLICK HERE to get them using Board Play. Note: there is a short wait while the ZX emulator loads.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Abu Ghraib in Spain

Fernando Botero and three of his paintings (2008)Here's another artist I can't take seriously, because he paints in the same style as our own Beryl Cook (CLICK). Beryl's chubby characters perfectly suit her witty sense of humour, but Fernando Botero's paintings of Abu Ghraib prison aren't supposed to be funny. So why paint them in a comic style? To take the edge off the horror? His paintings - The Circus - have done the grand tour. They're now being exhibited at the Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno in Valencia.

What's Up, Doc?

Francis Bacon - Three Studies for a Self Portrait & Professor WabbitWith apologies to Warner Brothers, I've invited Professor Wabbit to say a few words about Francis Bacon's Three Studies for a Self Portrait, which comes under the hammer at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale in London on 30 June. Take it away, Prof.
"What's up, doc?"
Thank you, Professor Wabbit.
Tasteless billionaires note: Lucian Freud's Naked Portrait with Reflection will also be up for grabs.

Artist Insults Wales

Dylan Hammond - The Iron Lady (2008)Here's the latest piece of "art" tripe to hit the news: Dylan Hammond's see-through tinplate of The Iron Lady, otherwise known as Baroness Margaret Thatcher. It was unveiled at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay, where the Welsh assembly does its thing. To add insult to injury, it's been hung alongside a tinplate portrait of Aneurin Bevan, that Welsh hero of the Labour Party who created Britain's National Health Service. One Plaid Cymru assembly member called The Iron Lady's inclusion "an insult" to the people of Wales. Personally I think it's an insult to art. It looks like a feeble imitation of an Andy Warhol print of Marilyn Monroe.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Hyborian Adventures

Graphic from Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures (2008)And now for something completely different: mainstream contemporary art! This is one of the monsters to be duffed up in Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures, which Mark Ward - BBC News website's Technology Correspondent - reckons is a real competitor for the dominant World of Warcraft franchise. It's rated 18+ and there's guaranteed to be lots of swordplay and slaying. What's really scary is that our kids are playing this stuff while the planet is slowly dying. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns! Click the title link for Mark's revue.

Buyer Unmasked

I.C. - The Girlfriend Speaks Out (2008)To prove you don't need to be fat to be a planet plunderer, trim Russian oil billionaire and football fan Roman Abramovich is alleged to be the tasteless clot who bought both Lucian Freud's Benefits Supervisor Sleeping and Francis Bacon's Triptych, according to The Art Newspaper. (His lady's a doll, by the way, not the elephant I'd assumed.) A total of £60 million spent on tripe in one week! Think of the CO2 emissions those paintings cost the planet.

The Big Picture

A Child Starving to Death in Sudan and detail from Lucian Freud's Benefits Supervisor Sleeping (1995)Health warning: Being fat shortens your life and kills people and wildlife in other parts of the world.
Amidst news of natural disasters in China and Burma and the constant dribble of stabbings in London, two BBC News headlines caught my eye last week:
1. Obese blamed for the world's ills (CLICK)
2. Wildlife populations 'plummeting' (CLICK).
"Between a quarter and a third of the world's wildlife has been lost since 1970, according to data compiled by the Zoological Society of London" (BBC News). Now scroll down to view the Ecological Footprint Chart, which I've squeezed into just under 400 pixels. It shows you where the fatties live. Top of the planet plunderers are the USA, Australia and the UK (statistics from the World Wildlife Fund, title link). Together, the graphics above and below show The Big Picture.
Chart showing the ecological footprint per person by country (2003)Of course you don't need to be fat to plunder the planet's resources, but it helps!

Monday, 19 May 2008

Radical Light at NG

Emilio Longoni - Reflections of a Hungry Man or Social Contrasts (1894)If Norman Rockwell had been an impressionist, I think he would have painted works like this: Emilio Longoni's Reflections of a Hungry Man or Social Contrasts (1894). This is quality Impressionism with a social conscience, far removed from those fuzzy French daubs which grabbed the limelight. It is one of the exhibits in Radical Light: Italy’s Divisionist Painters 1891-1910, which opens at the National Gallery's Sainsbury Wing on 18 June and continues until 7 September. This is the first of a series of exhibitions brought about by a deal between the gallery and Credit Suisse. So why is admission so expensive? £8 isn't cheap, and £7 for silver surfers is diabolical (87.5%) unless they visit on Tuesday afternoons, 2.30-6pm, to gain entry for £4.

Chelsea Flower Show

Mesh Flower Sculptures (2008)The RHS Chelsea Flower Show opens to the public tomorrow (title link). No garden gnomes, no Henry Moore's and no shortage of art. Look at these mesh flower sculptures designed for a café garden by Diarmid Gavin and Sir Terence Conran. I assume they keep off the rain. I must admit the garden designs that impress me are those which capture a traditional flavour and look as though they were planted years ago. Watch out for Real Life by Brett designed by Geoff Whiten (CLICK).

Moore in America

Henry Moore - Reclining Figure: Angles (1979) photo: John Peden (2008)More Moore! Last year 28 of Henry Moore's overgrown garden gnomes blotted the landscape in Kew Gardens, London (CLICK). The New York Botanical Garden cottoned on to the idea and has planted 20 of Moore's monstrosities among its azaleas and bedding plants. There's no accounting for bad taste. Guys, I hate to tell you this but garden gnomes are out of fashion. They're officially banned at the Chelsea Flower Show. Moore in America: Monumental Sculpture at The New York Botanical Garden opens on 24 May and continues until 2 November (title link).

The Art of Confession

Unknown Artist - V&A promotion graphic for The Art of Confession (2008)The V&A Museum employs a first-class graphic artist to create simple yet stylish visuals for its e-newsletters. I've reduced this one by 50%, from 255 colours to 8 colours and from 66Kb to 5Kb, in order to fit it into my blog. It's advertising a French Connection Friday Late The Art of Confession on 30 May from 18.30 ... er ... 6.30pm to 22.00 ... er ... 10pm. Guest curators will be Bad Idea magazine (CLICK). Admission is free. Click the title link for details.

V&A Goes Yung Ho

Yung Ho Chang - Poly & Chai (Photo: Zhang Feng)News release from London's V&A Museum: "To coincide with the V&A’s major exhibition China Design Now, one of China’s leading architects - Yung Ho Chang - will create a specially designed installation, Poly & Chai, in the V&A’s John Madejski Garden." Note for editors: "A press photo call will be held at 9am on Monday 2 June. Should you wish to attend, please contact the V&A Press Office on 020 7942 2500 or email".
Yung Ho's installation will run from 2 June to 1 Sept. Can't say I've spotted the parrot yet....

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Henry Moore's Arch

Henry Moore - The Arch (1980) I.C. enhancedThis is Henry Moore's The Arch (1980) modelled on sheep collar bones. It stood on the bank of the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park, London, until 1996, when its structure was deemed unsafe and it was dismantled. Thanks to the wonders of modern rock-engineering technology for heritage conservation, this ghastly monstrosity could be re-erected in its original position. Why? Couldn't we find something better to put in its place?

Michelle Charles

Michelle Charles - Even A Fly Has A Soul, Series 2 (2006)If you're into flies, Brit. artist Michelle Charles is the girl for you. Kettle's Yard in Cambridge is presenting Michelle's first major exhibition in the UK, from 7 June to 27 July. She paints more than flies, by the way: glasses of milk, medicine bottles, tea towels, pan scrubs and bars of soap. She also has a good line in bull, which might explain her Arts Council grant. Click the title link to visit the excellent Kettle's Yard website, which is a Coxsoft Art Silver Surfer Friendly Award winner. (CLICK for more winning websites.)

Afghan Modern Art

Abdul Wasi Hamdard - Untitled PaintingThose doctrinaire Muslim vandals the Taliban did enormous cultural damage in Afghanistan, because they regarded virtually anything but mosques and the Koran as unislamic. However, art is tentatively re-emerging. Turquoise Mountain - a foundation dedicated to supporting local Afghan arts and crafts - has with the support of a local businessman put up a $2,000 prize for contemporary art. Abdul Wasi Hamdard (untitled painting above) is one of the 10 shortlisted artists. Another is a 14-year-old Afghan feminist who thinks marriage is death to women: Sara Nabil. (Only if you marry a religious nutter, Sara. If you marry an affectionate atheist who knows how to make love, marriage could be a lot of fun!) Click the title link to view Sara's entry, among others.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

M of Childhood Nudes

What? Nudes at the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, London? Yes. Prim and proper nudes, of course. A Century of Olympic Posters opened today and continues until 7 September. It's surprising how many of them feature a naked male athlete, such as the discus thrower on this poster for the London 1948 Summer Olympiad. It is the iconic image of the games, but nobody has ever presented it as well as did Leni Riefenstahl. The price is right for kids and adults: free. Bear it in mind for the school summer holidays.

News From Turkey

Michael Dickinson - Poster for The Rich Young Man (2006)I've just been dipping into the Turkish Daily News online - as you do - and found some amusing quotes. The big story is the smoking ban: "Turkey readies to go cold turkey"! The Queen's visit to Turkey produced a great gaffe: "The gracious queen, who follows the old customs of discipline and stiff upper lip compared to the rest of her family, follows well-set protocol rules, with less experienced Turkish leaders following her lead during landmark trip" (Fulya Özerkan, Ankara, 17/5/08). Compared to the rest of her family? Implication: what a shower the rest of those Brit. royals are! Last but not least, I found a review of Michael Dickinson's play The Rich Young Man at Istanbul's Maya Theatre: "Michael Dickinson, a veteran provocateur known for his controversial collages of eminent religious and political figures..." (Elspeth Metzler, Istanbul, 2/4/06). This poster must be a collage by the "veteran provocateur".

Friday, 16 May 2008

Make-up Artist Found?

Diane Chenery-WickensYesterday a corpse was found in woodland near the East Sussex home of David and Diane Chenery-Wickens. The body has yet to be formally identified as that of missing make-up artist Diane Chenery-Wickens, who vanished last January (CLICK). Police have re-arrested her husband for further questioning (title link).
Update: dental records confirm that the body found yesterday is that of Diane Chenery-Wickens (CLICK).
Latest: David Chenery-Wickens has been charged with his wife's murder (CLICK).

The Mask of Gordon

I. C. - The Mask of Gordon (2008)Yesterday's news that Madame Tussauds has decided not to erect a waxwork of PM Gordon Brown, due to his unpopularity, inspired me to create my own visual comment on the subject: not so much The Mask of Janus as The Mask of Gordon. For those of you who live in foreign parts, our clueless PM's last move as Chancellor of the Exchequer was to belt the poor by doubling their tax from 10% to 20%, in order that he could give the middle class a 2% saving in tax. His Labour backbenchers, who were very slow on the uptake, are now in revolt. So he's trying to work out a package of compensation. Too late, Janus ... er ... Gordon. We see you for what you are.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Bacon Sells Big

Francis Bacon - Triptych (1976)From the slums of Rio de Janeiro echoing with gunfire to the hushed wealth of Sotheby's auction room in New York. You can't complain that Coxsoft Art doesn't take you to see the world. Would you believe some tasteless fatcat paid £43m (£27m) for Francis Bacon's Triptych (1976)? That's a Bacon record. Isn't it reassuring to know that recession hasn't hit our multi-millionaires?

Greetings from Rio

Favel Painting Project Banner (2008)Today Coxsoft Art received an e-newsletter from Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn in Rio de Janeiro. Quote:

"Here’s a quick update on our latest project, ‘Favela Painting: Rio Cruzeiro’, a 2000m2 painting of a river in traditional Japanese style running through Vila Cruzeiro, one of the most notorious slums in Rio de Janeiro. The design was made in collaboration with the Amsterdam based tattoo artist Rob Admiraal. When we are not hiding from gunbattles between the local drug gang and the police, we are working on the insanely huge painting together with a group of local youths. Depending on the weather and the political situation we hope to finish the painting within the next couple of months."

Looks like William Morris to me, guys (title link).