Sunday, 31 August 2008

The Sculpture Diaries

Venus de MiloI do watch TV occasionally. There's a new art programme this evening: The Sculpture Diaries on Channel 4 at 7pm. The first of this three-parter examines the female form and ranges from the Venus de Milo to Marc Quinn's statue of Alison Lapper Pregnant. Waldemar Januszczak does the biz to the accompaniment of loud music. So turn down the sound - better still, turn it off - and enjoy the images. Who wants to hear what art pundits think or don't think? Most of them simply regurgitate the text books they were forced to read at college. Update: 2/10.

Nuns Beauty Contest

Anonymous Artist - Paris HiltonDid you read last week's story about the Italian priest who decided to hold a beauty contest for nuns (title link)? Nuns had given Father Antonio Rungi the idea, because they were fed up with the pickled walnut image of Mother Teresa (1910-1997), the world's only famous nun since Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179). Due to heavy pressure from above, Rungi cancelled his beauty contest the following day (CLICK). Sorry, Paris; you're too late. I doubt if you'd have got away with it anyway. That face is too well known and for all the wrong reasons.

Virtual World Therapy

Wendy Powell wearing virtual reality goggles while using her keyboard to adjust graphics (2008)Meet Wendy Powell, a researcher at Portsmouth University, who is doing something really useful with computer art. She's linked virtual reality software to a specially adapted treadmill, enabling people to see an artificial world while walking. The aim is to help patients who suffer from osteoarthritis or who have had strokes or falls. By slowing down their virtual world, Wendy makes the patients think they're walking slower than they are. Not only do the patients walk quicker and better, but also they experience less pain than in traditional physiotherapy. Her system is undergoing clinical trials in Portsmouth and Canada.

£1,300 For Asian Prints

Chila Burman - Autoportrait (detail)Leicester's New Walk Museum & Art Gallery has lashed out £1,300 on two prints of Chila Burman’s Autoportraits: Fly Girl Series 1993 and Fly Girl in Harlem 1996-2003, with help from the The Art Fund. The two self-portraits allegedly satirise an Asian woman's life in Britain. (For my US readers, Asians are folk from the Indian sub-continent, not from the Orient who are Orientals.) I wouldn't have paid £1 for this mess, but Chila does have two diplomas. That's what counts with the Brit. Anti-art Establishment. "Art, Carruthers? What's that? Does the gel have a diploma to prove she's kosher? Yes? Oh goodie. Buy two, if The Art Fund is daft enough to subsidize the purchase."

Saturday, 30 August 2008

A Stolen Constable

John Constable - Looking South from Near Red Brow Towards RosthawaiteAn unknown Turner? No. This is a watercolour sketch by John Constable: Looking South from Near Red Brow Towards Rosthawaite (CLICK for a larger graphic). It's on the Metropolitan Police Art & Antiques database as stolen, under the Most Wanted category. There's also a stolen oil painting by Titian in this category: Rest on the Flight into Egypt (CLICK). These are among a mere handful of paintings that can be viewed online by the public (title link). What of the thousands of other stolen artworks on the database? We have no chance of spotting one of them if it turns up in a car boot sale. It makes you wonder whether the Met. wants to find these stolen treasures or not.

Out of Albion

Frederick Sandys - Red Rose and White (1867)I've seen some silly earrings in my time, but these take the biscuit: Red Rose and White (1867) by Frederick Sandys. The red rose looks faded, because this is a red and black chalk sketch on paper. It's one of the artworks in a new exhibition in the John N. Stern Galleries at the Allen Memorial Art Museum (AMAM) at Oberlin College, Ohio, USA. Out of Albion: British Art from the Allen Memorial Art Museum covers Brit. art from 13th-century illuminated manuscripts to monstrosities by Henry Moore. The artists include William Hogarth, William Blake, Henry Fuseli, William Morris, Sir Joshua Reynolds and J.M.W. Turner. The exhibition continues until 23 December (title link).

Friday, 29 August 2008

Banksy Votes Labour

Banksy - Essex Road (2008)Banksy is a Labour party supporter. He donated Sketch for Essex Road to a fundraising campaign for Red Ken; but, because Banksy remains anonymous, the party couldn't check his credentials as a "permissible lender". So it had to return £75,000 of the money raised by the Aquarium Gallery. This version of Essex Road, which shows children pledging allegiance to a Tesco bag in Yankee style, was painted on the side of a chemist's shop. (Brit's don't pledge allegiance to the Union Jack, because we don't really regard ourselves as British; we're English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish, except when Team GB does well. Then we're British!)

Cold War Modern

V&A - Superman CCCP and USANo, not the new cold war that the USA, UK and Russia seem determined to start, but a timely look at the old one. On 25 September the V&A Museum in London opens Cold War Modern: Design 1945-1970. To be honest, I don't know what to make of this show. Having lived through the cold war, I can't recall much about its designs, except for Blackhawks comics. (The Blackhawks were always duffing up nasty Commies, from slit-eyed Koreans to fur-hatted Ruskies, and shooting down MiG fighter planes.) All I can tell you is that the entrance fees are diabolical: £9 adults; £7 silver surfers (77%) and so on and so forth. No way, V&A.

Virtual Battle Space 2

Virtual Battle Space 2 ScreenshotAt first glance you might think this is a genuine photograph, on closer inspection the latest video nasty. No both times. This is a screenshot from Virtual Battle Space 2, which is an advanced battle simulator being used to train British soldiers destined for Iraq. Anything from roadside bombs to ambushes by armed insurgents can be thrown into the simulation without warning, preparing young soldiers safely for what they might face on the front line. So far 2,000 British troops have been trained using this software. Click the title link to view more military artwork.

Scots' Titians For Sale

Titian - left Diana and Actaeon, right Diana and Callisto (1556 to 1559)Diana certainly used to get around. Here she is with Actaeon on the left and with Callisto on the right, both paintings by Titian circa 1556 to 1559. Originally painted for King Philip II of Spain, they're part of the historic Bridgewater collection owned by the Duke of Sutherland. He's decided to put them up for sale for £50m each, beginning with Diana and Actaeon. If the National Galleries of Scotland and the National Gallery in London can raise the dosh for Actaeon, he'll let them have a crack at raising another £50m for Callisto. Big-hearted, you might think, but these masterpieces are worth a lot more on the open market.

Fancy Investing $10?

The Artist's Magazine LogoThe Artist's Magazine is calling for entries to its All-media Online Competition. The Grand Prize is $500 with 6 First Place Awards of $100 each. The 7 categories are 1) Oil and oil pastel, 2) Acrylic, 3) Watercolour, 4) Pastel, 5) Mixed media and collage, 6) Graphite, charcoal and colored pencil, 7) Digital Art. All entries must be in JPEG format. (So what about animated GIFs?) Entry costs $10 per image. Fancy investing $10 for a chance to win $100, maybe $500? You'll get better odds betting on the horses. The magazine needs only 110 entries to cover its prize money. Think about it. The deadline is 3 November. Click the title link to learn more.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Solid Gold Kate Moss

Marc Quinn - Siren (2008)The British Museum has released this teaser of Marc Quinn's latest statue of Kate Moss, Siren, which is made of solid gold worth £1.5m and weighs in at 50 of those Euro kilogram thingies. Siren will be the star attraction at the Museums's exhibition of contemporary sculpture Statuephilia, due to open on 4 October. Ron Mueck will also be exhibiting. Less interesting works will be provided by the likes of Antony Gormley, Damien Hirst (200 plastic skulls; yawn), Tim Noble and Sue Webster.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Buon Fresco Project

Luca Battini at work on a preliminary painting (2008)Italian artist Luca Battini has embarked on a huge project that will take him an estimated three years to complete. He will paint a wall of the Church of San Vito in Pisa - 1,700 square feet - with eight scenes which depict the story of Pisa's patron saint Ranierus, and he will do so in true Renaissance style: buon fresco! That means painting wet plaster so the pigments are absorbed by the plaster before it has time to dry. It's a nightmare for any artist, a three-year nightmare in this case! The preparatory work must be impeccable to allow the artist to work at high speed. Battini's project is bound to create interest worldwide. Might it even lead to a 21st Century Renaissance in art? We certainly need one: rubbish is rife. Click the title link to read more.

London Crime Maps

I.C. - Crime Rate Average (2008)BBC News Magazine has posted an item about the new Home Office in-thing crime maps (title link). What the article doesn't tell you is that the beta version of Metropolitan Police crime maps is already online (CLICK) and it's a disaster! When you give it a post code, it takes minutes to point an arrow at your house, then tells you that the crime rate in your home is average. No way, Met! It's zero. After a while this clever-dick mapping locked up my computer and I needed to reboot. You have been warned. The cost of this nonsense should be born by estate agents, because it will help them sell property in low-crime areas. High-crime areas? Forget it. They will be blighted until the crime rate comes down.

Olympic £2 Coin

Royal Mint - Olympic Handover £2 Coin (2008)The Brit. Establishment went overboard on the Olympic Games long before Team GB surprised us all by doing so well. A variety of goodies have been in the pipeline, including this coin. It isn't funny money; it's the new Royal Mint £2 coin to mark the handover of the Olympic Games from Beijing to London. Bouncy Boris presented one to the Mayor of Beijing, Guo Jinlong, on Sunday. This is the first legal-tender UK coin to display the Olympic emblem. Spot the London 2012 logo.

Princes For USA

Sir John Everett Millais - Princes in the Tower (1878)Here's art news for my North American readers. Thomas Holloway's fine collection of Victorian paintings - held in the college he founded, the Royal Holloway, now part of the University of London - will go on a two-year tour of the USA, opening at the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on 12 October: Paintings from the Reign of Victoria: The Royal Holloway Collection, London. This is the first time these paintings have left Britain. One of the masterpieces on tour will be Princes in the Tower (1878) by Sir John Everett Millais, one of our greatest artists. Without undue pathos, Millais perfectly captures the nervous uncertainty of two doomed youngsters trying not to show their fear. The Philbrook Museum was offline when I tried to visit it, so the title link takes you to The Royal Holloway Collection for further details.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Chic Wallace & Gromit

Aardman Animations - Wallace and Gromit in Harvey Nichols advertisement (2008)Now here is the big art news story of the week: Wallace and Gromit have signed up to do an advertising campaign for department store Harvey Nichols in Bristol, where the pair come from. Doesn't Gromit look chic? Nick Park admits this is a big transformation for Wallace, who "usually shops at Tank Top Man".

Alfred Sisley at NG

Alfred Sisley - Allee de peupliers de MoretA year ago, an armed gang raided the Museum of Fine Arts in Nice and stole this attractive painting by Alfred Sisley: Allee de peupliers de Moret (CLICK). Until the robbery, the "English Impressionist" appears to have been forgotten in England. The National Gallery in London is about to change that with a new exhibition: Sisley in England and Wales, showing the landscapes he painted here. The NG website hasn't caught up with this news yet, but ArtDaily has the press release (title link). Looks interesting: an English artist rediscovered. I'll let you know when it opens.

Couch Potato Alert!

Jenny Pacey as Enigma: Sky Gladiators (2008)From October, Sky pay TV will broadcast two new arts channels imaginatively entitled Sky Arts 1 and Sky Arts 2. The first will feature live rock concerts - art? - while the second will show more classical stuff: opera, book reviews and art shows with art critic Brian Sewell. No, that isn't Brian in the photo. That's Jenny Pacey posing as Enigma for the Sky show Gladiators. A friend of mine studied at Loughborough University and receives its Alumni Magazine. Jenny and another alumna Caroline Pearce (Ice in Gladiators) are featured in the current issue. Coo! Alumni ain't what they used to be!

Dire Art at Tate

Mark Rothko - Red on Maroon (1959)Having wasted space over the summer with Cy Twombly's twaddle Cycles and Seasons, which ends on 14 September, Tate Modern is descending further into the pits with an exhibition of Mark Rothko's rubbish, opening on 26 September. Rothko's Red on Maroon (1959) indicates what to expect. Wow! Meanwhile, Tate Britain continues its decline into farce. Last year it showed State Britain. It's currently pandering to Martin Creed's nonsense Work No. 850. And on 11 September it opens a major exhibition of mentally disturbed images by Francis Bacon. And they expect you to pay for the privilege of viewing such rubbish when you can visit your local civil amenities dump for free!

Hari Puttar Law Suit

Hari Puttar Poster (2008)Hollywood movie giant Warner Bros is suing Bollywood film company Mirchi Movies over the title of its latest film Hari Puttar - A Comedy Of Terrors, a name which Warner Bros reckons is too close to Harry Potter. The poster shows a banal comedy scenario with irritatingly cute kids and with baddies getting their feet caught in mouse traps. Looks more like Home Alone than Harry Potter. The case is due to be heard in Bombay High Court. If Warner Bros wins, BBC TV better watch out. It can't base its next daft Hairy Bikers cookery series on a golf course. Hairy Putters no way!

Monday, 25 August 2008

Marcus Aurelius Found

Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project - Marcus Aurelius (2008)The ancient city of Sagalassos - struck by earthquakes and abandoned by the Romans - has yielded another find: this colossal marble head of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. The statue's lower legs and right arm have also been unearthed. The Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project has been excavating this site for 12 years, and in the last year its work has really paid off with statues of Emperor Hadrian (CLICK) and Empress Faustina the Elder (CLICK). To see more, click the title link.

Utterly Imaginative

Illustration from That Pesky Rat (2002) © Lauren ChildIt's a shame that so few art galleries take the opportunity to put on exhibitions to attract children over the school summer holidays. The big London galleries pay lip service to encouraging children toward art, but to find a major exhibition of illustrations designed to appeal to young children you need to go up north to Manchester Art Gallery, which is showing Green Drops and Moonsquirters: The Utterly Imaginative World of Lauren Child, an interactive exhibition from award-winning children’s author and illustrator Lauren Child. Never heard of her? Think Charlie and Lola, a huge success in books and on TV, and Clarice Bean. Above is an illustration from That Pesky Rat. This free exhibition continues until 21 September.

Killer Promotes London!

Marcus Harvey - Portrait of Myra Hindley (1997)The dust from yesterday's Olympic handover celebrations has hardly settled before an art controversy has blown up. At a party in Beijing's London House, the half-wits of Visit London showed a promotional video which included footage of Marcus Harvey's portrait of sadistic child-killer Myra Hindley, a painting made by children's hand prints. From its first showing it created an uproar and was vandalised while on display at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1997. And this image has been shown around the world to promote London! I don't believe it! Spokespersons for Bouncy Boris and Downing Street have condemned the video (title link). Will an overpaid twit at Visit London be sacked? demands Coxsoft Art. And don't forget Death Star London (CLICK). How many subversive illegal immigrants work for Visit London?

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Bob Marley Statue

Davor Dukic - Statue of Bob Marley (2008)Ever heard of the Serbian village of Banatski Sokolac? You have now, because today, during a rock festival, it unveiled Davor Dukic's statue of Bob Marley. The statue is slightly larger than life and is made of a material I haven't come across before: thickened poliesterom. Local politicians are hailing the work - the first statue of Bob Marley in Europe - as a symbol of peace in the Baltic, but then politicians everywhere are full of bull. To me it represents the continuing rise of popular culture over establishment icons. Better Bob Marley than Stalin.

The Aguru Dome

Aguru Images - The Aguru Dome (2008)This may look like science-fiction, but it's the latest thing in portraiture: the Aguru Dome. With the subject's head locked in place and with lights flashing from 546 directions, 93 computers digitize the face in extraordinary detail. Millions of polygons capture the reflectance and translucence of the subject's skin. The makers - Aguru Images - claim that the captured images are good enough to allow movie stars to appear in scenes which were never filmed. Hollywood is interested!

Mechanika: Sci-fi Art

Doug Chiang - Stand OffContinuing my sci-fi theme, here's a superb painting by Doug Chiang, who recently published his first book: Mechanika, Creating the Art of Science Fiction With Doug Chiang. According to, the title here is Mechanika: How to Create Science Fiction Art (2008). Never heard of Doug Chiang, Brits? Not only is he a top sci-fi artist, but also a film designer. His movie credits include Star Wars, Terminator, War of the Worlds, Back to the Future and Beowulf. His book is a step-by-step guide to designing, drawing and painting sci-fi art. Click the title link to visit his website. Search Amazon ( or .com) for Mechanika.

Death Star London

I.C. - Planet London & Death Star (2008)Here's the reason I find the graphic of Planet London so bleak: it reminds me of the Death Star from Star Wars! I've put the two side-by-side so you can see what I mean. Is this the best way of attracting foreign punters to the old metropolis? Imagine Darth Vader played by Mayor Bouncy Boris with that rich, fruity, public-schoolboy accent. Naw. But what about PM Gordon Brown as Chewbacca? Perfect casting.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Radical Light Lecture

Radical Light Lecture: The New Painting Will Be DivisionistOn Wednesday 3 September at 6.30pm Simonetta Fraquelli, co-curator of The National Gallery's current exhibition Radical Light (CLICK), will deliver a one-hour lecture on the Italian Neo-Impressionists: The New Painting Will Be Divisionist (title link). Tickets cost £5, concessions £3. The lecture takes place in the Sainsbury Wing Theatre. Technical note: it's all to do with spots. The Neo-Impressionists disliked the term Pointillism and used the word Divisionism to describe their painting technique. If you want to learn more....

Friday, 22 August 2008

Open House London

Open House logo plus closeupOpen House London - Architecture Up Close - takes place on 20 and 21 September this year. Although the emphasis is on architecture, this is your opportunity to discover works of art in buildings normally closed to the public. The 72-page booklet is available free at your local library now. Don't dither, because they get snapped up within a week. Admission to all the events is free.

Counterpunch: Sir Nick

Counterpunch Header (50%)The US political magazine Counterpunch has published an article by UK artist Charles Thomson about the sinister reappointment of Sir Nicholas Serota - the Ghengis Khan of Brit. art - as Tate Director. Well worth reading (title link). As you may recall, the Board ignored the legal requirement for a rubber stamp from the PM when reappointing Ghengis ... er ... Sir Nick (CLICK).

China/Royal Mail Stamps

The State Post Bureau of The People's Republic of China - The Tower of London (2008)Here's a novelty: the Tower of London scrolling across the website of the State Post Bureau of The People's Republic of China (CLICK). It's one of a special set of four stamps being jointly issued by Royal Mail and China Post to commemorate The Handover of the Olympic flag from Beijing to London on 24 August. The Brit. versions show the Queen's head; they are available in a miniature sheet which went on sale today (title link). The Chinese stamps go on sale on Sunday: handover day.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Visit London Campaign

London Advert - See the World, Visit London (2008)Will this image persuade foreigners to visit Ghetto London? The answer depends on how many of them recognize the River Thames snaking across Planet Earth. At the last census, in 2001, 25% of people living in London were foreigners (plus illegal immigrants). Why not ask some of them if they recognize the Thames before we waste £4m on a global advertising campaign? Too late! The campaign begins this week, when London becomes the official Olympic Games host city on 24 August. "British tourism chiefs hope..." (BBC News). Plonkers! If they had done their research, they would know whether this image will work or not. I don't think it will. It's too bleak.

Homer on Spanish Coin

Left King Carlos; right Homer Simpson (2008)They seek him here, they seek him there;
They seek that damned elusive Homer everywhere.

Some naughty amateur engraver defaced the head of Spanish King Juan Carlos and changed it into Homer Simpson. Spotted by sweetshop owner Jose Martinez in Aviles, northern Spain, while cashing up, this coin is now worth a lot more than it's face value. (Sorry; couldn't resist the puns.)

V&A Get Physical

V&A Get Physical Graphic (reduced to 50%)I admire the work of the V&A's graphic artist. He or she always comes up with a simple, stark design that encapsulates whatever it is the V&A is promoting. In this instance it's sport, fashion, youth and street culture. Could you come up with a better graphic to say all that? The event is the next Friday Late at the V&A in London: Get Physical on 29 August, 18.30 to 22.00 (do your own translation into Brit. hours). It's to promote Fashion V Sport, an exhibition which disinterests me profoundly, but Late events are free and could be fun. Click the title link for details.

Nargis Art

A Child's Drawing of Cyclone Nargis (2008)BBC News has posted an online gallery of crayon drawings by children who survived Cyclone Nargis, which devastated Burma last May, killing about 130,000 people and leaving many thousands more homeless. Burma's military junta heeded its own paranoia, rather than the plight of its people, and rejected outside help. Only foreign agencies already in Burma managed to bring aid to survivors in the Irrawaddy Delta. The Foundation for the People of Burma mobilised about 300 aid workers. They gave listless, traumatized children crayons and paper as therapy. The children had never seen crayons before. They drew what occupied their thoughts: Cyclone Nargis. The result is raw Expressionism, more powerful than much of the video footage that came out of Burma in May. What strikes me is how these childish drawings expose the vapid, mindless irrelevance of "artworks" that win the UK's big-money prizes.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Sao Paulo Finale

Picasso's Minotaur, Drinker and Women (1933) being handed backBrazilian police have found the last of the four works stolen at gunpoint from the Estacao Pinacoteca Museum in Sao Paulo on 12 June: Picasso's Minotaur, Drinker and Women (1933). Here it is being handed back to a museum official. It was discovered in a wooded area along the side of a highway near Sao Paulo, ditched in a panic, one guesses, after two of the robbers had been arrested with the other stolen works. To read the full saga, copy San Paulo into my Blogger search box.

Threadneedle Update

Paul Brandford - The Clothes ShowForget my advice about voting for the Threadneedle Figurative Prize. I've just tried. Shock! Horror! You can vote for only the 7 shortlisted entries, which are some of the weakest exhibits among the 71 selected for the show! Look at this impressionistic mess The Clothes Show by Paul Brandford. Can you recognize Robert "Should have gone to Specsavers" Mugabe between two of his thugs? Who on earth shortlisted it? A drinking buddy? Old art school chum? It wouldn't pass muster as a political cartoon. The richest art prize in the UK drew over 2,700 entries, from kids to Royal Academicians, and this is shortlisted! Care to bet it wins the Selectors Prize? Click the title link, not to vote, but to e-mail your protest about how this prize has been fixed.


Michelangelo Buonarroti - Dying Slave (1513-15)Here's Michelangelo's Dying Slave (1513-15) for comparison with the proposed Slavery Memorial in the next post down. This is the standard required if the memorial is going to get its message across. By coincidence, a new exhibition of the master's original drawings and writings has opened at the SUArt Galleries, Shaffer Art Building, Syracuse University, USA: Michelangelo: The Man and the Myth. It's free, open to the public and continues until 19 October. If you live locally, don't miss it. Click the title link for a calendar of associated talks and events.

Abolition Memorial

Les Johnson - Model for Slavery Memorial (2008) I.C. enhancedThis model by Les Johnson for a Slavery Memorial went on display at City Hall yesterday and will remain on show until 1 December. Memorial 2007 aims to raise £1.5m to pay for the sculpture and a memorial garden in Hyde Park. Good to see it isn't an abstract design, but it seems an overly complex tableau of poseurs celebrating the end of slavery. And sexist. Why no female slave? Why no drama? Why no pathos? This artwork needs a Michelangelo to bring it to life, and no more than one male slave, one female and one child: the nuclear family being split up and sold off. Given appropriate artistry, this would have great impact. Who is this memorial for? The descendants of slaves or for smug white folks celebrating a good deed in abolishing slavery? Come on. Rethink this inappropriate model before it becomes a costly failure.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Let's Trump Trump

RSPB Campaign HeaderBack in December 2007 I wrote about Donald Trump's threat to build a massive golf course on Menie Estate, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in Scotland. CLICK to see a beautiful photo of the threatened sand dunes and read my December post. The Scottish Government is due to vote on the vandal's proposal, and the RSPB has launched a campaign to protect Menie Estate from Trump. Click the title link to add your support to the campaign.

Barkingside 21

Top Green Blogger LogoCongratulations to a local action group Barkingside 21, whose blog has attained 7th ranking in the UK's Top Green Bloggers 2008 and is now running neck and neck with Two Doctors to gain the coveted People's Choice Award. Click the title link to vote for Barkingside 21. Its campaigns annoy a lot of local dignitaries. Must be worth a vote!

Blog Action Day 2008

Blog Action Day 2008 Poverty LogoI've signed up Coxsoft Art News for Blog Action Day 2008 Poverty, because I'm poor. Last year I wrote a number of posts on the environment for Blog Action Day and got a lot of stick from some pedant who claimed that wind farms sited in the right place don't kill birds. A likely story. They just don't kill so many as when they're sited in the wrong place. My favourite Action Day post was Porkers Amok! (CLICK). How to campaign about being poor? Write begging blogs? Two thousand years ago a famous Jewish philosopher commented "The poor are always with us". You think we'll come up with the answer by 15 October?

Ripoff at Piccadilly

Ripleys Believe it or Not!® LogoRipley Entertainment Inc. opens a new museum at London's Piccadilly Circus on Wednesday 20 August: Ripley's Believe it or Not!® (title link). It seems a bummer, not because of the content, which is suitably freakish, but because of the prices: adults £17.95; children £13.95. There's a credit crunch going on here in Ghetto London, Yanks. It's not a good time to be trying to fleece the punters with an overpriced freak show, especially as we can get into Tate Modern - Sir Nick's freak show - for free.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Clouded Leopard Spotted

Sebangau Felid Project - Bornean Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi) 3/7/2008To heck with the foibles of the Brit. Anti-art Establishment. Time to view a beautiful picture. This is another example of Science beating Art at its own game. The Sebangau Felid Project captured this photo of a Bornean Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi) in Sebangau National Park, Indonesia, on 3 July, using a remote camera automatically triggered by animal movement. This is the first time this rare species has been recorded in Sebangua National Park. What a beauty! Click the title link for a larger image and more information.

Emin: No Knickers?

Cerith Wyn Evans - Tracey Emin (3/3/2000)Tracey Emin's knickers (next post down) reminded me of this gross image, not for the squeamish, let alone the artistic. It's the UK's Queen of Cloaca apparently without them, trying to stuff her ill-gotten gains into her bank account. This fuzzy snap, slightly I.C. cropped, is one of a set of Polaroids taken by Cerith Wyn Evans on 3/3/2000 for Ms Emin's show I've Got it All. Believe it or not, you can buy one of these "original artworks" from Julian Hartnoll Fine Art for a mere £925 each (title link). The ... er ... Emin person is now a Royal Academician! Isn't it time Her Majesty insisted that the "Royal" should be dropped from that pathetic anti-art joke The Royal Academy of Arts?

Sir Nick's Job For Life

Charles Thomson - Sir Nicholas Serota Makes an Acquisitions Decision (2006)I thought that only union bosses, dictators and royalty were granted jobs for life; but, according to The Independent (title link), Sir Nick Serota is one of the chosen few. Here's the lad himself, wondering whether to buy a pair of Tracey Emin's knickers for Tate Modern: Sir Nicholas Serota Makes an Acquisitions Decision (2006) courtesy of Charles Thomson of Stuckism fame (CLICK). The Tate Board decided to pre-empt the Prime Minister's decision on whether Sir Nick should be reappointed as Tate Director. I mean who takes any notice of that loser now that he's betrayed the Brit. working class and the Labour Party and his days at No 10 are numbered? However, the loser recently appointed Elisabeth Murdoch as a Tate Trustee for four years from 18 August 2008 (CLICK). So how come the Tate Board is claiming ignorance of the law when it comes to Sir Nick? Scared of losing him to the Russians?

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Threadneedle Figurative

Lay Figure 'Vivian'This week sees the opening of arguably the most important and certainly the most expensive show ever put on at the Mall Galleries: The Threadneedle Figurative Prize, which runs from 20 August to 6 September. Graphics of the 71 selected entries are online (title link) although you can't vote for your favourite until 19 August (voting closes at noon on 3 September). I'm usually enthusiastic about exhibitions at the home of the Federation of British Artists, but this show is a sad disappointment. The lay figure used to promote the competition implies that representations of the human figure are the subject of this award, but no. The selectors have chosen the widest definition of "figurative", which is "non-abstract". So anything goes, from landscapes to a dog. That would be fine if works of high quality had been submitted and selected, but no again. The bulk of selections are unimaginative and poor in execution. The 7 shortlisted entries aren't the best by a long way. If this event is "showcasing the finest in contemporary British figurative art" it's time for Brits to toss their paintbrushes into the bin! However, all is not lost. I spotted a few excellent urban landscapes and four paintings which I thought outstanding for different reasons:
Paul Brason - Eighteen (CLICK)
Mary Jane Ansell - Anima/Animus (CLICK)
Marie Harnett - Delysia Doorway (CLICK)
Tessa Coleman - Winter 1565 (CLICK).
Paul Brason's fine portrait of his 18-year-old son cleverly uses dramatic lighting to symbolize the break from childhood to adulthood. Mary Jane Ansell's Anima/Animus has fun with gender roles. Marie Harnett's entry is one of a series of paintings inspired by movie stills. And Tessa Coleman's Winter 1565 plays around with the perspective of Pieter Brueghel's brilliant painting The Hunters In The Snow. All four artists communicated a fresh vision to me.
Whatever you think of my favourites or the standard of entries in general, I believe it is important to cast your vote. We are the punters, and there is big prize money at stake (CLICK). If you don't fancy the show or can't visit it, do cast your vote online.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Spam Warrior

Ben Frost - American BusinessShould I sully my blog with this rubbish? I wondered. It's typical of that tripe which wannabee galleries exhibit in east London in hopes of dragging in a few well-heeled punters with no taste in art. Ben Frost's Crapitalism is the inaugural exhibition of an outfit called No Walls, which has hired space in the Dray Walk Gallery, Old Truman Brewery, from 26 to 30 September. If you fancy Aussie post-Pop anti-consumerism urban collages and "visual mash-ups" and you have no taste, pots of dosh and you're gullible and easily led, click the title link to learn all about the "internationally acclaimed Spam Warrior"!

Olympic Doodles

Dennis Hwang - Chinese Dragon vs Olympic Mouse (14/8/2008)I've been doing my best to ignore all that sweaty folderole in Beijing, but I couldn't help noticing that Dennis Hwang, Google's resident doodler, has been working overtime to create a different Google doodle for every day of the games, with cute little animals jumping off diving boards or whatever. They're all great fun, but yesterday Dennis surpassed himself with this Chinese dragon playing what Brits call "netball" (a game for schoolgirls in the UK). And is that a Chinese-character signature? Or Korean? Dennis's graphic art for Google must make him one of the most widely viewed artists ever. He has an entry in Wikipedia (CLICK).