Friday, 31 October 2008

Sarah Maple

Sarah Maple - This Artist Blows Poster (2008)Sarah Maple's first sole exhibition This Artist Blows opened a fortnight ago at the SaLon (sic) gallery in Notting Hill, London (CLICK). Today it hit the news (title link). Muslim nutters have smashed the gallery window, have made abusive phone calls to gallery staff and have emailed death threats against Sarah - a beautiful 23-year-old Muslim - and her family, because they object to piglets! What gutless bullies those fanatics are! "Islam is peace!" Cobblers. I haven't forgotten Islamic criminals smashing windows in W.H. Smith's and Central Library in Ilford 20 years ago, because they objected to Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses being on display. Licence-payers please note that BBC News daren't publish the piglet poster; instead it put Sarah's life at risk by posting her photo! Barring further lunacy, the exhibition continues until 16 November. Lovely portrait, Sarah; very dignified. I wish you the best of British luck.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Sculptor Nabs Thief

Desmond Fountain FRBS - Bronze Statue of GirlWhite-bearded UK sculptor Desmond Fountain and his wife sat on a man allegedly trying to steal one of his bronze statues at the opening of his latest exhibition, in The Gallery in Cork Street, London. The exhibition continues until Saturday: Desmond Fountain And Michael Aubrey, Sculptures and Portraits (CLICK), well worth visiting, providing your intentions are honest. How embarrassing to be collared by a silver surfer! And sat on until the fuzz arrive! CLICK to visit Desmond Fountain's website and view some of his excellent bronze statues.

Wildlife Photographer '08

Steve Winter - Snow Leopard (2008)Steve Winter has won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2008 award with this photo of a snow leopard taken for National Geographic magazine. The snow leopard is one of the world's most elusive animals, and Steve spent more than a year lugging his camera around mountains to photograph it. Click the title link for BBC News' gallery of winning images in various categories. The exhibition of the best entries opens at the Natural History Museum in London tomorrow (CLICK). Note: admission £7, concessions £3.50. At last: 50%! Maybe the fat cats have noticed Coxsoft Art's campaign for half price entry for silver surfers.

Creatures of Halcygen

I.C. - Knight Wearing Sallet (1985)I often complain about art blurbs. Now here's your chance to criticize my blurb for Krorn Sunrise, the first volume of Creatures of Halcygen by yours truly. Click the title link to read Chapter 1.

The Blurb

Krorn Sunrise is the first volume of an adult fantasy saga of alien invasion in a medieval world: Creatures of Halcygen. The second volume, Knife Grass, is completed and awaits publication.

This saga is not for the squeamish. It is violent, brutal and bloody, politically incorrect, irreligious and sexually blunt; but it has fast-paced action, endearing families and wit. It also boasts strong characters, from perky Apprentice Duval to his 200-year-old master, Wizard Shelraw, who has occasionally been mistaken for God.

Have you ever wondered why fictional characters are so weak? Even the Great Detective takes 100,000 words to find the vital clue. It's because authors have an ending in mind when they begin their stories. Their characters must be weak to be manipulated into reaching that ending. Look at Hamlet, dithering until tragedy strikes.

My characters needed to be strong enough to create their own ending. I set them mountainous problems to overcome: two vast invading armies of aliens seeking human blood and flesh, while the unsuspecting humans make war amongst themselves. There is no magic spell to resolve the story in its final chapter. It can be resolved only by strong leadership. I had no idea whether my characters would succeed or fail.

Then the aliens began developing personalities of their own. And the reptiles have wizards too! That's when the story became really scary....

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Les Edwards' Cards

Les Edwards - Kissing Elf (2008)If you're fed up with sending the same boring old Christmas cards year after year, here's great news. Les Edwards, the UK's top fantasy artist has created three brilliant new designs for Christmas cards. This one is Kissing Elf (2008). The others are Christmas for Cthulhu and Harpy Christmas. You must see the harpy! Wow! Terrific original art with a sense of humour. Click the title link to view all three designs. You can order a pack of 12 cards and envelopes online. USA and Euro prices are quoted, as well as UK, including p&p. You can also buy a mixed pack of 12 containing 4 of each design. Don't even think about sending me a card with cribs, shepherds, angels or yucky seraphim.

The Turner Museum™

Edward Hodges Baily - Statue of J.M.W. Turner (ca 1858)Isn't it strange to see J.M.W. Turner dressed as a 19th Century gentleman? His work seems far too modern for those historic togs. Following yesterday's post on Paths to Fame: Turner Watercolours from The Courtauld, my readers and I received an invitation from Douglass Montrose-Graem to visit The Turner Museum™ (title link). This is an online museum dedicated to Joseph Mallard William Turner, launched in 1973. Its design is very attractive and it's well worth a visit, especially for Turner's US fans. The statue of Turner is by Edward Hodges Baily (ca 1858).

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Paths to Fame

JMW Turner - Crook of Lune, looking toward Hornby Castle (1816-18) © the Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, LondonThe Winter biggy at Somerset House in London is Paths to Fame: Turner Watercolours from The Courtauld, which opens on 30 October and continues until 25 January 2009. This is the first full display of The Courtauld Gallery's outstanding collection of watercolours by J.M.W. Turner, with additional loans from the Tate and private collections. The exhibits include early sketches for watercolours or published prints, so visitors can see Turner's work from start to finish. Looks good. Various special events accompany the exhibition (title link).

Monday, 27 October 2008

Top Vinyl Cover Art

Photo of Alison Goldfrapp by Serge Leblon (2008)Art Vinyl has posted its 50 nominations for the best vinyl cover art of 2008. You can vote online for your favourite (title link). The standard isn't as high as in the good old days of LP sleeve art before the CD came along and demanded poky little pictures, but this photo of Alison Goldfrapp by Serge Leblon for the cover of Goldfrapp's Seventh Tree is a beaut (art direction by Alison Goldfrapp and Mat Maitland). It's an arresting contradiction of romantic soft focus and hard stare, shot in daylight. The winner will be announced on 5 January.

Bronze Horse Dispute

Mario Ceroli - Run, Run...JohnHere's a sculpture by an artist who apparently didn't read the small print in his contract. Following an exhibition of his work in Siena, - Forme in movimiento - Italian sculptor Mario Ceroli was shocked to discover that his 6m bronze horse Run, Run...John was to be sent to a company in nearby Pistoia which claimed half ownership of it. He chained himself to his sculpture in protest. The organisers of the show agreed to return the horse to him, but the firm is now threatening him with legal action to safeguard its rights to the work. And naive folk believe that art is the answer to the World's ills! Not when businessmen and lawyers get their grubby fingers into the pie.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Banksy Work To Go

Banksy - One Nation Under CCTV (2008)Westminster City Council has ordered the removal of Banksy's 23ft-high mural One Nation Under CCTV, which I showed you in April (CLICK). Reason? The Council doesn't want to encourage graffiti. It has a point. The mindless yobs who paint slogans on walls cost local authorities and their council-tax payers a fortune. Most graffiti is simply litter up walls, unsightly and pointless. Still, it's sad that Banksy's cheeky mural should be sacrificed for the common good. You still have time to visit Newman Street and wave it goodbye.

Rude Art in Düsseldorf

Eric Fischl - Bad Boy (1981)Here's a weird painting showing a sex-crazed woman trying to seduce a young boy: Eric Fischl's Bad Boy (1981). Eh? Bad boy? Well, if you look closely you'll see that the boy is unmoved by the woman's rude display and behind his back he's groping inside her handbag for something to steal. Tut tut, lad. This is an exhibit from the autumn/winter biggy at the Museum Kunst Palast in Düsseldorf: Diana + Actaeon The Forbidden Glimpse of the Naked Body, which opened yesterday and runs until 15 February 2009 (title link). The ArtDaily blurb (CLICK) is full of pretentious drivel about Greek mythology and Ovid, but it's all an attempt to make 300 erotic works by 200 artists seem highbrow. If you're into erotic art, ignore the blurb and go for it. If not, ignore the blurb and don't go for it. Either way....

Mall Galleries

Peter Wileman PROI - Exmouth, DevonThe Mall Galleries in London opens two exhibitions next week, both of which close on Sunday 9 November. Tomorrow sees the opening of Colour Emotion, the work of Vietnamese expressionists Nguyen Than and Bui Suoi Hoa, admission free. On Wednesday the Royal Institute of Oil Painters opens its annual exhibition. The painting shown here is Exmouth, Devon by Peter Wileman PROI. Highlights include the Winsor & Newton under 35 Oil Painting Awards and the June Mendoza Portrait Draw. This year's invited artist is Donald Hamilton Fraser RA. Admission: £2.50, concessions £1.50.

Calls For Submissions

I.C. - Baby Dragon © Coxsoft 1985Three calls for submissions have arrived in my inbox this week, plus LOCOG is calling for mascot designs for the 2012 Olympic Games (title link). How about my cute baby dragon? Arte Ingenua, which I assume translates to Art Ingenue (an artless girl, according to my dictionary) is offering a first prize of 30,000 Euro thingies in a competition for young artists (CLICK). Pop Samiti wants South Asians to submit works for an exhibition in London next Spring. Treat this one with caution, because it seems short of funds. Send your idea by email first and assess the response, deadline 1 December (CLICK). Lastly, North Light Books wants paintings for Splash 11, the latest in its series The Best of Watercolor (CLICK). Let me know how you get on.

Madonna Restored

Raphael - Madonna of the Goldfinch (ca 1506)Raphael's Madonna of the Goldfinch (ca 1506) will return to public viewing after a 10-year restoration. Marco Ciatti, head of the restoration team at Florence's Opificio Delle Pietre Dure, spent two years assessing the viability of repairs before work began. Why? In 1547 the home of its owner collapsed, breaking the oil-on-wood panel into 17 pieces. Ridolfo di Ghirlandaio nailed the pieces together and painted over the cracks. There have been other restorations since then. So, big job! Brilliant result. Click the title link to see the 3 main stages of restoration. The painting will be displayed in the Palazzo Medici in Florence before being returned to its home in the Uffizi Gallery.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Together For London

I.C. - Little Londoner 'Zero Tolerance' Avatar (2008)There's a new website for Londoners who wish to campaign about something: Together For London (title link). It let's you create your own avatar. Here's mine: Zero Tolerance. Unfortunately the website is too politically correct to support my first campaign "Zero Tolerance For Pavement Bicyclists". Rejected! Presumably the people who run this website bicycle illegally door-to-door and don't relish the prospect of having their bicycles confiscated and sold at auction to increase funds for the Metropolitan Police. The website is nicely designed, but too kiddified for serious debate and seems a complete waste of money.

Gods in Colour

Reconstruction (2006) of The Archer (500-470 BC)On the subject of the rediscovery of Greco-Roman statues during the Italian Renaissance (next post down), did you know that those old statues were originally painted? As the paint had worn off by the time they were found, the neo-classical tradition of statues in naked marble was born. Scholars in the 19th Century established the truth. Yesterday a unique exhibition to set the record straight opened at Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung in Frankfurt: Gods in Color (sic) continues until 15 February. This heavily cropped photo shows a reconstruction (2006) of the original Greek statue The Archer (500-470 BC) credits: Vinzenz Brinkmann & Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann, Hermann Pflug, photo: Dieter Rehm. Click the title link to read the ArtDaily post and view the excellent full photo.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Byzantine 330-1453

6th Century PatenThe autumn/winter biggy at the Royal Academy of Arts in London is Byzantine 330-1453, which opens tomorrow and continues until 22 March 2009. I saw a preview of this show on BBC News yesterday and it left me unenthralled. Religious icons and richly decorated knick-knacks leave me wondering why anyone bothered in the first place. For historians, it's a treat: the first major Byzantium exhibition in the UK for 50 years. There's fine medieval craftsmanship too (title link). But as far as art goes this was the Dark Ages between Greco-Roman art and its rediscovery during the Renaissance.

Allan Ramsey: £289,250

Allan Ramsay - Self-portrait (1749)This Self-portrait (1749) by Scottish artist Allan Ramsay does look worth its auction price of £289,250. No stupid gimmicks; no trendy nonsense; just a magnificent painting. It went to an anonymous bidder at Christie's auction of Scottish art at the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, yesterday. The original is at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Dr John Ward ordered this copy of the original from Ramsey in 1749.

Blood Head Appeal

Marc Quinn - Self (2006)I often wonder about the sanity of those people in charge of our art institutions. Would you pay £350,000 for this gimmick: Marc Quinn's Self (2006), a self-portrait in the artist's frozen blood? The National Portrait Gallery in London would, providing it can persuade some fat cats to shell out the dosh. The Art Fund has started the ball rolling with a donation of £100,000. Groan!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Titian in London

Titian - Diana and Actaeon (1556-9) detailStop press: from today, Titian's Diana and Actaeon (1556-9) is on display at the National Gallery in London for one month only, in hope of drumming up a few quid toward the £50m needed to buy it for the nation (title link). Here's a detail I hadn't spotted before: Diana, the original feminist, is being attended by a black slave. Her nymphs share her bath, but not the slave. Looks like apartheid as well as slavery. And if slavery were good enough for a Greek goddess... Plus Diana is out of proportion: her head is too small for her chubby body. Let's flog it to the Italians - Titian was a Venetian master - for twice the Duke's asking price.

Tattoo Festival

Nikko Moyenne - Affiche (2008)Belated news: the Second International Evian Tattoo Show 2008 took place in France last week. If you're into this sort of thing, take note of the title link for next year's show. Personally I can't see the point. It may be an art form, but it's painful and can be hazardous to your health. (Take the poster's hint!) It also costs a bomb in plastic surgeons' fees to remove the damned things, although Brits can have this done on the NHS if they convince a psychiatrist they'll crack up if their tattoos aren't removed. Why take the chance? And why pay to be an artist's canvas?

Atari ST Humour

I.C. - Cherries (1989)I might as well make it an Atari ST trilogy while I'm down Memory Lane. I created some weird graphics on that old computer, often adapting and combining other graphics, as in this case. Cherries (1989) shows a primitive robot trying to figure how to switch on the latest model android! I was so fond of the Atari ST that I got through three in 10 years. I thought they were all dead, but....

Fractal Art

I.C. - Fractal Fire (slide show title screen 1997)Here's another graphic from my old Atari ST: Fractal Fire (1997). Again, this is a 16-colour GIF converted from an Atari PC1 graphics file, using XnView (CLICK). I'd found a neat little program that generated various fractals swiftly - the Mandelbrot set, Julia and some others - and allowed you to delve deeper and deeper into a fractal until you found an image you liked. It also allowed you to select your own palette. Once you'd saved your chosen screen you could load it into Degas Elite and cycle the palette, giving the impression that your fractals flowed across the screen. Beautiful. Play music, sit back and watch the slide show. If you want to know more about fractals, click the title link for the Wikipedia entry with illustrations of different fractal sets.

Atari ST Graphics

I.C. - Art Tutor Title Screen (1990)Isn't it amazing what an artist can do with a palette of only 16 colours? Download this GIF and count the colours in XnView if you don't believe me. I resurrected my Atari ST recently (long story) and I've been running slide shows of some of my old graphics. This is the title screen for a program I wrote to explain how to get the best out of Atari ST graphics in 1990: Art Tutor. Talk about out of date! Modern PCs boast millions of colours. If you wonder why I moan about the poor quality of "contemporary" art, this is the reason. Antony Gormley, eat your heart out; I prefer my angel to your feeble version. Click the title link to see what I used to do with an 8-colour palette!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Sir Paul's Lost Head

Waxwork Effigy of Sir Paul McCartney (1960s)Have you found this head? Businessman Joby Carter is offering a reward of £2,000 for the return of this 1960s waxwork effigy of Sir Paul McCartney. It's supposedly worth from £5,000 to £10,000 and is due to be auctioned on Sunday 26 October by Carters Entertainment in Maidenhead, Berkshire. Joby left it in a bag under a seat on a train from London to Maidenhead Station on Thursday. The train terminated at Reading. If you find it, click the title link for Carter's creaky website. Bomb Disposal, don't blow it up!

Sea Lion Artists

Morgan - Abstract (2008)As you know, Coxsoft Art likes to bring you the very best of contemporary art. So here's emerging artist Morgan the sea lion putting the finishing touches to another masterpiece. Not so much a foot-and-mouth artist as a mouth-and-flipper artist. He's hoping to win the Turner Prize next year. Art of this calibre makes Tate Modern's tosh look distinctly fishy. And he's British! He lives with his bubbly young partner, Aero, in a Devonshire wildlife park. She paints too and she's half his age. Woof!

Monday, 20 October 2008

The Art of the Poster

Front Cover for London Transport Posters A Century of Art and DesignHere's a novelty worth noting during recession: a free art exhibition for Greater London's resident silver surfers and their grandcherubs. It opened recently at the London Transport Museum The Art of the Poster - a Century of Design and continues until 31 March 2009. Admission to the museum is £10.00 for adults, £8.00 for OAPs or £6.50 for students. However, entry is FREE for Freedom Pass holders and under 16s. Nice one, TFL. I've illustrated this post with the cover of the show's book - slightly different title - rather than with the exhibition poster, in case the poster's Picasso-style design puts you off. London Transport poster artists were generally far superior to that old fraud.

Flemish Masters

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Massacre of the Innocents (1565-7) detail; Photo: The Royal Collection © 2008, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth IIThis snippet from Pieter Bruegel the Elder's incredibly detailed masterpiece Massacre of the Innocents (1565-7) is one of the paintings in the new exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace: Bruegel to Rubens: Masters of Flemish Painting. This is the first ever exhibition of Flemish paintings in the Royal Collection. It includes 51 works from the 15th to 17th centuries by masters such as Hans Memling, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Jan Brueghel, Van Dyck and Rubens. Click the title link for details and admission charges.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Free Art Fair Update

Stella Vine - Untitled FreebieI knew I shouldn't have posted that item on the Free Art Fair in London (CLICK). According to BBC News (title link) "art lovers" have been queuing overnight to get their hands on more than £100,000 worth of art up for grabs. The giveaway starts at 6pm. Art lovers? I wouldn't put this rubbish on my wall if Stella Vine paid me to! By the way, that five-metre monstrosity Strange by James Jessop I showed you yesterday has a market value of £15,000!
I don't b e l i e v e it!

In War and Peace

Jean Leon Gerome Ferris - Let Us Have Peace (1865)Here's a turn up for the book: Stephen James Ferris's little lad was so enamoured of the great French artist Jean-Léon Gérôme that he called himself Jean Leon Gerome Ferris! Here's his painting Let Us Have Peace (1865), an exhibit in a major new exhibition about the American Civil War at the New-York Historical Society: Grant and Lee in War and Peace, which continues until 29 March 2009 (title link). Warning: I cooked my lunch - a 14-minute baguette - while this secure website was loading over my 56K modem! That will still be minutes on broadband. Why do web designers discourage visitors in this daft way? Chumps, according to research in the UK you have only 4 seconds before the average broadband user gets bored and goes elsewhere.

Freud: unfinished Bacon

Lucien Freud - Unfinished Portrait of Francis BaconAssuming you're rich enough to light your Havana cigars with flaming dollar bills, would you bid £7m for this unfinished portrait? If you were a mug who believed the Brit. Anti-art Establishment's claim that the portrait painter and his sitter were two of the greatest artists of the 20th Century, I suppose you might. Collector's item? Another investment for the vault? Oh, have it your own way. Slide your latest supermodel into your Lamborghini and burn rubber to reach Christie's in London. (I refer to the car's tyres, not to the languid tart.)
Update 20/10/08: sold for £5.4m ($9.4m).

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Artenade Auction

Red Cross LogoThere are so many art auctions in London that I don't bother with most of them, but here's one that deserves a mention: the Artenade Autumn Auction Night on Wednesday 22 October, 6pm to 9pm. Its a two-part auction of affordable art in aid of the British Red Cross. The first part is a "silent" auction; the second a "live" auction conducted by the Chairman of Christie's. You'll find this event at the Framers Gallery, 36 Windmill Street, London, W1T 2JT. Click the title link to view some of the works kindly donated to this worthy cause.

Gerald Laing's Posh

Gerald Laing - Posh (Victoria Beckham)An exhibition of new work by aging Pop artist Gerald Laing opened yesterday at the Ocontemporary gallery in Soho, London, and continues until 15 November: Gerald Laing: New Paintings For Modern Times. The overexposed celebs he depicts may be relatively modern - Amy Winehouse, Kate Moss, Victoria Beckham (shown) -, but the style is as fresh as last week's pavement curry. BBC News has posted some works from the exhibition online (CLICK). The title link takes you to Ocontemporary.

Wang Guangyi

Wang Guangyi - People Under the Horror (2008)This picture may look like one of those installation thingies, but it's a painting by Chinese artist Wang Guangyi: People Under the Horror (2008). His exhibition Wang Guangyi: Cold War Aesthetics opened yesterday at the Louise Blouin Institute in London and continues until 17 March 2009. It's part of the Louise Blouin Foundation’s "Culture Beyond Borders" series, which tries to persuade us that bad art from other countries is more interesting than our own bad art. Still, this show looks an improvement on previous ones. Click the title link.

The Mall Galleries

Joy Stanley Ricketts - Thomas Scott aged 11 yearsTwo exhibitions opened at the Mall Galleries in London this week. Both continue until Sunday 26 October. Entry to the Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers is free. This miniature portrait of Thomas Scott aged 11 years by Joy Stanley Ricketts is a splendid example of the art form. The other exhibition is by the Royal Society of Marine Artists, admission £2.50, concessions £1.50.

The Free Art Fair

James Jessop - StrangeStrange indeed! The Free Art Fair is back and bigger than before. It occupies two streets in London (click the title link for their location on a map). It's staffed by volunteers and free to enter. On Sunday, when the show closes, all the artworks will be given away on a first-come-first-served basis. If you don't fancy James Jessop's monstrous Strange (I can see why he wants to lose it) choose from the work of 50 other artists. Don't blame me if you get crushed in the stampede.

Friday, 17 October 2008

The Art of David Cox

David Cox - Pont Neuf from the Quai de l’Ecole, Paris (1829)English landscape artist David Cox (1783-1859) has long been in the shadow of Constable and Turner. Yesterday the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven (title link) opened Sun, Wind, and Rain: The Art of David Cox, which marks next year's 150th anniversary of the artist’s death and shows more than 100 of his watercolours as well as oil paintings. This is the first major retrospective of his work in the USA. It continues until 4 January 2009, when it will cross the Atlantic for a showing at the Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery, which helped organise the exhibition. Read the Birmingham Post article for more information (CLICK).

Starvation Update

Titian - Diana and Actaeon (1556-59) detailFor Blog Action Day: Poverty on 15 October I published two posts on starvation. In the second of these posts - The Art Fund's £1m - I asked "How many children will die of starvation before that deadline [31 December] is met?" Former UN chief Kofi Annan provided the answer during a speech for World Food Day, which was yesterday in case you missed it. He stated that 10,000 children die from malnutrition each day. So, from 15 October to 31 December roughly three quarters of a million children will die of starvation. This is why in 2007 Jean Ziegler, the former UN special rapporteur on the right to food, condemned biofuels as a "crime against humanity" (CLICK, CLICK, CLICK).

Renaissance Faces 2

Giovanni Francesco Caroto - Portrait of a Young Boy holding a Child's DrawingI previewed the National Gallery's Renaissance Faces: Van Eyck To Titian a few weeks ago and gave it the thumbs up (CLICK). It opened on Wednesday and BBC News has posted some of the paintings online (CLICK). This impish little fellow is one of the exhibits: Giovanni Francesco Caroto's Portrait of a Young Boy holding a Child's Drawing. Many of the portraits are famous, but this one is new to me. The Renaissance and High Renaissance saw the birth - not the rebirth - of high-quality, psychological portraiture, sometimes with a sense of humour, and I can't help feeling it's been going downhill ever since! If you have the slightest interest in art, this show is a must.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Annie and Frieze

Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990-2005 (2008)Two noteworthy shows opened in London today. First there's Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990-2005 at the National Portrait Gallery (title link) organised by the Brooklyn Museum. BBC News has posted some pictures of the exhibition (CLICK). Then, if you're a fat cat immune from the Credit Crunch, there's the insanely overpriced Frieze Art Fair in Regent’s Park, which will cost you £20 tomorrow or £25 at the weekend just to get in (CLICK)! They like to keep the riff-raff out. They've excluded Coxsoft Art for a start.

Surfers' Brain Scans

University of California - Brain Scans of Silver Surfer (1) reading a book and (2) searching the Internet (2008)Good news, silver surfers: the University of California in Los Angeles has published a study of brain scans of 24 volunteers aged between 55 and 76 which demonstrates that surfing the Internet increases brain activity. On the left is the brain scan of a silver surfer when reading a book. On the right is the brain scan of of a silver surfer when searching the Internet. Googling stimulates centres in the brain which control decision-making and complex reasoning. Half the 24 subjects were new to the Internet; the other half experienced surfers. The experienced surfers showed more brain activity on the scans when searching the Internet than the newbies. The sample is small - only 24 subjects -, but the results are interesting. Click the title link for the long-winded version.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

The Art Fund's £1m

Titian - Diana and Actaeon (1556-59)Here's an example of how our priorities need to change (see next post down). Yesterday it was announced that The Art Fund has donated £1m toward the £50m needed to buy Titian's Diana and Actaeon (1556-59) from the Duke of Sutherland, who needs to raise £100m because he's feeling the pinch. This is the largest single donation for an individual work of art in the charity's 105-year history. Only another £49m to go before the deadline of 31 December. How many children will die of starvation before that deadline is met?

Blog Action Day 2008

Starvation in Africa and EuropeIn recent weeks I've seen two BBC News items on poverty in the UK and both convinced me that the fat cats at the BBC haven't a clue about this subject. The first item was on child poverty. To illustrate this problem, a chubby dad was filmed complaining that he often went to bed feeling peckish, because his food went to his kids. In his living room was an entertainment centre with a 4-ft wide television, worth about £1000! His equally chubby wife was filmed loading her washing machine! Another BBC item, this time on fuel poverty, showed a pensioner trying to stuff a huge joint of meat, worth about £10, into her oven! As I can't afford expensive joints of meat or a washing machine or a £1000 entertainment centre, the "poor" people in these news items didn't win my sympathy. They weren't really poor. They were consumers who hadn't learned to live within their means. Now look at the combined graphic above, which shows true poverty: starvation. The starving Sudanese child on the left is almost certainly dead by now (CLICK). Vasky (2007) on the right, one of Bulgaria's Abandoned Children, is receiving better treatment (CLICK). So let's be clear what poverty is: the inability to obtain food. Ending death and disability caused by starvation should be our top priority, and this demands a major rethink of Western policies.

Sarah Palin Naked 2

Pricasso (Tim Patch) - Sarah Palin Naked (2008)Whatever you may think of the right-wing geriatric's running mate from Alaska, you must admit that Sarah Palin is bringing out the best in contemporary artists. First it was Chicago publican Bruce Elliott who depicted Sarah in the buff (CLICK). Now Aussie weirdo Tim Patch, who goes by the nom-de-thingy Pricasso, because he paints with his dick, has been inspired by the delightful Palin to ... er ... well ... er ... set dick to canvas. Ouch! The perspective on Sarah's gun barrel may be wobbly, but isn't it amazing what Tim can do with his pride-and-joy? Click the title link for more titillating revelations from Art News Blog. Yes, I know, ladies; this is all part of a male-chauvinist plot to demean women and keep them in their place. But, if a female version of Vladimir Putin doesn't scare the hell out of you, it should.

Monday, 13 October 2008

TH.2058 at Tate Modern

The latest load of cobblers at Tate Modern is 200 blue or yellow bunk beds in the Turbine Hall. You can lay on one and read a novel about humanity under threat: H.G. Wells' War Of The Worlds or Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 for instance. TH.2058 is the fevered brainchild of French ex-museum guard Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, who wants Londoners to imagine that we're seeking refuge from an unspecified environmental disaster. It's called The Credit Crunch, Dominique, and you're not helping by wasting money in this way. There are also a few hangovers from previous shows, such as Louise Bourgeois' ropey old spider. This tosh opens tomorrow. Given some urns, it could make a useful soup kitchen for tramps and illegal immigrants over Christmas.

Happy 50th, Paddington

Dennis Hwang - Google Doodle: Happy 50th Birthday Paddington Bear (2008)Have you noticed today's Google Doodle, which commemorates the 50th birthday of Paddington Bear by Michael Bond? Dennis Hwang - Google's resident doodler - has added his name to the list of illustrators who have drawn Paddington. In case you can't read the signpost, it points to Peru in one direction and London in another. Dennis has managed to capture the cute essence of Paddington and his tale in one 14Kb graphic! Terrific. He's bringing art to the masses without a grant from Arts Council England and doing a great PR job for Google.

Virgin Tate Liverpool

The new nameplate for Virgin's Pendolino train Tate Liverpool (2008)Unveiled at Liverpool's Lime Street Station, one of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Pendolino trains is named Tate Liverpool to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the opening of Tate Liverpool. I'm not sure this is genuine art news; but, so far as I know, this is the only train ever to be named after an art gallery. It has something to do with Liverpool's being European Capital of Culture (snigger). Complain about the Turner Prize as much as we like, last year's Turner Prize exhibition in Tate Liverpool is estimated to have contributed more than £10 million to the region’s economy. Excuse me while I go and bang my head against the wall!

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Slum In The Sky

Accordia Housing Estate, Cambridge (2008)How's this for a slum in the sky? Looks awful, doesn't it? Believe it or not, this is the winner of the Royal Institute of Architecture's Stirling Prize 2008. It's the Accordia housing estate in Cambridge, perpetrated by architects Alison Brooks, Richard Lavington and Keith Bradley. It might be a bit too lumpy for graffiti artists, but it looks perfect for drug-dealers, muggers and teenage gangsters. What a shame we can't force the Stirling judges to live in this ugly building for a few years.

'Edgy' Art Out

Paul Day - Clay Model of Reflection in Spectacles (2008)That image of a train driver as the Grim Reaper which I posted yesterday seems to have received a collective raspberry; but it is the above image that has given London & Continental Railways, which owns St Pancras Station, the pip. To the right of Paul Day's clay model of a spectacles lens is a man beginning to fall in front of an oncoming train. Whoops! Not the best spectacle for commuters. This sort of thing happens too often and is a bloody nuisance, because it makes thousands of people late for work. BBC News quotes a spokesperson for London & Continental Railways: "The frieze as originally suggested will not go ahead and work on it has stopped." So much for "edgy" art. Common sense at last.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Tacky Terminal Art

Paul Day - Clay Model of Skeleton Train Driver (2008)Not content with Paul Day's sculpture Meeting Place beneath the clock at St Pancras International Station, London and Continental Railways has commissioned Day to add a bronze frieze to the base of his sculpture for a rumoured £500,000. Credit crunch? What credit crunch? Day's ghastly designs in clay were unveiled at the station yesterday. This skeleton train driver will be be a real confidence booster to nervous passengers! The 3D effect is excellent, but oh for less tacky subject matter. Click the title link to delve deeper into Day's dark designs.