Sunday, 30 November 2008

Joseph Farquharson

Joseph Farquharson - Beneath The Snow Encumbered Branches (ca 1901)We've all seen this iconic British painting, because it's one of our most popular Christmas cards, but what's its title and who painted it? Answer: Beneath The Snow Encumbered Branches (ca 1901) by Scottish laird Joseph Farquharson, nicknamed "Frozen Mutton Farquharson". It was last bought in the 1960s for £1,450. Card company WN Sharpe bought the publication rights to the picture more than 30 years ago. Now Hallmark Cards owns the rights. But the painting remained in private hands. Next Wednesday it goes on sale at auctioneers Lyon and Turnbull in Edinburgh and is expected to fetch a minimum of £70,000.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Driftwood Horses

Heather Jansch - Driftwood HorsesIsn't it amazing what an artist can do with driftwood? Devon-based sculptress Heather Jansch has been using driftwood to create horses since the 1970s and has made about 100 of them. The larger ones need a steel frame, can weigh up to three quarters of a ton and sell for £55,000. Despite this, Heather has a long waiting list of buyers. Click the title link to see more photos of her work, including a stag.

Russian Sales Fall

Silver Soup TureenRecession has hit the November sales of Russian art in London. Auction houses Sotheby's, Christie's, Bonham's and Russian specialist MacDougall's have all reported disappointing sales. This nautical silver soup tureen, which once belonging to Russian Tsarina Catherine II, was estimated to be worth £400,000 to £600,000, but it failed to reach its reserve price and didn't sell. Oh, hard cheese. Too rococo, maybe?

Spaghetti Art For Sale

Renato Guttuso - Melancholia Nova (1980)Alitalia, the bankrupt Italian airline, is selling off its collection of modern spaghetti art, which includes works by Giuseppe Capogrossi, Renato Guttuso, Mario Sironi, Fortunato Depero, Ottone Rosai, Massimo Campigli, Giacomo Manzu and Mario Ceroli. Who? you might well ask. The only one I've heard of before is the sculptor Mario Ceroli, and that's because he chained himself to his bronze horse during a recent legal dispute (CLICK). A quick Google found the spaghetti painters and revealed their varied "art" as ghastly amateur tripe. The best I saw was Renato Guttuso's Melancholia Nova (1980). The moral of this tale? Never invest in a firm which wastes money on "modern art".

V&A Buys Cup

King James II Coronation Cup (1685)London's Victoria and Albert Museum has bought this extremely rare King James II Coronation Cup (1685) from a private collection for £160,000. The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) donated £80,000 toward the purchase, the Art Fund £25,000, plus other donations. The cup was designed on the orders of barons Cresheld Draper MP and Gawden Draper, using silver canopy fittings gifted to them for bearing the canopy over the heads of King James II and Queen Mary during their coronation.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Santa Claus Settled

Paul McCarthy - Santa Claus (2001)If news in the real world - recession, Baby P's torture, Islamic nutters' mayhem in Mubai - is making you glum, here's a Santa story to cheer you up. Today, Paul McCarthy's 6-metre-tall, black-patinated bronze, garden-gnome-style Santa Claus (2001) brandishing a dildo was finally installed at the Eendrachtsplein in "downtown" Rotterdam. This monstrosity was originally designed for the city centre, but municipal councillors gave it the raspberry, and who can blame them? A campaign by local shopkeepers has prevailed, and now Santa has a new home in time for Christmas. Ah!

The Foundling Hospital

Sophie Anderson - Foundling Girls in their School Dresses at Prayer in the ChapelFrench-born Pre-Raphaelite sister Sophie Anderson (1823-1903) created a successful career in Britain as an artist long before feminists started moaning that male chauvinists denied women artistic careers. Her charming Foundling Girls in their School Dresses at prayer in the Chapel is one of my favourites. It isn't part of the following exhibition, but forms a perfect introduction to it. Next year, the museum of the Foundling Hospital - Britain's original home for abandoned children and London's first ever public art gallery - marks the 250th anniversary of Handel’s death (14 April 1759) with Handel the Philanthropist, from 16 January to 28 June 2009. Handel was one of the hospital's founding patrons. To learn more, click the title link. To view an online gallery of Sophie Anderson's paintings CLICK.

Carla Bruni Portrait

Pal Sarkozy & Werner Hornung - Digital Portrait of Carla Bruni (detail)How does this portrait of charm bombshell Carla Bruni, the French First Lady, grab you? It's obvious she's a vast improvement on Margaret Thatcher as first lady's go, but the work fails to capture either her charm or her beauty. Pal Sarkozy - the French PM's dad - did the painting and Werner Hornung digitized it. The blurb (title link) is garbled, but I gather the portrait has just gone on display in Valencia, Spain, in an exhibition entitled Out of Mind, 4 hands for 1 creation. One truly talented pair of hands would have been better. And surely a woman in Carla's position should aspire to something more productive than strumming a guitar and yodelling. What an example for French youth! It's like Nero fiddling while Rome burns.

New English Art Club

Jeremy Mulvey - Executive Let's Go (2008)The New English Art Club Annual Exhibition opens today at the Mall Galleries in London and continues until 8 December, admission £2.50, concessions £1.50. Many of the works are topical. Judging by Jeremy Mulvey's Executive Let's Go (2008) the fat cats aren't getting much sympathy. I know how you feel, Jeremy. Where I work, a bunch of overpaid plonkers are in charge. All they do is have meetings about meetings about how they can make life more difficult for poorly-paid front-line staff. When they do finally come to some half-baked decision, we do our best to ignore it! They've been redundant for years, but refuse to sack themselves.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Cardinal Wants Baptism

Piero della Francesca - The Baptism of Christ (ca 1450)Watch out! There's a cardinal about! And he's after one of The National Gallery's priceless treasures: Piero della Francesca's The Baptism of Christ (ca 1450). Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, reckons that this early Renaissance painting isn't a work of art at all; it's a work of "faith and piety". So he wants it for his cathedral. What gall! Hey, Cormac, why not grab Leonardo's The Madonna of The Rocks as well? It's a better painting. In fact, why not lay claim to most of early Renaissance art, which was dominated by religious propaganda? On the practical side, this work is so fragile it can't be moved. It needs to be in constant gallery care with temperature, humidity and light levels all controlled. Moving it to Westminster Cathedral would probably destroy it. Isn't it time the men in white coats paid Cormac a visit? He'll be after one of Hirst's stuffed sharks next!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Lucrezia Borgia

Dosso Dossi - Lucrezia BorgiaArtDaily has posted a better graphic of the possible Lucrezia Borgia portrait attributed to Dosso Dossi, plus a far better explanation of the thinking involved, than in yesterday's BBC News item. I've improved the ArtDaily graphic (title link) by making the background darker and by slightly increasing the gamma setting (CLICK for a larger version). The sombre garment worn by the subject is revealed as an expensive fur! (Renaissance sitters liked to show off their wealth.) The notion that the sitter was a youth comes from what seems to be the pommel of a sword in "his" hands; but it could also be the hilt of a dagger the sitter is pointing at herself! Why? A previous Lucretia. a heroine of ancient Rome, killed herself with a dagger to save her family's honour after she had been raped. Renaissance patrons and artists loved symbolism. The myrtle bush and flowers represent the goddess Venus and the Latin inscription reinforces this connection with its reference to Virtue and Beauty. So, this is a very rich young woman making serious claims to nobility. Dosso Dossi is known to have painted a set of oval paintings - rare - around 1515 to 1520 in the Este court in Ferrara, where Lucrezia Borgia lived. I'm convinced. Click the title link to read more.

Carl's Foodscapes

Carl Warner - Secret Cave (2008)In January I posted news of artist/photographer Carl Warner, who creates landscapes with food (CLICK). The Daily Mail gave his latest crop of photos a two-page spread yesterday. You'll find some online (title link). This one is Secret Cave (2008), made from cauliflowers, spiky kiwano fruits, broccoli, rice, truffle paste, carrots, bread and even snails (the French eat them). I can't say I approve of wasting food, but you must admit his foodscapes are imaginative, beautiful and perfectly lit. Note the castaway's hut on the little beach.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Dossi's Lucrezia Borgia?

Dosso Dossi - Portrait of Lucrezia Borgia?This painting, which Australia's National Gallery of Victoria bought in 1965 as a Portrait of a Youth by an unknown artist, is now claimed to be a portrait of the infamous Lucrezia Borgia by Dosso Dossi (1490-1542). On what evidence? The face bears a "striking resemblance" to a profile of Lucrezia on a bronze medal made in 1502, according to conservator Carl Villis. Yes ... well ... er ... mm. So Dosso would have been 12 years old when he painted Lucrezia, would he? A prodigy, obviously. The hairstyle and face are girlish, and an artist would be inclined to place a young female sitter against a background of flowers. (She hasn't been deflowered yet, lads). But why should little Miss Borgia be wearing such sombre, boyish apparel? Sorry, Carl; I think you're seeing what you want to see.

(Red)™ Room

Annie Leibovitz - Christy Turlington photo for Red (2006)The National Portrait Gallery's exhibition Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990-2005 will have an addition from 27 November to 4 December: (Red)™ Room. This marks World AIDS Day on 1 December. There's a late night opening on Thursday 27 November, from 18.30 to 22.30, with music and drinks. Free condoms might be a better idea, but nobody catches AIDS at the NPG, do they? The gallery will contribute £2 to help fight AIDS in Africa for every late night ticket sold. Click the title link for details.

Shaun Wins Emmy

Shaun The Sheep © Aardman AnimationsHe may be looking a bit ... er ... sheepish, but don't let that look fool you. Aardman Animations' Shaun the Sheep triumphed in New York yesterday, winning an International Emmy for best TV show for children and young people. Brits did well at the award ceremony, gaining seven of the 10 awards, but let's hear it for Shaun: Baa-aaa-aaa. Find him on BBC One. Click the title link for all the winners.

Monday, 24 November 2008

In Praise of Big M

McDonald's Golden ArchesThe news that a US couple is suing McDonald's, because nude images of the wife ended up on the Internet (don't ask), made me look again at the big M. It's a variant of subliminal advertising. The golden arches are breasts. All they need are nipples on top to make their meaning obvious. And what do breasts mean to us? Mother's milk nurturing our young, trustworthy, safe, sexy and universal. What artistic genius created this maternal symbol to persuade the world's teenagers to eat beefburgers with a squirt of ketchup, a lick of cheese and a slice of gherkin?

Angels From Hell

Emily Young - Angel Heads (2008)These two heads look like damaged Roman gods unearthed in an archaeological dig, but no; they are examples of contemporary art, supposedly the heads of angels. Pardon me, but in the days of my boyhood when misguided people were trying to brainwash me into believing in Christianity, I was told that angels were divinely beautiful beings. In Emily Young's hands they are relics from Hell. There are seven and a half of them. Did the chisel slip, Emily? No. They represent 7.5 centuries and they were commissioned to mark the 750th anniversary of Salisbury Cathedral in Wiltshire. Canon treasurer Mark Bonney thinks they're wonderful. He would do; he's the Philistine who paid the bill. The exhibition of these monsters continues in the cathedral until 9 February 2009.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Little Dorrit

Claire Foy as Amy Dorrit (2008)I'm hooked on Little Dorrit, the BBC One serialisation of Dickens' novel. I'm so completely hooked I'm watching the Sunday omnibus editions as well as the twice-weekly episodes! A treat to look forward to on TV: unbelievable! The two leads - newcomer Claire Foy as Amy Dorrit and Matthew Macfadyen as Arthur Clennam - underplay their parts perfectly, leaving a host of strong character actors to ham it up as befits Dickens' OTT caricatures. Macfadyen surveys them all with a slightly bemused expression, likable yet with a touch of Victorian pomposity, while Claire manages to convey repressed emotions with a glance. Her gaunt beauty suggests deprivation, and her make-up artist and hair stylist have played to that look. Direction: best I've seen since David Lean's classic adaptations of Oliver Twist and Great Expectations. Sets, script, lighting, casting, music; all immaculate. If this series doesn't garner top awards, the judges should be drip-fed with an infusion of art.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Knickers Under Scan

'Go on, mate; have a good look.'Ladies, if you visit London's Trafalgar Square before 30 November you're likely to find someone leering up your skirt. Don't be flattered. It's all part of a soppy art installation which projects video images of 300 Londoners on to the pavement. The moving images show up in your shadow. It's called Under Scan and it's the brainchild of Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. I saw a try-out on BBC London News a week ago and wasn't impressed. Still, whatever turns you on....

Rockwell Museum Medal

J. C. Leyendecker - Weapons for Liberty - U.S.A. Bonds (1918)Congratulations to the Norman Rockwell Museum, which recently received the National Humanities Medal - America’s highest award for work by individuals and institutions in the field of the humanities - from President George W. Bush at the White House. I suppose he had to get something right before he left office! And no, this illustration isn't by Rockwell. It's J. C. Leyendecker's Weapons for Liberty - U.S.A. Bonds (1918), one of the posters in NRM's current exhibition Over the Top: American Posters from World War I, which continues until 25 January 2009. It's Over The Top in every sense of the phrase! Might be an idea for Uncle Gordon Brown, though: UK Credit Crunch Bonds.

Tat-ta Turner's Temple

J.M.W. Turner - The Temple of Jupiter Panellenius (1816)J.M.W. Turner's The Temple of Jupiter Panellenius (1816) - a major oil painting worth as much as £10.6m ($16m) - is on display at Sotheby's in London until 4 December. It's doing the grand tour - Paris, London and Los Angeles - prior to being auctioned at Sotheby's New York in January. My guess is that this is the last time it will ever be on public view in the UK. (The current owner is American; the painting is merely visiting London and therefore cannot be blocked from leaving the country; and US art galleries have bigger budgets than do British ones.) So it's Tat-ta Turner's Temple.

Euro Museum Crashes!

Europeana Think Culture Logo (2008)Europeana, the new Euro online museum, was launched two days ago by Jose Manuel Durao Barroso - president of the European Commission - with the fat-cat ministers of Culture of the European Union in Brussels, Belgium. Latest news: "The Europeana site is temporarily not accessible due to overwhelming interest after its launch (10 million hits per hour). We are doing our utmost to reopen Europeana in a more robust version as soon as possible. We will be back by mid-December" (title link). They hope! Same old story. Haw, haw, haw. Hard cheese, Manuel. How much is this white elephant costing us? CLICK to see the video of how it might look, if they ever get it to work. It's only in English or possibly American (I didn't check).

Friday, 21 November 2008

Sotheby's Victorian Sale

John William Waterhouse - Flora (1890) detailNot to be outdone in the Beautiful Art Stakes, Sotheby's is bringing us a Victorian and Edwardian Art Sale on 9 December. John William Waterhouse's exquisite Flora (first exhibited at the RA in 1891) is a gem I wish to see bought for the nation. It's been in a private American collection for too long, and it's a snip at £200,000 to £300,000. Go on, National Gallery: L08132-129. Sale items will be on display at Sotheby's New Bond Street showrooms, London, from 5 December. There are also three paintings by John Atkinson Grimshaw, ranging from £40,000 to £600,000. Think how many British masterpieces we could save for the nation with that £50m which some twits are prepared to waste on a Titian.

Victorian Art Sale

Charles Edward Perugini - The Countess Granville with her daughters, the Ladies Victoria and Mary Leveson-Gower, on the ramparts of Walmer Castle (detail)It makes a pleasant change to post beautiful art on Coxsoft Art News, even when the title is quite a handful. This is a detail from The Countess Granville with her daughters, the Ladies Victoria and Mary Leveson-Gower, on the ramparts of Walmer Castle by Charles Edward Perugini (1839-1918). It's up for auction - estimated value from £300,000 to £500,000 - at Christie’s December sale of Victorian and Traditionalist Pictures in London. There is also a group of four works by John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893) which includes Blue Belle (1877), possibly a portrait of his daughter Enid, valued at £70,000 to £100,000. When you think of the insane prices chumps are prepared to invest in tripe by Big Names, gems such as this are bargains.

UN Ceiling: View 2

Miquel Barcelo - Ceiling (2008)Here's another view of Miquel Barcelo's ghastly £15m UN ceiling which I carped about on Wednesday (CLICK). How the fat cats live! King Juan Carlos of Spain is reported to have praised the ceiling as "doubtless creative beauty". Surely he meant "doubtful creative beauty". A lick of whitewash would have looked smarter at a fraction of the cost. Apparently the notion behind this mess was to create the illusion of a cavern. Try the interior of Westminster Cathedral in London for awesome, spine-tingling, cavernous architecture. You don't need to be Catholic to rubber-neck.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

US General's Tart-up

General Ann Dunwoody before & after digital tart-up (2008)You can't trust those chaps at the Pentagon. Here are two versions of General Ann Dunwoody, in the news for gaining an extra star. On the left is the untouched photo. On the right is the digitally enhanced photo with General Dunwoody looking a bit like a young and suntanned Doris Day against the US flag. Calamity Jane: "I just blew in from the windy city ... tra la la." The Associated Press (AP) news agency, which prides itself on distributing accurate photos, spotted that some dirty artwork was afoot and issued this comparison. It has suspended the use of US Department of Defence photos. Click the title link for a bigger graphic.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

UK Money-wasters

Titian - Diana and Actaeon (detail)The National Heritage Memorial Fund has donated £10m toward the purchase of Titian's Diana and Actaeon! Where is the British heritage in a Venetian master's painting of a Greek myth? This latest contribution raises serious questions about inappropriate use of funds. Razia Iqbal's blog is receiving comments (CLICK). Last year the fat cats all wanted to apologize for slavery. Now they want to buy a painting that glorifies it. "Hey, goddess with the little head, am I not a woman and a sister?"

UN Money-wasters

Miquel Barcelo - Ceiling Abstract (2008)Here's a perfect example of how the fat cats in power waste money. This garish mess by Spanish decorator - I won't call him an artist - Miquel Barcelo is the newly unveiled ceiling of the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room at the United Nations offices in Geneva. It cost £15m (18m euro thingies) which could have been spent on helping the poor and starving. It's already caused a political rumpus in Spain, because, according to the Spanish opposition party, £421,425 of this money came from a budget for overseas development aid! The UN has slumped in my estimation. Wasting a fortune on this tripe is immoral.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

B of the Bang Update

Thomas Heatherwick - B of the Bang (2005)Over the past year, a few subscribers have unsubscribed due to "too many updates". No apology, folks. Unlike BBC News, which leaves a lot of stories dangling, I like to bring you the conclusion of a story. I covered the legal hassle over Thomas Heatherwick's B of the Bang (2005) last December (CLICK) with an addendum (CLICK). Now here's the conclusion: Thomas Heatherwick Studio Ltd has agreed to pay Manchester City Council £1.7m in an out-of-court settlement (title link). Ouch! I guess the moral of this story is that art and engineering don't always mix well.

Zero-G Daub Sells

Back in July I took the Mickey out of Nasser Azam's daft Life in Space project (before CLICK and after CLICK) during which he completed Homage to Francis Bacon: Triptych I in zero gravity. It's difficult to believe, but some idiot bought this rubbish for £223,000 ($332,500) at a New York auction. It fetched well over its estimate on a day when half the works on offer remained unsold or were withdrawn. It proves yet again that artistic talent means nothing to rich punters; it's gimmicks that sell! You can see Triptych II - another zero-G effort - and more of Azam's tosh at County Hall in London.

Joseph Wright of Derby

Joseph Wright of Derby - Sir Richard Arkwright (1785)Now here's a painting worth buying for the nation: Joseph Wright of Derby's portrait of Lancashire cotton king Sir Richard Arkwright (1785). London's National Portrait Gallery and the Harris Museum in Preston - the city where Arkwright was born in 1732 - teamed up to buy the portrait. The Art Fund put £100,000 into the pot, and the National Heritage Memorial Fund added £132,000. The painting cost £420,000, which is a bargain in terms of art-market silly prices. Not only is it of historic importance to Britain's Industrial Revolution, but also Joseph Wright of Derby was one of our finest and most innovative artists. The portrait will be on display at NPG until January 2009.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Palace Invitation

Bruegel to Rubins: Masters of Flemish PaintingCoxsoft Art has been invited to a lecture and private viewing of Bruegel to Rubens: Masters of Flemish Painting at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, on Wednesday 26 November, from 6pm to 8pm. Trouble is the price: £12. Sorry, Ma'am, that's a bit too stiff for Coxsoft Art. If anyone is interested, click the title link. Pre-booking is essential.

Top Bun

Aardman Animations - Gromit in A Matter of Loaf and Death (2008)We all need cheering up after the next post down, so why not visit Wallace and Gromit's website? You'll find all the usual characters there and some neat animations (title link). Meanwhile, BBC News is bemoaning the fact that A Matter of Loaf and Death - the lads' latest escapade as bakers running Top Bun and threatened by a "cereal killer" - has missed winning an Oscar (CLICK). Don't panic! It hasn't been pipped at the post, but missed the October deadline. So it won't be eligible for an Oscar until 2010. Why worry, Auntie? It's got to be Top Bun.

Sterling Stuff II

Damien Hirst - I Once Was What You Are, You Will Be What I Am (2008)Guess who? Yes, it's Moneybags Hirst's latest brush with death, this one in silver, given the usual verbose title: I Once Was What You Are, You Will Be What I Am. Thanks for reminding us, Moneybags. He's also exhibiting something that looks like a sword from a swordfish on a cow's head: Grotesque Unicorn. This nonsense is part of Sterling Stuff II, which opened today at Pangolin London's King Place Gallery and continues until 18 January 2009 (title link). The gallery commissioned 50 contemporary artists to create works in silver. (It did the same in 2002 for Sterling Stuff I). Amidst all the glitter, watch out for Shoe Tongue by fashion photographer David Bailey CBE, the new kid on the sculpture scene. I can't say it's as artistic as his best photos.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Antiques Roadshow £1m

Antony Gormley's Model of Angel of the North plus Coxsoft's Art Tutor AngelThe well-publicised secret of the first object to be valued at £1m on BBC One's Antiques Roadshow was revealed this evening. Don't all groan at once! It's a model of Antony Gormley's Flasher of the North (1998). For Goodness' sake! What makes a model of that tosh worth £1m? Here's the model beside my Angel for Art Tutor eight years earlier (1990). I published the first Angel graphic on a shareware diskette Flights of Fantasy in 1989. Ever own an Atari ST, Gormley?

Liquid Sculpture™

Martin Waugh - Liquid Sculpture™Here's a perfect example of science beating art at it's own game. This amazing photo is one of many images of Liquid Sculpture™ by US photographer Martin Waugh. For last year's Smirnoff advertising campaign, he took 1,400 such images to obtain the three that were finally selected by the advertising agency! More recently he created images for a Coca Cola product launch. Click the title link for lots of technical information about this photographic technique on Martin's blog. For more examples of his Liquid Sculpture™ CLICK.

The Aeolian Tower

Alastair Fyfe - The Aeolian Tower (2008)You have one evening left in which to visit The Aeolian Tower, near Waterloo Bridge, South Bank, London. This temporary structure (part of the One Dot Zero - Adventure In Motion festival at the British Film Institute) holds 1200 wind-powered LEDs, which vary in intensity according to the breeze. Its purpose is to demonstrate that renewable energy can be used to power art and design, hardly an original concept. Still, it's Green. Shame about the art.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Adam Neate Print Found

Adam Neate - Er...?You won't believe this, but on my way to work this morning I found one of Adam Neate's cello-wrapped prints on cardboard. This one. In Clements Road, Ilford, Ghetto Redbridge. Now don't get jealous. It's merely print No 733 of a limited-edition print run of 1000. Limited? No frame, and it isn't even signed. Bit optimistic, Adam, expecting to flog 1000 of these things. No wonder you had to give them away. I've put it over last year's Beyonce calendar for the time being. (It was the only halfway decent one in the January sale 2007, and I've got used to having Beyonce hanging around.) Some cheeky devils are already offering Adam's freebies on eBay for £1,000 (CLICK). Okay, you can be a bit jealous. Mine has a November 2008 WC2H 8DH post mark.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Secret Postcard Sale

Hare by Whom? (2008)The annual Secret Postcard Sale at the Royal College of Art in London opened today. About 2,700 professional artists and students have contributed to this year's event. The postcards will be on view at the RCA until the first-come-first-served sale at £40 a throw on 22 November. Then you find out who you bought. Will it be Nick Parks? If you've bought rubbish by Tracey Emin, Anish Kapoor or Yoko Ono - Eeeek! -, hard cheese; you have only yourself to blame. Don't kid yourself this hare is by Albrecht Dürer, but it's rather good. Can't be from one of the hacks, can it? Click the title link for the RCA website.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Darwin: the Big One

Darwin: Big Idea, Big Exhibition (2008)Darwin: Big Idea, Big Exhibition opens tomorrow at the Natural History Museum in London. This is part of Darwin 200, a UK-wide programme to celebrate the impact of Darwin's ideas for his 200th birthday in 2009. It was jointly organised by NHM with the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the Museum of Science in Boston, the Field Museum in Chicago and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. Admission is £9 adults, £4.50 children, £6 concessions. Big, but pricey (title link).

Mall Gallery Website OK

The Mall Gallery website is finally up and running again, just in time for The ING Discerning Eye exhibition, which opened today and continues until 23 November. This is "contemporary art", a term which has been debased. It no longer means "work by living artists", but "trendy tripe by artists living or dead", in fact the antithesis of the "discerning eye". The graphic shown on the website isn't worth posting here. But don't let me put you off, if you're passing and think yourself trendy. The art is "affordable" and admission is free.


British Museum - Cover of Babylon Exhibition Catalogue (2008)Today the British Museum opens Babylon, Myth And Reality, which explores the art and artifacts of this fabled city in what is now war-torn Iraq. The majestic lion on the cover of the Museum's Catalogue is a glazed brick relief from Babylon's Processional Way, the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 BC). The artist who created that lion two and a half millennia ago knew more about The Wow Factor than do modern "contemporary artists"! Click the title link for a brief video of the exhibition. The bad news is the admission charge: adults £8.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Alfred Sisley

Alfred Sisley - Bridge at Hampton Court (1874)Here's another impressionistic landscape by Alfred Sisley: Bridge at Hampton Court (1874). Note the buildings on top of the bridge, long gone. I previewed The National Gallery's exhibition Sisley In England And Wales in September (CLICK). It opened today and BBC News has posted 10 of Sisley's paintings online (CLICK).

Beatrix Potter Rabbit

Beatrix Potter - Anonymous RabbitThis watercolour of an anonymous rabbit by Beatrix Potter fetched £15,600 at Bonhams' auction in London today, reaching the top estimate. It's peanuts compared with the millions paid for Big Names in art, but it looks as though collectors are beginning to shy away from trash at inflated prices and are snapping up quality illustrations at relatively cheap cost. I was lucky enough to view a Potter dormouse (a realistic nature painting) at the RA Summer Exhibition many years ago, and it wowed me. Artists such as Beatrix Potter and E.H. Shepard were far superior talents to fashionable hacks like Picasso and Rothko. The big question is: Will this little gem stay in the UK, where it belongs?


Jean-Michel Basquiat - Tobacco vs Red Chief (1981-2)The latest tosh at Tate Modern is UBS Openings: Paintings from the 1980s, It opened today and continues until 13 April 2009. The Tate claims this show offers an opportunity to re-appraise Neo-Expressionist painting a quarter of a century after its emergence. Thanks, Tate. If this is the best the show can do - Jean-Michel Basquiat's Tobacco vs Red Chief (1981-2) - it's a wasted re-appraisal of outmoded tripe by untalented hacks. Rubbish, but free. Why bother, unless you're a member of the Brit. Anti-art Establishment? You'll meet all your mates at the show.

Obituary: Dirk Monteny

Dirk Monteny - Springy05 (2007) & Long Geo (2007)Two years ago I posted an article on the fantastic and beautiful images of Belgium artist Dirk Monteny, whose work was based on advanced fractal algorithms (CLICK).
I was saddened to learn that Dirk died of cancer on 4 November. My condolences to his family. Thanks to the Internet, his art lives on for all to see. The two images above, Springy05 (2007) & Long Geo (2007), merely hint at the vast range of Dirk's output. Click the title link for his website. To view his Renderosity gallery CLICK.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

CPS Stops Jesus Case

Terence Koh - Statue of ChristThe private prosecution brought by Essex-girl Emily Mapfuwa against Gateshead's BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art has been taken over by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and stopped. Emily had claimed that Terence Koh's statue of Christ with an erection outraged public decency (CLICK). As mobs of outraged Christians hadn't run amok the way outraged Muslims do, the CPS took the view that public decency hadn't been sufficiently outraged to warrant the prosecution. Hard cheese, Emily. Try Walt Disney Inc. Surely Mickey Mouse with an erection - another of Koh's trashy sculptures - breaches Disney's copyright.

New Wonder Woman?

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman and Beyonce Knowles as HerselfHere is the burning art question of the week: Is the world ready for Beyonce Knowles as Wonder Woman? Beyonce says: "A black Wonder Woman would be a powerful thing. It's time for that, right?" (CLICK). I'm not so sure we need a rehash of Wonder Woman, whatever the colour of its star. It was one of the silliest TV shows of the 1970s. Anyway, here they are side-by-side: Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman and Beyonce Knowles as herself. For all things Wonder Woman, click the title link. Beyonce dear, if you'd care to aerate my lawn with those stilettos, you'd be most welcome.

Monday, 10 November 2008

London Art Giveaway

Adam Neate - Er...?Next Friday, urban artist Adam Neate will give away 1,000 of his works by leaving them around the streets of London. A team of helpers will distribute the pieces from the outskirts of the metropolis to the centre. Tell 'em to give Redbridge a miss, Adam. We have enough litter here. Thanks all the same.

Beware Emin With Gift

Tracey Emin at No 10 (10/11/2008)If Tracey Emin knocked on your front door bearing a gift, would you answer it or leave her to stew on the doorstep? "Lucky, heather, guv? Unmade bed? Titian, maybe?" Leave her to stew would be my advice, because she's after £100m of tax-payers' money to buy Titian's Diana and Actaeon and his Diana and Callisto from the Duke of Sutherland. Somebody was daft enough to open the door, allowing Emin to deliver a petition signed by the likes of Lucian Freud, Damien Hirst and David Hockney. The petition claims these two 16th century works have "inspired generations". They may have inspired generations of little dukes, but there is no evidence they inspired Emin or the other named Brit. art hacks. Give her the bum's rush, Gordon, and tell her where to stuff her Titian print.

Michelle Obama Portrait

Elizabeth Peyton - Michelle and Sasha Obama Listening to Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention August 2008The New Museum in the Big Apple has unveiled this hastily-knocked up mess by Elizabeth Peyton "in tribute" to incoming First Lady Michelle Obama: Michelle and Sasha Obama Listening to Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention August 2008. Catchy title. A good portrait of this attractive lady with her pretty daughter would have been a far better tribute. The cheek of some people! If I'd painted a portrait this awful, I'd have overpainted it. View this ghastly mess in the exhibition Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton. Let's all look forward to the day when a talented artist does the official portrait.