Saturday, 31 January 2009

Shanghai Treasures

Ren Xun - Portrait of bronze collector Wu Dacheng, face painted by Hu Qinhan (1892)Continuing today's Chinese theme, here's the latest exhibition at the British Museum in London. Treasures from Shanghai: ancient Chinese bronzes and jades opened yesterday and continues until 27 March, Room 2, admission free. The exhibits are borrowed from the Shanghai Museum collection and haven't been seen here before. This hand scroll with ink and colours on silk by Ren Xun shows bronze collector Wu Dacheng sitting amid his treasures (1892); the face was painted by Hu Qinhan. Click the title link for further information.

Chinese New Year

Ox with Chinese character for OxHappy Year of the Ox. Although Chinese New Year's Day fell on 26 January this year ... er ... roughly, the celebrations in London take place tomorrow with colourful displays, dancing, singing, dragons and gong-bashing, organized by the London Chinatown Chinese Association. It's a major assault on the Englishman's traditional day of rest, but very picturesque. As few English people live in London any more, the noise doesn't matter. Liftoff is at noon. Click the title link for details.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Saatchi's Latest Tripe

Shadi Ghadirian - Untitled (2008)BBC News has posted an online gallery of some of the dire tripe on display in the latest exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London. Unveiled: New Art From the Middle East opens today and continues until 6 May. Shadi Ghadirian's Untitled (2008) from the Like Everyday series is one of the controversial pieces of junk on show. A Marigold glove as a Muslim woman's face should stir up a few suicide bombers! At least in Saatchi's opening show of Chinese art, there were a few pieces that could give you a smile or make you look twice. This show is complete tripe. Persons of a sensitive disposition should avoid clicking the title link!

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Howson Art Theft

Peter Howson - Hardman's FaceFour paintings by Scottish artist Peter Howson, one of the old "New Glasgow Boys", were stolen during a burglary last Monday from a house at Croftamie, Stirling. The paintings each measure 12in by 10in and feature the Hardman's Face, similar to the one shown here. They weren't framed. If you see them for sale, contact Central Scotland Police. You'll find the link on the BBC News item (title link).

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Polar Bears Up Thames

Eden Statue of Polar Bear and Cub (27/1/09)A polar bear and her cub stranded on an iceberg were towed up the River Thames today, from Greenwich to Tower Bridge and the Houses of Parliament. Don't panic! It's a statue commissioned by Eden, a new digital natural history TV channel. A team of 15 artists spent two months creating this 16ft (5m), 1.5 tonne sculpture. Excellent job. It was created to highlight the plight of the polar bear, whose sea-ice habitat is being lost due to global warming. It faces extinction. Eden is hardly the word with which to describe the state of Earth, but this sculpture is a good way to promote the new channel.

Ancient Egyptian Art

Egyptian Dancing Girls: Detail of Wall Painting from Nebamun's Tomb-chapel (ca 1350 BC)The British Museum is displaying the results of its largest ever conservation project, which took 10 years to complete. Wall paintings from the lost tomb-chapel of Nebamun, are back on permanent display in a new setting. Another fragment from Nebamun's tomb-chapel is on loan from the Egyptian Museum in Berlin. The paintings depict the merry life of an accountant who worked in the Temple of Amun at Karnak and who died in 1350 BC. New Scientist has posted an online art gallery of this work (CLICK) plus a fascinating article on the techniques used by the artist, including mud render (CLICK). The new display is in Room 61: Ancient Egyptian life and death (title link). Admission is free.

Monday, 26 January 2009

New Darwin Sculpture

Anthony Smith - Darwin Sculpture (2009)A new sculpture of Charles Darwin as a young man is to be unveiled at Christ's College, Cambridge, on 12 February, the bicentenary of Darwin's birth. The young sculptor Anthony Smith says he wanted to change the image of Darwin as an old Victorian gentleman, so he has portrayed Darwin as an undergraduate at the college in 1831, prior to his voyage on HMS Beagle. Wise decision, Anthony. It gives us a fresh view of Darwin. Also, most scientists do their best work before they are 30. And that fuzzy beard would have been a pain to sculpt.

The Worst of British

Saatchi's Best of British Logo (2009)Only a few hours ago BBC News finally owned up to the embarrassing fact that BBC Two is to broadcast an X-Factor-style TV talent show "to discover the next British art sensation ... the next Tracey Emin"! For Goodness' sake! We haven't got rid of the old one yet. She's bad enough. Why look for a new one? To make matters worse, the show Saatchi's Best of British will be hosted by camera-shy Charles Saatchi. Wearing a mask, maybe? BBC executive producer Peter Dale makes the farcical claim that this show will attempt to "demystify" modern art! There's no mystery, you twit. Fat cats with no artistic taste will buy any tripe which Saatchi and other members of the Anti-art Establishment promote. Aspiring artists with big egos, a knack for self-promotion and absolutely no artistic talent, aged 18 plus, are invited to submit their unmade beds, lewd photos and used condoms to from 2 February. Winning entries will be exported to Russia.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Sotheby's To Sell Poo

Wim Delvoye - Cloaca Faeces (2002)If you think my previous post is unfair on auction houses, take a look at this bag of artificial poo - Cloaca Faeces (2002) - created by Belgian "artist" Wim Delvoye. Art News Blog (title link) reported recently that it's up for grabs at a forthcoming Sotheby's auction in London on 6 February, estimated value £2,000 to £3,000! "I say, Carruthers, fancy popping round to my place this evening to see my new poo?"

Paris Artists Threatened

Paintings For Sale in Montmartre (2009)In the last week I've posted two news items about art fakes purporting to be works by S.H. Raza (CLICK) and Salvador Dali (CLICK). Here's another aspect of this growing trend. Montmartre has been the arty quarter of Paris for generations of French artists, including Matisse and Toulouse-Lautrec. There are currently about 300 artists officially licensed to work in the streets of Montmartre, which attracts some 10 million tourists a year, many of whom want paintings of Parisian landmarks as souvenirs. David Chazan, BBC News, Paris, reports that these artists are complaining that their livelihoods are being threatened by prints and production-line paintings imported from China and Eastern Europe to be sold at cutthroat prices in the local tourist shops. The prints might have a coating of hand-brushed varnish or some touches of paint to make them look to the undiscerning eye like the genuine article. The mass-produced paintings might pass through the hands of a number of artists, all swiftly adding their speciality to the work - sky, buildings, trees - or a single artist may paint the identical picture again and again and again until he can churn it out in minutes with his eyes shut. So, genuine art and real artists are under attack from a variety of sources, beginning with career criminals and rising to the giddy heights of auction houses and the Anti-art Establishment, which are happy to sell tripe to daft punters as great art.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Dali Fakes Haul

Fake Salvador Dali SculptureSpanish fuzz have collared a Frenchman who had arranged to sell works by Salvador Dali in the Spanish town of Estepona. They seized 81 pieces, most thought to be fakes but also a dozen that might be genuine Dali's stolen in Belgium, France and the US, according to Interpol records. The seized works include sculptures, lithographs, bas-reliefs, engravings, cutlery and pieces of textiles. Twenty suspect certificates of authenticity were also seized. What roused police suspicions? The twit hadn't organized special security for the sale, which should have been worth millions of pounds!

Comics at Louvre

Hirohiko Araki - Rohan au LouvreThe Louvre in Paris is one of the world's most prestigious museums, hardly the place you'd expect to find comic-strip art. Yet why not? This graphic - Hirohiko Araki's Rohan au Louvre - looks a lot more interesting than that boring old Picasso show which the National Gallery is trying to flog in London. Cartoons - The Louvre invites comic-strip art opened yesterday and continues until 13 April. It's in the Sully Wing, admission fees in Euro thingies (title link). Why can't the National Gallery give us the Judge Dredd show? He's British.

Breakfast With Picasso!

Detail from Pablo Picasso - Seated Woman (1920)It's sad to see London's National Gallery going downmarket with its forthcoming exhibition by that lousy artist beloved by the Anti-art Establishment and rich punters, the one who kept reinventing himself like pop-matriarch Madonna: Picasso: Challenging the Past in the Sainsbury Wing from 25 February to 7 June. They expect you to pay to view Pablo's tripe! As an incentive to elitist fat cats, the gallery is offering Breakfast Views on Tuesdays 3 March, 7 April and 12 May, 8.30 - 10am. For the first time you can beat "the crowds" by entering the show before normal opening hours, then have a coffee and pastry which are included in the ticket price of £25 (CLICK)! Crowds? What crowds?

The Estorick Collection

Umberto Boccioni - Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913 cast 1972)The Estorick Collection of modern Italian art in London is celebrating the centenary of the Futurist Manifesto with the first ever British exhibition devoted to Umberto Boccioni, the leading light of the Futurist movement, with Unique Forms: The Drawing and Sculpture of Umberto Boccioni. I must admit I can't see much to celebrate, although Boccioni's famous Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913 cast 1972) has stood the test of time and remains an interesting, dynamic oddity. Running alongside it is a show by a modern exponent of Futurism: Luca Buvoli: Velocity Zero. For his installation-thingy "sections of the Futurist manifesto are read aloud by people with speech difficulties"! Sounds a bummer. Both shows continue until 19 April (title link).

Mr Darcy Update

Anonymous Artist - Colin Firth as Mr Darcy (detail)That portrait of actor Colin Firth as Jane Austen's Mr Darcy I posted a fortnight ago (CLICK) fetched double its estimated value at Bonhams in London: £12,000. The proceeds of the sale will go to Oxfam and the Southampton and Winchester Visitors Group.

Humanist Ad Update

British Humanist Association Ad - There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life. (2008)As expected, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has concluded that the British Humanist Association's advertisement "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life" is unlikely to mislead or to cause serious or widespread offence. The ASA received 326 complaints. Now, what about tackling all those misleading adverts that claim that God, Heaven and Hell exist or that "Jesus Loves You"? Here's the sane view: "Creationism is anti-science. Teaching it to children is a form of intellectual child abuse, because it gives them the wrong facts about life" (Porteous Wood, 2008, CLICK).

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Originals 09

Rachel Pank - The WindowIf recession has forced you to move from your Mayfair flat to a shack in Ghetto Ilford, why not cheer the place up with some limited-edition prints? This way you get a numbered work signed by the artist at less cost than the original. An email from the Federation of British Artists invites me to visit the Mall Galleries in London for Originals 09: The Contemporary Printmaking Show, which runs from 18 February until 28 February, entry £2.50, concessions £1.50. Sir Peter Blake and Professor David Mach RA both think this annual show is the best thing since sliced bread. However, I must warn you that works for sale start at £100, which I think is too much for a limited-edition print. I got one for free last year (CLICK).

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Obama Family Sculpture

Willard Wigan - Barack Obama and Family (2009)To mark the inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States of America, black British artist Willard Wigan MBE has created a miniature sculpture of the President, his wife and two daughters which is so small it fits into the eye of a needle. It took him months to create. He hopes it will be displayed in the White House. (CLICK for more about the artist.)

Squat Loo Update

David Cerny - Detail of Entropa depicting Bulgaria as Squat Loos (2009)It's less than a week since I covered the EU's latest "art" fiasco (CLICK). That part of Czech joker David Cerny's Entropa which depicts Bulgaria as a mess of squat loos has now been covered by a black cloth. The Czech EU presidency has been forced to apologise for any offence caused, but the discontent rumbles on among lampooned member countries. What a bunch of plonkers! While clots like this run Europe, what hope is there?

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

TFL Travel Tools

TFL - Mobile Phone Tube Map Icon (2009)Transport For London (TFL) has introduced a new range of Travel Tools (title link) to provide information about getting around London. There's a Tube map for your mobile phone (icon shown), a free weekly email that warns you about works that might disrupt your journey, and widgets for your website, blog or Google homepage that show live travel updates every minute.

Wedgwood in Alabama

It's only a fortnight since I posted news of the demise of Wedgwood (CLICK). The Birmingham Museum of Art in Alabama, USA, has purchased the Buten Wedgwood Collection of more than 8,000 objects made by the Wedgwood factory in England, dating from 1759. It already owns the Dwight and Lucille Beeson Wedgwood Collection of more than 1,400 items. So it now has the largest and most comprehensive collection of Wedgwood ceramics outside England. This Somnus in black basalt from a mold by Hoskins & Oliver in 1770 shows what a treasure the UK has lost.

Vladimir Putin, Artist

Vladimir Putin's picture at auction (photo: Anatoly Maltsev, 2009)When he isn't flexing his pectoral muscles and cutting off gas supplies to large chunks of Europe, Vladimir Putin is a sensitive and caring artist. He donated this masterpiece to a charity auction to raise money for a hospital, a church and a cancer clinic in St Petersburg. (A church? Maybe he was a closet Christian during the Communist regime.) Anyway, his work fetched a staggering 37 million roubles ($1.15m), the highest price ever paid for a painting sold in Russia, according to the BBC. You don't suppose the KGB heavy mob was circulating among all those Russian billionaires! Naw. They were just trying to impress the doll in diamonds.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Raza Spots Fakes

A Fake S.H. Raza PaintingWhen S.H. Raza attended an exhibition of his own daubs at the Dhoomimal Mega Art Gallery in Delhi, he was shocked to his little cotton socks to discover that many of them were fakes! And sourced from his own family! Cut that dodgy nephew out of your will, Raza, is my advice. And you could stop pretending to be an artist and learn how to paint. Start with ceilings. Rubbish like this is far too easy to fake. You might spot that it's not your rubbish, but how is anyone else supposed to know, apart from the faker?

Nude Madonna Auction

Christie's London is laying off staff, due to the recession, while Christie's New York is cock-a-hoop to be selling a Lee Friedlander photo of Madonna in the nuddy, shot before she was famous (1979) and needed cash. She was paid £17 ($25) for a photo shoot that Friedlander sold to Playboy. Christie's now values this photo at up to £10,000 ($15,000). It's Lot 6 in Icons of Glamour and Style: the Constantiner Collection Part II, up for grabs at the Rockefeller Plaza on 12 February. Click the title link to view Madonna without my smiley censorship!
You'll find your answer on my Wednesday post.

W. John Thorpe

W. John Thorpe - Madiba (2008)Here's a perfect example of how scraperboard (US scratchboard) can be used to create a picture that is stronger and more dramatic than a photograph: Madiba (2008) by W. John Thorpe. Ironically, John created this fine portrait of Nelson Mandela in response to the challenge of a long-standing friend who didn't believe he was a talented artist. (John hadn't created any new artwork for 21 years!) Thanks to the friend's interest and encouragement, John is now building an excellent online portfolio of portraits and African wildlife. His latest work, a superb portrait of Wilfred Brambell in character as Albert Steptoe, was posted only yesterday. Click the title link to view John's work.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

World Fantasy Award

Les Edwards - The Rats And The Ruling Sea cover art © Les Edwards 2008, All Rights ReservedCongratulations to UK artist Les Edwards, who, under his nom-de-brush Edward Miller, has won the World Fantasy Award for Best Artist 2008 (CLICK). I've lost track of how many awards Les has won. He was nominated for five last year alone. This is one of his latest paintings: a fantasy ship so huge that its sails are lost in the clouds, designed for the cover of The Rats and the Ruling Sea by Robert V. S. Redick (2009), the second book in the Chathrand Voyage series. Les has updated his website with new artwork and also new prices to take account of sterling losing value against the US dollar and that euro-thingy. Click the title link to visit Les's website and browse his world-beating fantasy art.

Tony Hart RIP

Tony Hart in better daysMore sad news: in the early hours of this morning artist and TV presenter Tony Hart died peacefully, aged 83. Back in October I posted news that his health was failing after two strokes and that he couldn't even sign his name, let alone draw (CLICK). He was awarded two Baftas during nearly 50 years of appearing on a wide variety of art programmes, and in 1998 he won a lifetime achievement award. Generations of children and adults benefited from his entertaining yet educational approach to art.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Andrew Wyeth RIP

Andrew Wyeth - Christina’s World (1948) flanked by Helga Nude and Cover of Time Magazine (1986)American artist Andrew Wyeth has died peacefully at his home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, at the age of 91, following a brief illness. Members of his family were with him. One of his most famous paintings is Christina’s World (1948) which I've flanked with a thumbnail of his neighbour Helga in the nude and the cover of Time magazine, which featured his portfolio of Helga nudes in 1986. Two years ago he was awarded the US National Medal of Arts and became the first artist to be granted the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He also gained the dubious distinction of becoming the first living US artist to be elected to the Royal Academy. The Brandywine River Museum - in a 19th-century grist mill - offers an audio tour of its Andrew Wyeth Gallery (CLICK).

Friday, 16 January 2009

Google Earth's Prado

Details from left: Roger van der Weyden - Descent of Christ from the Cross, right: Hieronymus Bosch - Garden of Earthly Delights triptychGoogle Earth has teamed up with Spain's Prado Museum to give Internet users an alien's-eye view of the planet capable of zooming inside the museum and examining the fine detail of 14 of its paintings. On the left is a closeup from Roger van der Weyden's Descent of Christ from the Cross (title link). Woopidoo over at Art News Blog (CLICK) has been twiddling the zoom knob for days and has discovered the fun had by anal flautists in Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch (right). I wonder what aliens using Google Earth will make of this religious painting! "Oi, Schnurggrrr, you seen how them dozy humans play their nostril-flutes?"

Constable Portraits

John Constable - Maria Bicknell, Constable's WifeJohn Constable is famous for his landscapes, but he also painted portraits of friends and family. This painting is of Maria Bicknell, Constable's wife. From 5 March to 14 June the National Portrait Gallery in London will be showing Constable Portraits: The Painter and His Circle. This is the first exhibition to focus on Constable's portraits. It will be in the Porter Gallery, tickets £5, concessions £4.50/£4. Oh come on, NPG meanies: let's have half price for silver surfers and kids. Their having free travel in London is no reason to rip them off.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Barack Obama Waxwork

Madame Tussauds - Waxwork of Barack Obama (2009)Ready for the inauguration ceremony in Washington on the 20th, Madame Tussauds in London has unveiled its latest waxwork, which depicts US President-elect Barack Obama standing in a recreation of the Oval Office in the White House. It's the worst likeness Madame Tussauds' artists have made in a long time. The DC Comics cover artwork is better (CLICK). US citizens in London can judge for themselves next Tuesday for free. To mark the new president's inauguration, Madame Tussauds will restrict access to US citizens on that day only. No freebie for Londoners, I'm afraid.

Church Theatre

St Stephen's Church InteriorSt Stephen's Church in Hampstead, north London, a Grade 1-listed Victorian building which has been derelict since 1977, will reopen as a theatre and arts centre in March. The Victorian Gothic interior has been preserved and restored. The first production will be a musical version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a fitting story of regeneration (title link).

Czech 'Art' Con

David Cerny - Entropa detail: Bulgaria as squat toilets (2009)With recession looming ever larger, wasting public funds on junk masquerading as art is crass; but this is what the Czech Republic did to celebrate holding the EU presidency for 6 months. It commissioned a pile of plastic-looking junk - sorry: a new art installation - to be erected in the European Council building in Brussels. To add to its stupidity, it allowed itself to be conned into thinking it was commissioning works of art from 27 European artists. It wasn't. The perpetrator is Czech joker David Cerny. To add insult to injury, the joker's junk - Entropa - lampoons national stereotypes, which have infuriated some EU members. Bulgarians are up in arms that their country has been depicted as a series of squat toilets (for Muslim Fundamentalists)! The sooner Britain gets out of this EU cowboy outfit the better.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Andrea Palladio

Model of the Villa Capra, known as the Villa Rotonda (1970)If you're into architecture, a forthcoming exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts is a must: Andrea Palladio: His Life and Legacy, from 31 January to 13 April. If you're clueless about architecture, the above Model of the Villa Capra (1970) shows a classic Palladio design. This is the first exhibition devoted to Andrea Palladio (1508-1580) to be held in London for over 30 years and celebrates the quincentenary of his birth. Bad news: admission fees. Click the title link for details.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

High Art at RA

W.P. Frith RA - Private View at the Royal Academy 1881 (1883)The Permanent Collection in the John Madejski Fine Rooms at the Royal Academy of Arts in London currently has two exhibitions on display: High Art: Reynolds and History Painting 1780-1815 and High Life: Celebrating the Loan of W.P. Frith's Private View at the Royal Academy 1881 (above). High Art and High Life for free can't be bad. Until 29 November.

Woolwich Arsenal Art

Michael Craig-Martin - DLR Woolwich Arsenal Station Mosaics (2009)In the last few days ex-mayor Red Ken and current London Mayor Bouncy Boris have both grabbed their share of opening the new Docklands Light Railway station Woolwich Arsenal. The cameras studiously ignored the ceramic-tile mosaics designed by Michael Craig-Martin. Oh well, Michael, that's politics for you. Next time forget boring graphics of household items and try big nudes instead. That'll get the TV cameras swinging in the desired direction. Click the title link for a bigger graphic and to read ArtDaily's OTT blurb.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Wall-E: Golden Globe

Disney/Pixar - WALL-E (2008)Amid all the glamour, plunging necklines, weeping actresses, clips from Slumdog Millionaire and general razzmatazz of yesterday's 2009 Golden Globes Awards in Los Angeles, the really important art news barely got a look-in. So, in case you missed it, the award for best animated feature film went to Disney/Pixar's WALL-E (2008), the little robot-cleaner sorting out a devastated planet. Pity he couldn't make it up the red carpet holding Freida Pinto's hand. Oh wow, what a beauty! Click the title link for the full list of winners and no razzmatazz.

Death Mask Update

Artist's impression of victim Sher Khan (2009)I began 2009 with a post about a corpse set alight on the M45 motorway in Warwickshire (CLICK). An artist fleshed out the CT death mask and this helped police identify the dead man: Sher Khan from Plaistow in east London, aged 60. The investigation was transferred from Warwickshire Police to the Metropolitan Police. Six arrests have been made. Irshad Wali of Plaistow appeared before magistrates charged with murder and has been remanded into custody. He will appear in court on Wednesday (title link).

Ice Sculpting Winners

The Ice Box? - Ice Dragon (2009)Lars Borst and Marjon Katerbergtook from Holland won first prize in London's first Ice Sculpting Festival at the Natural History Museum Ice Rink yesterday. They beat four other award-winning ice-sculpting teams in their interpretation of the theme Wildlife In The City with a sculpture of a woman peeling a flower (CLICK). As the Daily Mail photos were taken in daylight and aren't very good, here's a cute little Ice Dragon borrowed from the official website (title link) artist unknown. I assume this was one of the demonstration sculptures by The Ice Box.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Van Dyck and Britain

Sir Anthony van Dyck - Self-portrait (1640)At last, the prospect of a decent exhibition at Tate Britain! Van Dyck and Britain, from 18 February to 17 May 2009, explores the impact of Sir Anthony van Dyck's art on 17th Century Britain and the court of King Charles I. With loans from The Royal Collection and The National Trust, this "visually sumptuous exhibition" also looks at the influence of Van Dyck's work on subsequent artists, including Sir Joshua Reynolds and John Singer Sargent. Admission prices: £12.20 full price, £11.30 over 60s, £10.30 concessions, family £30.50! Oh come off it, Tate. Don't you know we're in a recession? At least give silver surfers a break.

Yahoo Opt Out Tip

Yahoo - Opt-In ButtonHere's a tip from a Yahoo group I belong to (UK Wildlife CLICK). Yahoo is now using "web beacons" - similar to cookies - to track every website a member of any Yahoo group visits. This is a disgraceful invasion of privacy. Click the title link to opt out. Look for a button similar to this one. When you have successfully opted out, the button changes to "Opt-In". You need to opt out on every PC you and your family use.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Obama and Spider-Man

Left: Shepard Fairey - Hope (2008) Right: DC Comics' Spider-Man (2009)The National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC has paid an "undisclosed" sum (translation: "embarrassingly large") for a red, yellow and blue stencilled portrait of US President-elect Barack Obama by street artist Shepard Fairey (CLICK). The gallery should have waited until next Wednesday and bought the DC Comics' Spider-Man Special Inaugeration Day Edition with Barack Obama on the cover and a tale of an imposter taking his place on 20 January. Spider-Man untangles the web (title link). Tip for comic-buyers: this will be a collector's item.

Friday, 9 January 2009

London Ice Sculpting

The Ice Box - Penguins (9/1/09)The first London Ice Sculpting Festival opened today at the Natural History Museum Ice Rink, and already there are some nifty penguins about the place. The competitors have until Sunday to complete their work, when judging takes place from 11.00 to 12.00. Meanwhile, The Ice Box is offering visitors aged 12+ masterclasses in ice sculpting under expert supervision (some very sharp tools are used). Click the title link for masterclass times and other details.

Rabbit's Anniversary

SubterfugeMalaises at Deviant ArtThe anniversary issue of Rabbit's Illusions offers a feast of interesting stuff. There's an interview with Robert E. Brown, who makes hyper dense photo montage prints, examples of Deviant Art from the website of the same name and even the chance to toss shoes at President Bush! This striking graphic is by a Malaysian artist who calls herself SubterfugeMalaises. Wow! No wonder the January issue is late.

No God Update

British Humanist Association - There's probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life. (2008)Love this: Christian Voice has complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about the British Humanist Association's probably-no-god campaign, claiming there is loads of evidence for the existence of God! Haw, haw, haw. Which one, Christian Voice? Yours or the 2,500 other gods and goddesses Humanity has created, from A-a to Zurvan? (The Encyclopedia of Gods by Michael Jordan, Kyle Cathie Ltd, London, 1992)

Little Dancer Sale

Edgar Degas - The Little Dancer of Fourteen Years (Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans)Edgar Degas' famous statue of a young ballet dancer, Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans (The Little Dancer of Fourteen Years), has been put up for transfer by Sir John Madejski, chairman of Reading football club. The wax model (circa 1879-81) was found in Degas' studio after his death and cast in bronze in 1922. It will be auctioned by Sotheby's in London on 3 February and is expected to fetch between £9m and £12m.

King Henry VIII

Unknown Artist - Henry VIII (ca 1580) photo: The Royal Collection © 2008 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth IIThe 23 April 2009 will be the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII’s accession to the throne. To mark this occasion, there will be a special exhibition in the Drawings Gallery at Windsor Castle, from 8 April to 18 April 2010: Henry VIII: A 500th Anniversary Exhibition (title link). Henry was a teenager when he was proclaimed king, which might explain his reputation as Jack-the-lad and his rebellious attitude towards holier-than-thou father-figures who tried to tell him what to do. His need for a male heir famously took its toll on the ladies! If you can't wait until April, the National Portrait Gallery already has a display of lesser-known portraits of the king, Henry VIII Remembered, in Room 16 until 12 July (CLICK).

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Firth's Darcy For Sale

Anonymous Artist - Colin Firth as Mr Darcy (1995)An oil painting of actor Colin Firth as Jane Austen's Mr Darcy is to go under the hammer at a Bonhams sale in London on 21 January. The portrait was a prop in the BBC's 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. It's expected to fetch £7,000. The proceeds will go to charities Oxfam and the Southampton and Winchester Visitors Group. I can see why the artist wishes to remain anonymous. What happened to Mr Darcy's trousers? They look a very peculiar shape!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Jock McTitian

Titian - Diana and Actaeon (1556-59)Titian's Diana and Actaeon is in the news again. As one might expect, the purchase fund is short of the £50m wanted by the Duke Of Sutherland. Newspaper reports suggest the Scottish Government will contribute £17.5m toward the purchase. This has sparked a political row. I love this quote from Glasgow MP Ian Davidson: "It is difficult to argue that this is part of Britain's cultural heritage when it's a picture by a long dead Venetian - it's not as if it's Jock McTitian" (title link).

Art Vinyl Prize

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Netherlandish Proverbs (1559) plus Fleet Foxes (2008)The Art Vinyl prize for best cover has been won by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (ca 1525/30-1569)! His painting Netherlandish Proverbs (1559) on the debut album of US indie rock group Fleet Foxes gained the most online votes. Eugene Delacroix's dramatic painting Liberty Leading the People (1830) came third on Coldplay's Viva La Vida. The only contemporary design in the first three is Roots Manuva's album Slime and Reason, which came second with a green-slime-filled neo-classical eggcup. Yuk, but very effective. Click the title link to view all three covers. I must admit my favourite is still Serge Leblon's photo of Alison Goldfrapp (CLICK).