Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Adrian Berg RA

Adrian Berg RA - Detail of Derwent Water from Castle Head (7/9/1987)The Royal Academy of Arts in London is celebrating the 80th birthday of Adrian Berg RA with an exhibition of his panoramic watercolours, mainly from the 1980s and 1990s, in the Sir Hugh Casson Room for Friends of the Royal Academy. I can't imagine anyone other than friends or relatives bothering to view amateurish daubs like this. It's further evidence that the RA has gone to the dogs. It makes you wonder who blackballed the Kray twins! Still, Berg's show is free. So is 'Death on the Pale Horse' and other works by Benjamin West PRA, which continues in the Tennant Room until 24 May (CLICK). If you need to shelter from a downpour....

Monday, 30 March 2009

Cracking Ideas

A World of Cracking Ideas banner (2009)Last Saturday, Nick Park opened an interactive exhibition of his creations at the Science Museum in London: Wallace & Gromit present a World of Cracking Ideas. You'll find out all about techno-trousers and other inventions, some wacky, some essential. This exhibition would be perfect for entertaining and educating the kids during the Easter and summer holidays if it weren't for the cost: adults £9.00, concessions £7.00, one-parent family (1 adult, 2 kids) £21.00, ideal family (2 adults, 2 kids) £30.00. Too expensive. Don't they know the UK is in recession? Click the title link to complain or for details if you're rich. Aardman's scary machine: CLICK.

Extreme Sheep Art

Here is the silliest version of Leonardo's Mona Lisa I've seen. Don't blink or you'll miss it.

Anna Keiller Sale

I featured ceramic artist Anna Keiller in 2007 and showed you her evocative sculpture The Abduction (CLICK). Anna is having a one-week sale at 50% to clear her studio. Above, a sculpture of glazed lizards on an unglazed torso is one of the beautiful works on offer at a bargain price. You can visit Anna's blog for some amusing pictures of firing (CLICK) or use the title link to visit her website and see what she has for sale. Don't miss the fat birds. Oh, and she runs life-casting workshops in Hastings. Don't all rush at once!

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Chelsea visits Havana

Long-Bin Chen - The New Mount Rushmore (with Barack Obama)The Museo De Bellas Artes in Havana launched a surprise exhibition of contemporary art today: Chelsea visits Havana. That's not London's Chelsea, but New York's. This exhibition would have been unthinkable a while ago, because the USA was miffed when the corrupt Batista dictatorship fell to the Reds; then there was the Cuban missile crisis. The US arms embargo against Cuba became a trade embargo, which still exists. So, an art show by US artists in Havana is a hopeful sign that barriers between the two countries are coming down. Who to thank? Long-Bin Chen has no doubt. His sculpture The New Mount Rushmore adds Barack Obama to the familiar quartet of great US presidents.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Watercolours at Mall

Next Thursday 2 April the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours opens its annual exhibition, which continues until 1pm on Sunday 19 April, admission a snip at £2.50 or £1.50 concessions. You'll find a wide variety of styles on offer at "affordable" prices from some of the UK’s best-known watercolour artists. I certainly wouldn't object to having Eva Tomkins' powerful Diplodocus carnegii hanging on my wall. Wow!

Turner Prize Nomination

Stuckism International - The Turner Prize is Crap (2008)Tate Britain is asking for nominations for this year's Turner Prize. Click the title link to nominate an artist before the closing date of Tuesday 14 April. Your nominated artist must be British or working in Britain, aged under 50 (an unlawful demand), has held a major exhibition within the twelve months leading up to 21 April 2009 and, in your opinion, has had a major impact on contemporary British art over the past year. Now is our chance to deflect the Turner Prize from its usual tripe. Ignoring the Tate's despicable ageism, I have nominated David Shepherd CBE. He held a major exhibition at the Mall Galleries last June, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation: Wildlife Artist of the Year 2008 and Three Generations, in which his own works were displayed beside wildlife artists from around the world who entered his competition (CLICK). He has also set up the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) to help endangered species (CLICK). He is having an impact not only on British art, but also on world art, and he's a conservationist. What better artist to choose?

Friday, 27 March 2009

Stolen Endymion

Endymion by George Frederic Watts (c.1872)Here's the stolen Endymion by George Frederic Watts (c.1872). It's the only one in a private collection, so it must be the one stolen from the Bulmers (next post down). It's already in poor condition with oil paint flaking off. If the thieves treat it roughly, it may become damaged beyond repair. Why was such an important British artwork ever allowed to fall into private hands?

Apple Blossom Heist

Sir George Clausen - Apple Blossom (1899)The Somerset home of the Bulmers (members of the cider-making family) was raided by four men on 20 March. They ambushed the house-sitter when she opened the door to let the family dog out, tied the 47-year-old to the banisters and left her there. Among the valuables they stole are Endymion by George Frederic Watts and Apple Blossom (1899) by Sir George Clausen. What puzzles me is why the police failed to release this news until yesterday. Images can be zapped across cyberspace in an instant, why on earth wait nearly a week to get a graphic of Apple Blossom into the news? Also, Watts painted at least 3 different versions of Endymion. Hey, fuzz, get to grips. Which Endymion was stolen?

End of Dreamspace

Maurice Agis, the creator of Dreamspace, has been fined £10,000 for health and safety breaches which contributed to the deaths of two women. BBC News has posted a video of Dreamspace taking off in a freak gust of wind in July 2006, causing the two victims to fall to their deaths (title link). Brouhaha International and Chester-Le-Street District Council were also fined. Mr Agis vowed that Dreamspace will never be used again. If something as apparently safe as an oversized bouncy castle can become a killer, perhaps it's time to insist that sculptors who create massive public artworks should hold degrees in engineering!

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Pylons 'Sculpture' Wins

Michael Visocchi - Winning Design: YieldThe 2009 Jerwood Sculpture Prize has been won by Michael Visocchi with this design of scaled-down electricity pylons: Yield. Surely we already have too many of these monstrosities scarring the British landscape without adding another one as "art" at a cost of £25,000. At 18 metre-thingies tall, it will inflict its baleful influence upon Jerwood Sculpture Park in the grounds of Ragley Hall, Warwickshire, from Spring 2010. Groan! Such a waste of money, especially during a recession! "Let them eat cake" indeed!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Taken by Storm

Storm Thorgerson - Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy (1973)If you're old enough to recall the glory days of LP-cover art and haunting images such as Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy (1973), you'll probably be interested in a video interview with Storm Thorgerson, the artist who designed this cover (title link). He was Pink Floyd's designer-in-chief. The interview coincides with the publication of his book Taken by Storm - album art by Storm Thorgerson (Genesis Publications 2009).

V&A Mad Hatters

V&A Mad Hatters Graphic (2009)That anonymous V&A graphic artist is still catching my eye with strong designs. This one advertises French Connection Friday Late Mad Hatters at the V&A on Friday 27 March, from 18.30 to 22.00 ... er ... 6.30pm to 10pm. It's all millinery this month with an Easter Bonnet Parade to coincide with its exhibition Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones (CLICK). Too girlie for me, Steve. Click the title link to find out about Friday Lates (free).

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

My Son, The Artist

Anonymous Artist - Phallus on Roof (2008)It must be nice to have artistic offspring. Before leaving his parents' £1m mansion in Berkshire for what passes today as the Grand Tour, junior - a sensitive 18-year-old - secretly painted this going-away pressie for Mum and Dad: a 60ft drawing of a phallus on their roof. They discovered the pressie only recently and are not amused. They're going to send him aloft to clean it off when he gets home. Meanwhile he can show his friends his home on Google Maps: "There, the one with the big dick".

Brian Cowen Nude!

Anonymous Artist - Brian Cowen Nude (2009)Ah! Gross! Some wag or wags managed to smuggle nude paintings of Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen into two Dublin galleries: the National Gallery of Ireland and the Royal Hibernian Academy. This one shows Brian holding his underpants and the second one pictures him on the toilet. Double gross! Irish police are sniffing around in hope of catching the culprit or culprits. The style looks like that of Lucien Freud to me, but I'm sure he wouldn't give away two of his overpriced daubs without a fanfare. Good likeness too.

£1,000 Reward Offered

Peter Snell - LandscapeA reward of £1,000 has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of thieves who stole thousands of pounds worth of paintings, ceramics and sculptures from the First View Gallery on the National Trust Stourhead estate in Wiltshire. The break-in took place on Tuesday night 10/11 March. The thieves appear to be hooligans, rather than professional criminals, because they ransacked the charity's education centre before entering the gallery, which exhibits works by local artists. This beautiful painting by Peter Snell is one of the stolen works.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Hockney's Housewife

David Hockney - Beverly Hills Housewife (1966-67) showing Betty FreemanDavid Hockney's painting Beverly Hills Housewife (1966-67) - one of his California Dreaming series - has gone on public display for the first time in 20 years, at Christie's showrooms in London. It will be auctioned in New York on 13 May, estimated value £5m to £7m.

Twinkle Twinkle

Walter Crane - The Baby's Opera (1876)On 1 April, in good time for the school Easter holidays, the British Library will open an exhibition which should appeal to children and adults alike: Twinkle Twinkle, Little Bat (from Lewis Carroll's rhyme for the Mad Hatter's Tea Party). It celebrates 400 years of poems for children, with illustrations. This charming picture is by neglected Liverpudlian artist Walter Crane, who illustrated a number of children's books. This one is The Baby's Opera: A Book of Old Rhymes in New Dresses. The exhibition continues until 28 June, admission free. Click the title link for details.

Inside Bedlam

William Hogarth - A Rakes Progress showing Bedlam (1796) Wellcome Library, LondonHow's this for another catchy title? Inside Bedlam: with the family of ‘mad-doctors’ is an exhibition in the First Floor Gallery, Royal College of Physicians, London, which continues until 29 May, admission free. The above detail from William Hogarth's landmark series of engravings A Rakes Progress (1796) is the perfect illustration to capture the early days of Bethlem Royal Hospital - the world’s oldest institution caring for people with mental illness - from which the word Bedlam derived. A dynasty of four physicians ('mad doctors'), the Monros, reigned over Bethlam for more than 120 years! During that time the hospital changed from a fashionable freak show with the inmates on public display, chained and naked, to a therapeutic asylum (title link). At a guess, the descendants of those insensitive toffs who paid to gawk at Bedlam inmates now visit the Tate's Turner Prize show instead, to sneer at what loony artists are up to.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Jolie Banned Again

Universal Pictures - Wanted Poster (2008)Universal Pictures' movie Wanted, starring Angelina Jolie, recently ran afoul of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for the second time. In September the ASA belatedly banned the film poster, because its images and text glamorised the use of guns (CLICK). On Wednesday it banned the TV commercial advertising the DVD release, because it gave the impression that "using guns was sexy and glamorous". Oh well, back to the drawing board, Universal. It's no good complaining that the ASA is being sexist. The entire advertising industry is sexist, using beautiful women to sell everything from cars to hairspray.

Food & Farming

Kevin Foord - The BullThe next exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London goes by the catchy title of The ARC-Addington Fund’s Food & Farming: An Urban Perspective. This is the product of funded collaboration between photographer Kevin Foord and author Richard Benson, presumably aimed at urbanites who think our meat and two veg. are grown in plastic bags. I can't help thinking that adding prose to photos is an insult to the photographer, because a good photo should say it all. Still, the price is right: free. The show opens on Tuesday 24 March and runs until 1pm on Sunday 29 March.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Big Bang Winner

Alex Knell - We Are Our Only Future (2008)Back in December, I suggested you might care to view the mindless tosh in the Royal Academy Schools online art competition, hosted by Hines, and maybe pick an entry to vote for (CLICK). Well, the winner has been announced: Alex Knell for his We Are Our Only Future (2008). Alex collars £1000, and a monstrous version of his work will decorate the One Grafton Street urban gallery in London. Surprisingly, I quite like his entry, which looks to me as though the Big Bang (of Big Bang Theory fame) is exploding into text.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Cherie Blair Nude!

Euan Uglow - Striding Nude, Blue Dress (1972)According to ArtDaily (title link) this sketch by Euan Uglow depicts Cherie Blair née Booth aged 22 in the semi-nuddy. It's title is Striding Nude, Blue Dress (1972). Supposedly the reason it doesn't look much like Cherie is that she didn't have time for all the sittings, and a stand-in was used. A more likely explanation is that it's a lousy likeness. See for yourself. You'll find it in the Browse & Darby gallery, London, Euan Uglow - Drawings and Paintings, until 17 April (CLICK).

Carved Gems

Attributed to Solon - Head of Apollo carved in Amethyst with a gold mount (Early 1st Century A.D.)If you're one of those folks who think intaglio is a type of spaghetti, here's breaking news. Thanks to a new exhibition at The Getty Villa in Malibu - Carvers and Collectors: The Lasting Allure of Ancient Gems -, I can now tell you the difference between intaglios and cameos. An intaglio is cut below the surface of a gemstone; a cameo is carved in relief to expose a different coloured layer of the stone, a technique new around 400 B.C. Click the title link for more information and beautiful examples of engraved gems. The exhibition continues until 7 September.

One Up For Up

Disney/Pixar - Up screenshot (2009)For the very first time the Cannes Film Festival will be launched with the screening of an animation movie: Disney/Pixar's Up, a fanciful tale of an old man who ties balloons to his house to make it airborne. The festival opens on 13 May; Up will be released in the US on 29 May. Nice timing. Brits must wait until 16 October for Up's release. No hardship so far as I'm concerned. While the animation of these movies is excellent, the cornball American humour of most of them leaves me distinctly underwhelmed. Now, if they got Woody Allen to write their scripts....

Olympics Art Project

I.C. - London Olympics 2012 Carbon Footprint (2007)Arts Council England, always keen to waste public funds on bad art projects, has launched a £5.4m contest to create 12 public works of art inspired by the 2012 Olympics. It's offering up to £500,000 to each of the winning artists to create works for the Cultural Olympiad. Here's Coxsoft Art's entry: London Olympics 2012 Carbon Footprint (2007). Any chance?

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Heist Anniversary

Govaert Flinck - Landscape with an Obelisk (1638)Today is the 19th anniversary of the theft of thirteen artworks from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, USA. To mark this anniversary the museum has reiterated its assurance of a $5 million reward and complete confidentiality for anyone who comes forward with information leading to the return of the stolen artworks in good condition. The stolen works include Rembrandt’s only known seascape Storm on the Sea of Galilee (1633), which is on the FBI's most wanted list, Vermeer's The Concert (1658-1660) and the painting above: Govaert Flinck's Landscape with an Obelisk (1638). Click the title link for more information. To view 12 of the stolen artworks in a pdf image sheet (3.6 megabytes!) CLICK. Why do they do it?

Art Fund Pavilion

Karim Muallem - Proposed Pavilion (2009)When did elegance in architecture die and the packing case industry take over? This monument to pine knots by Karim Muallem, UK, is one of the shortlisted entries in The Art Fund Pavilion architecture competition 2009. But don't panic! IN & EDIT Architecture, France, and Feix & Merlin Architects, UK, have produced stunning entries. Click the title link to view them (slow loader).
The shortlist:
1 AREA [Architecture Research Athens], Greece
2 Feix & Merlin Architects, UK
3 IN & EDIT Architecture, France
4 Karim Muallem, UK
5 Tina Manis Associates, USA.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Favourite Things

Last year The House of Illustration invited 45 illustrators and celebrities to play the self-revealing Victorian parlour game "What Are You Like?" by drawing their 8 favourite things from a list of 12. The results were shown in the Dulwich Picture Gallery (CLICK for my review, but note the gallery URL has been deleted). Sixteen of the works have now been selected for sale as limited-edition prints. The terrific Favourite Things illustration shown above is by Michael Foreman, who obviously likes naked girls riding dinosaurs on the beach! This limited-edition (200) giclee print, signed and numbered by Michael, will set you back £200 (unframed) or £280 (framed). Before you quibble about the price, take note that over 60% of the proceeds go to Quentin Blake's project to set up the first gallery in the UK dedicated to the art of illustration: The House of Illustration. Click the title link for more information and a great online gallery.

Michelle Obama Comic

Bluewater Comics - Cover of Michelle Obama (2009)I can't help feeling this is going a step too far, but here is the cover of Bluewater Comics' latest publication in its Female Force series: Michelle Obama. Biographies of Hillary Clinton and gun-toting Sarah Palin sold out. Now it's Michelle's turn for the biographical-comic-book treatment. Her life story is told in 22 pages - she's still young -, due to hit Yankee book shops on 25 April, price $3.99. Looks like a gold mine. So when is The Beano going to bring out a bio-comic of Margaret Thatcher? Or Betty Boothroyd? (For paintings of Sarah Palin, CLICK, CLICK.)

Monday, 16 March 2009

Japanese Robot

HRP-4C (2009)Shades of Dr Coppélia, the eccentric toy-maker who wanted to bring his mechanical doll to life. This cute Japanese poppet is HRP-4C. She had her first public outing today. She's 5 feet 2 inches tall, weighs 6 stone 9 pounds, has 30 motors in her body and 8 in her face and cost £150,000 to make. She's supposed to look like the average Japanese woman, but looks more like the average Japanese schoolgirl to me. Click the title link to see a video of her in action. Barbie, eat your heart out.
Compare HRP-4C with her rival fembot Aiko (love child) created by Japanese Canadian Le Trung. Aiko's software is more sophisticated and she cost only £14,000 (CLICK).

Sickert in Venice

Walter Sickert - The Women on a Sofa [Le Tose] (c.1903)This mess - The Women on a Sofa (c.1903) - was painted by Walter Sickert, who became known as the father of modern British art! Groan! His subjects were Venetian prostitutes La Giuseppina and La Carolina, and his style was either Impressionism or Post-Impressionism. I don't really care which. Either way, it's pathetic. Last Wednesday, London's Dulwich Picture Gallery (title link) opened the first ever exhibition of Sickert's Venetian daubs, Sickert in Venice, and has the unmitigated gall to charge adults £9, silver surfers £8 (89%!), for admission. Don't bother.

Mattress Acupuncture

Hans Peter Kuhn - AcupunctureThis is an artist's impression of a proposed light installation on the Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh, USA. It's a museum of contemporary art which, I assume, retains its original name. The museum has commissioned Berlin-based artist Hans Peter Kuhn to install six cold-cathode light bars, averaging 100 feet in length, that will appear to pierce the building. It's called Acupuncture. The project is in the design and engineering stage while fundraising goes on to pay for it (title link). I suppose Acupuncture is one way of giving a gruesome piece of industrial architecture a facelift.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Lady Detectives

Anika Noni RoseMeet Anika Noni Rose, that beautiful and glamorous young actress who plays Mma Makutsi in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. The late, great Anthony Minghella directed the feature-length pilot, which was screened last year. The six-part series, based on the novels by Alexander McCall Smith, begins this evening on BBC One at 9pm. A must. See if you recognize Anika grimacing behind her spectacles to look like an unattractive spinster! And read the novels.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

RSBA at Mall Galleries

Arthur Lockwood - Derelict Gantry Crane, WolverhamptonOn Wednesday 18 March the Mall Galleries in London opens its doors to the Royal Society of British Artists. The exhibition includes sculptures by Guy Portelli and features paintings by Arthur Lockwood, who won the De Laszlo Medal 2008. His painting Derelict Gantry Crane, Wolverhampton is a perfect example of how an uninspiring subject can be turned into a work of art. The gantry becomes a threatening alien from The War of The Worlds. The exhibition continues until 29 March, admission £2.50, concessions £1.50.

London Gardens 2009

TulipsFor the first time, the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) has published a free booklet: London Gardens 2009. I picked up a copy in my local library this week. It lists over 240 gardens open for charity in and around London. The Yellow Book 2009, which covers the whole of the UK, is available to dedicated garden visitors for £8.99 (CLICK). I'll stick with the freebie. Click the title link to learn more about the NGS.

Call of Duty 4

Screenshot from Call of Duty 4 Modern WarfareFor those of you who missed it, last Wednesday at the 2009 British Academy of Film and Television Arts video games ceremony Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare won 3 BAFTAs - Gameplay, Story, Character - and also took the People's Choice Award. Look at the powerful screenshot above and wonder what the Brit. Anti-art Establishment would make of it. This is modern art. But where is it's place in Tate Modern? Are Sir Nick Serota and his clueless and overpaid chums even aware it exists? How would those pathetic has-beens Picasso and Mark Rothko compete in the modern world of animated graphics? And what of all those social workers and do-gooders who think that art is the therapy to wean kids off guns and knives? Have they the faintest idea how today's brats are being trained to blast away the enemy gangs?

Friday, 13 March 2009

Whitechapel Gallery

Isa Genzken - Open Sesame!The expanded and renovated Whitechapel Gallery reopens on 5 April with eight new exhibitions, the highlight of which is the first major retrospective of the work of German sculptor Isa Genzken: Open Sesame! I'm not sure what this vase of flowers has to do with it. My first thought was: "Not another pest trying to rip off the punters on Mother's Day". I guess it's one of her sculptures. Mm.... Click the title link to view the Gallery's offerings. The price is right: free.

Camila Portrait

Dean Marsh - Camila Batmanghelidjh (2009)This exquisitely detailed portrait of Kids Company founder Camila Batmanghelidjh is the latest painting to go on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London. It was painted by Dean Marsh, who won first prize in NPG's BP Portrait Award 2005. His commission to paint the Iranian-born psychotherapist and social reformer was part of the award. Compare this with the tripe that wins top portrait awards Down Under (CLICK). Les Patterson, the Australian Cultural Attache, strikes again!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Cranach Recovered

Lucas Cranach the Elder - Suffer the Little Children to Come unto MeNorwegian police have recovered Lucas Cranach the Elder´s Suffer the Little Children to Come unto Me, which was stolen last Sunday (CLICK). They found it undamaged in a truck and arrested a man in his 50's.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Millais Donation

John Everett Millais - Dew-Drenched Furze (c.1890)This sparkling vista by John Everett Millais - Dew-Drenched Furze (c.1890) - went on display at Tate Britain today, generously donated by the artist's great-grandson, Geoffroy Millais. It's part of BP British Art Displays 1500 - 2008 marking the 190th anniversary of Sir Henry Tate's birth. Admission is free to these displays, which change regularly. They are all around the building, so you'll need to ask for directions to this gem. Tate Britain holds about 60 of Millais' paintings. A founder member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, he was one of our finest artists.

Vintage Film Posters

Ercole Brini - Italian poster for SabrinaIf you fancy a nostalgia trip, click the title link for a BBC gallery of vintage film posters up for grabs at Christie's auction in London today. The art on offer includes this rare Italian poster for Billy Wilder's Sabrina, starring Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and William Holden. The poster was designed by Ercole Brini and is valued at £3,000-£5,000. (Note: the two poodles were played by Bogart and Holden. What "girl power"!) This is one of 250 lots for sale, ranging from Carl Theodor Dreyer's silent movie La Passion de Jeanne D'Arc (1928) to Trainspotting (1996).

Lucas Cranach Theft

Lucas Cranach the Elder - Suffer the Little Children to Come unto MeEight paintings are recovered while another is stolen! Those despicable art thieves are everywhere. This painting, Suffer the Little Children to Come unto Me by German Renaissance artist Lucas Cranach the Elder, was stolen on Sunday night from Larvik Church in southern Norway, where it has hung for the last 330 years. It's worth more than $2 million. The burglars set the fire alarm off, bringing local firemen to the church at about 1:30am on Sunday morning to find a ladder by a broken window. Note: the original photo of this work (title link) suffers from glare, so I've done a quick bodge to hide it.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Stolen Paintings Shown

Damaged PaintingThe eight stolen paintings recovered by Dutch police recently (CLICK) have been named:

1 Renoir - La Clairière
2 Eva Gonzales - Bouquet de Fleurs
3 Pissarro - Bords de la Seine à Bougival
4-5 W. van der Velde - Two marine views
6 David Teniers - Celebrating Farmers outside a Tavern
7 Jan Brueghel the younger - Monkeys (?)
8 Trouillebert - Pêcheur près du moulin à eau

The above picture shows the damage inflicted on a painting when the thieves folded it (title link).

Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Utagawa Kuniyoshi - The Chinese warrior Zhang Heng (1847-48) coloured woodblock printOn 21 March the Royal Academy of Arts opens the third in its series on masters of the "floating world" or Ukiyo-e school of Japanese art. The first was devoted to the most famous of them all: Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), the second to Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858). Now it's the turn of Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861), an artist renown for his vaulting imagination. Kuniyoshi from the Arthur R. Miller Collection will be in the Sackler Wing of Galleries until 7 June, the first major exhibition of his work in the UK since 1961. This coloured woodblock print by Kuniyoshi shows The Chinese warrior Zhang Heng, one of 150 exhibits.

Monday, 9 March 2009

The Bard In Life

Unknown Artist - William Shakespeare (c.1610)This portrait of William Shakespeare, unveiled in London today, is now thought to be the only portrait painted during his lifetime. Other portraits depict him balding and were probably painted after he died in 1616. The original has been in the Cobbe family for centuries, but it wasn't until recently that its current owner, art restorer Alec Cobbe, realised the significance of the painting during a visit to the National Portrait Gallery, where he saw a copy of this portrait he had inherited.

Intimate Portraits

Nathaniel Dance - Angelica Kauffman (c.1764-6)This beautiful portrait of artist Angelica Kauffman in graphite and watercolour, attributed to Nathaniel Dance, is one of the exhibits in The Intimate Portrait: drawings, miniatures and pastels from Ramsay to Lawrence, which opened at the British Museum, Room 90, on 5 March and continues until 31 May. The exhibition features 180 little-known paintings and drawings, including miniatures, by some the greatest names in British portraiture and covers a century from the 1730s to the 1830s. Many of the works are from Scotland. This is a treat for any genuine artist or art lover, admission free!

Shanking Publicity

Clare Lewis - Shanking 2008 (2009)Believe it or not, this pathetic display of twigs at Chelsea Parade Ground, next to Tate Britain, is supposedly a work of art! No, I'm not kidding you. It's the work of Clare Lewis, an undergraduate at Chelsea College of Arts and Design, and it's called Shanking 2008. (A shank is a knife.) Each of these 28 broken saplings represents a teenaged victim of knife crime in Ghetto London last year. I think it should be renamed "Self-publicity stunt". It's an insult to the youngsters who died.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Stolen Paintings Found

Willem van der Velde - The Cannon Shot (c.1670)Dutch police have recovered 8 paintings stolen from the Noortman Art Gallery in Maastricht, Netherlands, during the night of 16/17 February 1987. A man living in Dubai tried to sell the paintings to the company which had insured them. The police were called and a sting operation set up. Two men and the mother of one of them have been arrested. The paintings had been folded and are badly damaged. They include works by 17th Century artists David Teniers, Willem van de Velde and Jan Brueghel the Younger and 19th Century artists Eva Gonzales, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro and Paul Desire Trouillebert. The titles of the paintings have not been released, so I've illustrated this post with a typical painting by Willem van der Velde - The Cannon Shot (c. 1670) - which shows a 17th century Dutch ship of the line firing its guns. Click the title link for the fullest account of this news story I've found.

Mall Galleries Trio

Robert King - Piazza San Marco, VeniceLondon's Mall Galleries opens three new exhibitions on Monday 9 March, all admission free. The above painting by Robert King - Piazza San Marco, Venice - is one of his exhibits in Robert King: Sunlight, Shadow and Atmosphere, which closes on 14 March. The second exhibition is Munem Wasif: Sustainability and Salination in Satkhira: photographs from Bangladesh, which continues until 21 March and marks the launch of Prix Pictet 2009 (CLICK). The third exhibition is The Masques of Shahrazad: evolution and revolution through three generations of Iranian women artists, which also ends on 14 March. Shahrazad is better known in the west as Sheherazade, the heroine of A Thousand and One Nights.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Banksy's CCTV Goes

Banksy - One Nation Under CCTV (2008)Back in October I warned you to look your last on Banksy's One Nation Under CCTV (2008) because Westminster City Council had ordered its removal (CLICK). The work has begun. Royal Mail - the owner of the wall - had to comply with the council's directive. Shame. It's one of his best. But I do appreciate the Council's point of view: "If you condone this then you condone graffiti all over London" (Robert Davis, deputy leader of Westminster City Council, 2009).