Thursday, 30 April 2009

Sci-fi London 8

Still from The Clone Returns HomeSci-fi London, the London international festival of science fiction and fantastic film, opened yesterday. Among all the side shows and free events, three world premieres are coming up: Eraser Children (Friday), Recon 2023 (Saturday) and The Hunt for Gollum (Sunday). The Gollum movie was made as a non-profit-making project by and for fans of Lord of The Rings for an incredible £3,000. Judging by its trailer, Director Chris Bouchard has done an impressive job with such a tiny budget (CLICK). The Hunt for Gollum will be available free-to-view online after the film has premiered (title link).


From 2 May to 6 September the V&A Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green, London, will celebrate Snozzcumbers and Frobscottle! The Wonderful World of Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake with over 80 exhibits, including original illustrations and manuscripts. This is a must for kids of all ages. Quentin Blake will be signing books from 11.00–12.00 on Monday 4 May as part of the Museum's Fantastic Frobscottle Weekend! Click the title link for more information.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Win Trip To Mexico!

I.C. - Celebrate Baroque and win a trip to Mexico! (2009)Talk about bad timing! The above offer appears in the V&A's May e-newsletter, which I received yesterday. Whoops! Not interested? Aw, come on. Where's your sense of adventure? The competition web page (title link) now states "The Foreign & Commonwealth Office is currently advising against all but essential travel to Mexico. It is with regret, therefore, that the V&A has taken the decision to cancel this competition." Shame.

Harry Patch Portrait

Peter Kuhfeld - Portrait of Harry Patch (2009)This portrait of Harry Patch - at 111 the oldest surviving British hero of World War I - was unveiled today, prior to its showing at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Exhibition at London's Mall Galleries (CLICK). The artist, Peter Kuhfeld, painted the portrait during two sittings at the care home in Somerset where Mr Patch resides. A "privilege" to paint him, says the artist.

The Turner Prize Is...

Roger Hiorns - Seizure (2008)It's silly time again, that insult to the memory of one of Britain's most famous artist: the shortlist for the Turner Prize. I won't even mention the names of those non-artists in contention. There's an interior decorator who did this blue thingy Seizure, which is the prettiest of the tripe on offer. There's somebody who recycles coal dust; very worthy, but art? And a rag doll merchant and ... oh, to hell with it. Click the title link for a BBC slide show. Charles Thomson, co-founder of the Stuckists, comments "The only interesting thing about the Turner Prize is how it manages to find such totally uninteresting artists every year." Spot on, Charles, except I wouldn't dignify these twerps by calling them "artists". The only reason for visiting Tate Modern is to see the Stuckist demo outside and grab a free badge that says it all (CLICK).

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Big Art on TV

Channel 4 LogoHow about this for a contentious question from The Art Fund? "Can the public be trusted to choose public art?" Coxsoft Art counters with: Can the Philistines of the British Anti-art Establishment be trusted to do so? They get the glory while we have to live with the monstrosities they finance. Channel 4 TV will screen a series of programmes that might help you make up your mind: Big Art starts on Sunday 10 May at 7pm. "The Big Art Project is an ambitious public art commissioning initiative from Channel 4, supported by Arts Council England and The Art Fund" (title link). Mutter, mutter.

Portrait Puzzle

Ruth Murray - Girl of 100 Epochs (2008)It's rare for a portrait to cause confusion over whether it should be vertical or horizontal, but Ruth Murray's Girl of 100 Epochs (2008) did just that. Two websites: one had this painting vertical, the other horizontal. I've checked with the Mall Galleries and have been assured its website is correct: horizontal. Ruth Murray was last year's De Laszlo winner with this painting. The Royal Society of Portrait Painters opens its annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries, London, on 7 May, admission £2.50, concessions £1.50. The winners of five awards for portraiture will be announced, include the £10,000 Ondaatje Prize and the £3,000 De Laszlo Prize. CLICK for more information about the society and its awards. Young artists seeking training check out the Bulldog Bursary.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Lure of the East

John Frederick Lewis - The Siesta (1879)Tate Britain's Lure of the East exhibition, which I reviewed last year (CLICK) has reopened at the Sharjah Art Museum in the United Arab Emirates. According to Sylvia Smith for BBC News, the locals are lapping it up, never having seen British Orientalist art before, and they've lost some of the Islamic architecture depicted in the 85 oil paintings, sketches and water colours on loan. Naked harem girls being pampered by bare-breasted Nubian slaves are seen as an amusing Western fantasy! Aw, shame! That's another of my illusions up the spout.

Maxfield Parrish Murals

Maxfield Parrish - Detail from Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney Murals, East Wall Panel (1914-18)I view so much pretentious tripe while researching this blog that it becomes a real pleasure to find a true work of art from one of the world's greatest illustrators: Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966). The Renaissance youth chatting up the girls is a detail from the East Wall Panel of The Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney Murals. (Click the title link for the full graphic.) Parrish spent World War I working on this project. Two of the seven murals were stolen in 2002 and haven't been recovered. Maxfield Parrish: The Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney Murals will be on show in the Bell Gallery, Tyler Museum of Art, Texas, from 3 May until 13 September, admission free.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Leonardo Attributions

Andrea del Verrocchio - Detail from Beheading of the Baptist (1477–1483)I must admit I'm irritated by "experts" who make wild attributions of artworks to famous artists, perceiving some quality of greatness in the work that means it must have been created by The Master. Usually it has more to do with wish fulfillment than discernment. According to Gary Radke, Professor of the Humanities at Syracuse University, two figures in Andrea del Verrocchio's relief sculpture Beheading of the Baptist (1477–1483) are by Leonardo da Vinci, who was Verrocchio's apprentice. It is possible, but take a close look at the effeminate youth in armour, holding a Frisbee and in mid curtsy to the kneeling Baptist. Do you see the hallmark of genius in this incompetent pose? Click the title link to see a larger graphic which includes the second figure attributed to Leonardo by Prof. Radke. It is excellent, but the prof. can't tell a turban from a knight's helmet! This relief from the Silver Altar of the Florentine Baptistery will visit the USA for the first time in Leonardo da Vinci: Hand of the Genius at the High Museum of Art Atlanta, 6 October to 21 February 2010.

Catlin Art Prize

The six art graduates shortlisted for the 3rd Catlin Art Prize have been named: Mikael Alacoque, William Bradley, Sarah Lederman, Tim Phillips, Jia Jia Wang, Freya Wright. The prize claims to showcase "the very best art school graduates one year on from their degree exhibitions". I'd hate to see the worst! The one who stands out from the rest is Mikael Alacoque, who seems to be a poor man's Damien Hirst. He creates monsters with dog's bodies, human skulls for heads and ice cream cones for horns, Mitty shown. Outstanding silliness, rather than outstanding quality. As for the rest, click the title link and despair! The winner will be announced on 19 May and receive £3,000. The Catlin Prize Showcase Exhibition runs from 20 to 24 May at The Village Underground, Shoreditch, London. Don't all rush at once.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Rosewall Returns

Barbara Hepworth - Curved Reclining Form 'Rosewall' (1960-62)This 2.5 ton monstrosity by Dame Barbara Hepworth - Curved Reclining Form 'Rosewall' (1960-62) - returned to Chesterfield a few days ago. Royal Mail tried to flog it in 2005, but after a public outcry withdrew the sculpture from auction. Personally I would have been glad to see the back of it, but it had been cluttering up Chesterfield for 40 years and the locals had got used to having it around. After three years of haggling with The Art Fund, Royal Mail finally let Chesterfield Borough Council have it for £500,000. The developers of the Chesterfield Waterside project and the Per Cent For Art scheme also shelled out. What a waste of money!

Jaffas In Iran!

Jaffa LogoIn a Persian marketplace: "'Ere, Mohammad, wanna buy a Jaffa?"

I'd been pondering the importance of corporate logos - worth fortunes and nearly always designed by poorly paid anonymous artists - when I spotted this news item. It seems somebody has been smuggling Israeli oranges into Iran in boxes marked as Chinese, complete with orchard number written inexplicably in English! Jewish Jaffas are taboo in Iran - fruit of the foe - and their importation is banned. To confuse matters further, the dastardly Jaffas were imported via Dubai. Business will find a way, no matter what political nutters and religious fruitcakes are in power. Look at the "oldest profession". It's even older than we thought. Our chimpanzee forebears started it, offering meat for sex (CLICK).

Male chimp offers meat: "Grunt, grunt."
Slaps face: "Cheap chimp! What sort of girl d'you think I am? (Thinks: How many million years before the chumps wake up to diamonds?) Nibble, nibble.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Adolf Hitler Sale

Adolf Hitler - AH Sitting on a Bridge (1910) ?Iss dis da future Führer? The forlorn little figure sitting on a stone bridge over a river is marked with an X and the initials AH. The painting was sold for £10,000 yesterday at Ludlow Racecourse by Mullock's Art Auctioneers, one of 13 Adolf daubs which fetched a total of more than £95,000. They were supposedly found by a British soldier in 1945, sold to a collector and lay forgotten in the collector's garage until recently found. Infamy sells well. Earlier this year the Kray twins' daubs fetched £12,200. For a BBC video showing more of the young Führer's daubs, click the title link.

Jack Cardiff RIP

Black Narcissus (1947) DVD Cover

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Happy St George's Day

Dennis Hwang - St George's Day and Shakespeare's Birthday (2009)Google UK is celebrating St George's Day and Shakespeare's birthday. Look closely. Dennis Hwang has managed to combine the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet with St George, who is on bended knee offering the dragon on the balcony a nosegay. (Yes, Romeo, that is what your teenage sweetheart would probably have become, if tragedy hadn't struck.) When will the English gain a holiday to celebrate our patron saint? Not so long as that dour Scot Gordon Brown remains prime minister. But will David Cameron give us our holiday? Make it an election pledge, David, or get on your bike. Over one million people have already voted for St George's Day to become a national holiday (CLICK to vote).

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

London Elephant Parade

A Painted Elephant in Antwerp (2008)Nearly two years ago I reported on the Cow Parade in Denmark (CLICK). In 2010 two hundred fibreglass jumbos will turn up in London for the Elephant Parade. Each model will be painted by an artist. The one above appeared in Antwerp in 2008 (painted by Henri Rousseau?). What a beauty! After three months of lurking around London, the jumbos will be auctioned by Elephant Family (CLICK) to raise money to protect India's elephants. The charity hopes to raise £1m for its cause. If you have room for a jumbo....

'Living Statues' Call

Stephane Gautronneau (photo) - Sir Richard Branson giving Denni Parkinson a piggyback on water skis (2009)According to BBC News, 20,000 twits have already volunteered to become "living statues" for Gormley's daft project One and Other (CLICK) on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. London Mayor Bouncy Boris has urged punters to sign up. Let's see you up there first, Bouncy, if you're so keen. However, Westminster City Council warns that it hasn't granted planning permission yet and has some concerns. Meanwhile, here's Sir Richard Branson showing us all how to do it with style, giving a stark naked Denni Parkinson a piggyback on water skis. Now that's what I call "living statues" (CLICK).

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

The Dream

England's latest BIG public art project was topped off in Merseyside today (CLICK for video). Spanish artist Jaume Plensa based his design on the head of a nine-year-old girl. Interesting that distorting the girl's head gives the sculpture a dreamlike quality. Pre-cast in sections using a white marble and concrete mix, The Dream stands 65.6ft high on the top of a slag heap from the Sutton Manor colliery, long since closed. Former coal miners at the colliery came up with the idea, for which councillors in St Helens arranged funding through art grants. It cost nearly £2m. Worth it? And is the slag heap secure? Time will tell.

BP Portraits

Michael Gaskell - TomBBC News has posted the three portraits shortlisted for the BP Portrait Award 2009, a day late, but never mind. (See yesterday's Newsflash: CLICK.) This is my absolute favourite: Michael Gaskell's portrait of his son Tom, who was 17 when he sat for the painting. Michael's breathtaking realism is head and shoulders above the other two finalists (title link). He's a previous runner-up for this award. I hope he wins the £25,000 prize this time around. No soppy "visual poetry" please, judges. Show your worth by rewarding outstanding quality.

Harry Potter Sketches

Cliff Wright - Left Hippogriff, right The GrimTwo preparatory sketches by Cliff Wright for the cover of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban are to go on sale at the 14th annual Glasgow Art Fair. On the left is a sketch of Harry and Hermione riding a Hippogriff; on the right The Grim, a dog-like omen of doom. They are expected to sell for £13,000 and £11,000 respectively. So don't all rush at once.

Monday, 20 April 2009

BP Portrait Award

I.C. - Newsflash (2007)The three finalists of the BP Portrait Award 2009 have been named. They are Annalisa Avancini for Manuel, Michael Gaskell for Tom and Peter Monkman for Changeling 2. The winner will be announced on 16 June. The exhibition of 56 best portraits out of a record 1,901 entries will open at the National Portrait Gallery, London, on 18 June.

Jeeves Is Back

Anonymous Artist - JeevesThree years ago I recorded the demise of P.G. Wodehouse's famous gentleman's gentleman Jeeves from Ask Jeeves, after IAC/InterActive bought the search engine for £970m (CLICK). The clueless boss thought Jeeves old-fashioned, gave him the chop and wasted a fortune on stupid TV commercials that tried to make Ask look more with-it to Yankee hippies. The ads simply made Ask look incompetent and ridiculous. Without so much as an apology, Ask has decided to resurrect Jeeves and revert to its previous name: Ask Jeeves. That's why the sterling fellow is looking so smug. (BBC take note, Jeeves was never a common-or-garden butler. He belonged to that elite among servants: the gentleman's gentleman.)

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Laurel & Hardy Statue

Graham Ibbeson - Statue of Laurel and Hardy (2009)If you happen to be in the Cumbrian town of Ulverston today, avoid the town centre between 1pm and 5pm. It will be full of local dignitaries and their wives in silly hats, all puffed up with self-importance, waiting to see Ken Dodd unveil Graham Ibbeson's bronze statue of Laurel and Hardy (2009). A brass band will attempt to keep the dignitaries chirpy during their wait. Ken is due to unveil the statue at 3.50pm. Let's hope someone has cleaned off the bird poo shown in the BBC photo (title link). The sculpture looks good. Ollie's characteristic tie-twiddling is a nice touch. Pity the fundraisers didn't collect enough money to turn the mutt into a fountain. You can't expect doggie plumbing for a piddling £60,000.

Eye-deceiving Ads

Mondo Pasta - Ship's SpaghettiMail Online has posted an interesting collection of visual illusions created by advertising agencies to catch our attention. This example advertises Mondo Pasta. The ads include a Nivea Cream sofa, a Procter & Gamble comb trying to untangle telephone wires in Bangkok, a pedestrian crossing painted by Tippex, and two very strange New York manholes. Worth a look, although it's all corporate spam. How can humanity save Earth when all the big money goes into persuading punters to buy planet plundering products?

Blake v Stothard

William Blake - Canterbury Pilgrims (1808)Last December I previewed Tate Britain's attempt to celebrate the 200th anniversary of William Blake's only solo exhibition (CLICK). The show opens on 20 April, although Tate's website hasn't woken up to this fact at the time of writing. The above painting is Blake's Canterbury Pilgrims, a late addition to the show. It will be displayed with another addition: Thomas Stothard's painting of the same scene, which Blake's publisher friend Robert Hartley Cromek chose for publication as a print in preference to Blake's version, much to Blake's annoyance. I think Blake's version is far superior. Click the title link to see which version you prefer.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Images from Iraq

Arabella Dorman - Under a Sheltering Sky, QRL Iranian Border MaysaanBelieve it or not, this dramatic image - Under a Sheltering Sky, QRL Iranian Border Maysaan - is an oil painting! It's by Arabella Dorman, who has been working among British troops in Iraq. Her exhibition of oil paintings, drawings and watercolours opens on 12 May at Frost & Reed in Kings Street, London: Arabella Dorman, Frontlines - Images from Iraq. Looks well worth a visit, and 5% of sales at Frost & Reed will be donated to the Army Benevolent Fund. Click the title link for more information and exhibition artwork.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Work-at-home Scams

FBI - Spam Notice (2009)I recently subscribed to an FBI newsletter in hope of gaining more information about stolen artworks. This is the best picture that has turned up so far. It highlights a growing set of scams that offer you the chance to make money from home. I've had these things come through my own letterbox. Don't be tempted! An FBI web page lists the most common scams associated with these work-at-home invitations (title link).

Sony Photographer '09

David Zimmerman - Desert (one of a series)The Sony Photographer of the Year for 2009 is US photographer David Zimmerman. His virtually monochrome series of photos of desert landscapes in the south-west USA impressed judge Mary Ellen Mark with its "poetry" and won him the $25,000 (£16,800) prize. I guess if you're seeking visual poetry, this is it. Personally I'd have sought something less bland and more gobsmacking. Maybe that's why I don't get invited to join panels of judges. Click the title link for the full list of winners and Flash Player routines displaying slide shows of entries.

Pirate Bay Guilty

The Pirate Bay LogoThe Jolly Roger is at half-mast today. It's walk-the-plank time for The Pirate Bay privateers Frederik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Carl Lundstrom and Peter Sunde. A Swedish court has found them guilty of breaking copyright law. The beak sentenced them to a year in jug and ordered them to pay 30m kronor (£2.4m) in damages. Dangle 'em by their heels from the lateen until the doubloons fall out their pockets, Yer 'Onour. Pieces of eight; pieces of eight. If only those Somali pirates could be brought to book....

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Francis Alÿs: Fabiola

Jean-Jacques Henner - Fabiola (copy by Unknown Emroiderer)Who's the pretty girl wearing the red shawl and matching lipstick? you might well ask. It's Fabiola, another of those pretty-boy Christian saints. The lost original of this portrait was painted by the French 19th Century painter Jean-Jacques Henner in traditional Early Renaissance style. Some obsessive clot - Francis Alÿs - has been collecting copies of this work from flea markets and antique shops throughout Europe and the Americas, and he has set up an installation thingy of 300 of them in London's National Portrait Gallery: Francis Alÿs: Fabiola. Why anyone should want to see this is beyond me; but, if you're one of them, you'll find it in Room 41 from 2 May, admission free. There's also a free gallery talk on the subject on Tuesday 26 May at 3pm.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Tate Podcasts

Tate Britain Podcasts Icon (orange)The Tate galleries have made over 400 audio and video downloads available for free on iTunes U (educational). Fancy downloading interviews with Jeff Koons or Louise Bourgeois? Maybe not. Multimedia tours of the latest exhibitions will be added to the collection as they arise. Note the colour coding: orange represents Tate Britain. You might find something worthwhile there. Click the title link for details.

Aprilis baceolus

Anonymous Artist - Aprilis baceolus (2009)You never know where art will crop up next. Take a close look at this butterfly, allegedly a new species found in Britain: Aprilis baceolus. It's actually a work of art and an April Fool's gag from the Woodland Trust (title link). So you can all stop looking for it! If you fancy new wallpaper for your computer, Nature's Calendar offers you two beautiful photos of British nature and countryside every month, complete with dates, so you have a true calendar onscreen (CLICK). Note: this is a trustworthy site for downloading wallpapers. Many aren't. They give you spyware too!

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Stolen Bronze Horse

Dame Elizabeth Frink - Bronze HorseHave you seen this horse? It's a rare bronze statue by sculptor Dame Elisabeth Frink, worth about £200,000. It was stolen from the grounds of a house in Lingfield, Surrey, on the night of 8/9 April. The police have only just released this information! Why? Why? Why? Giving the thieves five whole days to melt this sculpture down for the value of its bronze is completely insane. Next time get the news out fast, Plod. It's too late now.

Changing Seasons

Raymond Martinez - Untitled Painting Spanish-Welsh landscape artist Raymond Martinez has been soaking up the sun in Tuscany for the last 30 years, but has finally decided to return to Ghetto London. A retrospective of his paintings opens at The Gallery In Cork Street on 20 April and continues until 2 May: Changing Seasons (CLICK). To visit Raymond's attractive website, click the title link. Note the optical illusion in the above picture, which skews the top of frame.

Lost Pet Portraits

Anton Cataldo - Reward Notice for Lost Portraits of Pet Dogs (2009)Here's a cautionary tale for artists which could be a script for Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em. Pet portraitist Anton Cataldo borrowed two of his paintings for a job interview, put them on the roof of his car while loading it, then drove off with the paintings still on the roof. They fell off during the journey. As one of the dogs he painted is now dead, that portrait has sentimental value. So he printed some posters offering a £100 reward. Half a dozen of these he stapled to trees in a local park. The only reply he received was from a Brighton and Hove City Council official informing him he had been fined £75 for damaging trees! The fine has since been waived. Click the title link to view Anton's pet portraits, which are excellent. For a classic stunt sequence from the comedy show, Frank Spencer rollerskating, CLICK.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Life Classes on TV

Gustave Moreau - A Study for HerculesHere's a larger version of Gustave Moreau's A Study for Hercules to illustrate the following snippet of news. Channel 4 is to broadcast life drawing classes on afternoon television, beginning in July, perfect timing for the school summer holidays. That'll give the cherubs something to gawk at. Forget Yankee cartoons, Gran. This will keep them quiet. Life Class: Today’s Nude, a five-part series, will feature full-frontal male and female models in the buff. "Conceptual artist" Alan Kane suggested the idea to Channel 4. One Daily Mail reader commented "Great news. Please remind me of the exact times so I know when to be outraged". Will do.

Spam Art

Anonymous Artist - Wow! plus Gustave Moreau - A Study for HerculesAccording to a Microsoft security report, more than 97% of all e-mails sent over the Internet are spam (title link). Thank Goodness the percentage I receive is much lower than that. Here's a silly graphic I saved from my spam box: Wow! Surprised? She's gobsmacked! I've combined it with A Study for Hercules by Gustave Moreau. Should have gone to Specsavers!

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Mystery in Stone

Sylvester Mubay - The PantherThis sleek sculpture in stone, The Panther by Zimbabwean artist Sylvester Mubay, captures the essence of feline grace without being too fussy about the details. Sylvester is one of a group of Zimbabwean stone sculptors whose exhibition Mystery in Stone opens at the Mall Galleries in London on 22 April and continues until 2 May, admission free. Running alongside it is an exhibition by the Society of Women Artists, admission £2.50, concessions £1.50. The sample painting on the Mall website (title link) looks awful. If that's the best the society can do.... Come on, girls. Some of my favourite artists are female. Visit Rowena to see what I mean (CLICK).

Kitchen Garden Art

Anonymous Child - Kitchen Garden Art (2009)If you're looking for something arty to entertain the cherubs over the Easter holidays, you'll find the exhibition Kitchen Garden at the London International Gallery of Children's Art (LIGCA). The works on display are by primary school pupils who regularly visit the Chiswick House Kitchen Gardens and are encouraged to be creative about what they see. Times have changed. In my day, kids got a thick ear for being creative! Entry to the gallery is free and art materials are available for messy monsters. Click the title link for opening times and other information.

Simpsons Stamps

Matt Groening - The Simpsons on Stamps, US Postal Service (2009)BBC News published this story on April Fool's Day (CLICK). So I wasn't going to post it on Coxsoft Art News without confirmation! Yes, folks, it's true. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the longest-running US prime-time TV comedy show, the United States Postal Service has given The Simpsons their own set of 5 stamps. You can lick Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie each for 44 cents. The stamps, designed by Simpsons artist Matt Groening, will be issued on 7 May. Click the title link to order your set. Kiddies can vote for their favourite Simpsons character online. Groan!

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Happy Easter

I.C. - Minimalist Easter Egg (2009)A friend requested an Easter egg. So here it is. It's a minimalist Easter egg: no highlight, no shadow, no texture, no variation in colour, no ribbon, no chocolate, no bunny, no daffodil, no chick. But it does what it says on the tin: it's egg-shaped. So don't quibble. This egg celebrates that pagan spring festival which Christians hijacked for their celebration. I still haven't figured out why anyone should celebrate a man being nailed to a cross to die of starvation and exposure. I'll stick with the pagan idea: the rebirth of life after the trials of winter.
Happy Easter!

Friday, 10 April 2009

Henry's Women

Anne BoleynExhibitions concerning King Henry VIII are popping up all over the place, because this year sees the 500th anniversary of his accession to the English throne. The latest, which opens today and continues until 3 August, is Henry's Women. Portraits of his wives and daughters are on display, together with personal items. This portrait is of Anne Boleyn. The exhibition is in King Henry VIII’s Council Chamber, which is open to the public for the first time. Admission prices to Hampton Court Palace include the exhibition (rich tourists only CLICK).

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Inside Guernica

Pablo Picasso - Guernica (1937) TapestryLast Sunday's reopening of the expanded Whitechapel Gallery with a tapestry of Picasso's anti-war daub Guernica (1937) as its centrepiece (CLICK) has prompted BBC Magazine to publish Inside Guernica, an appraisal of its meaning by Gijs van Hensbergen (title link). I love the phrase "apocalyptic knacker's yard" to describe the painting, but the symbolism and biographical tittle-tattle of the rest of it quickly palled. If a work needs a long-winded blurb for our edification, it must be rubbish. Still, Inside Guernica is an essential read for those of you who enjoy playing one-upmanship with impressionable friends who know nothing about art.

Clipping Cupid's Wings

Flemish School - Minerva and Time clipping Cupid's Wings (17th Century) photo © Sotheby'sHere's an old-master painting I haven't come across before: Minerva and Time clipping Cupid's Wings. It's been in private hands and is vaguely attributed to the Flemish School (17th Century). I'd like an expert to examine this, because it has a look of quality about it and I'm sure it's worth a lot more than £10,000 to £15,000. You'll find it in Sotheby's pre-auction exhibition of Old Master & Early British Paintings, which opens on 15 April. It's Lot 9, Sale L09631, auction on 22 April.

Erotic Aliens

H.R. Giger - UntitledOne of my favourite websites used to be Therion Fantasy Art Gallery, which had a page of art by Hans Ruedi Giger, better known as H.R. Giger. He won an Academy Award for his design work on the cult movie Alien. His art is unique, a weird and erotic blend of mechanical semi-humanoid monsters doing unspeakable things to others of their metallic ilk. Giger has turned the Swiss enthusiasm for cuckoo clocks into Borg nightmares! A World History of Art devotes a web page to Giger's work. If you enjoy a rude shudder, click the title link. (Note: the domain name is still for sale.)

Monday, 6 April 2009

Another Lowry Sale

LS Lowry - A Market Place, Berwick-upon-Tweed (1935)Here's the latest Lowry to come up for auction: A Market Place, Berwick-upon-Tweed (1935). Cambridgeshire County Council bought it in 1945 for 30 guineas. (For those of you too young to recall posh prices, a guinea was £1 and one shilling. For those of you too young to recall shillings ... aw ... forget it.) The painting is now worth between £300,000 and £500,000 and the council needs the dosh for some daft scheme. Christie's will auction it in London on 21 May.

Banksy Vandalised

Banksy - Mild Mild West mural splashed with red paint (2009)Banksy's Mild Mild West mural on Stokes Croft in his home city of Bristol was splashed with red paint last night as a mindless protest against "gentrification" of the area. The idiots who vandalised the mural call themselves "Appropriate Media". They need to learn about appropriate behaviour before shooting their mouths off about appropriate media. The mural was voted Bristol's favourite alternative art in a recent BBC poll and was due to be covered with a glass-fronted atrium to protect it.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Walter Crane

Walter Crane - Spring (1895)A fortnight ago I posted an illustration by "neglected" British artist Walter Crane (CLICK). Here's one of my favourite paintings by Crane, appropriate for the time of year too: Spring (1895). I've also found it entitled Summer. Crane isn't as neglected as I thought. The Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester, has an excellent website showcasing his work: The Wonderful World of Walter Crane (title link). It uses Flash Player effectively. To read more about him, visit his Wikipedia page (CLICK). For more of his pictures CLICK.

A Higher Ambition

William Simpson - Design for the internal decoration of The Great Exhibition Building of 1851 by Owen Jones (1850)If you're interested in Victorian design, London's V&A Museum is celebrating the bicentenary of the birth of Owen Jones with an exhibition of his work: A Higher Ambition: Owen Jones (1809-74). It's in the Julie & Robert Breckman Prints and Drawings Gallery, Room 90, and Paintings, Room 88a, admission free. This illustration by William Simpson shows Owen Jones' design for the internal decoration of The Great Exhibition Building of 1851. The exhibition continues until 22 November. Click the title link for more information.