Monday, 31 August 2009

Holbein's Skull

If you watch the video of the World Classic Interactive Arts Exhibition in the post below, you'll see at the end a character in Holbein's The Ambassadors pick up the thing at their feet. My educated guess is that he will show the viewers the skull Holbein cleverly elongated to form a part of his painting, message: Death awaits us all. I've removed the distortion and added the skull to the main picture.

Interactive Arts

You may have seen news of the World Classic Interactive Arts Exhibition which opened in Beijing last week, but have you seen the video? It's gross! I tracked it down on CCTV 9. An appalling hi-tech cartoon of the Mona Lisa waves at you and chats about her married life. Characters in old-master paintings fidget and wriggle. Statues come to life. It took a South Korean gallery two years to make this ghastly show, combing 3D and holographic technology with sound identification software. Will the Chinese punters love it or hate it? Click the title link to see the video and draw your own conclusion. (Reject the language pack.)

Prince's Drawing School

Five artists from the Prince's Drawing School who were selected to work in residence at Kensington Palace are holding an exhibition of their work at Thomas Williams Fine Art on Bond Street, Mayfair, from 21 October to 20 November (title link). Entry is free. It needs to be, because this Aloe by Amelia Power is the best exhibit to be found. Having seen two of HRH the Prince of Wales' watercolours, I can tell you he is a far better painter than these students from the Drawing School he founded. Surprising and very disappointing.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Iraqi 'Picasso'

Is this painting bad enough to be a Picasso? Iraq police collared a man trying to sell The Naked Woman as a genuine Picasso for $450,000 (£275,800). It may have been stolen from Kuwait during Iraq's invasion of the country in 1990. Of course this tale could be the Iraqi version of "It fell off the back of a lorry, guv". Experts are sceptical of the authenticity of the painting, because no record of it has been found. It looks like a fake to me, but a better photo would help. It certainly has been damaged by being folded, but that's no guarantee of a genuine artwork having been stolen. Anyone can fold a fake.

Batman The Pussy!

Have you ever seen a more ridiculous moggy? Is it Batman The Pussy? The Claw of Zorro? The Masked Mouser? The Lone Birder? Feline Felon of the Month? Whatever, it's a terrific photo by Daniel Pettersson, here used to catch the eye for the Digital Camera Photographer of the Year 2009 competition. A £10,000 prize is up for grabs, but the standard is very high. The closing date for entries is 30 September. Click the title link for full details, NOT the pussy picture here, but the one on the website. You can also vote for your favourite online.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Richard Long Video

Congratulations to BT and Tate Britain for having created the most boring art video I have ever seen. It features Richard Long's Heaven and Earth exhibition, which ends on 6 September. And it's "interactive". Wow! If you're the type of person who enjoys watching paint dry, click the title link.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Open House London

The dates for Open House London 2009 are 19 and 20 September. The booklets that list all the buildings have arrived in my local library. So now's your chance to grab a freebie. Be quick. They are snapped up. If you order from the Open House website (title link) they cost £6.50 inc p&p.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

DC Comics Doctor

DC Comics has created a new hero, not a superhero this time but a Ugandan doctor caught up in the disgusting rebel war that's been waged in that East African country for at least two decades. Villages are raided by the rebels in search of food and victims to torture. Villagers have their hands cut off; women are raped and their boys are kidnapped to be forced to become brutal rebels themselves. Joshua Dysart, the author of this new series, visited Uganda for research. One rescued child soldier told Dysart that he and a group of boys were forced to bite somebody to death. The storyline won't be pretty! Click the title link to sample the graphics. The one above is by Igor Kordey.

Colour Bar Gaffe

This example of the digital artist's work shows (left) the US version of a Microsoft advertisement Empower your people with the IT tools they need and (right) the Polish version of the same ad. with the all-American black guy replaced by an all-Polish white guy. The artist forgot to whiten the black guy's hand and he also put the replacement white guy's head at a strange angle. Whoops! Microsoft has been forced to apologize for the gaffe and has withdrawn the advertisement. Click the title link for a bigger graphic.

Olympic Stamps

Royal Mail has released pictures of 10 first-class stamps it will issue in October to try to drum up support for the non-event of 2012: the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London. Yawn! A number of artists created designs for these stamps, which are variable in artistic quality. I like this neat graphic design for Paralympic Games: Archery by George Hardie. Click the title link to see the rest of the collection. Update: a Telegraph gallery of the stamps credits the artists (CLICK).

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Today's Nude

Yesterday Ofcom published its Broadcast Bulletin Issue 140, which covers the period when Channel 4 aired Life Class: Today's Nude, a lunchtime invitation to watch an artist drawing a naked model (CLICK). I glimpsed bits of the first two programmes and found the artists' doodles pathetic and their inane chatter boring. The programme needed a few Michelangelos and a couple of Leonardos to make it come alive. The expected storm of protest didn't materialize. Ofcom received only 37 complaints about the nudity and upheld none of them. The black Adonis (above, left) who kicked off the week of classes prompted only one complaint. The elderly frump who modelled for the second show elicited 10 complaints (right). Here's the breakdown:

(CLICK for Ofcom pdf).

Artangel has created a flickr™ group dedicated to this programme where I found drawings by donal1962 (left) and Emma Richardson to make the above illustration. Click the title link to see more. Note: the group's 202 members aren't complaining about the show's nudity. Prudes outvoted.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Jolie Breastfeeding

I see self-publicist Daniel Edwards has been at it again, giving us his mind's eye view of a celebrity in the buff. (Remember Britney Spears giving birth on all fours? No? Then CLICK.) This time it's a bronze statue of Angelina Jolie breastfeeding her twins: Landmark for Breastfeeding (2009). He makes her look anything but jolly. "Haggard" is the term I would use to describe the pig's ear Edwards has made of an extremely beautiful face. And this is an advert for breastfeeding? Londoners will get their chance to view Jolie in the ... er ... bronze when a cast of the statue comes to Holster Projects for a "sexual ideologies" exhibition DE$IRE, which opens on 10 September and runs till 10 October (title link).

Kieron Williamson

Believe it or not, this accomplished watercolour was painted by a 6-year-old boy: Kieron Williamson. He's now 7 and a minor celebrity, having held his first art exhibition with the help of Norfolk artist Carol Ann Pennington. Click the title link to view more of his paintings. His local newspaper covered his story better than did the big dailies, which tend to go for sensationalism and to hell with the details: CLICK.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Sargent & The Sea

John Singer Sargent isn't best known for his seascapes, so an exhibition by the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC comes as something of a novelty: Sargent and the Sea. The Corcoran has brought together for the first time more than 80 paintings, watercolours and drawings depicting seascapes and coastal scenes from the artist's early career. En route pour la pêche (Setting out to Fish) from 1878, shown above, is a fine example. The exhibition opens on 12 September and runs until 3 January 2010 (title link). It then moves to Houston, Texas, and - wait for it - to the Royal Academy of Arts in London, from 10 July to 26 September 2010.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Vote For Fizza

Fizza Abdulrasul has entered her latest painting protesting against shark fin soup - Cruelty Does Not Have A Limit (2009) - into the Saatchi Gallery's Showdown competition (CLICK). Voting for this round is from 7 to 14 September. Saatchi's previously boring home page has been tarted up with an excellent Adobe Flash Player routine which blends famous female portraits into one another, redrawing them as it does so. Cleverly done. I noticed Botticelli's Venus and Leonardo's Mona Lisa among the beautiful faces. Click the title link to view this enchanting video.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Jurassic Ink

This sketch of Belemnotheutis antiquus may not be the most inspiring work of art I've ever posted on Coxsoft Art News, but for palaeontologists it is a knockout. The ink used is about 150 million years old! It was taken from the ink sac of a fossilised squid which lived in the Jurassic period. When palaeontologists from the British Geological Survey cracked open the fossil, which was unearthed during a dig in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, they found that the ink sac was still soft and contained ink fit for drawing this sketch. Click the title link for details.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Frogmore House Opening

Frogmore House and Garden will be open to the public for the bank holiday weekend on 29, 30, 31 August, admission £7. This is your annual chance to view works of art by three generations of the royal family: Victoria Duchess of Kent, Queen Victoria and a number of works by Queen Victoria's children, including Princess Victoria and Princess Louise. The garden - laid out by Queen Charlotte - is renowned for its beauty and rare and unusual plants. Click the title link for details and to order tickets.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Banksy's Bristol Show

I expected Banksy vs Bristol Museum to be a major crowd puller (CLICK), but I didn't expect his fans to come hotfooting it from countries like Japan and Uzbekistan. So far almost 250,000 people have queued for up to four hours to see the show's inventive mixture of graffiti, paintings, animatronics and installations. I hope all those patronizing and overpaid twerps from the British Anti-art Establishment who promote crap and try to educate the common folk in its wonderfulness are taking heed of Banksy's popularity and success, achieved without a penny from Arts Council England.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Turner & The Masters

Tate Britain's winter biggy is Turner and the Masters, which sets itself the ambitious task of exploring the influence of the old masters on Turner's oil paintings. More than 100 masterpieces will be brought together for the show, including works by Canaletto, Claude, Poussin, Rembrandt, Rubens and Titian. For the first time Turner's landscapes of Wales, including Dolbadern Castle, Harlech Castle and Ewenny Priory (above), will be shown together. The bad news as always is the cost of admission: adults £12.50, silver surfers £11.00 (88%, ripoff!) and families £31. Turner and the Masters runs from 23 September to 31 January 2010.

Young Marine Artists

The Royal Society of Marine Artists is inviting submissions for its Young Marine Artists Prize 2009, worth £500 to the winner and £200 to the runner up. The winning artwork - inspired by the sea - will be exhibited at the Mall Galleries in London. The deadline for submissions is 13th September. Click the title link for details. For the first time the Society will be accepting e-mail submissions. The award is again sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Shipwrights.

Friday, 14 August 2009

ACE Olympics Shortlist

How do the know-nothings who run Arts Council England get their lucrative jobs? Bribery? Sexual favours? Old school ties? Diplomas in bullshit? Whatever it takes, the one real qualification for the job seems to be to know absolutely nothing about art. So, it comes as no surprise to read that ACE's shortlist of 59 insane anti-art projects for the London 2012 Olympics, 12 of which will have tax-payers' money wasted on them to the tune of £5.4m, includes things like generating smoke from unused factory chimneys, ringing bells, a heated one metre iron cube and a group of three "athletically posed" 30ft hand-crocheted lions! Groan! The title of this competition, Artists Taking The Lead, should have been Philistines Taking The Lead.

Milkmaid at the Met

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s historic voyage to Manhattan from Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum is lending Johannes Vermeer's The Milkmaid to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The painting will be on display from 10 September until 29 November, together with 5 more Vermeers and other masterpieces by Dutch painters. It's 70 years since The Milkmaid last visited the USA, for the 1939 World's Fair in New York. So this is a once-in-a-lifetime event. The Milkmaid? I wonder if that's the original title. She looks more like a housewife preparing breakfast to me.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Smiling Through

What type of civilization do we live in when great works of art need to be protected by bullet-proof glass? A sick one, is the answer. Ten days ago a Russian loony threw a ceramic mug at Leonardo's masterpiece in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The mug smashed against the glass and the painting was undamaged. Police carted the woman off to a psychiatric hospital. The news has just been released. The AFP news agency quotes a Louvre spokesman: "It looks like it was done by someone who was unhinged and wanted to draw attention to herself". Acid, a brick and now a mug have all been thrown at the Mona Lisa (1503), but she keeps smiling through.

Whore’s Canal

Nearly two years ago I facetiously suggested that Tate Passé or the Royal Academy of Arts should create an installation thingy of Amsterdam's Red Light District (CLICK). A year later I discovered that Edward and Nancy Kienholz had apparently nicked my idea for the National Gallery in London (CLICK). And here it is: Kienholz: The Hoerengracht or ‘Whore’s Canal’, not alimentary, I hope! It opens in the National Gallery’s Sunley Room on 18 November and runs until 21 February 2010, admission free (title link). Now here's the rub: they developed The Hoerengracht in the 1980's. So the installation owes nothing to Coxsoft Art's sense of humour. Of course this rubbish is totally out of place in the National Gallery. What were they thinking of?

Cowards of Burma

Here are those Burmese cowards in gold braid who are terrified of one frail woman: Aung San Suu Kyi (CLICK). The civilized world is outraged that she has been sentenced to a further 18 months of house arrest in order to keep her silent for the generals' show election next year. And why bother with a show election when the military junta holds all the guns? It won't legitimize the cowards in power. The two scraps of good news are (1) the court's sentence of years of hard labour against Aung San Suu Kyi was swiftly commuted to house arrest and (2) the Yankee Mormon fruitcake who swam to Aung San Suu Kyi's lakeside home and gave the generals the excuse they needed has been jailed for seven years, including four years of hard labour. He deserves it. All religious pests who knock on your door to tell you how much their imaginary god loves you should get the same sentence.
Update: has organised a petition on behalf of Aung San Suu Kyi; CLICK to sign it.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Pope Art?

Surely I mean Pop Art. No, it's Pope Art, not by the Pope himself, but by Federico Solmi. It's his Crucifix from The Evil Empire (2007) showing a cartoon Pontiff with a strawberry Cornetto poking out of his loincloth. Frederico was charged with obscenity and blasphemy and his crucifix confiscated. Last month, judges in Bologna gave these charges the raspberry. Their judgement is worth noting. Although they admit this twaddle is "undoubtedly provocative ... that does not exclude its conduciveness to the notion of a work of art". I think "notion" is the operative word here. Work of art? Purely notional, my dear Coxsoft.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Fizza Abdulrasul 2

Still on today's theme of wildlife, this gruesome painting by Fizza Abdulrasul is a protest against the maltreatment of sharks, entitled Stop! Agony, Despair and the Colour of Cruelty (2009). Thousands are caught for sharks fin soup. Their fins are cut off while they are still alive and they're thrown back into the sea to suffocate. (Without the ability to swim, sharks cannot pass enough water through their gills to extract oxygen.) I featured Fizza's art two years ago (CLICK). She has since changed her website and URL. Click the title link to visit a gallery of her art.

Butterfly Jungle

While I'm on the subject of butterflies (next post down) here's a neat little graphic from the Natural History Museum in London advertising its new Butterfly Jungle (title link). This is perfect for junior nature lovers in the school summer holidays. The bad news is the price of admission: adult £6, child £4, silver surfer £4, family £17. These prices include a small "voluntary" donation to the Museum. If you choose to opt out - I would - the prices are adult £5.40, child £3.50, silver surfer £3.50, family £15. That's quite stiff enough without paying a "voluntary" surcharge. Children aged 3 and under are allowed in free, but who wants to lug them around London? Your local park or your nearest library would provide more fun and less hassle than London Underground and bendy buses full of rowdy yobbos.

Butterfly Art

The Woodland Trust is seeking a venue in which to display the winning entries of its Nature Detectives art competition 2009 for children, the subject butterflies. It received 18,300 entries. I particularly liked these two, neither of which won, although both were commended by the judges. On the left is an entry in the Pattern Category from Jamie Irving, aged 11. His bold design works well against a lightly sketched leaf. On the right is an entry in the Symmetry Category from Tom Berry, aged 9. If you look closely at Tom's butterfly, you'll see that it's made up of smaller butterflies, a clever idea from a 9-year-old. Click the title link to see more youngsters' butterflies. If you know of a suitable venue to host the winning art, email
I would have thought the Natural History Museum in London the perfect venue, because it boasts a new Butterfly Jungle.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Posh Lookalike

I doubt if Victoria Beckham will be flattered by the description of this woman as a "Victoria Beckham lookalike". Never mind, Posh. It's in a good cause. Private investigators searching for Madeleine McCann released this artist's impression on Thursday, because they want to trace the woman depicted and interview her. The latest news is that a woman in Sydney, Australia, thinks she can identify the woman. New South Wales police have taken a statement.

Rembrandt Confirmed

This Portrait of Pastor Swalmius (1637) has long been thought of as a work by one of Rembrandt's pupils. It has recently undergone restoration to remove layers of dark varnish, and curators at Antwerp's Royal Museum of Fine Arts were cock-a-hoop when they discovered the master's signature. If you happen to be visiting Antwerp, the painting goes on public display at the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten today (CLICK). If not, visit its website to view the splendidly buxom Sitting Nude with mouth-watering cherry-red nipples by Modigliani, one of the few "modern art" painters whose works I admire. I wonder what the good pastor would have made of those nipples. He would probably have denounced them as works of the Devil.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Pencil Sculptures

American artist Jen Maestre does it with pencils ... er ... sculpture, that is. This pseudo sea urchin with seductive orifices is entirely made up of pencils. The pink bits are the rubbers on the tops of the pencils. She cuts her pencils into 1-inch sections and sews them all together using a peyote stitch. The Telegraph has put a gallery of her works online (title link). I must admit by the end of it the idea seems to have lost its point. You've seen one sea urchin sculpted out of pencils, you've seen them all.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

X-rays As Art

The latest work by award-winner photographer Nick Veasey will be on show at Maddox Arts, London, from 30 October to 10 January 2010. The gallery website is hopeless. (Why do they bother?) The title link takes you to a Telegraph picture gallery of Nick Veasey's art, which includes this X-ray photograph of an alarm clock. It also gives you an insight into what must be the most unusual artist's studio in the world. Nick's latest book was published last year by Goodman Books: X-Ray (CLICK).

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Battlestar Galactica

The Television Critics Association has chosen sci-fi drama Battlestar Galactica as Programme of the Year, a major accolade. This is the remake of the 1970s TV show, which starred Lorne Greene as the long-suffering Commander Adama. Above is my montage showing Grace Park, who plays Number Eight - a female humanoid Cylon -, alongside one of the spaceships.

Monday, 3 August 2009

In the Picture

The Foundling Museum is running an unusual art exhibition over the school summer holidays: In the Picture. Disabled children have been almost invisible in children’s books. National disability charity Scope has set out to redress the balance by putting disabled children "in the picture" with the help of children’s book illustrators, such as Quentin Blake and Jane Ray, who show young characters with a variety of abilities. This illustration Girl Picking Apples (2008) by Quentin Blake is an amusing example. Well worth a visit, whether you have a disabled child or not.

Adam Neate Book

Remember that Adam Neate giveaway in London last year? (CLICK if you don't.) I found one on my way to work. He's published an 88-page book on the subject: The London Show (title link). It's a limited edition of 1000 copies, published by Elms Lesters and priced at £25 plus postage. Postal charges: UK £5.00, EU £7.00, World £12.50. I can't see my local library lashing out £25 for a book documenting the non-event of 2008. I'm still wondering what to do with my picture. Flog it on eBay?

Michael Jackson at O2

This Pop Art portrait of Michael Jackson (1984) by Andy Warhol, commissioned to celebrate Thriller's record sales, goes on show at the British Music Experience in the O2 Arena, London. It then moves to New York for auction. With all the hype surrounding the singer's death, the portrait will probably fetch far more than the £14m ($23.7m) paid for Warhol's equally awful portrait of Elizabeth Taylor in 2007. I wouldn't give you 50p for it.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Homer's ID Card

Did you see the UK National ID Card unveiled by Home Secretary Alan Johnson last Thursday? Here's Homer Simpson's ID card. He's going under the name of Elizabeth Henderson. What a specimen! Sorry, Alan; I couldn't resist it.

Mrs Robinson Returns

Not the more famous Mrs Robinson played by Anne Bancroft in The Graduate (1967), but a Mrs Mary Robinson painted by Sir Thomas Gainsborough in 1781. It returns to display at The Wallace Collection in London, having been cleaned to remove several layers of yellowed varnish. You'll find it in the Great Gallery, hung beside Gainsborough's sketch for the portrait, on loan from the Royal Collection. Admission is free. The Wallace Collection is open 7 days a week, from 10am to 5pm (title link).

Note to the writer of The Wallace Collection's e-newsletter: "Mrs." is an ignorant Americanism. "Mrs" is correct English. When the last letter of an abbreviated word is included, the full stop - "period" for Yanks - is superfluous.