Friday, 30 October 2009

ROI Exhibition

The Royal Institute of Oil Painters’ annual exhibition opened at the Mall Galleries, London, on Wednesday and continues until Sunday 8 November, admission £2.50, concessions £1.50. This painting by Koba Karumidze - The shadow boys are breaking all the laws (2009) - won the ROI's Best Halloween Painting award. Nice one. And topical. Click the title link for more information.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Olympic Art Fiasco

This pathetic doodle - Forest Pitch by Craig Coulthard - depicts a football pitch created in the centre of a forest by felling trees. Believe it or not, this insane project has been selected as Scotland's contribution to the 12 art events allegedly showcasing the UK for the London 2012 Olympic Games and will be funded to the tune of £460,000 (title link). What a fiasco! Not only is this non-art; not only is it an appalling waste of money in a recession; but also it trashes any idea of conservation. What planet do the nutters of the Arts Council live on? The other projects selected are daft enough (CLICK), but this lunacy tops them all. Cancel it and save trees! The planet needs trees far more than it does another lunatic "art" project.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Nazi Loot Found

Adolf Hitler may have been a mediocre artist, but he certainly had a vulture's eye for art treasures. Before he topped himself, the Führer had looted a hoard big enough to put the Vatican to shame. This gem is a fine example. Saint Justa by Bartolome Esteban Murillo is one of a pair stolen by the Nazis from the Rothschilds in Paris in 1941. Murillo's Saint Rufina makes the pair. Somehow these two paintings ended up in the Southern Methodist University Museum in the USA. Recent inspection found that one of the pair still bore the Nazi ERR (Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg) code on the stretcher, proving Rothschild ownership. The Nazi mark seems to have been removed from the other painting. The collector who acquired these treasures for the Methodists obviously didn't give a fig for provenance. Their current value is estimated at more than $10 million.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Wildlife Photo 2009

Congratulations to Jose Luis Rodriguez, who won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2009 award with this night shot of an Iberian wolf leaping a gate. He used a custom-built infrared trap with motion sensor to trigger his camera - a Hasselblad 503CW - to catch this terrific shot. The Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2009 exhibition opened yesterday at the Natural History Museum in London and runs, leaps and bounds until 11 April 2010. Click the title link to vote for your favourite among this year's winning photos.

Wild Thing

Wild Thing: Epstein, Gaudier-Brzeska, Gill opened today in the Sackler Wing of Galleries at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, and continues until 24 January 2010. For the first time the work of these three influential sculptors has been brought together for comparison: Jacob Epstein, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and Eric Gill. More than 90 pieces - sculptures, drawings and pastels - show their radical impact on British sculpture. The Wild Thing catalogue cover shows Epstein's Rock Drill, which still has the power to look menacing. Gill's erotic relief sculpture Ecstasy (1910-11) is another of the exhibits. Unfortunately, admission costs a bomb. Click the title link for details.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Sam the Pooch

The Times thunders "shockingly bad". The Guardian squeaks "amateurish and adolescent". No, they're not referring to this pleasant abstract by Sam the mutt, but to that latest load of tosh from Moneybags Hirst which is letting down the tone of the Wallace Collection until 24 January (CLICK, CLICK). I thought you'd prefer to see Sam's work, which sells in New York for £1,000 a woof. Click the title link to see a video of Sam doing some serious brushwork.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Miniature Painters

The annual exhibition of the Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers, which I forgot to mention last week, continues until Sunday 25 October (title link). Over 700 pieces are on show at prices starting from about £120. Admission is free. I wish I could tell you more about this excellent miniature portrait, but the only information I have is that the file name is AlanThom.jpg. I assume that's short for Alan Thomas. Self-portrait? Please get your TITLE's organised, Mall Galleries webmaster.

Dolphin Slaughter

For her latest painting Fizza Abdulrasul took inspiration from the Mail Online article I linked to in my post on her The End picture: the annual slaughter of dolphins by Japanese "fishermen" from the village of Taiji (CLICK). Unfortunately, her new painting Dolphins: From Sheer Joy to Utter Devastation (2009) doesn't show up well when reduced to 400 pixels width. On the left the dolphins are jumping with joy; on the right their corpses are filling a boat, appalling slaughter which makes the sea turn red. Not only are dolphins mammals, like us, but pods of dolphins have been known to encircle and protect human swimmers attacked by sharks. And this is how we treat them! Click the title link to see Fizza's painting on Saatchi.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Raphael Muse

This drawing Head of a Muse by Raphael was part of his preparation for a series of four frescoes that he painted in the Vatican between 1508 and 1511, commissioned by Pope Julius II. It's up for grabs in Christie's Old Masters and 19th Century Art sale in London on 8 December, estimated value between £12m and £16m. Take Coxsoft's advice: flog your Lamborghini, your yacht and your town house and see if you can outbid the Russian Mafia. This is a world treasure which really shouldn't be allowed to fall into private hands.

Landscape Photography

Give yourself a treat and click the title link to view BBC News' gallery of winners in the Landscape Photographer of the Year award 2009. This breathtaking photo won first prize for Emmanuel Coupe. It shows Sunrise over The Old Man of Stor, Isle of Skye, Scotland. Wow!

Famous Doubles

Here's a painting from a new exhibition by Stuckist artist Paul Harvey: Famous Doubles (title link). JOB Cigarette Papers commissioned Paul to update its 19th Century design classic by Alphonse Mucha. What better choice than Morecambe and Wise? Just kidding, Paul. Gilbert and George liked this painting depicting them and gave their blessing to the project. You'll find this and other famous doubles at Wanted Gallery in Notting Hill, London, W11 2EE, from 23 October to 8 November. Well worth a visit.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Sacred Made Real

On Wednesday 21 October The National Gallery in London opens a major exhibition: The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture 1600 - 1700. The above graphic shows a detail from Pedro de Mena's Christ as the Man of Sorrows (1673). If you can stomach all the visual lies that propagate religious delusion, there is some brilliant art to be found here. Click the title link to book tickets.

Torso With Fern

Here's Anna Keiller's latest ceramic sculpture, using a fern leaf for effect: Torso With Fern (2009). This is Part 4 of her Autumn Mist and Ferns series. Very attractive. The torso was painted with a thin coat of manganese oxide and the bright green of the fern enhanced by copper oxide and transparent glaze. This effect reminds me of some of the bronze sculptures by Brenda Naylor in which a dancer's clothes are highlighted in green (CLICK). Click the title link to visit Anna's blog.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

A 'New' Da Vinci?

Did Leonardo da Vinci draw this Young Girl in Profile in Renaissance Dress, originally catalogued as "German, early 19th Century" and sold for £12,039 (about $19,000) or is it another example of wishful thinking? The answer could rest on a fingerprint. Connoisseur Peter Silverman, the current owner, brought in the experts to assess the work and has caused a major stir in the art world. Click the title link to read the details.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Darkness at Tate

I'm beginning to think a law should be passed to ban Unilever from sponsoring so-called "art" projects. The latest load of inartistic tosh in the Unilever Series at Tate Modern is a huge steel box that fills the Turbine Hall, like an up-ended shipping container. Some Pole called Miroslaw Balka designed this time-waster. And what does it contain? Darkness! Even its title isn't original; it's taken from a novel by Samuel Beckett: How It Is. If you fancy a grope in the dark, the container opens on 13 October and hangs about until 5 April 2010.

Tags on Banksy

Remember that Banksy in the London Borough of Sutton I wrote about last Wednesday? (Scroll down or CLICK if you don't.) This is what it looked like two days later. Moronic taggers have been at work on it. They voted with their spray cans. So, whatever the outcome of the public vote arranged by the council, it looks as though a clean-up job is the only answer. Click the title link to read about it in the Croydon Guardian.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Ghost Forest II

This is an artist's impression of Angela Palmer's Ghost Forest when it is installed in Trafalgar Square on 16 November. It will be there for just six days before being shipped to Copenhagen for the UN climate conference. It will stand in the Thorvaldsens Plads from 7-18 December. When I previewed this project back in June, I took a dim view of it (CLICK). I've since had a couple of comments from people who disagree with me, believing that Angela is making a profound statement about deforestation and climate change. While I admire the commitment, determination and organizational skills which Angela has put into this project, I still can't see it as anything more than a publicity stunt. Firstly, a display of tree stumps is no more art than Greedy Emin's unmade bed, although this artist's impression looks great (CLICK for more). Secondly, the carbon emissions from world shipping is far higher than that from all the airlines of the world. Shipping massive tree stumps about the planet is contributing to climate change, a fact which makes nonsense of Angela's protest. Still, her intentions are good. Pity she couldn't have thought of a less carbon-expensive way of making her point.

Marine Art

The Royal Society of Marine Artists opens its annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries, London, on Wednesday 14 October, admission £2.50, concessions £1.50. Some of the UK's top marine artists show their work at this exhibition. It closes early at 3pm on the final day Sunday 25 October, 5pm the rest of the week.
Note: I wish web designers would catch up with the fact that ALTs do not give picture titles when you move your mouse pointer over the picture. The new generation of browsers, including Microsoft's IE8, only show a title when the code expressly uses the TITLE command. I've updated my blog. I don't see why Mall Galleries or the BBC can't do the same.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Nude Marge in Playboy!

Eeeek! Now I've seen it all. The November issue of Playboy is celebrating 20 years of The Simpsons with a picture of a naked Marge on its cover. This is the first cartoon character to make the cover of Playboy. And we're promised there are more titillating poses of Marge inside. Centrefold? Gasp! It's claimed the idea is to get more young men to buy the magazine, but my guess is it will attract the 10-15 age group. Look for schoolboys browsing the magazine shelves from 16 October onwards. Collectors' item?

Friday, 9 October 2009


Is the world ready for a Doctor Who animated cartoon, especially one with a soppy name like Dreamland? Time ... er ... the Time Lord, that is, will tell. David Tennant will be the voice of Doctor Who in the 6-part series, with Clarke Peters speaking the lines of a native American called Night Eagle and with Georgia Moffett voicing the Doctor's new assistant Cassie Rice. Expect the BBC to issue lorryloads of hype prior to screening the new series. Click the title link for the Dreamland blog.


Wondering what to do with the cherubs during the half-term holiday? The V&A Museum of Childhood in East London is currently showing Wonderland by East London Printmakers, an exhibition of over 80 artworks exploring fairy tales, myths and folk tales from around the world. This fiery print, Rescue of the Firebird by Erika Palv, gives you a taste of what to expect. The exhibition continues until 10 January 2010, admission free (title link).

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Vote Banksy

If you live in the London Borough of Sutton, you can vote on whether to keep this Banksy artwork for the nation or to have it removed. It depicts a punk trying to figure out the instructions from an Ikea box. You'll find it in Beddington Farm Road, near to Ikea. So far, the response has been in favour of keeping it (the Banksy, not Ikea). You have until 31 October to email your view to the council:

Maharaja At V&A

London's V&A Museum has unveiled its winter biggy. Maharaja: The Splendour of India's Royal Courts opens on 10 October and glitters until 17 January 2010. As you can see by this painting Procession of Ram Singh II of Kola (ca 1850) the artwork is pathetic, but the jewels are huge! So, if you're into all things that glister, this is the show for you.

Art for Youth

If you feel in need of an expensive trinket, the charity UK Youth is holding a one-day sale at the Mall Galleries in London tomorrow, Thursday 8 October, from 10am to 4pm: Art for Youth London. More than 1,000 works are for sale, including oil paintings, watercolours, prints, photos, pottery, sculpture, glass and jewellery. Prices range from £200 to £3,500. Ouch! Admission is free. For additional info. email Ann Mavroleon.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Rainforest Foundation

The Rainforest Foundation is celebrating its 20th anniversary with an exhibition of photos at the Proud Galleries in London, NW1 8AH. People of The Forest: 20 Years of Images From The Rainforest Foundation opens on Wednesday 7 October. This detail of a photo by Sue Cunningham/SCP shows a youth from the Kayapo Tribe in Brazil, the first people to be helped by the foundation. The bad news is that a lot of the photos are of logging lorries! Greed destroying the planet. When will the message get across? Click the title link for more information.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Greedy Emin

Have you collected your badge from the Stuckists outside Tate Britain today? Go get it. While you're there, you might ask whether the police porno squad has decided to arrest Sir Nickelarse for allowing a photo of Brooke Shields aged 10, starkers, oiled and wearing makeup, to be shown at Tate Modern (CLICK). If Sir Nick be the King of Crap, Tracey Emin must be the Queen. She's thinking of deserting the UK as a protest against excessive taxation (hitting those earning more than £150,000 with 50% income tax, coming next April). What a hypocrite, trying to pretend her greed is a protest (CLICK)! Go, Tracey, and take your tripe with you. The sooner the better. You're a gross embarrassment to the Brit. art scene.

SOE Memorial

Yesterday afternoon, this bust of heroine Violette Szabo was officially unveiled on London's South Bank to commemorate all those who served in the Special Operations Executive (SOE) during World War II. Winston Churchill and Hugh Dalton created the SOE in 1940 to conduct espionage and sabotage behind enemy lines. Anthony Mann's The Heroes of Telemark (1965) dramatized one of the SOE's most successful operations. The artist who created this bust and whom BBC News forgot to mention is Karen Newman.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Great Story Tellers

The BBC - a leading light of the Brit. Anti-art Establishment - seems somewhat bemused by the fact that movie directors Steven Spielberg and George Lucas should collect artworks by that "illustrator" Norman Rockwell, and, with the help of museum curator Valerie Mecklenburg, it hazards a few guesses as to their reasons (title link). Look at this detail from Rockwell's The Shiner, which graced the cover of The Saturday Evening Post of 23 May 1953, and you must see why I regard him as one of the greatest artists of the 20th Century. The bliss on that girl's face as she waits outside the principal's office says it all: she has just trounced the class bully and she doesn't care what the principal thinks. She is supreme. CLICK to see the full picture. Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg opens at the Smithsonian American Art Museum on 2 July 2010 and won't be shown anywhere else. Sigh!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Viz Since 1979

While I'm in jocular vein, here's news of an exhibition at The Cartoon Museum, Little Russell Street, London. (You'll find it near the British Museum.) 30 Years of Viz opens on 4 November and continues until 24 January 2010. The poster shows the Fat Slags, Viz's view of the typical English female, and yes, potential tourists, they really are that awful. Worse! Our women our the fattest in Europe. This is why the Russian Mafia needs to smuggle slim teenagers from the Balkans into UK brothels to keep the indigenous male population content. Viz's show looks like a Christmas treat for the cherubs. They'll enjoy his Rude Kids and writhe with mirth at Johnny Fartpants.

Turner Prize Dead Demo

Thinks: Should I publish this scurrilous poster from the Stuckists maligning that doyen of the Brit. Anti-art Establishment Sir Nickelarse Scrotum? Oh why not? It's news ... er ... sort of. The Turner Prize may be dead, but like all good zombies it refuses to lie down. So, to coincide with the launch of this year's art fiasco on Monday 5 October, Stuckists will be holding a The Turner Prize Is Dead Demo outside Tate Britain from 9am until they get bored or run out of leaflets and badges. They'll be holding another one outside Tate Britain on the day of the Turner Prize award: Monday 7 December. Their badges are collectors' items, folks, and free! Don't miss out. Join the throng and sport your protest with pride.

Ig® Nobel Winners

The 2009 Ig® Nobel Prize Ceremony took place yesterday evening and the 10 winners were announced. The Peace Prize was won by a team from Bern, Switzerland, for determining whether it is better to be smashed over the head with a full bottle of beer or an empty bottle. The Physics Prize went to researchers who determined why pregnant women don't tip over. And the Public Health Prize was won by a team that invented a bra which can be swiftly converted into a pair of gas masks, one for a friend, if the wearer doesn't mind flashing her boobs in an emergency. CLICK for the full list of winners.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Hirst Junk Sells

There certainly is one born every minute! An Irish punter with no taste in art lashed out £32,000 on this pile of junk, entitled Red Rubber Ball, by Moneybags Hirst in today's auction at Duke's of Dorchester in Dorset. I mean, if you saw this pile of junk in a car boot sale - a plastic rabbit, dried rose, the head of a doll and other meaningless bits and bobs - would you pay a fiver for it, let alone £32,000? And the punter is reportedly happy with his purchase! Bet his wife tells him to put it in the shed. "Ah, fer foch's sake, Shamus, yer not bringing that junk in me house."