Monday, 30 November 2009

Slaughterhouse Taiji

Here is the latest of Fizza Abdulrasul's protest paintings: Slaughterhouse Taiji (2009) showing the annual dolphin slaughter near the Japanese fishing village of Taiji. Click the title link to view this work on Saatchi Online.

Schools Winner

Congratulations to Lauren Mincher, aged 18, of Durham Johnston School, Durham, for winning first prize in The Saatchi Gallery - Sunday Telegraph Art Prize for Schools with this sensitive portrait of her grandfather. Lauren wins £2,000 for herself and £10,000 for her school. Entries came from around the world and encompassed a wide range of styles. All the shortlisted works will be shown at the Saatchi Gallery in London from 3 December to 14 December. Click the title link for an online gallery. Watch out for Katie Lewis's third-placed entry of Michelangelo's Adam in the style of Francis Bacon. Homage or Mickey-take? Whichever, she wins £1,000 and £5,000 for her school, the Sir James Henderson School of Milan.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Art Barter

Sunday is the last day for visiting the Art Barter exhibition at the Rag Factory in Whitechapel, east London. The works are anonymous, so you can't be lured by a Big Name in the art market. You put your offer of barter on a card. So far, a Ferrari Enzo (shown) and "one of my kidneys" are the top bids. As most of the art looks like dreadful rubbish - click the title link for a video - and the Ferrari is a supremely beautiful car, I reckon it must need some serious mechanical work, like a new engine.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Disney's Black Princess 2

Remember that neurotic, bespectacled secretary in the BBC TV series The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, played by Anika Noni Rose? If not, CLICK. Anika is a Tony Award-winning singer as well as an actress. She is also the voice of heroine Tania in the latest Walt Disney Studio's animated movie The Princess And The Frog (2009), which is gaining huge publicity for being Disney's first movie with an Afro-American heroine. Of more interest to an art blog is the fact that Disney has temporarily abandoned modern computer-generated imagery in favour of its traditional method of animation: hand-drawn characters with hand-painted backgrounds. (Note: since I first mentioned this movie two years ago, both the title and the heroine's name have been changed; she looks different too: more Manga (CLICK).

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Record Breaker

In case you missed this picture in the newspapers a few weeks ago, here is the world's largest reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa. It was created by Katy Webster, using 82 different vinyl squares, and laid with the help of hundreds of volunteers, including local schoolchildren. It graced the Eagles Meadow shopping centre in Wrexham, Wales; then the tiles were sold to raise money for Hope House charity, which cares for terminally ill children.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

NEAC Exhibition

The New English Annual Open Exhibition 2009 opens at The Mall Galleries in London on Friday 27 November and continues until 7 December. About 400 works of contemporary British figurative painting will be shown, including many landscapes. Bob Brown's atmospheric oil painting Sunrise at Lens (2009) will set you back £3,700. Admission is £2.50, concessions £1.50. Click the title link for an online gallery of paintings that will be on display.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Delaroche Restoration

This painting by Paul Delaroche, depicting Charles I Insulted (1836) by Oliver Cromwell's soldiers, was damaged in a bomb attack on London during the blitz. It was then sent back to Scotland. After 70 years, restorers unfurled the damaged painting this summer and found about 200 tears in the canvas and fragments of plaster from the bomb blast. It will be on display in the National Gallery in London from 24 February until 23 May. (Note: I've tweaked the contrast and gamma settings of this graphic to improve clarity.)

Rocker Of The Year

The editorial staff of the Italian edition of Rolling Stone magazine unanimously selected spaghetti PM Silvio Berlusconi as Rock Star Of The Year, due to his allegedly debauched lifestyle "worthy of the greatest rock star". The cover of the December issue sports this cartoon depicting the ever-smirking rocker tearing up the Italian flag. Allegations of corruption, of wild parties, of infidelity with prostitute Patrizia D'Addario and possibly with 18-year-old underwear model Noemi Letizia (right) have all dogged the old boy's steps as he smirked his way though 2009. But he's as popular as ever, except with his wife Veronica Lario (left) who wants a divorce. If only British politics were this enthralling. All we get are dodgy expense claims, the usual forced smiles and ex-public schoolboys pretending to be green by peddling about on bicycles. It's pathetic. Give us some juicy scandal with young models, you Westminster plonkers.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Quote Of The Week

Sarah Michelle Gellar, the high-kicking actress who starred as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, has a nice line in dry humour. "Basically, I only like to choose films I don't understand ... I figure I gotta be doing something artful, right? Isn't that what makes something art, when you don't understand it?"
Nice one, Sarah, and congratulations on the baby. For those of you still puzzled by the modern-art confidence trick, School of Saatchi on BBC2 tonight at 9pm promises to bamboozle you further. I shall be watching Life on BBC1 at 9pm for truly wonderful contemporary art.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Ministry of Food

2010 sees the 70th anniversary of the introduction of wartime food rationing, which lasted for 14 years! To mark this occasion the Imperial War Museum London will open a year-long exhibition on 12 February: The Ministry of Food. The slogan "Lend a hand on the land" encouraged Britons to do their bit "Digging for victory". This poster is one of the exhibits: Lend a hand on the land at a farming holiday camp. Some holiday camp! Yet many Londoners too poor to afford an annual holiday went hop-picking in Kent long after World War II. Now they gorge themselves on paella and chips in Spain and flop around like beached whales. Bring back rationing and get Brits fit. Admission: adults £4.95, children £2.50. It should be free.

The Turnip Prize

I know you're all bored with that standing joke the Turner Prize. So here's the alternative: the Turnip Prize for bad art. This prize is awarded by residents of the Somerset village of Wedmore. Sue She's Knickerless Cage, a collection of naked Barbie dolls in a wire cage, is one of the entries. (Note the double meanings.) Another entry is Wallace and Vomit. Judging takes place next Monday. The winner will receive his or her prize at The New Inn pub on 7 December. Cheers!

3D Billboards

How's this for getting the message across? The eye-deceiving combination of a giant catapult and a billboard bearing the message "The Back Seat's No Safer. Belt Up." delivers a punch to make you wince. This one is from the USA. Click the title link for more 3D adverts from around the world.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Hercules & Achelus

Here is the original masterpiece by Francis Joseph Bosio: Hercules Fighting Achelus, the Louvre Museum, Paris.
(See the next post down.)

Wild Kew

If you appreciate excellent wildlife photography, click the title link to view an enchanting audio slideshow by Paul Kerley of a selection of Heather Angel's shots of wildlife in Kew Gardens, taken over a year. Her softback book Wild Kew was published today by Kew Publishing, price £9 (CLICK). Watch out for a heron perched on the top of Hercules Fighting Achelus, the fountain at the centre of The Palm House Pond. The original bronze statue by Francis Joseph Bosio was commissioned by King Charles X of France in 1822 and stands in the Louvre Museum, Paris. Bosio's version for Kew Gardens was installed in 1853.

Warhol Drawings

Believe it or not, Andy Warhol was an illustrator before he sold out to commercialism and started producing avant-garde tripe which now looks extremely dated (unlike the delectable Twiggy; see below). He drew this illustration of The Little Red Hen for a children's book in the late 1950's. Not brilliant, but better than anything he produced once he became famous. Four of these drawings go for auction in New York on 9 December, estimated value £355 ($600). Stocking filler?

Twiggy Signing

For those of you who would like to meet a fashion icon in the flesh, here's your chance. To coincide with the current Twiggy exhibition at the National Portrait Galley in London, the lady herself will be signing copies of Twiggy: A Life in Photographs on Friday 4 December at 12.30 in Room 33. The book includes over 100 images of Twiggy taken by top fashion photographers (title link). Cost? £20.00. But a copy signed by Twiggy is bound to appreciate in value.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Stuckists Sale

Christmas looms! Here we go again. All the usual festive arfle barfle gloop: commercialism mixed with paganism plus a dollop of religion. Except, of course, for The Stuckists Christmas Sale 2009, which opens at the Matisonn Burgin Gallery in Shoreditch on 28 November and continues until 5 December. Click the title link to find out more.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Ghost Forest III

As you may have seen on BBC London News, Angela Palmer's collection of dead tree stumps - Ghost Forest - has arrived in Trafalgar Square and will litter the place until Friday. It doesn't look nearly as picturesque as this artist's impression makes out; but, if you're into dead tree stumps, you know where to go. As all these trees died naturally, I can't see that their stumpy presence has anything to say about climate change or deforestation. Videos of melting glaciers and of dead children being dug out of mud slides make the point far more effectively. Of course it's a great self-publicity stunt for Angela. Click the title link for her BBC interview.

Online Safety Week

Today is the beginning of Get Safe Online Week, an annual event to raise awareness of the need for Internet safety. Click the title link to find information on identity theft, protecting your PC from malware, avoiding online fraud and refusing to become a money mule. What's a "money mule"? Click the title link to find out. Use the website's quiz to test your online safety savvy.

Friday, 13 November 2009

V&A Lunchtime Talks

If you work in Central London, you might be interested in the lunchtime talks at the V&A Museum (title link). These are free drop-in events in the Hochhauser Auditorium of the Sackler Centre, from 1.15pm to 2pm. On Wednesday 16 December curator Peta Motture will give an introduction to the new Medieval & Renaissance Galleries. Sounds interesting. I've illustrated this item with another of the Renaissance masterpieces to be found in the new galleries: Giovanni Bologna's Samson Slaying The Philistine (ca 1560).

Capturing Claudia

How do you fancy Claudia Schiffer as a pulp fiction heroine? Harper's Bazaar came up with the idea of Capturing Claudia, which involved artists creating film noir backdrops for her to scream against. Artists Chris Bucklow, Jason Brooks, Gilian Wearing, Keith Tyson, Marc Quinn, Dexter Dalwood and Jake and Dinos Chapman all contributed. If you missed the exhibition at the Colnaghi Gallery in London, click the title link to view the pictures online. There's an interview and more details in the November issue of Harper's Bazaar UK.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Digital Cloud

Here's an artist's impression of the latest nonsense suggested for London, a load of interconnected plastic bubbles on tall mesh towers: Digital Cloud. The design has been submitted for the competition to select a centrepiece for the 2012 Olympic Games, but the team behind the design have got fed up with Mayor Bouncy Boris's dithering and have launched an appeal for subscriptions to build the thing. Looks to me like a nest of barrage balloons to catch low-flying suicide bombers. Let's hope the plastic is strong enough to withstand seagulls' pecks. Click the title link for details.

Armistice Day

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Modern Warfare 2

Calling all video games addicts. BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat wants to know if you were one of the wallies who queued last night to get your hands on one of the first copies of Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. (More than 300 stores across the UK opened at midnight to sell the game to fans.) Aunty wants to know "Does the game live up to the hype?" I must say this screenshot from the game looks excellent. It could be a still from a James Bond movie. Click the title link to give Aunty your verdict.

Movie Scenes Taped

The media some artists use is truly amazing. A friend showed me this picture in last week's Metro: a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound by Mark Khaisman using brown parcel tape. He works directly on a light box, applying up to ten layers of parcel tape to shady areas. Is it worth it? The pictures take him up to a week to create and sell for £6,000.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Bum Of The Month

Yes, it's time for Coxsoft Art's Bum Of The Month Award. Congratulations to US artist Craig Tracy for this beautiful body art depicting a peacock and a sunflower, entitled Toes. (No monetary prize, Craig, just the honour of being chosen.) The Daily Mail and Metro recently published photos of Craig's body art; click the title link for an online gallery. You might have seen his wonderful leopard which completely disguises the model. Craig is a past winner at the annual World Body Painting Festival held in Austria and has also judged at the festival. To visit Craig's website Painted Alive CLICK.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

The Gruffalo

The Gruffalo, a children's book by Julia Donaldson with illustrations by Axel Scheffler, has recently been voted the UK's favourite bedtime story. It took a fifth of the 20,000 votes in a BBC Radio 2 poll, knocking Winnie The Pooh and The Very Hungry Caterpillar into second and third place respectively. First published in 1999, The Gruffalo has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. In Spain it is known as El Grufalo. Elitist twits harbour the daft notion that useless articles like Tracey Emin represent British art. Not so. Our book illustrators and many other fine artists do that. Click the title link to visit The Gruffalo's official website. Spooky owl!

Only God Knows I'm Good

I see Tracey Emin is inflicting her rubbish on New Yorkers. Her latest exhibition, with a typically humble title Only God Knows I'm Good, opened at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery in the Lower East Side and continues until 19 December. Here are two of her embarrassingly awful pieces: Why Be Afraid, inspired by her fear of dogs, and Nothing Touches, one of her favourite works. How the heck she has the cheek to call herself an artist I'll never know.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Wallace & Gromit

Google has celebrated the 20th anniversary of Wallace and Gromit with a Google Doodle, presumably by Dennis Hwang, Google's resident doodler. Wow! The lads have really made it to the big time. And Gromit is so unassuming about it all.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Buns Too Small!

Here's the latest example of British prudery. Transport for London (TfL) has rejected a poster for the stage play Calendar Girls, starring Kelly Brook, because her buns are too small. Iced buns, that is. TfL demanded a few cup sizes larger for Kelly's iced buns before it would show the poster in Underground stations. Its rejection has given the play more publicity than the posters would have! From today, Kelly replaces Jerry Hall as Celia in the show at the Noel Coward Theatre in London. Calendar Girls has its own website, which has one of the best home pages I've seen in a long time (CLICK).

Monday, 2 November 2009

Brooke Shields at 10

A month ago I noted that the Thought Police had confiscated a photo of Brooke Shields in the nuddy when she was 10 years old, from an exhibition at Tate Passé (CLICK). Yesterday I chanced upon the original photo by Gary Gross, taken in 1975, not Richard Prince’s confiscated version from 1983. The original, shown here, was commissioned by Brooke's ambitious Mom, presumably as an addition to her daughter's modelling portfolio. So Brooke is posed as a model and wears far too much makeup, but she holds a sponge and stands in a bath. In context, this is a failed attempt at a cute kiddie-in-the-bath photo. Nothing pornographic about it. What Prince did was copy the original, crop it to remove the sponge and bath fittings and give it a sinister red cast. By taking it out of context, he turned a misguided kiddie-in-the-bath photo into an even worse photo and suddenly, according to Florence Waters of the Telegraph, it became art and she wonders where to put it (title link). I could tell you, Florence.

New V&A Galleries

Today the V&A Museum in London opened its new Medieval & Renaissance Galleries, admission free. Ten newly-designed galleries display the V&A's extensive collection of medieval and Renaissance treasures, brought together for the first time. You'll find sculptures by Donatello, Michelangelo and Giambologna, Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks and many other priceless gems. Click the title link to learn more. I've illustrated this post with Donatello's David, a cast of which is in the V&A collection. Two years ago I compared the four greatest David's and selected Verrocchio's as my favourite. (CLICK to see if you agree with my choice. I gave my reasons.)