London Art News
London Art News previews art exhibitions in London and reports on anything of special interest in the visual arts worldwide, from ice sculpture to body painting.
Friday, 31 July 2009
NPG Buys Cato
The National Portrait Gallery has lashed out £178,500 on this portrait of actor John Philip Kemble as Cato (1812) by Sir Thomas Lawrence, of which £55,000 was contributed by The Art Fund. The artist was so pleased with this 8ft-tall portrait that he refused to let the original buyer have it back and hung it in his own front room to advertise his skills. The work has been in private hands ever since and has only been on public display once, in 1983. It will feature in a major exhibition of his work at the National Portrait Gallery in the autumn of 2010. One to watch out for.
Wednesday, 29 July 2009
Hastings Hot Houses
Hastings Old Town Carnival Week 2009 runs from Saturday 1 August until Sunday 9 August (CLICK). I wouldn't normally mention this but for Hastings Hot Houses (title link). Many of Hastings local artists and crafts persons will open their studios to the public as part of the festival.
Saturday 1 August 1pm - 5pm
Sunday 2 August noon - 5pm
Thursday 6 to 9 August noon - 5pm.
Anna Keiller, an artist I've featured on this blog (CLICK), is taking part in Hastings Hot Houses. The Angel's Torso above is a lovely example of her unique art. You'll find her at 4 Dudley Road (CLICK for map).
The V&A Museum in London invites you to consign your family to a magic carpet and be whisked off to its Free Art Fun Festival on Sunday 2 August from 10.30am to 5.00pm. Arabian Nights is a day of family activities celebrating Arab culture. I assume there'll be no public beheadings, floggings, thieves' hands being chopped off or unfaithful wives being stoned to death. We wouldn't want to give our cherubs the wrong idea about those oil-rich Arabs, would we? Click the title link for the V&A's list of fun Arabian activities.
Shoot Me, Rankin!
If you fancy being snapped by a top fashion photographer, now's your chance. Rankin Live opens at the Old Truman Brewery, London, on 31 July and runs until 18 September. This is a major retrospective of his work plus Shoot Me, Rankin!, a live shoot experience in which he will be taking portraits of over 1,000 people from across the UK. The portraits will immediately be hung at the Old Truman Brewery. I love Rankin's portrait of Selma Blair. Despite her black fingernails and punk hairstyle, he manages to capture the essence of girlie cute. "Oo, is the camera on, Mr Rankin?" Click the title link for a gallery of his photos.
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
Beauty & The Beast
Here's a new twist on Beauty And The Beast ... er ... alien ... er ... swine flu impersonator? Now, now, we mustn't be racist, let alone xenophobic. So let's call it Beauty And The Handsome Foreigner. These are two of the winning entries in the New Zealand Body Art Awards 2009 (title link). On the left is Yolanda Bartram Hannah's winning design in the airbrush category. On the right is the overall winner: Painted Skin by Kelly Zhong-ni Ren. The Guardian Online (CLICK) has posted a gallery of more than 20 fantastic designs from the Awards, which were held last Saturday at the Bruce Mason Centre in Takapuna, Auckland.
BBC News has posted a slide show of statues of political leaders in foreign parts: Leaders who love statues (title link). Auntie seems to be having a sly dig at Mayawati, chief minister of India's Uttar Pradesh State, who is accused of wasting state funds on statues of herself and of her party's symbol: the elephant. This example shows fans flocking to a 20-metre-tall bronze statue of Eternal President Kim Il-sung in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. Some of the photos are of statues which have since been toppled by new regimes, because the sculptures inspired fear and loathing. That megalomaniac dictators love to see themselves depicted as giants in stone or bronze should be a wake-up call to those naive folk who think art is a remedy for the world's ills. Art in the wrong hands is a powerful weapon.
Monday, 27 July 2009
A fortnight ago I braved TfL's ghastly Underground to attend the private viewing of The Armed Forces Art Society 75th Exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London. I was impressed by the beautiful sculptures created by Brenda Naylor, who specialises in statuettes of dancers. With the artist's permission, I've used two of the photos from her website (title link). On the left is Andrea Tredinnick in 'Serenade', Birmingham Royal Ballet; and on the right is Benito Marcelino in 'Scheherazade', Stuttgart Ballet. As this combined graphic illustrates, Brenda not only captures the elegance of dance, but also its passion. The green effect isn't paint, but the result of a chemical treatment plus heat to permanently colour the bronze.
Since I upgraded to Internet Explorer 8, I've been straining my eyes reading the titchy print in my own blog! The reason is that IE8 ignores the 1.25 font I set in Windows for my PC. So for the first time I'm seeing my blog as it is, rather than with a 1.25 font. Yuk! So I've changed my Blogger template to show a medium font, rather than a small one. I've also replaced all the ALTs on my sidebar graphics with TITLEs, so they can be read by modern browsers. I hope you like the improvements.
In case you don't know, you can change the size of Blogger text by selecting a larger or smaller font in your browser.
Sunday, 26 July 2009
This dramatic painting, Full Flight by Peter Smith, is one of over 300 works to be exhibited in The Society of Equestrian Artists 30th Anniversary Exhibition, which opens next Tuesday 28 July at the Mall Galleries in London (title link). Admission is free. The Society has more than 400 members, including internationally-renowned professionals. Its aim is to promote equestrian painting and sculpture (CLICK).
Not content with giving the world swine flu and sombreros, the Mexico Tourism Board UK is sponsoring an art exhibition with a difference at the British Museum in London: Revolution on paper: Mexican prints 1910–1960. The show features 130 works by over 40 artists, including the three giants of Mexican revolutionary art: Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros. This anachronistic woodcut Portrait of Emiliano Zapata by Angel Zamarripa dates from about 1953. The show runs from 22 October to 28 February 2010 in Room 90, and the admission fee is perfect for Coxsoft: free.
Last December I asked if anyone could name the Renaissance artist who painted this portrait, used on the dust cover of the 1952 Phaidon edition of Bernard Berenson's classic The Italian Painters of The Renaissance (title link). I had hunted through my copy, but was unable to find a credit for the picture. Anonymous recognized Portrait of a Young Woman (1465) by Antonio del Pollaiuolo, which he tells me is in Berlin's Gemaldegalerie. If anyone else has been pondering this puzzle, you have your answer. Thanks, Anon. Do note the rich embroidery on the dress she is wearing. Daddy was a wealthy man. So Portrait of a Young Lady would probably be a more precise title.
Saturday, 25 July 2009
This is Dan Llywelyn Hall's study for a portrait of veteran Henry Allingham, who died recently at the age of 113, the world's oldest man. The finished work will be shown in a BBC documentary. When I read the BBC News article (title link) I thought "I've read this before somewhere". Not quite. In April I posted Peter Kuhfeld's portrait of Harry Patch (CLICK) and linked to the BBC News article about that portrait. The two news items and the sentiments expressed by both artists are so similar as to produce a feeling of déjà vu. Mr Allingham will be given full military honours when his funeral takes place at St Nicholas Church in Brighton on 30 July.
Friday, 24 July 2009
Wildlife Art Bursaries
Are you a young wildlife artist aged 15 to 30? Then you could apply for a Society of Wildlife Artists bursary of up to £750. These bursaries are awarded to help budding wildlife artists develop skills through travel or education or by mounting a special project. The deadline is 1 August. For an application form (pdf format) CLICK. The Society will be holding its annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London from 23 September to 4 October (title link). Above, Along The Drain by Carry Akroyd SWLA.
The Guild of Aviation Artists opened its 39th annual exhibition on Tuesday at the Mall Galleries, London. (Sorry, folks. I've been busy the last few days,) There are some top flight artists exhibiting at this show, which is the biggest aviation art exhibition in the world. Look at this stunner by Alex Hamilton GAvA, Typhoon Zoom, and stop dithering. The exhibition continues until Sunday 26 July, closing at 3pm final day, admission free.
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
If you're cracking up at the prospect of the kids breaking up for the school summer holidays, take heart. There are lots of cherub freebies. This hot tip comes from the editor of Barkingside 21, who's into all things green. The Southbank Centre is going creepy crawly from 4 September to 6 September with Pestival 2009, "celebrating insects in art, and the art of being an insect". This neat little graphic depicts the Termite Pavilion, a jumbo reconstruction of a Namibian termite mound that you can enter to view its wonderful architecture from the inside. It will be in the Southbank Centre Square, one of a host of Pestival freebies to entertain the kiddies. Click the title link for a full list.
Here's a turn up for the book. This sign for Holton St Mary School in Suffolk, painted in 1748, is now thought to be an early work by Thomas Gainsborough, who was born and grew up in Suffolk. He would have been 21 years old when he painted this sign. Dr Lindsay Stainton, a former curator of the British Museum, recognized the painting as a Gainsborough by the boy's similarity to a signed Gainsborough sketch owned by a New York library. Well spotted! Unfortunately, ham-fisted restoration work during the last 50 years has greatly reduced its worth - artistically and financially - as a Gainsborough.
Tuesday, 21 July 2009
Stella Vine Video
For those of you who like to listen to artists wittering about their work, here's a gem from the Stuckists' video archives: Stella Vine on why she joined the Stuckists, interviewed by Charles Thomson at the Vote Stuckist Show in 2001. Isn't she a sweetie? Hang on to her every word and snicker. Most enlightening.
Monday, 20 July 2009
Brace yourself. Here it comes, another of the BBC's melodramatic forays into an art world it appears to know nothing about: Desperate Romantics (title link). "Get ready to embrace the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood" reads the blurb. What? That swaggering bunch of arrogant, toffee-nosed twits whose passage down a gallery causes pictures to explode in their wake? For God's sake! The trailer is even worse than I imagined the programme to be when I previewed it a year ago (CLICK). Desperate Tosh, more like it. The overpaid producer should be sacked. Let me know if I've wronged this ghastly production. The six-part series kicks off on BBC TWO 21 July at 9pm. CSI Miami, here I come.
Art Loss Register
The Art Loss Register™ (ALR) has acquired the database of stolen art and antiques built up by Trace, the other major player in the recovery of purloined treasures. For those in the art trade, searching this database prior to a sale demonstrates "due diligence", a legal term which has an important meaning in a court of law. Private owners may register their art possessions before or after theft, before if you're a pessimist or after if you're an optimist. The title link takes you to the ALR home page, which sports this sexist graphic of the dominant male art collector straining to look comfortable on his modern-art sofa while his attentive little woman waits to bring him a cup of coffee or a bag of crisps. Corporations, consult Coxsoft Art to find out what your graphics are really conveying!
Sunday, 19 July 2009
Banksy in Mali
Banksy certainly likes taking busman's holidays. A visit to the West African country of Mali a few months ago produced a sprinkling of graffiti between Bamako and Timbuktu. Photos of these works turned up in the Banksy v Bristol Museum exhibition (CLICK). The title link takes you to a collection of Banksy's African graffiti posted by a Flickr® group.
Saturday, 18 July 2009
Ship In A Bottle
I happened to be in Trafalgar Square last Tuesday, en route to the Mall Galleries, and I failed to notice whether some twit was standing on the Fourth Plinth or not. When Gormley's gormless nonsense runs out in October, a statue of the Battle of Britain hero Sir Keith Park will occupy the plinth for the following six months (CLICK). Next in line for the plinth is ... er ... a ship in a bottle. Contemporary art? I thought ships in bottles went out of fashion at least a century ago. Still, Yinka Shonibare's bottle will be made of acrylic, rather than glass, and the ship is a model of Admiral Nelson's flagship HMS Victory, a fitting reminder of the Battle of Trafalgar and of Nelson's death (title link).
Artists In Trouble
Don't laugh! This garden gnome by German artist Ottmar Hoerl is being investigated by Nuremberg prosecutors to ascertain whether it breaks a strict law banning Nazi symbols and gestures. The gnome - Heil ... er ... whoops! - was displayed in the window of a Nuremberg art gallery (title link). It looks like an ayatollah to me. Meanwhile, back in the UK, artist Maurice Agis of Dreamspace infamy has been granted leave to appeal against his £10,000 fine on the grounds he can't afford to pay it (CLICK).
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
Why am I posting a photo of hippos on my art blog? Because they're sculptures! Three hippo sculptures by Scottish artist Tessa Campbell Fraser have been installed in the curling pond at Myres Castle, Auchtermuchty. The owners of the castle, Jonathan and Jenny White, are so proud of their new hippos that they've decided to open their grounds to the public on Monday 31 August, so that folks can ogle them. Click the title link to read about impersonator Rory Bremner imitating hippos for the artist, his wife.
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
William Dyce Found
This superb painting by Scottish artist William Dyce - The Meeting of Jacob and Rachel - was lost for more than a century. After its initial showing at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1850, it appeared at the Manchester Art Treasures exhibition in 1857 and then vanished without trace! Out of the blue, Sotheby's received an image of the painting and identified it as the missing Dyce, estimated value £100,000 to £150,000. It would be a bargain at twice the top estimate. It goes under the hammer tomorrow, 15 July, at Sotheby’s Victorian and Edwardian Art sale in London. Click the title link to read the poignant biblical tale which inspired the painting.
The Jameel Prize
Believe it or not, these intricately carved plastic sheets are worth £25,000. That's the value of the Jameel Prize. Afruz Amighi won it with her 1001 Pages (2008), the first winner of this new international award. The object of the Jameel Prize is to promote Islamic traditions of craft and design in contemporary art. What a waste of £25,000! All this work shows is the poverty of Islamic art, which takes refuge in patterns to avoid offending the imams. This neurotic necessity for repetition is akin to the fixed action patterns of animals caged in a zoo, that mindless padding back and forth which indicates a trapped and mentally disturbed beast. The exhibition continues at the V&A in London until 13 September, admission free. If you like lace curtains....
Monday, 13 July 2009
Foster in Phoenix
This delicate and subtle watercolour of the Grand Canyon - From Point Sublime Looking E.S.E. (2004) - is by English artist Tony Foster, who is big in the USA. So is the paper he works on: up to 6 feet wide! His latest exhibition opened this weekend at the Phoenix Art Museum in Arizona, Tony Foster: Searching for a Bigger Subject, and continues until 18 October (title link). The show features his paintings of the Grand Canyon and Mount Everest. His art is the subject of a new book: Painting at the Edge of The World: The Watercolours of Tony Foster (University of Washington Press, 2008).
Gundam over Tokyo
This illuminated Gundam robot newly dominating the Tokyo skyline above Odaiba makes Gormley's Flasher of the North seem pathetic. Look at the bottom of the picture and note the human heads, which give you an idea of the height of this monster: 59 feet! (That's 18 meters, according to the BBC, if you're into those damned Euro thingies.) It's been created to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Japanese Mobile Suit Gundam TV series about kids inhabiting robots and saving the planet from aliens (title link). Sheer fantasy, of course. We need to save the planet from human greed and overpopulation, not aliens.
Sunday, 12 July 2009
Leonardo da Vinci would turn his hand to almost anything to keep his patrons happy, even toys. A clockwork lion he designed to entertain French royalty has been reconstructed after nearly five centuries.
My apologies to readers outside the UK who can't view this news item. BBC videos don't travel well; copyright, I guess. Try the title link.
Armed Forces Art
The Armed Forces Art Society opens its 75th exhibition on Tuesday 14 July at the Mall Galleries in London. Members share a past or present Armed Forces background and include many well-known professional artists. Works include painting, drawing, original prints and sculpture. Admission is free. The exhibition continues until Saturday 18 July (title link). To visit the website of the Armed Forces Art Society CLICK.
The UK's top fantasy artist Les Edwards, alias Edward Miller, has updated his websites with news and his latest paintings (title link). He was chosen to illustrate Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles: The Complete Edition, which will be published later this year by PS Publishing. The colour plates are incredibly atmospheric. I love this solitary homestead against the backdrop of a vast ruined city. Both Les and his nom de brush Edward have been shortlisted by The British Fantasy Society for this year's Best Artist Award (CLICK).
Saturday, 11 July 2009
Recognize Lesley Hornby? This is her at age 16, better known as Twiggy. She's been a top fashion model for decades and is still going strong. She keeps popping up in those M&S TV commercials. Twiggy: A Life in Photographs opens at the National Portrait Gallery in London on 19 September, which will be Twiggy's 60th birthday - shock! horror! -, and continues until 24 March 2010 (title link).
Friday, 10 July 2009
IE 8 Pounces!
Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 has arrived. It sprang on my PC yesterday and since then all the titles to my blog graphics have vanished! Like all modern browsers, IE 8 will only show titles on graphics if they are properly entered in the code as "title", not as "alt". The title Jean-Antoine Constantin - The Bridge at Subiaco (next post down) shows up when you mouse over it because I changed the Blogger code from "alt" to "title". I don't want to keep doing this. Come on, Blogger; get your finger out. It's time to update our Blogger code, so everyone can read the titles on our graphics, not just that dwindling band of users of old browsers.
Bridge at Subiaco
I previewed The National Gallery's Corot to Monet exhibition more than a month ago (CLICK). It opened on Wednesday and the BBC has posted a slide show of some of the paintings on view (title link). This powerful painting of The Bridge at Subiaco by Jean-Antoine Constantin caught my eye. Its perspective is awesome. I've tweaked contrast and gamma settings to bring out some of the detail in shadow. If you can't make the exhibition - it's in the Sainsbury Wing and free -, view the slide show.
Thursday, 9 July 2009
While the Dulwich Picture Gallery is celebrating the Best of British (next post down), the Hamburger Kunsthalle - nothing to do with fast food - is celebrating the golden era of English cartoons: The Arena of Ridicule, English Caricatures 1780–1830 (title link). Thomas Rowlandson's A Hitt at Backgammon (sic) from 1810 is a striking example. If you happen to be in Hamburg, you'll find it in the Gallery of Master Drawings until 27 September.
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
Best of British
Look at the feeling for light and atmosphere conveyed by this knockout painting by Sir Peter Lely, somewhat inappropriately entitled A Boy as a Shepherd. Shepherding cattle? Never mind. It's a classic example of great British art from the days when you needed talent to be an artist, one of the exhibits in Best of British, which opened today at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, and continues until 27 September. The exhibition tells the story of the British Collection at Dulwich Picture Gallery (title link). At £5 admission - £4 concessions and free for kids - it looks good value.
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
The Face of 7/7
This photo is of Carrie Taylor, who was 24 years old when she was murdered by Muslim fanatics in the 7/7 bombings in London. This beautiful young woman was but one of the 52 people who were killed on that day of infamy: 7 July 2005. Today, to mark the 4th anniversary of that religious atrocity, BBC News has posted obituaries of all the victims, with photos where available (title link). "Islamophobia"? The term is an insult to her memory. For today's BBC video of the Hyde Park memorial CLICK.
Monday, 6 July 2009
Library In Jam
This painting, Manchester Preserved, isn't exactly fine art, but it is unique and rather tasty in its own way. Local jam-making business F Duerr & Sons commissioned artist Lindi Kirwin to paint Manchester's Central Library using its own products - jam, marmalade, mint sauce and so on - to raise money for The New Children's Hospital Appeal. The painting went for auction last week and was gobbled up by Dragon's Den denizen Theo Paphitis, who seems to be suffering from the delusion that he's an art buff (CLICK). Anyway, he paid £5,000 toward a good cause, so full marks for that.
Life Classes on 4
Back in April, I posted news of Channel 4's forthcoming Life Class: Today’s Nude, a five-part TV series featuring full-frontal male and female models in the buff (CLICK). I promised to let readers know the exact time, so they knew when to be outraged. Missed it! The first life class was on this afternoon at 12.30pm. Make a note for tomorrow and subsequent days this week. Humphrey Ocean will give tomorrow's lesson (title link). Settle the cherubs in front of the TV with their sketchbooks and crayons and relax. It's supposed to be very tastefully done.
The Prince’s School for Traditional Arts (PSTA) opens its annual Degree Show tomorrow 7 July. All the exhibits are hand-crafted traditional artworks, such as this stained glass, created by postgraduate students. Now's your chance to purchase an artwork before success leads to silly OTT prices. You'll find the show in the School's Gallery, 19-22 Charlotte Road, Shoreditch, London EC2A 3SG. Click the title link for more information.
Saturday, 4 July 2009
A Place For Peyton
A Connecticut Yankee in the East End of London would be a good title for a book. Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton opens at the newly expanded Whitechapel Art Gallery, Galleries 8 & 9, on 9 July and continues until 20 September, admission free. If, like me, you've never heard of Elizabeth Peyton - hangs head in shame -, this is the show to visit (title link). It boasts 70 of her paintings, organised by the New Museum, New York. If you decide to give Elizabeth a viewing, you might pop into Gallery 7 to see some appalling tripe from the British Council Collection: The Third Dimension (CLICK). It won't cost you a penny to see how the Brit. Anti-art Establishment wastes taxpayers' money! Why do we fund that white elephant?
Wednesday, 1 July 2009
Here's science beating art at its own game again. This terrific image of the spiral galaxy M51, known as the Whirlpool Galaxy, has been released by the European Space Agency (ESA). It's a composite picture of images taken by Europe's Herschel space observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope, combining visible and far-infrared wavelengths. The red areas are where stars are being formed. Now, would someone care to explain to me how this vast whirl of matter fits in with the Big Bang Theory of how the universe began?