Sunday, 28 February 2010

Doug Landis

This beautiful drawing by Doug Landis of Doberman Pinscher Baron would be worthy of note at the best of times, but the fact that it was drawn by a mouth artist who is paralysed from the neck down makes it all the more remarkable and inspiring. Not only this, but Doug's website is perfect, a word I rarely use to describe websites. It wins the first Coxsoft Art Silver Surfer Friendly Award I've given in more than a year. I only wish there were more of Doug's excellent drawings in his gallery of animals. Click the title link to visit Doug's website. CLICK to visit my winners page.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

L’Amour For Sale

This magnificent painting by William Bouguereau - L’Amour et Psyché (1899) - had its last public showing at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1900 and has been in private hands ever since. It will be featured in Sotheby’s New York auction of 19th Century European Art on 23 April. Its estimated value is $1.8m to $2.2m (title link). I'll be amazed if it doesn't sell for a lot more than that.

Art: Wildlife Crime?

I often wonder whether curators who claim that some inartistic tosh is art should be prosecuted under The Trades Description Act 1968. Curator Lydia Yee is responsible for commissioning French "artist" Celeste Boursier-Mougenot to set up a purported art installation in The Curve, the visual art space of the Barbican, London. This installation is a walk-through aviary containing 40 zebra finches, with electric guitars for perches and upturned cymbals for bird feeders. The cacophony this produces is an auditory and visual experience for the visitor. Oh wow! What about the birds? Their hearing is at a much higher pitch than ours, and they cannot escape. I've reported their plight to the RSPB as a possible wildlife crime. Click the title link to view a video of this rubbish.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Fresco Laser Ablation

Here is a detail of a Renaissance fresco in the Cappella del Manto in Santa Maria della Scala, Siena, Italy, showing three angels. The face of the angel on the right has been cleaned by laser ablation, which vaporizes the surface layer of dirt. This technique has been used in removing tattoos and in cleaning stone and bronze artworks, but frescoes are a far more delicate matter. Having achieved success, Salvatore Siano and Renzo Salimbeni have recently published their findings. Click the title link for details.

Batman Hits $1m

First this week Superman hit the $1m jackpot for a comic book sale (CLICK). Now Batman has topped that mark. At an auction in Dallas, Texas, US auction house Heritage sold a rare 1939 copy of Detective Comic No 27 - the first showing of Batman - for over $1m (£655,000). The seller bought this comic in the 1960's for $100 (£65). I'll have to have a rummage through my pile of old comics: Kid Colt Outlaw, Matt Slade Gunfighter, Justice Traps The Guilty, Blackhawks and Mad Magazine (first three issues mint).

Thursday, 25 February 2010

War, Plague & Fire

They say that one of the signs of ageing is that police officers look like 6th-form schoolboys. I must be getting really ancient, because this photo shows what appears to me to be an 11-year-old schoolgirl. She is Meriel Jeater, Curator of the Museum of London's new gallery War, Plague & Fire (1550s-1660s) which opened this week. Catchy title that. The new gallery covers an area of history from the accession of Elizabeth 1 in 1558 to the Great Fire of 1666. Just what you need to keep the kiddies happy over the Easter holidays.

New US Embassy

Here's the winning design for the new US Embassy to be built in Nine Elms, Wandsworth, west London. Pennsylvania firm KieranTimberlake beat 36 companies to win the contest. I have a light fitting that looks similar. The new embassy will have a moat on one side, a ha ha on the other and will be surrounded by tall structures. Building work should start in 2013 and be finished for mad suicide bombers in 2017.

'New' Van Gogh

A rediscovered painting of a windmill by Vincent Van Gogh - Le Blute-fin Mill (1886) - has gone on show at the Museum de Fundatie in Zwolle. Where? Zwolle is a municipality and also the capital city of the province of Overijssel, Netherlands, if you must know. Please yourselves. This painting looks nothing like a Van Gogh to me, but it has been authenticated by experts at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Wishful thinking? If not, it looks as though the guy could actually paint in an amateurish sort of way before he went all expressionistic.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Top UK Attractions

According to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (Alva) the top 10 visitor attractions for 2009 are all in London. The visitors are given in millions.

1. British Museum 5.57m
2. National Gallery 4.78m
3. Tate Modern 4.75m
4. Natural History Museum 4.11m
5. Science Museum 2.79m
6. Tower of London 2.39m
7. National Maritime Museum 2.37m
8. Victoria and Albert Museum 2.27m
9. National Portrait Gallery 1.96m
10 St Paul's Cathedral 1.82m.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

First $1m Comic

I suppose it had to happen sooner or later. A 1938 edition of Action Comics No 1, which featured Superman for the very first time, has been sold on the Internet for $1m (£646,000). The deal was brokered through Comic Connect, but don't CLICK to go there just now, because it is currently swamped with interested visitors. The $1m price smashes the previous comic book record of $317,200 (£205,000), also for a copy of Action Comics No 1. Love that car. They don't make them like that any more, thank Goodness.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Henry Moore

I can't believe that anyone will be daft enough to pay £12.50, concessions £11 (88%), to see the new Henry Moore exhibition due to open at Tate Britain on 24 February (title link). Moore must be the most overrated sculptor the UK has ever produced. Okay, this is the biggest exhibition of his work for 20 years, with over 150 stone sculptures, wood carvings, bronzes and drawings, but even so, why pay to see such passé tosh? If you have any interest in this stuff, order the book from your local library and save your money.
Update: CLICK for a BBC slide show.

Anatomy of Feelings

Why on earth should the Mall Galleries - home of the Federation of British Artists - give an airing to 60 garish doodles like this by Russian "non-conformist artist" Vladimir Yankilevsky? The answer is: "He has had more than 70 exhibitions in important museums around the world." Pathetic answer, Mall Galleries. Why follow the bad example of 70 tasteless museums? Did the Russian Mafia make you an offer you couldn't refuse? Oh well, admission is free. Anatomy of Feelings opens today or tomorrow, according to which part of the Mall website you read, and limps on until 6 March. My guess is that it opens tomorrow, because Tuesday is the Mall's usual day for opening exhibitions.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Winning Ant

Forget the fictional Jaws. This is the real thing. Dr Thomas Endlein of Cambridge University took this photo of an Asian weaver ant (Oecophylla smaragdina) holding a 500mg weight (0.02oz) in its mandibles. That is more than 100 times the weight of the ant! Dr Endlein took this shot while researching the adhesive quality of the ant's sticky little feet. It won him the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) science photo competition, which rewards creative flair to the tune of £700 in photographic vouchers. Well done, that boffin. Well done, the ant too.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Sargent at RA

This study Young Boy on the Beach (1877) is a previously unknown work by John Singer Sargent. It is currently on show amid more than 80 of the artist's early paintings, watercolors and drawings of seascapes and coastal scenes in the exhibition Sargent and the Sea at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, USA. The exhibition then travels to the Royal Academy of Arts in London, where it will be on display from 10 July to 26 September. This looks well worth a visit. I'll give you a reminder nearer to the London showing.

Jurassic Filter Feeders

If art were limited to galleries, it would be a sad old world. This terrific "artist's impression" of Leedsichthys, a giant filter feeding fish that lived during the Jurassic period, is by Robert Nicholls (2010). New research has filled a gap of 100 million years with these giant filter feeders, which died out when the dinosaurs became extinct. Click the title link for more information and an excellent graphic of Bonnerichthys.

Friday, 19 February 2010

London Art News

I've renamed my blog London Art News. There is so much going on in the visual arts field in London and, surprisingly, there is no blog or website with this title. I'm hoping to fill a gap in the market and to give my blog more exposure.

TfL Cover Ban

Adverts featuring this cover for Heligoland, the latest album from Massive Attack, have been censored by Transport for London. TfL's rules for advertising on London Underground ban any advert that "uses handwriting or illustrations that would suggest the poster has been damaged, defaced, fly posted or subjected to graffiti". Robert del Naja, the band's artist, regards this as "...the most absurd censorship I've ever seen". Personally I'm surprised TfL allowed the black-and-white-minstrel look, which is extremely politically incorrect.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Michelangelo's Dream

For those of you who enjoy the art of drawing, here's a rare treat. Michelangelo's Dream opened today at The Courtauld Gallery, London, and continues until 16 May. The Dream (Il Sogno) is the centrepiece of a series of drawings which Michelangelo composed for a youth he fell in love with: Tommasso de Cavalieri. Admission prices aren't too bad: adults £6.00, silver surfers £5.00. Click the title link for more information and tickets. CLICK for a rather poor BBC video (might be UK only).

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Paul Delaroche Fest

It seems Londoners are in for an unofficial Paul Delaroche festival. Both the National Gallery and The Wallace Collection will be running exhibitions from 24 February to 23 May. The National Gallery exhibition, Painting History: Delaroche and Lady Jane Grey, will be in the Sainsbury Wing, admission £8 for adults or £7 for silver surfers (an appalling 87%). However, silver surfers who visit the exhibition after 2.30pm on Tuesdays will be charged only £4 (title link). The Wallace Collection's exhibition is free (CLICK). Ten oil paintings and two watercolours by Delaroche will be shown alongside other early nineteenth century French and British paintings by Bonington, Delacroix, Wilkie and others. This is a must.

Hijab Arches

Tower Hamlets Council has caused uproar by releasing plans to build two hijab-shaped arches at either end of Brick Lane, as part of a £1.85m "cultural trail". Local resident Tracey Emin - a woman I can't help thinking should be required to wear a face mask by law - has damned the proposal as culturally insensitive. As arches go, this one looks rather elegant, but what a waste of money! The council has extended the deadline for complaints to 22 February. So tell your local councillor what you think.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Sir Anthony Hopkins

Oscar-winning British actor Sir Anthony Hopkins is the latest celebrity to put his amateur artwork on display. His solo show at Gallery 27 on Cork Street, London, opens tomorrow: Wednesday 17 February. About 50 artworks will be on show with prices ranging from £600 for a limited edition print to £26,800 for one of the larger paintings. The exhibition continues until 20 February. CLICK to view a BBC slide show.

Banksy's Exit

Banksy's movie Exit Through The Gift Shop - "the world's first street art disaster movie" - is creating a stir at the Berlin Film Festival. It received its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Typically tongue-in-cheek, Banksy claims his movie "...does for street art what Jaws did for water skiing" (title link). Exit Through The Gift Shop will open in UK cinemas on 5 March. CLICK for the trailer.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Jason Morgan

While trawling the Internet for a good photo of a tiger to use on my Chinese New Year post, I chanced upon this gobsmacking portrait of a Siberian Tiger by international wildlife artist Jason Morgan, who lives in the UK. Jason kindly gave me permission to post this graphic on my blog. Click the title link to view a much better graphic and more of Jason's magnificent wildlife paintings. The original painting has been sold, but limited edition prints are available. Jason also runs his own blog on wildlife art techniques, which is well worth a visit, CLICK.

Stained Glass Lecture

The Friends of the William Morris Gallery have organised a lecture on stained glass by Caroline Swash, who is head of Glass, Fine Art and Architecture at Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design. In The Arts & Craft Continuum, she will explore the continuing influence of Morris’s ideals through the lives of stained glass artists Henry Payne (1868-1940) and Edward Payne (1906-1991). The lecture will be held at the William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow, on Wednesday 17 February at 7.00pm for a 7.30pm start. Tickets cost £5.00 each. Click the title link for a pdf booking form.

The Aurora Borealis

Here's the best joke of the week so far. Aberdeen tourist information staff are asked when the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights are "switched on"! Like Christmas decorations, the tourists suppose. Having dealt with the public for many years, I know it's headbanging stuff. Okay, tourists, here are the facts. The appearance of the Aurora Borealis is determined by the Sun's activity as it nears solar maximum. Coronal mass ejections from the Sun increase your chances of witnessing the Aurora Borealis. So no more silly questions, please (title link). For a YouTube video explaining the technical side CLICK.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

I Goat

Congratulations to Scottish sculptor Kenny Hunter for winning the inaugural Spitalfields Sculpture Prize, worth £45,000, for his sculpture I Goat. The full-sized work will go on display in Bishops Square, Spitalfields, London, this October for 18 months. It will become a permanent part of the Spitalfields Public Art Collection, a sculpture park within the site featuring the winning sculptures of 2010 and beyond. The organisers expect 70,000 tourists and trendies a week to view I Goat.

Year of The Tiger

The Chinese Lunar New Year is upon us again with much banging of drums and gongs and with fantastic monsters wandering the streets. Welcome to The Year of The Tiger. The living animal in various forms remains under threat of extinction. Click the title link to see a video of celebrations.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Fairy Tales

Girls are into fairies in a big way. So here's a half-term treat for them. Yes, I know it's sexist, but so are healthy children. They are not politically correct organisms. London's V&A Museum has three fairy exhibitions currently on show. A Fairyland of Flowers: Beatrix Potter and Cicely Mary Barker is in Room 102 until 14 June, admission free. The artists' combination of botanical accuracy and imagination is still compelling. In the same room and also free is Capturing the Imagination: British Fairy-tale Illustrations 1860-1940, which includes illustrations by Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac. This exhibition continues until 12 June. The third display is 'All the better to see you with my dear': Fairy Tales & Enchantments in the Sackler Centre Entrance until 28 February. Click the title link.

Dinosaurs Unleashed

With the half-term holidays coming up, here's a treat for the boys: Dinosaurs Unleashed. You might not be able to get the little devils to peruse a traditional statue, but offer them life-sized dinosaur animatronics and they go bananas. This collection, complete with swamp, occupies a vacant building lot in Oxford Street, opposite Selfridges department store. The exhibition runs until 30 April. Ticket prices start at £11. Click the title link for details.

Art & Love

The Royal Collection has released an excellent podcast which previews its next major exhibition: Victoria & Albert: Art & Love at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, from 19 March until 31 October. Over 400 exhibits from across the Royal Collection will celebrate the royal couple’s mutual delight in collecting and displaying works of art, from the time of their engagement in 1839 to the Prince’s untimely death in 1861. The podcast lasts for 23 minutes (title link). Allow a few seconds for it to load.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Victorious Youth

An Italian judge has ordered the Getty Museum in Los Angeles to return this ancient Greek bronze Statue of Victorious Youth to Italy. It is more than 2,000 years old, found in the sea by Italian fisherman in 1964 and allegedly smuggled out of Italy in the 1970's. The Getty Museum bought it in 1977 for £2.5m (almost $4m). Italian prosecutors claim the museum failed to check the provenance of the statue before buying it. The museum challenges this assertion and calls the judgement "flawed". This looks like one of those international slanging matches destined to last for years.

Dino Snores

The American idea of sleepovers for kids seems to be catching on in the UK. Tomorrow night sees the second Dino Snores at the Natural History Museum, London, in association with Sony PlayStation. Despite the hefty price of £45 per child, it is already sold out. However, the museum is making Dino Snores a once-a-month event. It is suitable for children aged 8-11 years old. Accompanying adults are free. So, if you're middle class with a good income and at least 5 cherubs to entertain, click the title link to find out more.

Deutsche Borse Photos

Today a new exhibition opened in The Photographers' Gallery, London, showing work by the four photographers shortlisted for the annual Deutsche Borse Photography Prize 2010. Worth £30,000, the prize claims to reward the photographer deemed to have made the most significant contribution to the medium in Europe in the previous year. Oh yeah? Anna Fox's cute kiddie in a catsuit is about as good as it gets. CLICK to see a BBC slide show of the photos on offer. Entrance to the exhibition is free (title link).

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Tower of Babel

I owe my regular readers an apology. This year my posts have been infrequent to put it mildly. Two months ago I began the latest Travian UK server. It has proved a bruising and treacherous affair, with a leader throwing most of her members to the wolves in order to save her own skin. Many players are so disgusted by her treachery that they are threatening never to play the game again. Trying to salvage something out of the mess she created has proved to be a time-consuming and impossible task. Anyway, I thought you might like to see the inspiration for the Travian artist's Wonder of the World (CLICK to compare). It's Pieter Bruegel the Elder's Tower of Babel (c. 1563). Click the title link to view a much better image of this masterpiece.

Freud's Shiner: £2.8m

Can you believe that some tasteless twit lashed out £2,841,250 on Lucian Freud's Self-Portrait With A Black Eye at Sotheby's sale in London? It's true. Sotheby's had hoped for £3 to £4 million, rating this work Freud's "most important self-depiction ever to appear at auction". I suppose you don't find too many artists painting themselves with shiners gained from punch-ups with taxi drivers. Give it £10 for novelty value.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Up Wins Annie

At the 37th Annual Annie Awards, Pixar Animation Studios won Best Animated Feature with Up, which also gained Best Feature Director for Pete Docter. Walt Disney Animation Studios garnered three Annies for its feature The Princess and the Frog plus three for its TV production Prep and Landing. DreamWorks Animation won five Annies. Click the title link for the full list.