Friday, 30 April 2010

BP Portrait Award

No, this isn't a photo. It's a superb painting by David Eichenberg of his friend: Tim II (2009). He's one of the three artists shortlisted for the BP Portrait Award 2010, worth £25,000 to the winner. The other two are Michael Gaskell for Harry (2010) and Daphne Todd for Last Portrait of Mother (2009). I suspect the judges may plump for Daphne Todd's portrait of her mother on her deathbed, due to it's courage and brutal honesty, but it tells us nothing about the life and personality of the dying lady. I've posted my favourite. Click the title link to view all three. The winners will be announced on the evening of Tuesday 22 June. The exhibition of the top 58 paintings will open at the National Portrait Gallery in London on 24 June, admission free.

A Tribal Thought

I became bored with the general election back in January. The BBC's overexposure of this dishonest event has made me reluctant to watch BBC News. Why waste a quarter of an hour in every news broadcast reporting the claims of twin packs of liars playing Pass The Parcel with Government? This is Democracy? We're not even allowed to sign our ballot papers. It has to be a cross: the traditional signature of the illiterate. That's how much politicians respect our intelligence. The most exciting thing which has happened so far is Gordon Brown's referring to a Labour voter as "bigoted", and the media played that to death. So why am I showing this bar chart of party performance? And what does it mean? It shows the percentage of MPs from the three main parties who signed an Early Day Motion calling for the British Government to ratify ILO 169, the international law for tribal rights. It was published by Survival International, the movement for tribal peoples. Click the title link to find out more. My tribe is Apathy. There are a lot of us about. The usual suspects don't win our votes.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Sci-Fi-London 9

This evocative painting (detail shown) by Dan McPharlin was one of the entries in the Life in 2050 competition, organised to coincide with Sci-Fi-London 9 (title link). The Life in 2050 exhibition continues at Proud Central, London, until 4 May (CLICK). Sci-Fi-London 9 continues until 3 May.

Friday, 23 April 2010

St George Parade

The pageant of St George returned to London today after 425 years, thanks to The Worshipful Company of Armourers & Brasiers. Are there any English folk left in London to appreciate our patron saint?

Hubble is 20

The Hubble space telescope is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The above photo from Hubble shows a mountain of dust and gas rising in the Carina Nebula. NASA has given it the title Mystic Mountain (2010). It surpasses any painting of the Heavens from the fevered imaginations of religious artists. To download a wallpaper of this beautiful image or choose from many others CLICK. For Hubble's 20th birthday, BBC News has today posted an excellent slideshow of Hubble history by Paul Kerley (CLICK). The voiceover is by Professor Alec Boksenberg from the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, who was part of the European team that helped build Hubble. Click the title link to message Hubble.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Doodle makes £12,000

That Hirst doodle I posted last Thursday (CLICK), which Moneybags gave to Ilford taxi driver Jon Horsley for his son LJ, fetched an unbelievable £12,000 at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury auction house yesterday. How's that for a big tip?

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Gormley Scares NY

New York cops are fed up with Antony Gormley's body casts of himself on their city rooftops. Since his Event Horizon installation thingy began last month, they've had to respond to at least 10 calls from citizens who think Gormley's casts are real people about to commit suicide by jumping off buildings. It's the same nonsense he perpetrated on Londoners three years ago (CLICK). "We're short of cops to begin with and we don't have enough cops to waste answering calls of statues committing suicide," commented a disgruntled officer. Why not arrest the alleged artist and remove his tosh?

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Close Examination

One of the most intriguing summer exhibitions coming up at The National Gallery in London is Close Examination: Fakes, Mistakes and Discoveries, which runs from 30 June until 12 September (title link). This Portrait of Alexander Mornauer (c. 1464-88) was tarted up to look like a Holbein (left). Microscopic paint analysis revealed the NG had been sold a pup. The fraudulent layers of paint were removed to reveal the original painting (right). More than 40 bummers from the NG's hidden collection will go on display in 5 rooms. But it isn't all bad news. The 6th room of the exhibition shows works discovered to be genuine by scientific analysis, such as Raphael's Madonna of the Pinks, rediscovered in 1991.

RI Annual Show

The annual exhibition of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours opens tomorrow, Wednesday 21 April, at the Mall Galleries in London and continues until 1 May. Admission is £2.50 for adults, £1.50 for silver surfers, free to under 16s. This exhibit is Purple Patch by Jean Robinson RI. As you can see, Jean shuns wishy-washy landscapes and goes for something garish that looks as though it was painted with Dulux gloss; but all the paints used by RI members are water soluble.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Pig Design

If you were asked to design the perfect pig, would you come up with this woolly porker? Probably not. Pig breeders have been getting it wrong for centuries and have produced fat, bald, lumbering porkers that need shelter in winter and mud baths in summer to avoid sunburn, rather like the modern human. The rare Mangalitza pig, which originally hailed from Austria and Hungary, is tough enough to survive British winters and woolly enough to avoid sunburn. This pig in sheep's clothing is now being bred at Tropical Wings Zoo in South Woodham Ferrers, Essex. The zoo's meerkats are breeding too (CLICK).

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Damien Hirst Doodle

Believe it or not, this pathetic doodle is expected to fetch £5,000 when it comes up for grabs at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury auctioneers (CLICK). Guess who doodled it. Yes, Moneybags Hirst. He did it for a London taxi driver whose son had requested a sketch. Nice of him. The 15-year-old is selling it to buy a camera.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Erotic Picasso

New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art acquired this Erotic Scene (1902/3) by Pablo Picasso in 1982, but has kept it in storage. Picasso himself disowned the painting, which shows a naked woman seducing a boy. Taboo subject. Are New Yorkers ready for this? The work goes on display for the first time when a major exhibition featuring 300 works by Picasso opens on 27 April (title link).

Pastel Society

The annual exhibition of the Pastel Society continues at the Mall Galleries in London until Saturday 17 April, admission £2.50, silver surfers £1.50. This example is Making Marmalade by Felicity House. Click the title link for details.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

War Artists

John Singer Sargent's painting Gassed (1918), with its column of soldiers blinded by mustard gas being led across a battlefield, must be one of the most poignant images of World War I. It's part of the Imperial War Museum London's war art collection, which has had a "major re-hang" for its current Breakthrough exhibition (CLICK). Admission is free. The work of another war artist - one who recorded both world wars - is on display at Dulwich Picture Gallery in London: Paul Nash: The Elements (CLICK). The role of the war artist is assessed in BBC News Magazine (title link).

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Storm Slideshow

I previewed Storm Thorgerson: Right But Wrong last Saturday (scroll down or CLICK). Today BBC News published Paul Kerley's excellent slideshow on this exhibition, with commentary by Storm Thorgerson and appropriate music by Pink Floyd, Genesis, 10cc, Peter Gabriel and Muse. Click the title link and enjoy.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Camden April Fool

The Camden Arts Centre in NW London continues to inflict dire tripe on an unsuspecting proletariat. Both its latest exhibitions opened on April Fools' Day. Mere coincidence? Anna Maria Maiolino: Continuous is one of them. The photo shows her installation thingy Among Many (2005). Never mind the quality, read the blurb. "...Anna Maria Maiolino’s work retains a fundamental concern with creative and destructive processes and with identity; from the subjective to the universal. Conducting a dialogue between opposite yet complementary categories, Maiolino’s practice dissolves the dichotomies of inner and outer, self and other, void and matter, ancient and contemporary..." (CLICK). Wow! It must be rubbish.

Moneybags In Monaco

Monaco in the news twice in one week, and there isn't a grand prix racing car in sight! Has the principality's PR Department gone bizrack? Hardly. The Oceanographic Museum of Monaco is celebrating its centenary. So they've pulled out all the stops and put on an exhibition by Moneybags Hirst, the UK's shark stuffer extraordinaire. I've always thought he should be in an oceanographic museum rather than an art gallery. Shame the museum's tourist information pdf is dated 2008 (CLICK). Oh well....

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Ogni Ben di Dio

Here is Fizza Abdulrasul's latest entry in the Saatchi Gallery head-to-head Showdown: Ogni Ben di Dio - Divine Benevolence (1992). Judging by the title, this is the African equivalent of C of E Harvest Festival. I must say it looks a lot more exciting than a bushel of wheat and a bowl of carrots. Voting opens tomorrow. Click the title link then to vote.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Storm Thorgerson

Yesterday the Idea Generation Gallery in London opened Storm Thorgerson: Right But Wrong "the extended album art of Storm Studios and Hipgnosis". Body painting nude models with Pink Floyd album covers to illustrate the group's Back Catalogue (1996) is just one of the eye-catching designs he created for the pop music scene. The exhibition continues until 2nd May. Click the title link for times.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Hollywood Is 100

For film buffs the Getty Images Gallery in London is showing Hollywood through the lens – celebrating 100 years of Hollywood until 28 April. I love Darlene Hammond's photo (detail shown) of Humphrey Bogart seemingly rolling a joint while gawking at Marilyn Monroe's cleavage, with his missus Lauren Bacall leaning forward to make sure things don't get out of hand. Whoops! Tobacco everywhere. Admission free.

Grace Kelly at V&A

You guessed it. Today's theme is cinema. This photo of Grace Kelly by Erwin Blumenfeld (1955) states the obvious: pretty as a picture. On 17 April the V&A Museum in London opens Grace Kelly: Style Icon, which continues until 26 September. The exhibition examines her glamorous Hollywood image and enduring appeal, displaying her spectacular wardrobe from her movie-star days to her bejewelled life as Princess Grace of Monaco. Admission is £6.

Psycho Is 50

What better day to re-release Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece Psycho in the UK than Good Friday? It's 50 years since Janet Leigh first stepped into that fatal shower and Bernard Herrmann's violins began to shriek. To celebrate Psycho's 50th anniversary, BBC News Magazine has posted an article by Stephen Robb: How Psycho changed cinema (title link). It's well worth reading, but the title is wrong. It should read How Psycho changed Hollywood. Continental cinema was way ahead of Hollywood in realism and adult content in the 1950's, and Hitchcock chose to open Psycho in the style of Continental cinema, with Janet Leigh in her underwear....

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Degas Pays Tax

Here's another way in which Government wastes taxpayers' money. This incompetent sculpture is Edgar Degas' bronze statue Dancer Looking at the Sole of Her Right Foot. Soppy title. Dancer Counting Her Blisters would have been a better title, but maybe not so arty. Actually she's far too chubby to be a dancer. This work has been taken under the Acceptance In Lieu scheme to pay an outstanding inheritance tax bill of £175,000. If I were Culture Minister Margaret Hodge I'd have wanted the money. What's it got to do with Brit. heritage? Flog it to the French.

ArcelorMittal Orbit

This is an artist's impression of the ArcelorMittal Orbit, a name which I'm sure East Enders will abbreviate to The Arse. Quite right too. It looks as though an emotionally disturbed child conjured up a triffid with his Meccano set. It's the brainchild of Anish Krapoor RA. At 115 of those Euro meter thingies - 22m taller than the Statue of Liberty - The Arse will tower over London's Olympic Stadium and disgrace the London skyline for many years to come. To add insult to injury, this eyesore is going to cost us a staggering £19.1 million! And they keep telling us we've all got to tighten our belts due to the recession! What about the Brit. Anti-art Establishment tightening its own belt and refusing to squander our money on tripe like this? Come on, Bouncy Boris, own up; this is an April Fools' gag, isn't it?