Sunday, 31 October 2010

DRIFT 2010

DRIFT is back. DRIFT 2008 saw a fabulous recreation of a prehistoric sea monster - a dolichorhynchops, I believe - apparently gliding under the River Thames (CLICK). DRIFT 2010 brings Londoners a spectacular waterfall by Julius Popp from Germany (click the title link to see a video of it in action). This is one of a number of artworks along the Thames in central London and Canary Wharf running from 2 November until 8 January 2011. Illuminate Productions is the organisation behind it.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Mass Effect 2

Video games fans will already know that Mass Effect 2 won Ultimate Game of the Year at this year's Golden Joystick awards. It also won RPG of the Year. (Click the title link for the full list of winners.) I wonder how many gamers pause to reflect that they are being propelled through a graphic art gallery!

Sculpture by the Sea

The image of John Lennon in my previous post is a good example of traditional relief sculpture still being produced. But what of so-called "contemporary" sculpture? According to Sculpture by the Sea 2010 on Tamarama Beach, Sydney, it's big, brash, mechanistic, pointless and ridiculous. Tomas Misura's toothpaste tube Splash (2010) hits the mark. Click the title link for a Telegraph slide show of exhibits. And the winner? Danish artist Keld Moseholm, who grabbed the prize of $60,000 Aussie dollars. He's 75 years old. Well done, that silver surfer!

Lennon £5 Coin

What has John Lennon in common with William Shakespeare, Sir Winston Churchill, Charles Darwin and Florence Nightingale, apart from being a famous Brit? They have all been immortalised on a limited edition coin. The Royal Mint has just released a commemorative £5 John Lennon coin which will cost you £44.99. It's the latest in the Great Briton series. Lennon won the Royal Mint's public vote with 27,874 people voting for him (92%). Only 5,000 of these coins are available for purchase. So apply quickly if you want one. A 24-carat gold coin goes to the John Lennon Estate.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Fake Emins

Today a judge at Manchester Crown Court jailed Jonathan Rayfern for 16 months for forging the tripe of Tracey Emin and selling it on eBay for a total of £25,000. He admitted 10 counts of fraud and one of deception. Above is a copy of one of his fake Emins. Imagine buying trash like this just because you think somebody infamous painted it. The Krays were better artists (scroll down).


I must admit I find Charles Saatchi's attempts to find and define "emerging" British artists as both pretentious and tedious. Take Maurizio Anzeri's Giovanni (2009) an old photographic print tarted up with pointless abstract embroidery. Is this really the new face of UK art? I hope not. For a start he's Italian! (He works in London.) See for yourself at Newspeak: British Art Now Part II, the Saatchi Gallery's second installment of its museum-scale survey of emergent British contemporary art. It opened in London yesterday and limps along until 16 January 2011 (title link). Yawn.

Reggie Kray Oils

As we all know, it isn't the quality of the painting that counts in today's art market; it's the name of the artist. The fellow who painted this seascape in oils was notorious gangster Reggie Kray. He and Ronnie attended art classes at Parkhurst Prison on the Isle of Wight in the 1970s. Judging by this picture, Reggie dreamed of sailing away from his prison. It's one of 7 of his oil paintings coming up for auction in Lincoln (title link).

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Secret Artists

Is it a Banksy? I doubt it, because he isn't an old boy of the Royal College of Art. It's one of those anonymous original postcards which the RCA puts up for its annual sale. Collectors lash out £45 to buy one, then find the artist's name on the back. If they're lucky, it's worth more than they paid for it. If not, hard cheese. All the money raised goes to the RCA Student Award Fund. The exhibition of cards for sale opens on 12 November. The sale is on Saturday 20 November, from 8am to 6pm, personal purchases only, first come first served. Serious punters camp overnight to keep a front place in the queue. Click the title link to learn more.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Equestrian Art

The next art show at the Mall Galleries in London is the Emile Faurie Foundation Equestrian Art Exhibition, which opens on Wednesday 27 October and gallops on until the 30th. It's organised by the Emile Faurie Foundation, a charity which promotes riding for disadvantaged young people. The above example is Totilas Magic V by Sally Martin. If your cherubs are on half-term holiday, Friday 29 October would be the best day to visit, because there's a drop-in Big Draw Halloween Special from 11am to 3pm in the Mall Galleries' vaults with ghost stories: Victorian Mysteries In The Cellar. Oo-er. Admission to both events is free.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Sargent's Drawings

While researching yesterday's post on charcoal drawings by John Singer Sargent, I discovered that Dover Art Library published a book on the subject: Sargent Portrait Drawings: 42 Works by John Singer Sargent (1984). The portraits are in pencil, pastels and charcoal. There are bargains to be had. Collins Practical Art Guides published what appears to be a reprint this year. So you might well find the original in a book sale. Some UK booksellers are offering new copies of the Dover version for as little as £1.25 plus post and packing (title link).

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Sargent's Charcoal

Powis Castle has paid £50,000 for John Singer Sargent's charcoal drawing of The Hon. Violet Lane Fox, Baroness Darcy de Knayth, Countess of Powis (c.1910-1914). The Art Fund granted £25,000 toward the purchase price (title link). Sargent's charcoal drawings are magnificent. CLICK to view his two charcoal portraits of Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon long before she became the Queen Mother.

Slug In Paris

The Telegraph has published a slide show of 25 exhibits at the Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain in Paris’s Grand Palais. The usual suspects are there. Anish Kapoor is still trying to flog his 20-foot Slug for £1.8 million. The photo above shows this work at the Royal Academy of Arts earlier this year. It looks like my vacuum cleaner when its tube gets in a twist. What art! Click the title link to view more tripe at the Grand Palais.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Dalí Exhibition

Buste de Femme Retrospectif must be the silliest "sculpture" Salvador Dalí ever produced. It's one of 40 of his artworks in a sales exhibition at the Modern Masters Gallery, 23 Cork Street, London (title link). Vision of a Genius includes a collection of Dalí's paintings, drawings and watercolours never seen before in the UK. The exhibition continues until 28 February 2011. Prices start at £10,000 and go up to £1 million. To hell with the UK's budget deficit. Let the poor suffer. Go on, Fatcat, treat yourself.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Wildlife Photo 2010

This year's winner of the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award is Bence Mate with his nightime photo of leafcutter ants in Costa Rica. Fergus Gill won the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award with this stunning image of a fieldfare entitled The Frozen Moment. The subtle colouration is magical. The exhibition of the top 100 photos in the competition opens tomorrow at the Natural History Museum in London and continues until 11 March 2011. Click the title link to see more great wildlife photos and to book tickets.

Madame Tussauds

Here's an art form which doesn't require a Government subsidy: the world famous Madame Tussauds Waxworks in London. It is big business. X Factor judge Cheryl Cole is the latest celebrity to get the Madame treatment. If you don't already know the answer, guess which one is the real Cheryl Cole, then click the title link to view a BBC Newsbeat video that settles the question. (Note the barrage of press photographers snapping away.) How many of today's Royal Academicians would be capable of producing a sculpture of this quality?

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

ACE Cuts

Despite all the protests from overpaid and under talented artists, Government's Spending Review has slashed 29.6% from the budget of Arts Council England (ACE), which will have to make a 50% cut in its administrative costs. That's a few social workers and other hangers-on for the chop, we hope. National museums will take a cut of 15%, but must remain free to enter. Click the title link to read the details.

Salvator Rosa

The Dulwich Picture Gallery is currently showing Salvator Rosa (1615 – 1673): Bandits, Wilderness and Magic, the first major Salvator Rosa exhibition in the UK since 1973. The painting above is Jason Charming The Dragon (c.1665-1670). The exhibition runs until 28 November.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Jeff Koons in the RA

The Royal Academy of Arts has elected US artist Jeff Koons as a new Honorary Member. He must be the first member of the academy - honorary or RA - to be married to a porn queen. Above is his self-portrait with the wife Ilona Staller Fingers Between Legs (1990) from his controversial “Made in Heaven” series first shown at the Venice Biennale 1990. You can tell she's a porn queen because she wears high heels in bed. They must play havoc with the sheets. CLICK to see a larger version.

Marilyn Church

Here's an interesting snippet of news from the USA. The Library of Congress is negotiating with courtroom artist Marilyn Church to acquire 3,500 of her courtroom sketches, because they form an important historical collection. She attended many famous trials and sketched everyone from Woody Allen to O. J. Simpson during their court appearances. I wonder if any British courtroom artists will have their works collected for posterity. I can imagine a fascinating exhibition of British thugs up before the beak.

Monday, 18 October 2010


Libera, the world famous London boys vocal group, begins its Autumn tour of four English cathedrals at Bristol Clifton on 27th October, followed by Chester on the 29th. Libera appears in London at St George's Cathedral, Southwark, on 19th November, then heads for Beverley Minster in Yorkshire the following day. Click the title link for ticket prices. If you've never heard Libera sing - Where have you been? - CLICK to hear them on the Waitrose Christmas advert (a YouTube video). You can order one of their albums from your local library or lash out at your nearest record shop.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Charlotte's Web

The work of illustrators may not fetch the millions of pounds that badly painted daubs on canvas do (CLICK for an example), but Garth Williams' original cover art for the children's book Charlotte's Web by E.B. White fetched a very respectable £97,000 ($155,000) at a recent New York auction, a new record for the artist. The buyer is a New York collector who wishes to remain anonymous. Oh phooey, another artwork into the vaults.

Mandelbrot RIP

Benoit Mandelbrot, the mathematical genius who developed fractals as a way of understanding the infinite complexity of nature, has died of cancer at the age of 85. His concept has been used to measure all sorts of natural phenomenon, from coastlines to clouds, and led to new ways of thinking in physics, biology and astronomy. Fractal geometry created a beautiful new art form. Shown here is the Mandelbrot Set. The Julia Set is my favourite. I derived a lot of fun from that on my old Atari ST. CLICK for a BBC slide show. Lastly, here's a sobering thought: if this Polish Jew hadn't escaped the Nazis at the age of 11, the concept of fractal geometry would have died in the Holocaust!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Renaissance Revolution

BBC Two's new art series Renaissance Revolution, written and presented by Matthew Collings, begins this evening at 20:00 hours ... er ... 8pm ... with Raphael - The Madonna of the Meadow (1505). I'm always dubious about art pundits wittering on about their subject, but it could be worth a look. Click the title link to read more about today's programme. CLICK for a BBC video clip of high resolution images of the Madonna with sample wittering.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Tate Buys More Tripe

Take a gander at this load of junk: Jimmie Durham's Dans plusieurs de ces forets (1993). It was snapped up at this year's Frieze Art Fair by an idiotic gallery curator who knows nothing about art. Click the title link to view a BBC slide show of Tate's Frieze acquisitions. These are yet more examples of why Government should stop wasting taxpayer's money on funding the visual arts. It does nothing but support peddlers of rubbish.

Another Tate Fiasco!

The 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds strewn to a depth of 4 inches across the floor of Tate Passé's Turbine Hall in London are giving rise to an unacceptable level of dust. So, after only 4 days, visitors have been banned from scrunching across the floor. They must now view the "seeds" from a balcony. How boring. And how stupid not to have foreseen this possibility. What a waste of money!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Frieze Art Fair

The annual Frieze Art Fair opened its marquee to the public today in its usual place: Regents Park, London. I noticed a rather nice hoodie by Marc Quinn; pity about the gaudy gold coating. And there's a stuffed dog holding a sign that reads "I'm Dead". To view some of the unbelievable rubbish they're hawking to rich punters this year, click the title link for a Telegraph slide show. And if you feel like puking, view the BBC video: CLICK. (Note: BBC videos don't work outside the UK. Dunno why, but you haven't missed much in this case.)

Van Gogh Theft News

The latest news on the theft of Vincent Van Gogh's Vase and Flowers, also known as Poppy Flowers, from the Mahmoud Khalil Museum in Cairo is that an Egyptian court has found 11 culture ministry employees guilty of negligence and has sentenced them to three years in jail. This includes the museum's director and Deputy Culture Minister Mohsen Shalan. The court granted them bail pending an appeal. It's good that the incompetent fatcats in charge are carrying the can, but the stolen painting is still missing.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Shadow Catchers

The latest exhibition at the V&A Museum is Shadow Catchers: Camera-less Photography, which opened today in the Porter Gallery and runs until 20 February 2011. The show presents the work of five "international contemporary artists" (a phrase that turns me off straight away): Floris Neusüss, Pierre Cordier, Susan Derges, Garry Fabian Miller and Adam Fuss. These ... er ... artists expose images on light-sensitive paper without the use of cameras. I must admit Susan Derges's Summer is rather pretty. It reminds me of a graphic I created on the Atari ST many moons ago. Before you lash out £5 on this exhibition (title link) CLICK to view a BBC slide show.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


Tomorrow the Mall Galleries in London opens its second new exhibition of the week: the Royal Society of Marine Artists Annual Exhibition. The example above is by Richard Dack RSMA: Making Ready II. Admission is £2.50, silver surfers £1.50. The show continues until 23 October.

Tom Daley Gold

There is more art in one of Tom Daley's dives than there is in that overpriced Unilever rubbish which opened to the public in Tate Passé today (next post down). I see that Tom and his new diving partner Max Brick won gold in the men's 10m synchro at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi this morning. Click the title link for a BBC video. BBC1 is also showing Tom Daley: The Diver And His Dad at 10.35pm this evening.

What A Ripoff!

Here's further proof that funding the visual arts should be left to businessmen with more money than sense. Chinese con artist Ai Weiwei persuaded Unilever to shell out a fortune on 100 million hand-painted porcelain sunflower seeds with which to carpet Tate Modern's Turbine Hall. It took more than 150 tonnes of seeds, made by 1,600 Chinese workers in Jingdezhen over two years, to carpet the Turbine Hall to a depth of 4 inches. And the result? Sheer boredom, as the Telegraph's slide show reveals (title link). A gravel drive would be more interesting! But there are always fatheads ready to defend such tosh. Chief Curator Sheena Wagstaff claims Sunflower Seeds is "a beautifully simple idea that belies an extraordinary rich layer of meanings and references." Curator Juliet Bingham supports her boss's bullshit with "To touch one seed is to touch the whole. It's a poignant commentary on the relationships between individuals and the masses." Pull the other leg, ladies; it's got bells on.

Monday, 11 October 2010


Today the Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers, founded in 1896, opened its annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London. Tracey Hall's magnificent Gorilla is one of 700 works "in all styles, subjects and mediums" on display. Prices start from about £120. Admission is free. The exhibition continues until Saturday 23 October. Click the title link to learn more.

Banksy Tags Simpsons

Banksy was invited to do the storyboard for an episode of The Simpsons entitled MoneyBart, screened yesterday on US TV and to be shown in the UK on Thursday 21 October on Sky 1 HD and Sky 1 at 19.30 BST. The above screenshot shows the graffiti artist's tag on a billboard in Springfield, the Simpsons' home town. The controversial closing sequence mocks The Simpsons merchandising with images of Chinese sweatshop workers producing dolls and DVDs (the panda is a dead giveaway). Click the title link for a BBC preview of the Banksy bits.

Chief Crazy Horse

Today is Native American Day in some parts of the USA. To mark this occasion BBC News has posted a video about the mountain sculpture of Chief Crazy Horse in the Black Hills of South Dakota (title link). Korczak Ziolkowski began the monument in 1948 after working with Gutzon Borglum, who created the faces of four American presidents on Mount Rushmore. My graphic shows the profile of Chief Crazy Horse and the model, which has a 1930's look about it, against the carved mountain. Following Korczak's death, his family took over the project. When completed, it will be the largest statue in the world. CLICK for the official website.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Food Landscapes

The photo chosen for the cover of Carl Warner's Food Landscapes (2010) is the one I selected for my first posting on this unusual British artist nearly three years ago (CLICK). Carl is a photographer who creates the most amazingly convincing and beautiful landscapes out of food. A book of his photos has been published by Abrams. Its launch takes place at St Pancras International in London on Thursday 14 October, when Carl's latest creation "Chocolate Express" will be unveiled. The Telegraph has posted a slide show of 17 of his food landscapes (title link). His book is on special offer at Amazon for £9.89, instead of RRP £15.99, and delivery in the UK is free (CLICK).

Flasher's Lost Wing

Here's the latest propaganda from that bunch of non-artists who want Government to continue funding their tripe. This one is the best so far, thanks, I guess, to Photoshop. Cornelia Parker has clipped a wing off Antony Gormley’s Flasher ... er ... Angel of the North to make her point. The caption reads: "Why clip the wings of an industry that is soaring? It’s a false economy to cut the arts". Subtle as a brick. Even the BBC seems to have lost interest in this campaign. If you still aren't convinced that Government should STOP funding the visual arts, click the title link to learn what tosh Ms Parker has concocted before she came up with this graphic. I rest my case.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Sorolla Sale

These two paintings by Spanish artist Joaquín Sorolla will be up for sale in Sotheby’s auction of 19th Century European Paintings in London on 23 November (L10104). Both were painted in 1904 and were featured in Sorolla’s first major international exhibition at Galerie Georges Petit in Paris in 1906. They have remained in two private collections for more than a century. Top is Niños en la Playa, estimated value £1m to £1.5m. Below is El Pescador, estimated at £2m to £3m. So important is the emergence of these two works that they will be shown in Moscow, New York, Madrid and Barcelona ahead of the London sale (title link).

Wesselmann at Haunch

Yesterday the strangely named gallery Haunch of Venison in London opened Tom Wesselmann: Works 1958-2004, which it claims is the most extensive exhibition of his work shown in the UK to date. If you fancy American Pop Art, trot along to the gallery (title link) before the exhibition ends on 4 November. The above example is Bedroom Painting #76 (1984-93).

Cannibals 'Mischief'

More details have emerged of the crowbar attack on Enrique Chagoya’s The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals (2001) which I reported on Thursday (CLICK). Here is a Loveland Police mugshot of the crowbar-wielding Christian trucker Kathleen Folden. She used the crowbar to smash the glass case that was supposedly protecting the codex, then tore up the bit she objected to, allegedly screaming "How can you desecrate my Lord?". (Sounds like those Taliban loonies who yell "Allah is great" when blowing up NATO oil tankers!) Loveland Police have charged her with criminal mischief. As the codex is a limited edition print of 30, it's no great loss to the art world. In fact it would be no great loss if it were the original rubbish. The police took the remains as evidence, so it's no longer on display.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Helmet Fetches £2m

The Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle, Cumbria, failed in its bid to acquire the Crosby Garrett Helmet at yesterday's auction at Christie's in London. An anonymous telephone bidder snatched it for 2m, far more than its estimated value of £300,000 ($463,800). The museum is deeply disappointed, but has entered into discussions with the new owner to see if it can borrow the helmet. Click the title link for a BBC video.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Codex Whacked

A middle-aged woman has been arrested after whacking Enrique Chagoya’s codex with a crowbar in the Loveland Museum Gallery in Colorado, USA. This codex - The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals (2001) - is a badly drawn comic that unfolds like an accordion. That part to which protesters have taken exception depicts a bearded lady with a strangely familiar face in ... um ... a compromising position. You might think it deserves a good whacking. Somebody did.

Herring Gull Wins

This photograph of a herring gull defying the waves on a beach in the Isles of Scilly won first prize in the British Wildlife Photography Awards 2010. Steve Young, who took the shot, gains £5,000. This and other top photos from the competition will be shown in a year-long touring exhibition, which begins at Hooper's Gallery, London, on 14 October (CLICK). The Telegraph has posted a picture gallery: CLICK. Note 14-year-old Adam Hawtin's photo of a blue leaf-beetle, which won the award for Young British Wildlife Photographer.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Josie Russell Art

The media spotlight has been on plucky Josie Russell ever since she was the victim of an horrific hammer attack when only 9 years old. She has since grown into a beautiful young woman, gained a degree in graphic design and has now launched her first art exhibition at Plas Newydd, a National Trust property on the island of Anglesey in Wales. Her pictures are made of recyclable materials - fabric, buttons, beads, ribbons and so on - and sell for £200 or less. Her exhibition seems to be getting more publicity than the Turner Prize. And why not? Click the title link for a video of Josie discussing her artworks. CLICK for a slide show. CLICK for Josie's own website. Graphics: Josie as a young girl wearing her famous sun hat, one of her Snowdonian landscapes, and Josie at a craft fair.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Turner Prize Hell 2

In case you're wondering what Stuckists were doing outside Tate Britain today (next post down) it was to protest against the launch if this year's Turner Prize exhibition. They weren't the only ones complaining. Press photographers had threatened to boycott the event, because Tate Britain wanted them to sign a form banning any images or words being published which could "result in any adverse publicity". What a joke! Does this asinine exhibition gain anything but bad publicity? Tate Britain was forced to back down (title link). BBC News has gone over the top with 2 videos showing the tripe on offer: CLICK, CLICK. Turner Prize Hell indeed!

Turner Prize Hell

If you managed to struggle into London today, despite Underground strikes caused by Bouncy Boris getting up Bob Crow's nose, you'll find a group of Stuckists demonstrating outside Tate Britain. They're having a day of Turner Prize Hell and giving out leaflets and badges to spread the word against Sir Nickolarse Serota's anti-art tosh. One of the leaflets looks collectible: Emily Mann offering to give Serota a good spanking (title link). Go for it, Sir Nick. It could be the making of you. Oo-er, I've just had a conceptual art idea! How about a naked manikin wearing Sir Nick's face having his bottom spanked by an electronically operated dominatrix? Maybe for next year's Turner Prize?

Ghost of Caravaggio

Have you spotted that ghost of a tiny self-portrait on the wine jug in Caravaggio's Bacchus which I mentioned on Saturday (scroll down or CLICK)? I've drawn a line round the jug to show you the area that needs magnifying. Digitization of the original masterpiece is so powerful that you would be lucky to spot details like this if you stood in front of the painting with a magnifying glass. This revolutionary technique has the potential to reveal many fascinating details in great works of art, but it is slow and costly. Click the title link to visit Haltadefinizione.

Sunday, 3 October 2010


The award ceremony of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) took place yesterday evening and was televised on BBC Two. The £20,000 RIBA Stirling Prize 2010 went to London-based Zaha Hadid Architects for the National Museum of XXI Century Arts (MAXXI) in Rome (above). CLICK to view the other contenders shortlisted for this award. CLICK for MAXXI.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Marilyn Monroe Photos

Last Wednesday's sad news about Hollywood superstar and artist Tony Curtis reminded me that a new book of more than 100 previously unpublished photos of Marilyn Monroe has been published by Calla Editions: Marilyn: August 1953. The photos were shot for LOOK magazine by John Vachon, while the actress was recovering from an ankle injury sustained while filming River of No Return with Robert Mitchum. Only 3 of the photos were published by LOOK. Click the title link to view a Telegraph slide show of some of these photos.