Friday, 31 December 2010

Steve McQueen CBE

Steve McQueen has been appointed a CBE in the New Year Honours List (title link). No, not the great Hollywood actor, but that Turner Prize winner much loved by the Brit. Anti-art Establishment. He represented Britain at the 2009 Venice Biennale with his film Giardini. It would be easy to dismiss him as just another Turner winner, but he also gained the Caméra d'Or at Cannes for his debut feature film Hunger (2008). CLICK to see a Guardian slide show from 2008 of his work. This year he exhibited Queen and Country, which opened his campaign to have British soldiers who lost their lives in Iraq commemorated on postage stamps. The attractive young lady above is Keisha Meade, the sister of Fusilier Donal Meade of The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers who died in 2005 aged 20. She stands next to her brother's image on McQueen's stamps at the National Portrait Gallery.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

UK Film on N. Korean TV

Gosh! A symptom of sanity from North Korea! On 26 December its state-run TV broadcast Bend It Like Beckham (2002) the UK movie about a girls' football team, starring Keira Knightley and Parminder Nagra (above). This is the first time a Western-made film has been shown on North Korean TV, and only 8 minutes were cut. The viewers must have been gobsmacked. They suffer a daily dose of cartoons and propaganda about their wonderful leaders, army and model farms. During the movie a message explained that it was being shown to mark the 10th anniversary of diplomatic relations having been established between North Korea and the UK. This treat for the downtrodden masses was arranged by the British embassy. Nice one, Ambassador.

Ancient Crossroads

The next major exhibition at The British Museum will be Afghanistan: Crossroads of the Ancient World. This beautifully enamelled glass goblet depicting date harvesting (1st Century AD) isn't something one would expect to find in the National Museum of that benighted country Afghanistan. In fact it was made in Roman Egypt and exported to India via the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, destined for Begram, the summer capital of the Kushan Kingdom. Such treasures needed to be hidden from those Muslim lunatics intent on purging their country of anything they deemed anti-Islamic, no matter its beauty or historic worth. The war against the Taliban continues. The exhibition of saved treasures opens at The British Museum in London on 3 March 2011. CLICK for video.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Stamps For 2011

Royal Mail has released a list of its commemorative stamps for 2011 (title link). This portrait of Merlin from Arthurian Legends is one of its Magical Realms collection, which also includes images inspired by the novels of Sir Terry Pratchett and J.K. Rowling, to be issued on 8 March. The new stamps kick off on 11 January with a collection called FAB: The Genius of Gerry Anderson, which includes Stingray. Personally I couldn't stand those daft puppets, but they certainly created a large fan base.

Just William

Why is it that every attempt to film Richmal Crompton's William stories comes a cropper? My guess is that the high quality of the illustrations by Thomas Henry leads to expectations that no boy actor can fulfil. Daniel Roche is the latest juvenile to attempt the role. He is too chubby and his scowl comes across as petulance. He looks more like Hubert Lane than William Brown. The BBC production values for its new series are good; Rebecca Front as the long-suffering Mrs Brown is excellent and Martin Jarvis's narration inspired as usual; but where is that memorable imp which Thomas Henry drew so well? See if you can find him. The next episode is on BBC One at 12:50 tomorrow. Click the title link to read more about Thomas Henry.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010


I recently came across this striking image by US photographer Melvin Sokolsky, presumably taken for a lipstick advertisement. The shade is unnatural - nothing like a white woman's lips in orgasm -, but that's not the fault of the photographer. Sokolsky is the man who first put models in bubbles, like pet hamsters going for a roll around the house. Galerie ACTE 2 in Paris has opened an Exposition Archive of his work which runs until 8 January 2011 (CLICK). His models in bubbles also make striking images.

Microbial Art

A team of researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia has shown that the original pigments of some ancient Aboriginal rock paintings have been colonised by bacteria and fungi. These "living pigments" have replaced the original paint used by the artists. This probably explains why these paintings - known as "Bradshaw" art, after the naturalist who first identified them in the 19th Century - are impossible to date by normal means: the paint has gone, replaced by living microbes. Jack Pettigrew's photos show the boundary of black fungi in one of the ancient Bradshaw rock paintings.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Oil Stick Work

Transport for London (TfL) complains about lack of funds, but it can waste money on projects for Art on the Underground, such as John Gerrard's Oil Stick Work at Canary Wharf Underground Station. It's one of those installation thingies, using customised game-design software to create a moving virtual world: construction work on a desolate Midwest prairie. Yawn. I'm sure passengers would rather have a better service from TfL. And no wonder the staff keep going on strike when they see money being wasted on management ego-trips like this. Gerrard began a new wall this month. Don't all rush to see it: closed for Christmas. It reopens on 6 January.

Sunday, 26 December 2010


Artistic kiddies, did you receive any book tokens for Christmas? If so, how about buying a copy of Karala Barendregt's Bringing Bodypainting to Life: A guide to the World of Bodypainting (2008)? It will keep Dad amused for hours while you use his new laptop to search for porn with Google. The book includes step-by-step guides, techniques and products together with profiles of 25 leading bodypainting artists, produced by KRYOLAN in collaboration with the World BodyPainting Association, price $35.50 (title link). If you can't use your book token on the Internet, try ordering a copy from a bookseller.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Seasonal Reminder

Thames Water has made a song and dance about that fat which Londoners pour down their drains over the festive period and which clogs up the sewers. It advises leaving the fat to cool and congeal, then putting it in the bin. Oh wasteful Thames Water! In impoverished post-war Britain, mothers used to keep that fat - called "dripping" - and spread it on bread or toast with a touch of Marmite for flavour. Unhealthy, but no worse than spreading butter or any other form of grease on your sandwiches. Click the title link for the Singing Sewermen's YouTube video and Thames Water will donate 1p to Water Aid, a charity which works to improve access to safe water and sanitation for the world's poor. Or donate directly: CLICK.

Merry Christmas

Friday, 24 December 2010

Royal Mint Mess

The Royal Mint has issued a commemorative £5 Royal Engagement Alderney Crown supposedly showing images of Prince William and his fiancée Kate Middleton. Do you recognize either of them? Kate's beauty has been transmogrified into the features of a middle-aged frump with bags under her eyes. The Prince has fared slightly better, but his profile can hardly be described as a good likeness. He looks Chinese! As for the prices, they range from £9.99 in a presentation folder (silver?) to £1,550.00 for a Gold Proof Crown (CLICK). What a ripoff!

I Am 5

London Art News is 5 years old today. Originally it was called Coxsoft Art News, but as I mostly preview exhibitions in London I changed the name a while ago. December 24 was a Saturday in 2005, so my Christmas holiday started early and I began this blog on my old PC running Windows '98. Things have changed a bit since then! Now the in-thing is cloud computing and poking your finger through your screen. I'll stick with my mouse, thanks.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Nano Christmas Card

Nanotechnologists at the University of Glasgow have produced what they believe to be the world's smallest Christmas card. It measures 200x290 micro-metres, whatever they are, and is etched on a tiny piece of glass. When you consider the relentless drive of miniaturisation, this isn't such a daft project as it seems. Nowadays most people have computing power in their mobile phones that would have needed a mainframe 50 or 60 years ago. Glasgow University is demonstrating that it is a leader in the field of nanotechnology.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

City of Sculpture

Westminster City Council has located a number of sites where it can display large sculptures for its City of Sculpture Festival. This monstrosity is The Jelly Baby Family by Italian tripe peddler Mauro Perucchetti (the one on the right). I'm not going to call somebody an artist if this is the best he can do. And what's the point of it? This rubbish has been erected in Marble Arch, weighing 3.2 tonnes and over 3 metres tall. Give it a sneer if you're passing. At least Westminster City Council isn't paying for the damned thing.

Scrapheap Challenge

Believe it or not, this rusty iron bench - Topos IV by Eduardo Chillida - is worth £675,000 (800,000 of those euro thingies). The thief tried to sell it to a Spanish scrapyard dealer for £25 (30 euro thingies). The dealer called la policía, who recovered 35 works by Eduardo Chillida, Picasso and other tripe stolen from a warehouse in a Madrid suburb on 27 November. They found this haul in a lorry which had also been stolen from the warehouse.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Cleopatra Found

Albrecht Dürer's The Suicide of Cleopatra, which was stolen from the Palazzo Piccolomini in 1972, has been recovered by Italian police, following an attempted sale. Another 15 paintings stolen over 30 years in 10 robberies were also recovered from the house of a Roman designer and collector. They should all be returned to their rightful owners in time for Christmas. What cracking pressies! Let's hope a better photo than this one is soon posted on the Internet, so we can all admire this masterpiece of the Northern Renaissance.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Helen Allingham

This delicate watercolour by Victorian artist Helen Allingham - By the cottage gate, Mayfield, East Sussex - comes up for auction in Bonhams' sale of 19th Century Pictures on 27 January 2011, estimated value £7,000 to £10,000. I must admit I hadn't come across this lady's work before. She illustrated the serialised edition of Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd published in Cornhill Magazine in monthly instalments (1874) and was the first woman admitted as a full member of the Royal Watercolour Society.

Eco Comics

British publisher Mohawk Media is bringing out a range of Eco Comics, incluing graphic novels, that you can download from its website for a price (title link). Here is the cover of the first one Heroic High, which is available now. The drawings are by Kit Wallis, the story by Chris Bunting. The idea behind this groundbreaking move is to stop wasting trees and to protect the environment. On days like today, it also means potential buyers don't need to trudge through the snow to buy a copy. And they are cheaper than traditional comics. Let's hope the idea takes off. The big question is: Will parents finance their offsprings' wish for eco-friendly online comics by shelling out with a credit card? I guess Green parents will. The only disadvantage I can see for Brits is that the prices are in US dollars.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Kinect Porn

I guess it had to happen. Austrian porn firm thriXXX has utilized Microsoft’s Kinect controller, which uses a camera and infra-red sensor to detect arm, leg and body movements, to create a sex game in which users can pretend to grope women with a floating hand. It's the start of interactive pornography, folks, with artificial women created by artists to stimulate the lonesome male. Sad. This graphic wouldn't keep a schoolboy entertained for more than 5 minutes, but hardcore porn with artist-designed performers is on its way....

Friday, 17 December 2010

Bartholomew Beale

The Dulwich Picture Gallery is in the news again. Yesterday it unveiled its latest acquisition: Sir Peter Lely's Bartholomew Beale (c 1670) on the right of my combined graphic. On the left is Lely's A Boy as a Shepherd (c 1658-6). These two paintings have been re-united thanks to the generous support of the Art Fund, The Monument Trust; the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund; The Hamish Parker Charitable Trust; Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery; The Idlewild Trust; and other donors. It will be on show to the public in time for next year's 200th anniversary celebrations.

Manga Porn Ban

The metropolitan assembly of Tokyo has banned the sale and lease of sexually explicit Manga comics and anime films to under-18s. Many parents and British libraries don't realise that some Manga comics - very popular among youngsters - are pornographic and feature sex crimes such as rape and incest. The shower scene I've chosen as an example follows a night of explicit debauchery and was the cleanest picture I could find. And the language of this comic is English, so this is designed for the English-speaking market. What puzzles me is that I understand the age of consent in Japan is 14 years. So you can have sex at 14, but retailers aren't allowed to sell you its depiction in comics bought in Tokyo until you're 18. Strange. A Yankee influence?

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Tron: Legacy

Art takes many forms. This is the new sci-fi light cycle which artist Daniel Simon designed for Tron: Legacy, the sequel to the groundbreaking Disney movie Tron (1982). Strewth! Is it that long ago I saw it at the cinema? BBC Newsbeat has posted some of Daniel's artwork for the new Tron vehicles (title link). Stunning.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Greenpeace Banksy

It looks as though The Jungle Book crew have had their chips. Banksy designed this poster for a Greenpeace Save or Delete campaign in 2001, but the Disney heavy mob took exception to it and it was never used. So much for Disney helping to save the planet! The original artwork comes up for auction in London at Bonhams' Urban Art sale on 11 January 2011, estimated value £60,000 to £80,000. Click the title link to view a larger version.

Rockwell's America

Here's a Christmas treat from the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London: Norman Rockwell's America, which opened today and runs until 27 March 2011. This is the first exhibition in the UK of original works by the "best-known and most beloved American artist of the 20th century." What a brilliant way for the gallery to begin celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2011, with the work of a real artist, not those Mickey-takers who show rubbish in Tate Passé. This is a major retrospective of Rockwell's career, including all 323 Saturday Evening Post covers created between 1916 and 1963 plus his illustrations for advertisements, magazines and books. It's a must.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010


As regular readers will know, Coxsoft Art has been campaigning against the cruel and wasteful practice of cutting off the fins of living sharks and throwing them back into the sea to drown slowly (CLICK). I've posted a number of protest paintings by Fizza Abdulrasul, such as the one above: The End (2009). Most people associate shark-finning with the Far East, but it happens in European waters too! The EU is consulting its citizens on this barbaric practice of shark-finning: "Consultation on the amendment of Council Regulation (EC) 1185/2003 on the removal of fins of sharks on board vessels". Democracy in the EU! Wow! Click the title link to cast your vote and have your say. The period of consultation lasts until 21 February 2011.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Manga Mascots

Recently, BBC News asked the daft question: Is your operating system a girl? It chose a number of Manga characters to illustrate its question. This one is the official Microsoft Taiwan Silverlight mascot, named Aizawa Hikaru. She's a cute, young, busty, wide-eyed innocent in frilly knickers and stocking tops. It's enough to make Yankee feminists froth at the gills! The BBC text too (title link). All that us Westerners get from Microsoft is a soppy puppy that wags its tail if you try to search your PC for something. I guess it's a case of When in Rome do as the Romans do. In the Orient it's Manga.

Thorburn's Birds

Last week I posted news of a sale of Audubon's Birds of America (CLICK). Today it's the turn of Archibald Thorburn (1860-1935), the Scottish artist famous for his wildlife paintings and especially for his ornithological illustrations. His 4-volume British Birds (1915-18) is a collector's item. In 1967 James Fisher wrote new text and published it in a single volume as Thorburn's Birds. The edition you're likely to find in your local library is that which was revised by John Parslow in 1975. Above is one of Thorburn's largest paintings, The Covey at Daybreak, which comes up for sale in London at Bonhams' auction of 19th Century Paintings on 27 January 2011, estimated value £100,000 - £150,000. Click the title link to see this painting in more detail.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Tom Lubbock Collages

Yesterday the Victoria Miro gallery in London opened Tom Lubbock Collages from the Independent 1999 - 2004, which runs until 21 December. This is the first chance to view a selection of those paper colleges which Tom Lubbock created for the Saturday editions of the Independent newspaper between 1999 and 2004. The one shown above is The Campaign For Real Royals (2002). Unusual. Click the title link for details.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Tate's Naked Tree

Tate Britain's Christmas tree has become an annual joke, with all sorts of daft ideas and stupid gimmicks cropping up. This year the powers-that-be invited Giorgio Sadotti to do his thing in the gallery's neoclassical Rotunda. Today he unveiled his effort: a Norwegian spruce entitled Flower Ssnake, unadorned except for a coiled bullwhip and a circle of silver postcards around its base. Could this be the artist's idea for controlling student riots in London? No, the bullwhip is to drive out the spirit of Christmas during a ceremony in the gallery on Twelfth Night. Don't think I'll bother, thanks. For me, the spirit of Christmas was driven out a long time ago. It looks as though a generation of students feel the same way. Ironically, before the last election our politicians were worrying about how to engage with the young and persuade them to vote. The Liberals cracked it with a pledge to oppose tuition fee rises. Disillusioned teenaged voters now know better than to trust lying politicians. And when democracy fails, rioters hit the streets....

Stubbs Sale

This painting by British master George Stubbs - Brood Mares and Foals (1767) - sold for a record price for the artist of £10.1m ($15.9m) at Sotheby's London auction of Old Master & British Paintings on Wednesday (CLICK). It had been in the family collection of the Earl of Macclesfield for 237 years and boasted what the trade refers to as "impeccable provenance". I assume that Culture Minister Ed Vaizey will put a temporary export ban on this British masterpiece if the undisclosed buyer attempts to remove it from the UK.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Julian Assange Statue

A Christmas story at last, and with a hint of sex too! Recognise him? Yes, it's Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, currently stuck in one of Her Majesty's cells in England, supposedly the home of free speech (England, not the cell, although...). Let's hope he gets access to the prison computer. In Naples, Gennaro Di Virgilio reckons Julian is "Man of the Year" and as such has made him the centrepiece of a Nativity Creche for Christmas. It's a Neapolitan tradition. Gennaro will make a statuette of Julian for you, if you want one. Merry Christmas, CIA. Pressie for the President? Ho, ho, ho.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Modern Perspectives

Today The National Gallery in London opened Ben Johnson: Modern Perspectives, an unusual exhibition in that you'll be able to watch the artist complete this painting. You'll find him in Room 1 until 23 January 2011. Admission is free. Click the title link for details.

Joy of Nature

It appears to be that time of year when all the photography awards are handed out. The overall winner of Digital Camera magazine's Photographer of the Year 2010 is Jon Wright (title link). One of my favourites is in the Joy category, sponsored by the Telegraph. “Use the language of photography to describe a feeling of joy." I can't imagine a better way of capturing joy than Nimai Chandra Ghosh's Joy of Nature, which shows two village boys bathing in a pond covered with duckweed. Are they enjoying themselves? You betcha.

Birds of America

A complete four-volume set of John James Audubon's Birds of America, which was published from 1827 to 1838, fetched more than £7m at Sotheby's auction in London. It was bought by London book dealer Michael Tollemache, who described his purchase as "priceless".
This monumental work contains 1,000 life-sized illustrations of about 500 breeds of birds and took Audubon 12 years to complete. The larger birds, such as this American Flamingo, fold out for viewing (CLICK). Of the 119 copies known to exist, 108 are owned by museums and libraries; so it a rare event for one to come up for auction.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Cultural Olympiad

I see the usual suspects in the Brit. art lark have been collared by the Cultural Olympiad board to produce tripe for the non-event of 2012. David Hockney, Lucian Freud and Rachel Whiteread are among those who have been commissioned to deck the halls for the 12-week arts festival running alongside the 2012 Olympic Games. Isn't it enough that we have Anish Kapoor's monstrosity rising above the Olympic Stadium at a cost of £19.1 million (CLICK)? Do we really need more rubbish cluttering the games at vast expense? David Hockney thinks so. This is his iPad contribution so far: See you in 2012 thats twenty twelve (2010). Groan!

Monday, 6 December 2010

Chillies Win Turnip

Here's the one we've all been waiting for: the winner of the Turnip Prize 2010. It's Doug Pitt for Chilli n'Minors, 4 chillies on a paper plate (title link). "It's art of the lowest standard," claimed organiser Trevor Prideaux. But wait, for art of the really lowest standard you need to go to Tate Britain and this year's Turner Prize. It's been won by Susan Philipsz, who records herself singing ghastly Scottish laments and plays her recordings in unlikely places. This is visual art you can't even see! She won the £25,000 prize at this evening's bad joke at Tate Britain, complete with student demo (CLICK).


Yesterday, at the Moet British Independent Film Awards in London, Gareth Edwards won Best Director and Best Achievement in Production for his debut movie Monsters (title link). This promises to be a landmark in movie production. It was made on a shoestring budget with only two professional actors: Whitney Able (above) and Scoot McNairy; the rest are amateurs who were selected during location shooting. What is so amazing is that Gareth put the movie together on a laptop in his bedroom! CLICK to find out how he did it.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Papal Portrait

Whenever I see a shifty-looking portrait, I'm reminded of that political campaign against USA President Richard Nixon: Would you buy a used car from this man? German painter Michael Triegel's official portrait of Pope Benedict XVI (2010) makes the Pope look both shifty and pensive. Chubby too. It's one of the items on display in the recently opened exhibition Michael Triegel: Verwandlung der Götter (Metamorphosis of the Gods) which continues at the Museum der bildenden Künste in Leipzig, Germany, until 6 February 2011. Triegel paints a lot of peculiar religious stuff. Presumably that's the reason he got the job of painting the Pope.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Pirelli Calendar 2011

Meet Italian actress Elisa Sednaoui, the strikingly beautiful face of the Pirelli Calendar 2011. She represents Flora, the theme being Greek and Roman mythology. German fashion designer and photographer Karl Lagerfeld presented the 38th edition of the Pirelli Calendar to the Russian Mafia in Moscow. Apart from Elisa's face, I'm completely underwhelmed by Karl's attempt to titillate car mechanics around the world. The Pirelli Calendar 2011 is grey, cheerless, unimaginative.

The Last Caravaggio?

The Rembrandt House Museum is showing St John the Baptist Reclining (1610) under the exhibition heading The Last Caravaggio: World Premiere. This is the first time the work has been on public display in the four hundred years since it was painted. Experts reckon it's the real deal. A damned good clean might prove the experts right or wrong. It is filthy, and I've needed to play around with the gamma setting to bring out some of the details. (Click the title link for the original graphic.) The painting lacks the drama and story-telling of Caravaggio's earlier works, yet he did make something of a speciality of St John the Baptist and this rendering of the saint does show Caravaggio's mastery of anatomy. But that flat, lifeless background looks wrong.

Friday, 3 December 2010

News In Briefs

Union Jack BriefsLooking forward to 2011, here are some items of London art news in briefs. From June, selected pieces of the Government Art Collection will be shown at the Whitechapel Art Gallery. This is the first showing in a public gallery in the 113-year history of the collection (CLICK). The Dulwich Picture Gallery - the first purpose-built public art gallery in England - will be celebrating its 200th birthday by showing a masterpiece every month (CLICK). Tate Britain will undergo a £45m makeover starting next year and due for completion in 2013. The upper level of the building will be opened for the first time since 1927. Where's the cash coming from? Private donations have brought in £28.5m so far. Director Penelope Curtis reckons it'll be a doddle to raise the rest (CLICK).

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Oil Painters Show

I love this supercilious cherub with a teenager's face and a child's body. She's Sophie by Lucy McKie AROI, one of the paintings you'll find in the annual exhibition of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, which opens at the Mall Galleries in London on Wednesday 8 December and continues until Sunday 19 December. Highlights of the show include the Winsor & Newton under 35 Oil Painting Awards and The Artist magazine competition winner. Admission is £2.50 for adults and £1.50 for silver surfers.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Stars On Canvas

Tomorrow the Catto Gallery in London opens Stars On Canvas, an exhibition of doodles donated by celebrities to the Willow Foundation, a charity which provides special days for seriously ill 16 to 40 year olds. It was set up by goalkeeper Bob Wilson and his wife in memory of their daughter Anna, who died of cancer aged 31. The exhibition runs for only 3 days. The online auction of more than 300 canvases has already opened on eBay and closes on 6 December 2010. A bowl of fruit painted by Wayne Rooney must be the perfect Christmas pressie for a budding football hooligan. Astro Boy is by Jonathan Ross. Who? Mr Ross might have had a little help from artist Julie-Anne Gilburt, who touched up some of the celebrities' efforts. Click the title link to learn more.