Monday, 28 February 2011

Pizza Girl

The long-standing ban on product placement on British TV has been lifted, allowing advertisers to pay for their goods to be introduced into shows. So you can expect Coca-Cola bottles to appear on chat-show hosts' desks, but it is even worse than that. This graphic of C.C. from Japanese TV animated series Code Geass shows her tucking into a pizza from the show's sponsor, the Japanese branch of Pizza Hut. Her nickname is "Pizza Girl". The Telegraph has posted a slide show of product placements inflicted on movies and TV (CLICK). Thankfully the ban won't be lifted from children's TV programmes, news, current affairs, consumer affairs and the BBC (title link). Phew! Watch out for the big P.

Natalie Portman

How to look gorgeous when heavily pregnant: Natalie Portman on the red carpet prior to winning Best Actress Oscar for her role in Black Swan. Click the title link for a collection of BBC videos and news about the Oscars.

Oscar Shorts

Apart from Melissa Leo slipping the f*** word into her acceptance speech and being bleeped, the only real surprise at last night's Oscar awards ceremony was Shaun Tan's The Lost Thing winning Best Animated Short Film. Shaun graduated from the University of WA in 1995 with joint honours in Fine Arts and English Literature and works as a freelance artist and author in Melbourne. You need a fibre optic broadband connection for The Lost Thing website (CLICK). Hard cheese for my favourite The Gruffalo and also for Brit bird's-nest beauty Helena Bonham Carter. (Title link for full list.)

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Cora Sun-Drop

The Cora Sun-Drop Diamond, at 110 carats the largest vivid yellow pear-shaped diamond in the world, has gone on display in The Vault at the Natural History Museum in London. It has been lent to the museum for up to six months by US firm Cora International. Click the title link for a jerky (on my PC) video of model Jerry Hall flashing the gem to news cameramen. Eat your heart out, ladies. How many of you looked that good aged 25, let alone 55? And note she is 6 feet tall, the perfect height for a model.

London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week is over for another year. Usually my sole interest in this knobbly knees parade for spoilt women with more money than sense is when a supermodel goes arse over tit on the catwalk, but this year I spotted two things of interest. First, BBC Magazine posted an article on the ideal model, a "svelte blonde standing over 6ft with cascading platinum hair, dewy skin, lush lips and chiselled cheekbones" (above). Tall, good shoulders, slim hips and a flat chest are the physical requirements for fashion models. The only problem is that Andrej Pejic is a young man (CLICK). Whoops!

Second, the unrealistic demands on female fashion models shows in the gaunt face and bony shoulders of the anonymous girl on the left, strutting her skinny stuff in London last week. It seems we have learned nothing from Nolita's No Anorexia campaign in 2007 (below) which shows French model Isabelle Caro, who died of anorexia last year, aged 28. Madrid Fashion Week organisers have banned ultra-skinny models and Milan now demands medical certificates for those who are under weight (CLICK). What has London Fashion Week done to protect these young women? As far as I know, nothing.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

E-mail Scams

This is supposedly Anna Hernadez, dropping her knickers just for me. If I visit her website I'll see lots more of her. Really? I received an identical e-mail from a different girl. Russian Mafia, methinks. Then there are those religious widows in Africa who need help getting their dead husband's loot out of the country. They usual end their messages "God bless, dear". Nigerian Mafia. You've won the Euro Lottery; just send a few quid to your agent in Italy or Spain and he'll get you the readies; oh, and a few more quid and a few more.... Then there are those lonely British ladies who strike up an online relationship with one of our boys serving in Afghanistan and send him money, because he's a bit short. Thousands of pounds later, they discover they've been bankrolling criminals! The latest scam is a phone call from an Indian call centre claiming to represent Windows or Microsoft and advising you that your computer has a virus. Just follow the caller's directions to a website that will remove it. Oh yeah? Steal all your bank details, more like it. I've had five such calls this year. What can we do about such scams? Our police are useless. At last the Attorney General's Office has woken up to the fact that Brits are losing billions of pounds every year to foreign criminals. Yesterday the National Fraud Authority launched a dedicated e-mail service Action Fraud to which we can forward copies of all the e-mail scams we receive. Its address is (title link).

Scream II

The Scream Gallery in Westminster, London, recently opened Scream Collection Part II, which continues until 2 April (title link). This is an exhibition of etchings, lithographs and silkscreen prints by the likes of Salvador Dali, Joan Miro and Allen Jones RA. Shown is Salvador Dali's 1970 Lithograph Port Ligat (Venus with Drawers). The symbolism escapes me, except for the crutch to combat impotence. Could I have Venus without drawers, please?

Louise de Kérouaille

Here's another item in a Christie's sale, this time in London on 20 March: Portrait of Louise de Kérouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth (ca 1672) by the Studio of Sir Peter Lely. Christie's describes this as the "star piece" of its auction of property of the late Amanda Caroline Severne of Shakenhurst. The painting is filthy, so I've tweaked its contrast and gamma settings to bring out some of its detail. It appears to be a studio copy of a painting by Sir Peter Lely now owned by The J. Paul Getty Trust (CLICK). The Getty version is clearly by a master who captured the hard, calculating look of this beauty, whereas the version in the Christie's sale is merely a portrait of a beautiful young woman. A later portrait by Pierre Mignard also caught that calculating stare and showed her greed with a black slave-girl offering her a cornucopia of pearls, highly prized at that time (CLICK). An essay in New Zealand Art Monthly compares the Lely version, adding to the title "as a Shepherdess", with a portrait by Henry Gascard (CLICK). Louise was the favourite mistress of King Charles II of England. Born in Brittany, she was almost certainly employed by Louis XIV of France. She received titles and wealth from both countries. Incredibly, through her illegitimate son by Charles II - Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond - she is the ancestress of the two women Prince Charles has married: the late Diana, Princess of Wales, and Camilla Parker-Bowles (CLICK).

Friday, 25 February 2011

Mutt of the Month

When Jamie Wyeth's pet Labrador Kleberg got too close to the artist's current painting, Jamie painted a ring round Kleberg's eye as a joke, prompted by his recollection of Pete the Pup from an old series of short comedy films "Our Gang" or "The Little Rascals". Visitors to Jamie's farm/studio were so amused by the unusual marking that he kept retouching it using moustache dye, which lasted about a month. The above Study of Kleberg (1984) - one of a series of 12 - comes up for auction at Christie's in New York on 3 March, estimated value $40,000 to $60,000 (title link).

E-fit of Suspect

This is an e-fit issued today of a suspect London's Metropolitan Police want to question over an attempted armed robbery in Canning Town last Monday 21 February. A shotgun was fired at a woman, who had locked the doors of her car when two men approached her. Then the two ran off. She was slightly injured. The Met's Trident division, which deals with gun crime in the black community, is investigating. Click the title link for more information.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Catherine Zeta Jones CBE

Congratulations to Welsh actress Catherine Zeta Jones, who was made a CBE by Prince Charles at an investiture ceremony in Buckingham Palace today (title link). The honour recognises the star's services to charity as well as to the film industry. She was accompanied at the ceremony by her husband, US actor Michael Douglas, and their two children Dylan and Carys. A proud day.

Ashcan Painters

On 3 March the National Gallery in London opens a small, free exhibition with a long title: An American Experiment: George Bellows and the Ashcan Painters (as in Dustbin?). George Bellows's The Big Dory (1913) is one of these paintings "never before seen in the UK". There'll be only 12 of them on display, so this is an exhibition to visit during your lunchtime or if passing. Click the title link for more about George Bellows and his Ashcan friends: William Glackens, George Luks, John Sloan and their teacher Robert Henri.

Musicals Stamps

Today Royal Mail issued a new set of stamps to celebrate 70 years of musical theatre in London's West End (title link). The shows chosen are Oliver, Blood Brothers, We Will Rock You, Monty Python's Spamalot, Me and My Girl, Return to the Forbidden Planet and Billy Elliot. What makes this set especially interesting is that Royal Mail has posted a YouTube video showing excerpts from the musicals and interviews with some of their stars, as well as providing information about the stamps (CLICK). Did you know that it takes two years to develop a new set of stamps?

Flesh Art

Before you all hare off to the London Miles Gallery for its tattoo fest Pens and Needles (title link) remember that tattoos, like pets, are for life. Sunderland charity the Human Life Trust has recently opened a branch in Chiswick to provide free removal of unwanted tattoos for unemployed Londoners (CLICK for a BBC video; CLICK for the charity). If you want the NHS to remove a tat, first you must convince a shrink that you'll go barking mad if it isn't removed. Good luck! Caution aside, the opening reception of Pens and Needles will take place at Westbourne Studios on Friday 25 February from 7pm to 11pm. A host of top tattoo artists have been booked for the exhibition.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

RBS Shortlist

The Shortlist Exhibition for the Royal British Society of Sculptors' FIRST@108 Public Art Award 2011 opens tomorrow at the Studio Gallery in London and continues until 25 March (title link). The show gives you the chance to comment on the five artists' maquette proposals prior to the jury's selection of the winner, who will receive £10,000 to produce his or her finished piece. Judging by the photos I've found, including Chief and Venus by Nick Turvey ARBS, the Society has abandoned figurative sculpture in favour of meaningless junk. Shame. In case you're wondering, that's Chief on the left and Venus on the right. She looks like the Michelin Man deflated.

Master Paintings Week

The 3rd Master Paintings Week will take place in London from 1 to 8 July. This is a collaboration between London's top auction houses - Bonhams, Christie’s and Sotheby’s - and 23 commercial galleries in Mayfair and St James’s, all of which will hold special sales and exhibitions to showcase the unrivalled art expertise to be found in London. Click the title link for a list of participants. The press release for Master Paintings Week has already introduced me to to a lesser-known Dutch old master: Jan Daemen Cool (1589-1660). His An Unknown Lady (1634) reminds us that Lady Gaga isn't the first wealthy woman to indulge herself with silly fashions and certainly won't be the last.

Fatwa on Gaddafi

About time for psychiatric intervention, you might think. Sunni cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi has issued a fatwa against Colonel Gaddafi. So, the sociopath might be granted his wish for martyrdom before the psychiatrists arrive.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Sickert Discovery

This painting in muddy oil paints on canvas, The Blind Sea Captain (ca 1914) by Walter Sickert ARA, has emerged after 80 years in obscurity. It was last seen in 1930 when it was loaned for exhibition by Sir Cyril Kendall Butler. His granddaughter has put it up for auction at Bonhams in London on the 9 March (CLICK). Its estimated value is £40,000 to £60,000. Sickert was considered avant-garde in his day, infamous for his ghastly nudes entitled The Camden Town Murder and a leading light in the Camden Town Group of artists. He is credited with helping to push British art from Impressionism to Modernism, so he has a lot to answer for! Click the title link to see more.

Justin Bieber's Head

What are they doing to weeny-bopper heartthrob Justin Bieber? Seeing if fame has swollen his head? No, the baby-faced Canadian pop singer is being measured for his waxwork for Madame Tussauds in London. It will cost £150,000 to create, but I'm sure Madame Tussauds will make a handsome profit out of it. Girlie queues will be a mile long when the new waxwork is unveiled in March.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Susanne Kühn

Here's a detail from Susanne Kühn's The Couple (Das Paar) to show you the type of tricks she plays on the eye. Look closely and you'll see that the woman in the painting has no legs; her torso rests on the drapery. Suzanne received classical art training in her home country Germany, then moved to the USA for post-graduate studies. The result is as though Vermeer had collaborated with Escher. Using the clean, vibrant colours of acrylic paints, Susanne depicts domestic interiors and landscapes which require more than one viewing to spot every deception. Her first exhibition at Haunch of Venison in London opened a few day ago and continues until 2 April (title link). Highly recommended.
CLICK for the Essential Vermeer website.
CLICK for the official M.C. Escher website.

Diamond Jubilee Emblem

Today's big arts story in the UK is that the Queen's official 2012 Diamond Jubilee emblem has been released. 10-year-old Katherine Dewar won Blue Peter's nationwide competition with this design, chosen from 35,000 entries. Her design incorporates all the essential elements - title, crown, flag, diamonds and 60 years - in a simple and instantly recognizable image. If only she had designed the 2012 London Olympiad logo, which hasn't improved with age. Katherine is as cute as a button and brimming with self-confidence, as you can see from the BBC video (title link). Well done, Katherine. Congratulations.

World Ice Art

The BP World Ice Art Championships 2011, presented by Ice Alaska, opens today at 10am and continues until 5 March. The Ice Park remains open until 27 March, so that visitors can view the sculptures before they melt. The theme this year is Dream Big. If you have a special interest in ice art - maybe you'd like to try it yourself - you can watch web cams to follow what's going on (title link).

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Life Model

A new bronze statue? No, this is life model Rosemarie Orwin covered in gold body paint posing as Golden Apples. I thought I'd catch up with what Rosemarie has been doing since I posted an article on her interview for BBC Wiltshire a few years ago (CLICK). Since then she's expanded her modelling range to include posing for body art, fashion, photographers and sculptors. She organises her own life-drawing workshops, figurative art classes, study trips, retreats and even corporate events. She runs her own agency Modelled Me UK (title link) which also gives new models their chance to shine. A busy lady. I wonder how she finds any spare time to pose.

Sheila Hancock on Art

A programme on BBC One this evening at 6pm might be interesting: Sheila Hancock Brushes Up: The Art of Watercolours (title link). This is a 60-minute journey across Europe and India to find locations that inspired Brits to get out their paint brushes. I assume the programme was made to coincide with the exhibition Watercolour which opened a few days ago at Tate Britain (CLICK). It has an educational feel to it, but isn't so patronizing as the Tate approach. I can't imagine Sheila Hancock being patronizing. She's been a watercolour enthusiast since childhood; her father was an amateur watercolourist. My guess is that she will make a pleasant change from Auntie's usual fare of arrogant art historians with no intuition about art and cocky girl presenters with skin-deep hots for subjects they know nothing about. "Amazing!" they cry. Nobody can accuse the BBC of being ageist on this show!

Saturday, 19 February 2011


The Mall Galleries in London have gone all poetic with their latest offering, which runs from 21 to 26 February: Landscapes of Sunlight and Evening in British Art by the Society of Landscape Painters. "This retrospective exhibition pays homage to the rich flowering of landscape painting in Britain in the late 20th and early 21st century." Surely they could have found a better painting than this daub with which to promote the show: Harvest, Provence by Frederick Gore CBE RA. It looks like something one of the Crays knocked up in Parkhurst. Still, admission is free. You can't grumble at that.

Che Image Copyright

This pop painting of revolutionary Che Guevara became one of the most iconic images of the late 20th Century. It was a fashion accessory for teenagers, whether they had anything to revolt about or not. But how many of us know the name of the artist who created it? The image was released into the public domain in 1968 for idealistic reasons by Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick. He is now disillusioned with the "crass commercial" uses of his artwork and has decided to apply for copyright. He isn't after any money for himself. He would like the copyright and any money it gains to go to Che Guevara's family, perhaps to help poor children in Cuba. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Norma Jean

Years after her death, the glamour of Marilyn Monroe still hasn't faded. Previously unseen collections of photos of the star fetch good prices when they come up for sale or are published in books. She was still young Norma Jean when she posed for this painting by Earl Moran. The work caused fierce bidding when it came up for sale at Heritage Auctions in Beverly Hills a week ago. It sold for $83,650 (£51,494), more than seven times the pre-sale estimate, and almost doubled Moran's record at auction.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Emin For No 10

Prime Minister David Cameron has proved he is a philistine and a snob by inviting Tracey Emin to make one of her neon signs for No 10 Downing Street (title link). How much will her rubbish cost the taxpayer? Larry, the new mouser at No 10, isn't impressed (CLICK). He knows there are an estimated two rats for every human in London - that's about 16 million rats, some as big as Yorkies - and not enough rat-catchers to go around. Cats are mousers. If Cameron wants to catch rats, he needs a Jack Russell Terrier. Catching rats is what they were originally bred for, when cats proved useless. Note: if you don't believe that Tracey Emin produces rubbish, CLICK for The Telegraph slide show of her latest exhibits. I won't sully my blog with them.

Banksy in Hollywood

Banksy is in Los Angeles, doing his graffiti thing while he awaits the Oscars on 27 February. His film Exit Through the Gift Shop has been nominated in the best documentary category. So far, residents have woken up to find a dog urinating up a wall in Beverly Hills, a young boy brandishing a machine gun loaded with crayons, a drunken Mickey Mouse fondling a model's breast on a billboard over Sunset Boulevard with Minnie too drugged to care, entitled Livin' The Dream - quickly removed - and the above Charlie Burn with a cigarette in his mouth pouring a can of petrol. Photos have been posted on Banksy's website to prove they're genuine (title link).

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Video Game BAFTAs

From a statuette of Queen Nefertiti (next post down) to the contenders for this year's BAFTA video game awards, a jump of about 3,000 years; but it's all art. Only the technology has changed. As I don't play these games, I thought I'd explore the graphics of the seven contenders in the category Artistic Achievement - Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, Call of Duty, Black Ops, God of War III, Heavy Rain, LIMBO and Mass Effect 2 - and see if I could spot a winner. I was surprised to find that LIMBO is in black and white and that Heavy Rain incorporated some excellent full frontal nudes which were censored before distribution (see below). The artistic quality of all seven games is very high, but the graphic I thought outstanding is the above screenshot from Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, developed by Ubisoft Entertainment, Ubisoft Montreal. It succeeds in combining the beauty of traditional landscape with the melodrama of battle. Its depth perception is impeccable. So that's my tip for winner of Artistic Achievement. The awards ceremony takes place at the London Hilton on 16 March. Click the title link for the complete shortlist.

Nefertiti Missing

Here's another statuette looted from the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo and still missing. It shows Pharaoh Akhenaten's chief wife, Queen Nefertiti, making offerings. This is a much better photo than the ones of Tutankhamun I posted on Sunday. It is vital that museums put quality photos of their treasures online.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011


Another exhibition which opened today is Watercolour at Tate Britain, claimed to be "The most ambitious exhibition about watercolour ever to be staged, with works spanning 800 years" (title link). Assistant Curator Anna Austen is "really excited to see such a vast selection of watercolours on display". Glad to know you're excited, Anna. Pity you ruined the effect by throwing in Big Names Anish Kapoor and Tracey Emin. I can't imagine either of those inartistic RA's painting a competent watercolour. And what about arguably our greatest watercolourist John Sell Cotman? Heard of him? If my preview seems a little sour, it's partly because Tate Britain has adopted the patronizing stance that it will "challenge your preconceptions of what watercolour is". Oh yeah? Another grumble is the price of entry: adults £12.70, silver surfers £10.90, too much for raiding its vaults. Star of the show is JMW Turner's The Blue Rigi, Sunrise (1842) which cost £5.8m to save for the nation.

Brit Design Awards

The exhibition of shortlisted entries for the 4th annual Brit Insurance Design Awards opened today at the Design Museum in London and runs until 7 August (title link). This is an international competition to showcase the most innovative designs from around the world. It includes everything from architecture to an elegant "designer" coffin (groan). Angry Birds by Rovio Mobile from Finland is a contender in the Interactive Category. CLICK for a BBC News video in which curator Alex Newson points out some gems.

LS Lowry Statue

This head of L.S. Lowry is part of a life-sized clay model for a bronze statue by Peter Hodgkinson to mark the 35th anniversary of the artist's death, next Wednesday 23 February. Lowry frequented the bar of Sam's Chop House in Manchester, first as a rent collector and later as a client. The pub's current owner, Roger Ward, decided to commission the statue to enable his famous client to resume his seat at the bar. Very enterprising. As far as I know, this is an art first. Photos of Lowry by Sefton Samuels will form an exhibition at the pub. The final delivery of the 300kg bronze statue next Monday will be something to see: it will arrive by dray wagon (heavy horses) and be passed through the pub's largest window by a team of weightlifters. It will be unveiled on the 23rd. Click the title link for a BBC slide show.

Papi Indicted

At the risk of being accused of having a fixation on Ruby's boobs, I bring you the latest news. Spaghetti PM Silvio "Papi" Berlusconi has been indicted to stand trial on charges of paying for sex with an under-age girl and abuse of power. Examining judge Cristina Di Censo set the trial date for 6 April. I looked up Cristina Di Censo on Facebook and found she likes Farmville, but she looks far too young to be a judge. The worst news for Papi is that his trial will take place in front of three female judges! If they're of the same ilk as those man-haters who infest the Family Division of the Royal Courts of Justice in London, they've already found him guilty of the sex charge, despite the alleged victim's denials. As for his alleged abuse of power, he claims he thought Karima El Mahroug was the granddaughter of Egypt's recently deposed president Hosni Mubarak and that he was merely doing a favour for a fellow head of state. It seems that someone has been pulling Papi's leg. The damsel in distress? By the way, I first became interested in Papi's doings when he was accused of vandalizing works of art (CLICK, CLICK, CLICK). Since then he's become a running gag too chucklesome to ignore.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Dr Who at Olympia

Did you know that James Acheson, who designed the monstrous K1 robot for Doctor Who in 1974, has since won three Oscars for Costume Design: The Last Emperor, Dangerous Liaisons and Restoration? It's one of the facts in The Telegraph slide show of photos from The Doctor Who Experience at Olympia Two in London (CLICK). The photographer appears to have taken along the older brother of that Tiny Tots art critic I remarked upon recently (CLICK). The show takes off on 20 February and zooms along until 30 November, with family tickets for 4 starting at £46. However, if you have oodles of cash, you could go one up on the Joneses' kids by booking a preview ticket for 17, 18 or 19 November; booking opened today (CLICK). The title link takes you to the EC&O website.

Mall Galleries

On 21 February the Mall Galleries in London open two free exhibitions, both of which run until 26 February. The first is The Wapping Group of Artists: London and its River. The group meets every week between April and September to paint various stretches of the River Thames. Shown above is Alan Runagall's accomplished watercolour Late Summer, Richmond Bridge. About 100 works in various media will be for sale. The second exhibition is Rhoda Pepys - Paintings of a Century: Retrospective of a South African Woman Artist. This doesn't look so promising; but it is free.

Monday, 14 February 2011

A Year With MI6

To mark its centenary, Britain's Secret Intelligence Service MI6 offered artist James Hart Dyke a year's access to its seedy world. He had to sign the Official Secrets Act at MI6 Headquarters before being let loose ... er ... slightly loose with his canvases and brushes. His painting above Waiting in the Hotel Room (2010) shows what MI6 agents mainly do. Let's hope some of them tune in to Channel 4's Dispatches: Lessons In Hate and Violence this evening at 8pm to find out how Muslim extremists are radicalized. BBC News has posted a slide show of some of Dyke's paintings: CLICK. The exhibition A Year With MI6, showing 40 oil paintings and about 25 sketches and prints, opens tomorrow at Mount Street Galleries in London (title link).

Anti-Silvio Protests

It seems the appetite for popular revolutions has reached Europe. Thousands of women marched in Italian cities on Sunday, as did like-minded females in Paris and Madrid, to protest against Spaghetti PM Silvio Berlusconi's treatment of women. A protester in Naples displayed an artificial bottom to make her point. Very artistic, dear, but too flabby for Silvio. Teenage underwear model Noemi Letizia shows off the style of bottom "Papi" prefers. The protesters assert that the PM demeans women, an illogical claim when he obviously enjoys their company, especially when they're 17 years old. He pays them well too: £5,900 ($9,400) to Ruby alone. Will Sunday's protests topple the old boy? We'll have to wait and see. Click the title link to view a BBC slide show.

BAFTA Awards

Few surprises at the BAFTA Awards yesterday. The King's Speech won a fistful of awards, including best film, best actor for Colin Firth and best supporting actress for Helena Bonham Carter. Natalie Portman won best actress for her role in Black Swan. Any actress that spends an entire year on a strict regime of dieting, exercise and dancing just to get in shape for her role before filming starts deserves every accolade she gets. Hard cheese for How To Train Your Dragon, pipped at the post by Toy Story 3 for best animated feature film. Watch out for Inception, which won 3 awards, including special visual effects. Click the title link for the full list.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Museum Looted

Art news is coming in thick and fast today. Following an inventory, Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass announced that 18 artifacts were stolen from the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo when looters broke in a fortnight ago (CLICK for my previous report). One of the missing items is a gilded wooden statue of the boy-king Tutankhamun being carried aloft by a goddess (above left). Parts of another statue of Tutankhamun harpooning something have also been stolen (above right). Whale? Crocodile? Click the title link for more information.

Striding Man Down

Breaking news: a giant metal sculpture of a Striding Man (2008) with attendant flying birds by Scottish artist Andy Scott has been demolished in a car accident (title link). The sculpture stood on a roundabout in Tullibody, Clackmannanshire, Scotland. It now looks like a pile of scrap metal. This is the problem with roundabouts: impatient drivers have a tendency to cut across them. Living near a roundabout makes me aware of this danger. It's one of the reasons I object to the London Borough of Redbridge wasting public money on an egg whisk to tower over Gants Hill Roundabout (CLICK).

Berne Convention

Ascalon Studios Inc. is a design firm specializing in public sculptures, monuments, memorials and stained-glass artworks throughout North America (title link). The picture shows David Ascalon's winning entry in an international design competition to create a Holocaust Memorial for the Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg. Note the spiral of blocks around the column, representing the rusty barbed wire of Nazi concentration camps. The memorial was completed in 1994. A decade or so later the spiral developed flaws. So the Jewish Federation and the Pennsylvanian Department of Parks and Recreation decided it should be restored. The symbolically rusty spiral was replaced with stainless steel; David's name was removed from the memorial and the restorers scratched their own names into its surface. What a cheek! In 2010 David took the Parks Department and the Jewish Federation to court under the US Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA), which was enacted to conform to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (CLICK). So this case isn't limited to US law. It has world-wide significance. After amicable discussions, the parties agreed that David would remake the “barbed wire” spiral in highly durable rust-coloured steel and his name would be restored to the memorial. This case demonstrates that even when a work of art is sold, under the Berne Convention the artist retains rights on how it is treated and disposed of.

Watteau: Drawings

At last, the Royal Academy of Arts is to open an art exhibition worthy of the name! Forget all that tosh in Modern British Sculpture and the hopeless experiments of its students. This one is worth a tenner (£8 silver surfers) because it includes a £2.50 gallery guide in its price and it is the first retrospective of this artist's drawings in the UK. Watteau: The Drawings opens in the Sackler Wing of Galleries on 12 March and runs until 5 June. French artist Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684–1721) was a master of the trois crayons technique (three chalks) as you can see in his trois crayons drawing of a young girl above. White is for highlights, red for flesh tones and medium tones, black for shadow and darker tones. The technique produces a more in-depth drawing than a pencil sketch. The exhibition contains over 80 such works on paper. Watteau used them as references for his paintings.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Premiums 2011

Yesterday the Royal Academy of Arts opened Premiums, its annual exhibition of postgraduate students in their second year at Royal Academy Schools. This is the public's chance to predict the Big Names of the future and to buy an artwork for as little as £250. Archie Franks' Fuseli (2010) is an example of what to expect. It makes me despair of contemporary art. Remember, Franks had to graduate from an art college before he could apply to study at the RA. After five years of study, he produces an oil painting that a 6-year-old could paint! Obviously a potential Big Name. The show continues in the Sackler Wing of Galleries until 20 February (title link). Admission is free.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Islamic Justice

Jodi Bieber's powerful photo portrait of Afghan teenager Bibi Aisha, which was featured on the August cover of Time magazine, has won the World Press Photo award for 2010. Bibi fled an arranged marriage, due to her husband's violence. The Taliban caught up with her and decided on her fate according to Sharia law. Her brother-in-law held her down while her husband sliced off her nose and ears. She was then discarded. Aid workers and the American military rescued her. She is now receiving reconstructive surgery in the USA. Click the title link for The Telegraph slide show of winners.
If you're a Muslim girl in the UK threatened by a forced marriage, telephone Honour Network helpline: 0800 5999 247.

Bacon Triptych

Francis Bacon's Three Studies For A Portrait Of Lucian Freud (1965) fetched £23m ($37m) at Sotheby's sale in London yesterday. Another anonymous buyer. A fool and his money are soon parted. Let's hope it goes abroad.