Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Doggy Paintings

Here's a British artist I haven't come across before, probably because he specialized in painting dogs for the upper crust. Reuben Ward Binks (1860-1945) trained at Manchester Art School. His career took off when Lorna, Countess of Howe, commissioned him to paint her sporting dogs. She was so impressed by his work that she recommended him to her royal contacts. Kings George V, Edward VIII and George VI all commissioned paintings from him. He spent more than eight months in residence painting the gun dogs of the Maharajah Dhiraj of Patiala. He also travelled twice to America, where he painted over 200 portraits of Mrs Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge's champion pooches. Thirty-one of his paintings come up for sale in Bonhams' New York auction Dogs in Show & Field: The Fine Art Sale on 15 February. The above watercolour up for grabs is Black Retriever with Duck, estimated value $1,000 to $1,500 (title link).


The latest exhibition at Tate Britain opened today: Migrations (title link). This explores how British art was shaped by waves of immigration from 1500 to the present day, beginning with 16th and 17th century Flemish and Dutch landscape and still-life painters who came to Britain in search of new patrons. James Tissot's Portsmouth Dockyard (c.1877) is a beautiful example of this theme. However the choice of poster to promote the show is inappropriate. What has Keith Piper's Go West Young Man (1987) have to do with migration to Britain? The famous quotation is American and the historic diagram of slaves on a slave ship depicts how they were transported from Africa to America and the West Indies, not to Britain. Its use suggests the show is more about propaganda than a serious attempt to survey foreign art talent in Britain. Migrations runs until 12 August, admission £6 for adults, £5 for silver surfers.
A BBC London video shows modern rubbish (CLICK).

Monday, 30 January 2012

New ACE Fund

Only a few days ago I reported that Arts Council England (ACE) had money to burn (CLICK). It's now offering a total of £37m in arts grants to 70 local authorities it claims aren't "engaging" with the arts (title link). Redbridge's neighbouring borough of Barking and Dagenham is one of those councils ACE names. Only six years ago B&D funded a major project - Barking Artscape - to regenerate Barking town centre (CLICK). That was just before the recession. Since then, councils up and down the country have faced massive cuts in Government grants. Old people are being neglected, the disabled losing financial benefits, play centres closed, clubs for teenagers axed, libraries shut, students faced with tuition debts and most of us feeling the pinch. In the current climate, any council that wastes money on frivolous arts projects is likely to anger its residents. Okay, the money on offer from ACE is National Lottery funds, not tax-payers' money, but that's not the point. Look at the outrage sparked by bankers' bonuses. Councillors ready to risk public wrath, CLICK for the ACE Creative People and Places Fund. The above example of "art" is Chris Ofili's zinc plate etching 11.4.93 Easter Sunday (1993) from The Arts Council Collection. Groan!

Medieval Barn

English Heritage bought this Grade I-listed Harmondsworth Barn in west London for £20,000 last year to save it from neglect and decay. Built in 1426 for Winchester College, it has an interior worthy of the nave of a large medieval church. No coincidence perhaps, as it was built to store grain from the lands of the Bishop of Winchester. Profits from the grain funded Winchester College. It was still in use until the 1970s and is the best preserved and largest surviving medieval timber barn in England. English Heritage will open the barn to the public on two Sundays a month from April to October and hopes to open it every Sunday in the same period the following year. Click the title link for more information.
Update: BBC London News has posted a video: CLICK.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Top 10 Stolen Artists

The Art Loss Register™ (CLICK) has released a list of the top 10 artists with most works stolen:
1) Pablo Picasso - 1,147
2) Nick Lawrence - 557
3) Marc Chagall - 516
4) Karel Appel - 505
5) Salvador Dali - 505
6) Joan Miro - 478
7) David Levine - 343
7) Andy Warhol - 343
9) Rembrandt - 337
10) Peter Reinicke - 336.
That Picasso tops the list is hardly surprising. He churned out his rubbish in vast quantities and art thieves are generally tasteless clots. A worrying statistic from ALR is that 40 per cent of art thefts occurred in Britain and only 16 per cent in America. And we think we're good at protecting art in the UK. How complacent! The painting above is Rembrandt's The Child and the Soap Bubble, stolen from the Municipal Museum of Draguignan, a former convent in southeastern France (title link).

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Turner in Margate

Today, Turner Contemporary in Margate, Kent, opened a major exhibition of Turner paintings: Turner and the Elements (title link). The show brings together 76 of his watercolours and 12 late oil paintings, many from the Tate in London. Above is Turner's The New Moon (1840) subtitled I've lost My Boat, You shan't have Your Hoop. The show runs until 13 May, admission free. CLICK for a BBC slide show of some of the pictures.

Tiwani Contemporary

Today BBC News posted a video about Tiwani Contemporary, a new African art gallery in London, 16 Little Portland Street, W1W 8BP. There's only one problem: the video shows the inaugural exhibition The Tie that Binds Us, which closed a week ago (CLICK). Whoops! Bit late, Auntie. The next exhibition - curated in Paris, not Africa - is Synchronicity II, which runs from 3 February to 17 March. Whatever happened to Synchronicity I? Bombed in Paris? I'm afraid Tiwani Contemporary is typical of contemporary art galleries in that it is long on bull and short on talent (title link). I know a number of talented African artists who could do far better than what I've seen of Tiwani tripe.


Look carefully and you'll see Peruvian artist Cecilia Paredes in one of her Camouflage Body Series photos, face down with her arms outstretched. This one is Rhythmic Garland (2009). As Cecilia can't paint her own body, she needs an artist to do that for her. So I guess that makes her a conceptual artist. She comes up with the idea and a real artist does the biz. If you fancy playing Spot the Cecilia, The Telegraph has posted a slide show some wag has called Wallflower (title link).

Friday, 27 January 2012

Brothel Token?

The Museum of London has put on display what is believed to be a Roman brothel token, depicting a couple on a couch with the number 14 on the other side. Service 14? The mind boggles. This is probably the first such token - a spintria - to have been discovered in Britain, certainly in London. It was discovered in Thames mud by that new breed of mudlark using a metal detector. Little is known about these brothel tokens. Could they have been the Roman way of solving an early euro crisis? Christine Lagarde of the IMF take note. The display runs until April.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

ACE Bonfire

Arts Council England (ACE) has money to burn. It donated £3,000 to the second Manchester Artists' Bonfire (CLICK). Around 30 purported artists will be paid to burn their unsold rubbish (title link). Organisers claim this is "a research project into art and activism...beneficial to supporting artists and discussing art in a new way...." What a load of ACE bullshit, attempting to justify wasting money. ACE's budget needs slashing again.

Hajj at BM

For some reason best known to itself, Outlook Express put the latest e-letter from the British Museum straight into my junk box. Having transferred it to my inbox, I found that the museum is bragging about staging the world's first Hajj exhibition: Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam (title link). There is nothing artistic or interesting about this show, which opened today and runs till 15 April. It depicts centuries of religious lunacy and hints at the creeping Islamization of Britain. Even the BBC video couldn't spark my interest: CLICK. And do note the new form of apartheid: one entrance for Muslims only, another for non-Muslims. Who in his right mind is going to pay £12 for this?

Works on Paper Fair

The Science Museum, South Kensington, London, once again hosts the Watercolours + Works on Paper Fair, from 2 to 5 February (title link). Leading art dealers from across the UK will be showing original drawings, watercolours, prints, photographs and posters from the 16th Century to the modern day. Prices start at £500. The watercolour above is John Absolon's The Transept from the South Gallery, The Great Exhibition of 1851, exhibited by Guy Peppiatt Fine Art. It will set you back £12,500. Admission to the fair costs £12 in advance or £15 on the door. No concessions for silver surfers!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Pirates Update

Aardman Animations has heeded the complaint from Lepra Health in Action about a leper's arm falling off in the trailer to The Pirates! Band of Misfits (CLICK). A spokesman for Aardman said the scene would be changed "out of respect and sensitivity" for leprosy sufferers (title link). The movie is due to be released in March.

Panda Tartan

While I'm on the subject of fashion, here's the latest Scottish tartan: a Panda Tartan. Edinburgh Zoo is so chuffed with its new pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang, on 10-year loan from China, that it commissioned a local firm to create the new tartan. The panda colours are obvious. What is difficult to see in the photo is a triple red stripe which runs through the tartan, representing China and the lucky number 3 (title link). This could be a nice little earner for the zoo. Imagine millions of Chinese decked out in Panda Tartan. But will they plump for kilts?

Golden Spider Silk

Today a cape and shawl made of golden spider silk went on display at the V&A Museum, London, in Room 17a. Admission is free (title link). Simon Peers and Nicholas Godley fashioned these garments from the silk of more than one million female golden orb-weaver spiders collected in the highlands of Madagascar. The colour is natural. Take a close look at the graphic and you'll see one of the spiders embroidered. CLICK for a BBC video.

Abject Expressionism?

I recently came across an unfamiliar art term: Abject Expressionism. Abstract Expressionism, a post-WW II New York phenomenon, keeps raising its ugly head, mainly in the dire tripe of Mark Rothko and Jackson "Jack the Dribbler" Pollock (CLICK). But Abject Expressionism? The earliest mention I found is in the title of a book by Ron English: ABJECT EXPRESSIONISM: The Art of Ron English (2007). Do I detect a touch of Ron's humour in this title? Anyway, the Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA) uses the term in its latest exhibition: L.A. RAW: Abject Expressionism in Los Angeles 1945-1980, From Rico Lebrun to Paul McCarthy (title link). It seems to mean "figurative expressionism", example William Brice's Untitled (Malibu Figure) from 1968. If you're thinking of visiting the show, note that discretion is advised: "This exhibition contains mature content". Oo-er.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Oscar Nominations

Martin Scorsese's 3D adventure film Hugo, starring young Londoner Asa Butterfield in the title role, leads the pack at this year's Academy Awards with 11 nominations. The Artist, starring an incredibly cute Jack Russell terrier named Uggie nominated for the Golden Collar Award (CLICK), comes second with 10 nominations. CLICK for the rest. As regular readers know, I home in on the Best Animated Feature Films. Shock! Horror! No nomination for The Adventures Of Tintin or Arthur Christmas! The nominations are for A Cat in Paris, Chico and Rita, Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss in Boots and Rango. Having viewed their trailers, I haven't the slightest interest in sitting through any of these poorly animated and/or unfunny feature films next Christmas. Groan! Click the title link for the full list of nominees. The Adventures Of Tintin appears under Best Original Score, a cracker by John Williams.

Rockwell's America 2

Remember Norman Rockwell's America at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, which I previewed in 2010 and described as "a must" (CLICK)? English journalist and historian Paul Johnson, writing in the December/January 2012 issue of The American Spectator magazine, has judged the exhibition London's best in 2011 (title link). He remarks on the enduring popularity of Rockwell's direct pictorial storytelling and, conversely, its unpopularity with art critics. "Of course the art critics hated him... He left them with no function to perform. He spoke directly to the public" (title link). Yup.

In Numbers at ICA

It's a miracle! Tomorrow the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts) opens an exhibition that might actually be worth seeing: In Numbers: Serial Publications by Artists Since 1955, previously shown in New York. It's an international collection of what one might term "underground" art publications. Above is a detail from Buster Cleveland's ArtForum (1993—1998). CLICK for the full graphic. The show is free and comes with a warning: "This exhibition contains provocative material that may cause offence and is unsuited for minors" (title link). What are you waiting for?

Monday, 23 January 2012

Kids In Museums

Last year I twice posted news of the Wallace Collection's surprising use of children as curators in its Shhh! It’s a Secret exhibition (CLICK). Recently the Kids in Museums charity launched its 2012 Manifesto at the Wallace Collection (CLICK). The Manifesto is compiled from visitors’ comments, including children, teenagers and families. More than 300 museums now use it as a guide to becoming more family friendly. Why not libraries too? Click the title link to read the Manifesto. The illustration is Quentin Blake's design for the Kids in Museums Logo.

Happy New Year

Although today is the start of the Chinese New Year, the main celebrations in London - the largest outside Asia - take place on Sunday 29. The day starts at 10.15am with a parade on Rupert Street and ends with a firework display in Trafalgar Square at 5.40pm. And it's free. Click the title link for the full timings.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

China Art Sales

Whatever you think of Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne's slash-and-burn budgets, you must admit his plan to make London a major international centre for trading China's currency is a shrewd idea (CLICK). Take a look at Qi Baishi's Eagle Standing on Pine Tree and you'll see what I mean. It was auctioned by China Guardian Auctions Co. Ltd in Beijing for more than RMB 425.5 million (USD 67.4 million, £43m), making it the most expensive artwork sold at auction anywhere in the world in 2011 (CLICK). The Beijing auction house sold over 29,700 lots last year for more than RMB 11.2 billion (USD 1.77 billion, £1.13b). Click the title link to view some of its prize goodies.

Audubon's Birds

In case you're wondering what happened to that rare first edition set of John James Audubon's Birds of America I mentioned a fortnight ago (CLICK), it fetched $7.9m at Christie's New York auction yesterday. CLICK to view the four-volume set, which stands 3 and a half feet tall. The title link takes you to a Telegraph slide show of some of the 400 plates.

Vermeer's Women 2

Back in September I previewed the Fitzwilliam Museum's exhibition Vermeer's Women: Secrets and Silence (CLICK), which brought Vermeer's The Lacemaker (c.1669-70) to the UK for the first time, on loan from the Musée du Louvre, Paris. The exhibition closed on 15 January and proved to be the Fitzwilliam's most successful show ever, attracting well over 150,000 visitors. The final Saturday brought in a record 6,000 visitors. Critics, scholars and the public loved the show, which it is claimed has set a new standard for exhibitions outside London (CLICK). The title link takes you to the museum's website to see what else it has to offer.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Valentines Mansion

Valentines Mansion in Valentines Park, Ilford, will reopen to the public on Tuesday 24 January, following its winter clean. This grade 2 listed building has a recreated Victorian kitchen and Georgian rooms plus historic gardens surrounded by parkland. The top floor of the mansion has been converted to artists' studios. Open days provide the opportunity to visit these studios, meet the artists and view their work. Among forthcoming events, I noticed a free film screening of Satyajit Ray's multiple award-winning masterpiece Pather Panchali (1955) at 6.30pm on Friday 3 February. No need to book, but spaces are limited; first come first served. Click the title link for more information.

Bad Day at Black Rock

If you're one of the UK's nearly three million unemployed, cheer up. You get to view classic movies in the afternoon, whereas all that workers get to view when they come home are cookery shows, quizzes, celebrities visiting places and general cheapo rubbish (excepting Earthflight, of course). Today's offering on Channel 4 at 1.35pm is John Sturges' Bad Day at Black Rock (1955). From the moment you watch the title sequence of a train speeding through an American desert, you know you're in the hands of a master. One-armed Spencer Tracy dismounts from the train at Black Rock and walks into trouble with three of Hollywood's greatest heavies: Robert Ryan, Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin. The fight scene in which Tracy demolishes a cock-sure Borgnine is one of the best fight sequences ever filmed. Terrific.

Crazy Coffins

May I interest you in a Cocoa Bean Coffin, sir? The Southbank Centre in London is celebrating death with a series of displays. Its latest offering opened today: Boxed: Fabulous Coffins from UK and Ghana, a free exhibition of bespoke coffins supplied by Crazy Coffins in Nottingham and the Pa Joe workshop in Ghana (title link). The show lasts until 29 January, so look sharp or you'll miss it. CLICK for a video in which David Crampton of Crazy Coffins shows the BBC round his storeroom. CLICK for a Telegraph slide show of 18 stunning coffins in the exhibition. These are works of high craftsmanship which expose most modern art for the junk that it is.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Land Art

The Telegraph has posted a slide show of Land Art by Richard Shilling (title link). Richard has taken a leaf or two out of Andy Goldsworthy's book. He discovered one of Andy's sculptures near where he lives and was inspired to follow suit. The example shown is Autumn Rowan leaves frozen into a disc of ice, Birk Bank, near Lancaster, Lancashire (2010). CLICK for Richard's website.

Your Film Festival

Fancy yourself as a film-maker? Sir Ridley Scott and YouTube have teamed up to select 10 videos for the Venice Film Festival 2012 (title link). Each video must tell a story within 15 minutes. Submissions for Your Film Festival open on 2 February and close on 31 March. Fifty will be chosen. World-wide YouTube visitors will select the 10 Venice entries and the overall winner to receive a $500,000 grant to create a new work with the help of Ridley Scott's production company. Watch the video.

Moving Focus

Those of you who can't afford the RA admission charges for its David Hockney exhibition, take heart. Today the Alan Cristea Gallery at 34 Cork Street, London, W1, opened Moving Focus, a free exhibition of Hockney’s largest and most colourful lithographs, made at the studios of master printer Ken Tyler. Shown is Hockney’s Amaryllis in Vase (1984). The exhibition runs until 18 February. Click the title link for more information.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Eagle Nebula

Here's another of those images that show science beating art at its own game. Europe's Herschel space telescope has produced this brilliant picture of the Eagle Nebula, designated M16, a vast region of gas and dust approximately 6,500 light years from Earth, a birthplace for new stars. Click the title link to read more.

Survival Video

This is Survival International's "history of the world’s tribal lands in under 60 seconds". It also shows how the sociopaths of big business are destroying our planet. Global warming starts here. Click the title link to learn more about the Survival International movement.

Hockney On Show

Is there anyone on the planet who is unaware that David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture opens at the Royal Academy of Arts on 21 January? Since I mentioned the exhibition 10 days ago (CLICK) Hockney has been getting more publicity than Moneybags Hirst with a bevy of semi-naked pop divas. The photo above shows him facing a crouching of press cameramen. He's been interviewed by BBC's Arts Editor Will Gompertz (CLICK, CLICK) and charmed by BBC London News' Brenda Emmanus (title link). He took it all in his unassuming stride and made some pertinent comments about the current art scene. Conceptual "artists", take heed.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Pirates v Lepers

Pirates in trouble! Lepra Health in Action has thrown a wobbler over a film trailer for Aardman Animations' The Pirates! Band of Misfits (title link). The original title The Pirates! In An Adventure with Scientists seems to have been abandoned by Sony Pictures. Yanks think pirates are fun, scientists boring, possibly even unAmerican if they provide statistics that demonstrate global warming. Anyway, back to the plot. In the trailer, the pirates are seen invading a "leper boat" and an arm drops off one of the lepers (CLICK). This isn't gentle British Aardman humour, but crass Yankee "humour" aimed at the US market. Blame Sony Pictures, not Aardman. It doesn't augur well for the movie.

Catlin Guide

The Catlin Guide 2012 launches at The London Art Fair on 18 January 2012, priced at £12.99 (title link). This is a selection from 600 UK art graduates of the 40 "artists and work showing significant potential". It's also the long list for the Catlin Art Prize, worth £5,000. BBC News has posted a slide show of some of the lucky 40, including this picture by Katrine (CLICK). How many of these art graduates do you think might contribute to a follow-up of The Adventures Of Tintin? "Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" seems a fitting quotation (Ozymandius by Shelley).

Tintin Wins Globe

You've probably seen all the A-listers clutching their Golden Globe Awards, but did you notice that Best Animated Feature Film went to The Adventures Of Tintin (2011)? In Britain it's called The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011). I guess we like longer titles here. This is modern art. If you don't believe me, take a look at the long lists under Art Department and Visual Effects (CLICK). The big question is: Are our art schools training artists to enter this field or are they merely churning out inartistic clots hoping to win the Turner Prize? The Adventures of Tintin cost an estimated $130m. And look at the companies involved: Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Hemisphere Capital, Amblin Entertainment, Wingnut Films Production, Kennedy/Marshall Production. In comparison the Turner Prize is very small potatoes. Yet the purported elite of British artists is a handful of its nominees and winners. Artists are being led up the garden path by the Brit. Anti-art Establishment. Above is Wallpaper 7 featuring Tintin and Snowy (2011). Click the title link for the full list of Golden Globe winners. There are links to wallpapers too.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Leonardo Anatomist

Those of you who failed to get tickets for the National Gallery's blockbuster Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan might like to know that not all is lost. On 4 May The Queen's Gallery in Buckingham Palace opens Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomist (title link). The Royal Collection holds many anatomical drawings which Leonardo intended to publish in his Treatise on Anatomy, begun in 1489. He dissected corpses by candlelight in the night. He hadn't completed his treatise when he died in 1519. The fruits of his anatomical research were buried in his private papers and lost to science for centuries. Above is his A Nude Man from Behind. CLICK to view more of his anatomical drawings. Tickets are bookable now: £9.25 adults, £8.50 silver surfers, £4.65 under 17's, under 5's free. Don't miss out on this exhibition too.

No 10 In Sugar

Northern Ireland artist Brendan Jamison has been chosen for an exhibition inside 10 Downing Street. His sculpture of the No. 10 doorway, made from 5,117 sugar cubes, took two months to sculpt (title link). He likes to use sugar because it sparkles. Let's hope visiting African bigwigs don't object to Brendan's wasting food.

Eva Caridi Nude

Are conceptual artists trying to bore us into submission? First it was Moneybags Hirst's spotty tosh. Now it's Eva Caridi's Nude at Ambika P3, University of Westminster, London. This is one of those installation thingies. It consists of two metal labyrinths. The first takes you to a video of females in the three stages of life: girl, woman and elderly lady. The second contains 20 life-sized female "sculptures". They look like plaster casts to me, and all the photos I've seen show them in knickers. Nude? All this pretentious nonsense is supposed to represent the human condition, but it shows only the female half of humanity. Feminist message? The only good thing I can say about this tripe is that admission is free, but you must book in advance (title link). Why bother? The last day of the show is 22 January.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Love Pastels 2012

There's quite a gap before the next show at the Mall Galleries in London opens on 14 February: the 112th Pastel Society UK Annual Exhibition Love Pastels (title link). In addition to pastels there will be artworks using other dry media: charcoal, conté, oil pastels, graphite and coloured pencils. Above is Cheryl Culver's They Hang Suspended until Winter takes them all. Looks like a Hockney. Admission is £2.50 adults, £1.50 silver surfers. The show runs until 25 February.

Etam in Musée d'Orsay

I thought you might like to peek inside one of the world's greatest museums: the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. Try to ignore the three giggling girls flashing Etam knickers about the place. For the past few months the Musée has been showing an exhibition previously shown at the V&A last year: The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860 – 1900 (CLICK). Slight change of name. The Musée calls it Beauty, Morals and Voluptuousness in the England of Oscar Wilde (title link). They know how to sell art exhibitions, as well as knickers, in France. The last day of the exhibition is tomorrow.

Friday, 13 January 2012

JC Harrison Sale

A week ago I posted news of the Bonhams London auction of the Andrewartha Collection of avian paintings by John Cyril Harrison, which begins at 11am on 25 January (CLICK). Today BBC News posted a slide show of some of these magnificent watercolours (title link). Above is Morning Flight, estimated value £3,000 to £5,000. When you think that crap by Picasso sells for millions, these bird paintings are cheap, cheap, cheap. The entire collection of 100 paintings is worth about £300,000. This is real art, not gimmicky tripe that befuddles ignorant punters into thinking they're avant-garde. CLICK to register to bid in Bonhams sale room.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Quentin Blake Show

Today the Foundling Museum in Holborn, London, opened Quentin Blake - As Large As Life, an exhibition of cartoons commissioned by four hospitals in France and the UK to cheer up their patients. What a brilliant idea. Over 60 new works created for a children’s hospital, a maternity hospital, young people with eating disorders and older patients with mental health problems will be shown. Above is Blake's cartoon of a new mum greeting her baby, one of 11 for a French hospital's delivery suites. The exhibition runs until 15 April (title link). CLICK for a Telegraph slide show of delightful pictures.

Spots On Display

I find it incredible that Gagosian has gone to the trouble of collecting more than 300 of Moneybags Hirst's spot paintings - most borrowed from private individuals and public institutions - and putting them on display simultaneously in its 11 galleries across the world, from London to Hong Kong. The Complete Spot Paintings 1986–2011 opened today in all 11 venues (title link). Could this be a world record attempt at staging the most boring and inconsequential art show ever? I find it equally incredible that Hirst has sold 300 versions of his spotty tosh, which he admits he can't be bothered to paint himself. Banksy's rat knows more about art than do the punters who buy Moneybags' pustules.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012


Tomorrow Somerset House in London opens a free photo exhibition that comes with a warning: Frontline: A Year of Journalism & Conflict. Parents are advised that there are some disturbing images in the show, which focuses on four of the major news stories of 2011: the Egyptian revolution, Syria, the Libyan conflict and the UK riots. It offers a "unique insight into the editorial, political and human aspects of news reporting". Above is a photo showing the liberation of Tripoli, Libya, last August. You'll find the exhibition in the Embankment Galleries, South Wing, until 5 February (title link).

Bashar's Iron Fist

Following his "iron fist" speech on Tuesday, today Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attended a rally in Damascus to express his love for the Syrian people (title link). Who is the chinless wonder trying to kid? Certainly not the Arab League observers. One of them, Anwar Malek, has already resigned, describing the mission as "a farce". He said "The regime is not just committing one war crime, but a series of crimes against its people”. CLICK for Avaaz torture allegations and sign the petition.

Bus Stop Art

Here's the latest example of Arts Council England (ACE) wasting taxpayers' money: Bus-Tops. It's also another example of the dire tripe being foisted on us for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. It cost £500,000 to install this inartistic tosh on the top of 30 bus stop shelters in 20 London boroughs! Matthew Morris of BBC London News took a bus ride to try to spot some of them, without much success (title link). BBC News' Jenny Minard took a sycophantic view of the nonsense (CLICK). This is also a good example of how the BBC wastes public money. Why send two journalists to cover the same story? ACE invites the public to submit its own art to the Bus-Tops website (CLICK). Don't all rush at once with your obscenities.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Electric Dreams

Here's a most unusual painting of Keira Knightley in a slightly sinister urban setting, looking like a 1950's cover for a knitting pattern, her mascara running down her cheek. This is Together in Electric Dreams (2011) by Stuart Pearson Wright, whose second solo exhibition at the Riflemaker gallery in London opened today and runs until 15 February. Click the title link to find more of Wright's excellent paintings at Riflemaker.

Greek Theft Update

This is Piet Mondrian's Windmill (1905) stolen from the Athens National Gallery yesterday morning (title link).

Monday, 9 January 2012

Greek Art Theft

A thief or thieves raided the Athens National Gallery in the small hours of this morning and cut four paintings from their frames: Woman's Head by Picasso, two paintings by Piet Mondrian and this Sketch of St Diego de Alcala by Guglielmo Caccia. It seems there was only one security guard on duty who was distracted by various alarms going off. He caught sight of a person running from the building and gave chase, causing the thief to drop a Mondrian landscape. The BBC News item is somewhat garbled. It appears that two Mondrian paintings were taken and one dropped. The Picasso is a ghastly cubist daub, but worth big money (title link). The Caccia sketch is irreplaceable.

Daan's Marbles

If you're one of those touchy feely punters compelled to finger works of art, you could try giving Daan Roosegaarde's Marbles a prod, like the child in the photo. They're interactive thingies which opened to the public today, the latest in Canary Wharf Group's dire offerings of modern art. You'll find them in Jubilee Park, on top of the Canary Wharf Jubilee Line Station, until 2 March (title link). Take the boys. Marbles tend to be a boy's thing. “Techno-poetry”? Gimme a break.