Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Hitler's Lost Art

Czech author Jiri Kuchar has tracked down 16 paintings from Hitler's art collection to a convent in Doksany, Czech Republic. One of the rediscovered collection is Franz Eichhorst's Reminiscence on Stalingrad (1943), which seems a rather strange work of art for a convent. Hitler bought these paintings in 1942 and 1943 at the Great German art exhibitions held annually in Munich from 1937 to 1944. He moved them to Czechoslovakia after it was invaded by the Nazis to prevent them from being damaged by Allied bombing raids. Click the title link for a Telegraph slide show.

Paralympic Torch

Today Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson unveiled the 2012 Paralympic Torch on BBC Breakfast (title link). Designed by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, the torch is made from a highly polished and reflective aluminium alloy, darker in colour then their Olympic torch, but more glittery. I must admit I'm sick of all the daily updates of Olympic doings - yesterday it was Olympic rings floating down the Thames - and I shall be glad when all this time-wasting, money-wasting nonsense is over.

Big Egg Hunt

If you've been sucked into Fabergé's The Big Egg Hunt London 2012 (title link) and you're seeking Sir Peter Blake's Egg, here's a clue. Benjamin Shine's Egg Letter Box is still missing.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

UK Animation Loss

Animation UK, a lobby group for prominent studios, has warned that British animation could face terminal decline unless Chancellor George Osborne introduces tax breaks in his forthcoming budget. Aardman Animations, the makers of multi award winning Wallace and Gromit, has already warned that it may need to leave the UK to seek better financial incentives abroad (CLICK). French tax breaks account for almost 20% of production budgets; Irish tax relief is worth up to 28% and Canada offers up to 47% of production costs (title link). Finger out, George.

FHM Philippines

I see FHM magazine is in trouble again. This time it is FHM Philippines, the March cover of which featured Eurasian teen soap starlet Bela Padilla with 3 "black" models and the message "Bela Padilla STEPPING OUT OF THE SHADOWS". Whoops! The magazine was swamped with comments about racism and has promised to redesign the March cover. The disclosure that some of the girls might not have been black, but merely blacked up, hasn't helped! Click the title link to watch the delectable Mishal Husain quizzing Bela Padilla on her motivation for this photo shoot.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Johan Zoffany RA

From 10 March to 10 June the Royal Academy of Arts will be showing Johan Zoffany RA: Society Observed. "His work provides an invaluable and unique appraisal of key British institutions and edifices: the art academy, the Court, the theatre, the bourgeois family and the British Empire." The example above is The Gore family with George, Third Earl Cowper (c. 1775) on loan from the Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection. You'll find the exhibition in the Sackler Wing of Galleries (title link). Tickets cost £9 adults, £7 silver surfers.

Dutch Galleries

The Wallace Collection has announced that its Dutch Galleries will re-open on 20 March, after an 18-month refurbishment. The three galleries house one of Europe's finest collections of Dutch art. This excellent portrait is Titus, the Artist's Son (c.1657) by Rembrandt. He has his father's nose. Click the title link to watch a video. CLICK to read the March - May What's On Ebook.

Oscar Winner

And the winner of the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film is ... William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg's The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (2011), a whimsical tale of a bookworm transported by a tornado - like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz - into a world where books are living creatures. It has already popped up on YouTube. So, if you can spare 15 minutes, click the title link to see Morris in action. I'm still turned off by Rango, despite its Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Egg Update

Police have recovered Natasha Law's charity egg Hatch from an address in Maida Vale (title link). I assume the witness who reported two men taking it from New Bond Street and driving it away noted the licence number of their car. But why have no arrests been made? Human rights problem? The fuzz can't touch charity egg thieves? They're seeking political asylum? Benjamin Shine's Egg Letter Box, stolen from Carnaby Street, is still missing (CLICK).

Wild West Show

Here's a turn up for the book. A recently sold poster depicts the 1887 command performance of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show for Queen Victoria in London (detail shown). The poster measures roughly 28 feet by 13 feet and was created in 1888. Two command performances of the show for Queen Victoria took place in 1887, the second on 20 June to celebrate her Golden Jubilee. Royalty from all over Europe attended the show, including the future Kaiser Wilhelm II and future King George V (title link). The poster was bought by the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming (CLICK).

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Eggs Nicked!

It's only a week since I posted news of The Big Egg Hunt London 2012 (CLICK) and already two of them have been stolen: Benjamin Shine's Egg Letter Box and Natasha Law's Hatch (title link). The latter had raised an online bid of £300 for charity. There are some scumbags living in London. We're not allowed to deport them, because of their human rights.

Bronte Portrait

This oil painting of Emily Bronte by an unknown artist fetched £4,600 at J.P. Humbert Auctioneers Ltd in Towcester, Northamptonshire, on Thursday. The portrait is annotated "Emily Jane Bronte", but the artist's name is indecipherable (title link).

Fanny Claus Ban

This uninspiring painted sketch by Edouard Manet, Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus (1868) - a preparatory study for Le Balcon, which hangs in the Musee d'Orsay in Paris (CLICK) - is subject to a UK government export ban. The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford has launched a campaign to buy it for £7.8m (CLICK). Its sale price to an anonymous foreign buyer is £28.35m, but HM Gov. is prepared to wave the £20.5m tax that would be raised by a private sale (title link). Don't wave it, Gov. We need the money more than we need another feeble Impressionist study by Manet.

Friday, 24 February 2012

The Half

Another exhibition which opened in London today is Simon Annand: The Half at the Idea Generation gallery in Shoreditch (title link). For 30 years photographer Simon Annand has worked backstage at almost every major theatrical production in London, capturing actors and actresses as they prepare to go onstage. (The 30 minutes prior to going onstage is known as "the half".) Shown is his photo of Kelly Brook, Calendar Girls, Noel Coward Theatre (2009). The exhibition runs until 8 April. If you can't make it, CLICK for The Telegraph slide show of 17 famous Thespians preparing to tread the boards.

Artificial Paradises

Today Erarta Galleries London opened Les Paradis Naturels (Artificial Paradises), the latest surrealist paintings of Russian artist Aleksey Chizhov. Above is his Orpheus and Eurydice, who appear to be flying over a field of poppy seed heads. Click the title link to see more of Chizhov’s "hallucinatory world encouraging growth and emotional development". Until 5 April.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Frieze Projects East

The Frieze Foundation has announced that it will curate and produce new public art projects in east London as part of the Cultural Olympiad. Frieze Projects East, commissioned by CREATE and The London 2012 Festival, will encompass Barking & Dagenham, Greenwich, Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest. Above is an artist's impression of one of the ... er ... thingies. I'm not sure whether it's a playground or a work of art. It looks a bit unsafe for kiddies. The National Lottery and Arts Council England are funding the scheme (title link). ACE knows all there is about wasting money.

Rocking Horse Boy

Today actress and voice-of-the-Gods Joanna Lumley unveiled the new statue on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square: Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset's Powerless Structures, Fig 101, which is already known as The Boy On The Rocking Horse. As equestrian statues go, it's a Mickey-take, but not without point. Generations of boys learned to play on rocking horses in preparation for being sent to war on horseback: knights, lancers, gunners with horse artillery. Joanna thinks he's "adorable" (title link). CLICK to watch a BBC News video of the unveiling.

Heman Chong

I've been known to comment that there is more art to be found on the covers of novels in bookshops than there is in most contemporary art galleries. It seems someone has taken note. Today Rossi & Rossi in London opened an unusual art installation thingy: LEM1 Heman Chong (title link). This is the first solo exhibition in the UK by the Singaporean conceptual artist. It transforms part of the gallery into a second-hand Science-Fiction and Fantasy bookshop. The public can buy the books on offer for £1 each. This makes it an interactive installation thingy.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Group Prints Show

From Friday 24 to Sunday 26 February the Gallus Editions collective will be showing the Gallus Editions Group Show at The Execution Room, 12a Vyner Street, London, E2 9DG. On sale will be high quality limited-edition prints from 10 Welsh artists. The example shown is Nude by Harry Holland. Click the title link for more information.

Art Room Visits

The new Royal Patron of The Art Room, a charity which gives art therapy to children with emotional and behavioural problems, visited two schools in Oxford yesterday: Rose Hill Primary School and Oxford Spires Academy (title link). The photo shows Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, charming Luis Lee, aged 8, at Rose Hill Primary School (title link). The visits seems to have boosted the youngsters' morale even more than the therapy. CLICK for The Art Room website.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Greenpeace Roof Demo

Greenpeace activists have climbed on to the roof of the National Gallery in London and unfurled a banner stating It's No Oil Painting, demanding Shell keep out of the Arctic (photo: Greenpeace / Sandison 21/2/12). Shell had been hosting a plush PR event at the gallery. Click the title link for the Greenpeace website.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Whitechapel Sculpture

As part of the London 2012 Festival, the Whitechapel Gallery has commissioned Rachel Whiteread to tart up the old facade (1901) with a sculpture of a golden vine, based on the Tree of Life motif that decorates the lower part of the terracotta building. Above is Rachel's scale plan and to the left is an example of her golden leaves. The Art Fund is supplying the readies for this sculpture, which will be unveiled in June (title link). I can't think of anything more inappropriate for sleazy Whitechapel High Street than golden leaves writhing over this Grade II listed building. What a waste of cash!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Body Adorned

The sight of anorectic models strutting like robots along the catwalk for London Fashion Week 2012 reminded me that the Horniman Museum will be showing The Body Adorned: Dressing London from 24 March until 6 January 2013. This exhibition isn't just about clothes, but about everything from tattoos to scarification, exploring how body adornment has become part of London life across times and cultures. You'll find it in the Temporary Exhibition Space (title link).

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Freud: Painted Life

If you can stomach a feature length TV programme of gruesome nudes, BBC Two is showing Lucian Freud: Painted Life at 21.00 hours ... er... 9pm this evening (title link). His sex life sounds more interesting than his paintings. He had at least fourteen children by a number of different women. Oh, the artist's life! Above is one of his better paintings: Girl In Bed.

The Big Egg Hunt

On Shrove Tuesday 21 February The Big Egg Hunt London 2012 will be launched by Fabergé, which has a history of creating rich Easter eggs. For 40 days and 40 nights over 200 hand-adorned eggs created by leading artists, designers, architects and jewellers will be displayed in central London (title link). Once the hunt is over, the eggs will be auctioned for two charities: Elephant Family and Action for Children. The cracker I've shown is Pretty Polly (2012) by Karen Hollis of Art In Bloom (CLICK). She painted one of the best elles in the Elephant Parade London 2010 (CLICK). Why Pretty Polly? you may well ask. Parrot tulips, the biggest and most ornate of spring-flowering bulbs, best grown in greenhouses to avoid damaging winds.

Friday, 17 February 2012

RSBA Annual Show

The art term "contemporary", meaning by a living artist, has become so debased as to imply rubbish, the sort of tripe that wins the Turner Prize. So the Royal Society of British Artists had a problem when describing the content of its forthcoming Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London. It plumped for "contemporary representational", which is a hell of a mouthful, but I understand what it's trying to get across. The show will again feature a selection of outstanding work by A-level students from around the country, in association with NADFAS and the Dover Federation for the Arts. Above is a detail from Chris Myers' It’s in him and it got to come out. The show opens on 29 February, admission £2.50 adults, £1.50 silver surfers. Click the title link for details.

Lucian Freud Drawings

For those of you who don't fancy paying the ripoff prices the National Portrait Gallery is charging for its Lucian Freud retrospective (CLICK) here's something better. Lucian Freud: Drawings opened today at BlainSouthern in London (title link). This exhibition brings together more than 100 of Freud's works on paper over 70 years, many of which have never been shown in public before. Above is Boy in red and blue jacket from 1945. The show runs until 5 April.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Oresegun Olumide

Last month I criticized Tiwani Contemporary, a new African art gallery in London, and suggested I could find much better African artists elsewhere (title link). Above is a perfect example: Hair Care by award-winning artist Oresegun Olumide, who works in Lagos, Nigeria. An exhibition of his art at Tiwani Contemporary would be well worth visiting. His scenes of Nigerian village life are exquisite. Below is another of his oil paintings: Secret. The expression on the face of the girl on the left says it all. Unfortunately Oresegun has no website.

Bacon Nude £21m

Assuming you were a Saudi prince with money to burn, would you lash out £21m on Francis Bacon's Nude Portrait of Henrietta Moraes (1963)? A spokesman for Christie's in London, where it brought home the bacon, described it as "one of the most seductive and sexually-charged" paintings he had ever seen (title link). I imagine he has led a sheltered life. It looks to me as though the naked woman is being attacked by a giant anaconda. If you think that's sexy ... try this for size: CLICK.

Cameron's Oats

What clot decided to pose PM David Cameron in front of the painting used to advertise Scott's Porridge Oats, which is owned by the US giant Quaker Oats? "Stick with Britain and you can keep your Yankee oats" (title link).

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Ryanair Ad Banned

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) proves yet again what a toothless old hag it really is. It has banned Ryanair adverts claiming Red Hot Fares & Crew!!! on the grounds of sexism, after receiving 17 complaints. "We considered that the ads were likely to cause widespread offence, when displayed in a national newspaper," moaned the ASA (title link). The ads actually promoted the 2012 Ryanair Cabin Crew Charity Calendar (banner above), the proceeds from which go to charity. The cabin crew models are all volunteers who have fun posing for glamour photos. They have raised £430,000 since the first calendar was published in 2008 (CLICK). This year they hoped to raise £85,000 for DEBRA's "Butterfly Children". What makes the ASA ban so farcical is that the calendar has sold out (CLICK)! How's that for shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted?

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

A Morning Stroll

Amidst all the razzmatazz of the BAFTAs it may have escaped your notice that the Short Animation was won by A Morning Stroll (2011). This is a British animation directed by Grant Orchard of Studio AKA in London and produced by Sue Goffe, the studio's head of production. The film started life as a one-minute project to test Studio AKA's animation skills and became a short movie project in its own right. It explores the old joke "Why did the chicken cross the road?" in the past, present and future. It has been nominated for an Oscar (title link). Studio AKA is behind many TV commercials. My favourite is the Money Manager ad with the over indulged hamster it made for Lloyds TSB (CLICK: 5th row, 6th column). I'm still wondering why Rango won the BAFTA Best Animated Feature Film. Its trailer didn't impress me at all.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Picasso at Tate

On Wednesday this week Tate Britain opens Picasso and Modern British Art, which explores the dire effect this tripe-peddler ... er ... sorry ... genius ... had on British artists (title link). This is probably the first exhibition of its kind, more than 90 years after Picasso's first visit to London. It brings together 150 works, some by Picasso and some by those British artists who were influenced by him, such as Henry Moore. Picasso's Nude, Green-Leaves and Bust is one of his paintings on display. Tickets cost £14 adults, £12.20 silver surfers! Tourist ripoff. CLICK for a BBC London News video with Brenda Emannus.

New London Gallery

Alon Zakaim Fine Art has launched its second gallery in Dover Street, Mayfair, London, with over 2,000 square feet of exhibition space. Its inaugural exhibition is A Hundred Years: Impressionist & Modern Master Works 1880-1980, which displays key works by artists who shaped the course of art history over the hundred years from 1880 to 1980, beginning with the founders of Impressionism: Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley and Edgar Degas. The example above is Kees van Dongen's Recuerdo de Toledo (1908). The show runs until 23 March. Click the title link for more information.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Romantic Art

The Art Fund has gone all romantic, anticipating Valentines Day (14 February). Hearts have popped up everywhere (title link). It reports that Frank Bernard Dicksee's Romeo and Juliet (1884), depicting the balcony scene from Shakespeare's play, was voted the most romantic artwork (CLICK for a bigger pic). Rodin's The Kiss was second. Titian and Gauguin came joint 9th.

1. Frank Bernard Dicksee: Romeo and Juliet (1884)
2. Auguste Rodin: The Kiss (1901-04)
3. William Hogarth: Before / After (1730-31)
4. Nicolas Poussin: Rinaldo & Armida (c.1628-30)
5. Fragonard: The Swing (c.1767)
6. Jan van Eyck: The Arnolfini Portrait (1434)
7. Diego Velazquez: The Rokeby Venus (1647-51)
8. Sandro Botticelli: Venus and Mars (c.1485)
9. Titian: Bacchus and Ariadne (1520-23)
9. Paul Gauguin: Nevermore (1897)

There are some strange choices! All the works are in British galleries, most in London; CLICK for locations.

Whitney Houston RIP

Yesterday Whitney Houston died in her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, where she was staying to attend the Grammy Awards. She was only 48. My graphic combines photos of Whitney at the height of her fame and recently, looking the worst for wear after hard partying. Substance abuse had taken its toll on her voice and her career. It may have caused her death. "A great talent squandered' commented Paul Gambaccini sadly. Not being into pop music, I was unaware of her talent until I saw The Bodyguard (1992). What a voice! The movie won Oscars for Best Music and Original Song.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Toilet Training

Here's another example of immigrants bringing their nasty habits to the UK. Swansea University in Wales has put up toilet instruction posters to try to persuade foreign students not to squat on loo seats (title link). Some foreigners shun the loo seat completely and do their mess in a corner of the cubicle (so janitors I know tell me). The above notice won't work, because it ignores the reason many foreigners shun loo seats: the myth that venereal disease can be contracted by sitting on them.
CLICK for the Mail's unexpurgated version.

World Press Awards

Yesterday the winners of the 55th annual World Press Photo Contest were announced in Amsterdam. Spanish photographer Samuel Aranda was the overall winner, but my eyes were drawn to the above photo by Stephanie Sinclair (USA), who won First Prize Contemporary Issues Stories with her series "Child Brides: Too Young to Wed" taken in Yemen for National Geographic. The men look like giants. Tahani, the girl in pink, was only 6 years old when she married her husband, aged 25. Her classmate and friend Ghada, in the foreground, was also a child bride. Nearly half of all women in Yemen were married as children. Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to outlaw forced marriage in Britain, but still hasn't got round to it (CLICK). The title link takes you to a BBC News slide show of winning entries.

Guercino at Oxford

With snow and ice on the ground, this may not be the best time to inform you that today the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology in Oxford University opened a fascinating exhibition: Guercino: A Passion for Drawing - The Collections of Sir Denis Mahon and the Ashmolean Museum. It runs until 15 April, so we can hope the atrocious road conditions will thaw before then. Guercino (1591–1666) was one of the great Italian Baroque artists. His drawings of religious subjects, landscapes and scenes of everyday life stand alone as independent works of art, as you can see from his red chalk drawing of An Angel in Flight (c.1648). Click the title link for details. Admission is free.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Queen by Beaton

This week the V&A Museum in London opened Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Beaton: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration (title link). Sir Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) began photographing Her Majesty in 1942 when she was still a young princess and the film in his camera was black and white. This image shows Princess Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace (March 1945). For 60 years Beaton glamorized the royal family with his seductive photographs. The V&A holds his archive of royal portraits, as well as his diaries, personal letters and press cuttings. Entry: £6 adults, £5 silver surfers.

Design Exhibition

I must be getting old; museum curators are beginning to look like schoolgirls. Take Ria Hawthorn for example. CLICK to see her giving BBC News a guided tour of the highlights of the Design Museum’s Designs of the Year Awards 2012. Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby's London 2012 Olympic Torch (2011) is one of the 100 shortlisted designs on show in seven categories. Another is a wind-propelled landmine detonator. The winners will be announced in April. Tickets are £6-£11, but TicketWeb is struggling to cope with demand; it puts you in a queue. I couldn't be bothered to wait. Click the title link to visit the Design Museum website. I have complained about its excessive use of upper case letters. Bad design!
Update: the list has been changed to lower case.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Shrigley at Hayward

This must be the silliest show I've ever reviewed: David Shrigley: Brain Activity. The stuffed Jack Russell terrier holding a notice I'm Dead (2010) is as good as it gets. Most of the show is badly drawn visual puns which are supposed to represent British humour, but there are also books, photos, sculpture, animation, painting and music, not forgetting the stuffed mutt. If you fancy chancing £8 to find out if he raises a smile to your lips, you'll find the show in the Haywood Gallery in the Southbank Centre, London, until 13 May. Click the title link for details.

Marco Glaviano

If you appreciate glamour photography, the next exhibition at The Little Black Gallery in London is a must. Marco Glaviano: Supermodels opens on 14 February and runs until 24 March (title link). Marco has photographed more than 500 magazine covers for American Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Vanity Fair and other leading magazines. His photo campaigns include L’Oreal, Valentino, Revlon, Roberto Cavalli, Giorgio Armani, and Calvin Klein. He has published ten books of his photos. This is his first UK exhibition, featuring classic supermodel shots.

Kate visits Freud

Lucian Freud - Benefits Supervisor Sleeping (1995)Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, carried out her first solo public engagement yesterday as patron of the National Portrait Gallery in London (title link). With a crowd of media photographers in tow, she toured the Lucian Freud exhibition, which opened to the public today (CLICK). Kate has a history of art degree from the University of St Andrew's. I wonder what she's laughing at. Could it be Freud's Benefits Supervisor Sleeping (1995)? Or one of his other horrendous nudes? CLICK for a BBC News video.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Yayoi Kusama

If you're into Japanese cowgirls covered in spots, this is the exhibition for you. It's a cut above most of the junk shown at Tate Passé. Yayoi Kusama, a major retrospective, opens tomorrow and runs till 5 June. Click the title link for details. Yayoi left the Tokyo psychiatric institution where she lives as a voluntary patient to be in London for the exhibition. CLICK for a BBC slide show. Tickets cost £10 for adults, £8.50 for silver surfers, on the door. Booking costs extra. CLICK for a BBC video.

Oldest Art?

Is this the oldest known work of art on the planet? Experts reckon it's at least 42,000 years old. That's so old that it may have been made by a Neanderthal, rather than by an early human. It was found inside the Nerja Caves in Nerja, Andalusia, southern Spain and is thought to represent seals. I'm not sure how it is supposed to have survived the continual formation of the stalactite it was drawn on. The Nerja Caves have their own website (title link).