Thursday, 31 May 2012

Captain of the Eleven

This Victorian boy hasn't a clue how to hold a cricket bat - and where are his bails? -, but it is still a fine painting of historical interest and deserves a place in a major UK art gallery, such as Tate Britain. Philip Hermogenes Calderon RA painted Captain of the Eleven in 1882. Thomas Barratt, considered the father of modern advertising, acquired the work for soap manufacturer A & F Pears. He also acquired Millais’ memorable Bubbles for the company. Calderon's painting passed into the hands of a Blackpool councillor and school governer, who donated it to the school in 1926. It has hung in obscurity ever since. Now short of funds, the school has decided to sell the painting. It comes up for grabs in Bonhams London sale of 19th Century Paintings on 11 July, estmated value £100,000 to £150,000 (CLICK).

American Figurative

Amongst all the crap by wannabe artists being flushed into contemporary galleries all over London, including the RA Summer Exhibition, a dazzling showcase of artistic talent opened today at the Albemarle Gallery in Mayfair (CLICK). American Figurative is a collective exhibition of outstanding American figurative paintings by Paul Oxborough, Cesar Santos, Michael De Brito, Daniel Greene, Steve Huston, Gabriela Gonzalez Dellosso and Zach Zdrale. The example shown above is First Night by Cesar Santos.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

RA Summer Exhibition

The Royal Academy of Arts 244th Summer Exhibition opens on 4 June (CLICK). This year's organiser Tess Jaray has had the walls of the Wohl Central Hall painted a lurid shade of lipstick, presumably because she wanted to distract visitors from the ghastly daubs hung there. (See above.) Or maybe it's just a girlie thing to tart up the old place. The Telegraph had a sneak preview (CLICK for photos). That coathanger sculptor is back again: David Mach's Silver Streak was the hit of the 2010 Summer Exhibition (CLICK). This year it's a cheetah called Spike. Nicely done, but it looks like a health and safety issue to me. One trip and your eyes are impaled. Admission is £11.50 for adults, £9.50 for silver surfers.

Zuma Spear Update

Last week I reported on the furore over Brett Murray's The Spear (2012), a saucy lampoon of South African President Jacob Zuma with his flies undone (CLICK). Shown here is the state of it after it was vandalised by ANC supporters. The Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg has now agreed with the ANC that it won't display the painting again - How could it in this condition? - and it will remove the unsullied digital image from its website (CLICK). So much for the South African constitution, which guarantees freedom of artistic expression. Not when a bigwig of the ANC is exposed for what he is: a man rich enough to support four wives and 22 children (at least) while most of his countrymen live in poverty with their skinny children. The thrust of Murray's exhibition is not about sex, but about corruption in the new South African regime. Point made, I suspect.

Snuff Update

A few weeks ago I reported that Sir Terry Pratchett's latest best-selling Discworld® novel Snuff had been shortlisted for the 13th Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction (CLICK). He won and will now have a Gloucestershire Old Spot pig named after his novel (CLICK). (I assume this has something to do with the Empress of Blandings, who features in the Blandings Castle series.) Congratulations, Sir Terry. I'm reading Snuff at the moment, having waited weeks for others library users in the queue to finish reading the only two copies of Snuff in Redbridge! It's rather good.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Jubilee Line

For three days only, from 30 May to 1 June, Christie's at 8 King Street, St James's, London, will be showing Jubilee Line, over 50 royal portraits from the collection of Sir Timothy Rice. Exhibits range from a very young Henry VIII to Chris Levine’s recent hologram of the Queen. Above is a Portrait of King James I & VI, British School (CLICK).

Monday, 28 May 2012

Unusual Queen Portraits

With the Diamond Jubilee weekend fast approaching, The Telegraph has posted a slide show of unusual portraits of the Queen, made from all sorts of things from a coffee bean to massive light projections (CLICK). This example by Helen Marshall is a mosaic of more than 5,000 photos sent in by viewers/listeners to BBC South East Today and the local BBC radio stations of Kent, Sussex and Surrey. It's the size of a double-decker bus. Some of the artworks use cake, cheese, cupcakes and other foods. I wish they'd stop wasting food when kids in Africa are starving. It is so damned heartless.

Royal Beasts Sculptures

Almost two years ago I reported that Kendra Haste had won the commission to create 13 life-sized animal sculptures for the exhibition Royal Beasts in the Tower of London to illustrate the history of the Royal Menagerie (CLICK). The beasts to be sculpted included a life-sized elephant! Her work has been nominated for the 2012 Marsh Award for Excellence in Public Sculpture, sponsored by the Marsh Christian Trust and administered by the UK Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA). The prize is a piddling £1,750, but the prestige of winning this award is enormous (CLICK). Above is a glimpse of her Male Lion and Stalking Lioness at the Tower. The winner will be announced later this year.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Blake at Mall

The next exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London is Sir Peter Blake at the Mall, which opens tomorrow to celebrate his 80th birthday and his six decades of pop-art printmaking (CLICK). There will be new works as well as a comprehensive selection of works spanning his career. The example shown is his silkscreen print on paper American Trilogy. Admission is free. So is entry to a second exhibition Hidden Places, Hidden Spaces by SCOPE, which opens on Tuesday and runs until 2 June. Two free exhibitions can't be bad when many galleries and museums in London are jacking up their prices to rip off tourists coming here for the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games.

Wildlife Artist 2012

The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundations’ Wildlife Artist of the Year 2012 is Kenyan artist Karen Laurence-Rowe with her Rothschild Mirage (CLICK). She also won the Endangered Wildlife category, worth £6,500, in addition to the top prize of £10,000. The Rothschild giraffe is an endangered subspecies on the Red List with only a few hundred left in the wild in western Kenya and eastern Uganda. Painting them as a mirage brings home just how fragile their existence is. Blink and they're gone.

Flying Pheasant

Archibald Thorburn's watercolour Flying Pheasant comes up for grabs at Bonhams Sporting Sale in Edinburgh on 21 June, estimated value £20,000 to £30,000, Lot 256. It was owned by Sir Crawford McCullagh, an Ulster politician who was the first man to suggest holding a period of silence to honour soldiers who had died in World War I. CLICK for a larger graphic. CLICK for Bonhams.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Open Garden Squares

London has many garden squares that aren't open to the public. You need to be a local resident with a key to get in. The Open Garden Squares Weekend, organised by the London Parks & Gardens Trust in association with the National Trust, is our annual chance to gain entry to these locked-away green spaces. This year's weekend is from 9 June to 10 June, from 10am to 5pm, with access to over 200 gardens, including tours of prison gardens! CLICK to buy tickets. If you subscribe to the Open House newsletter, there is a 15% discount on all tickets booked online before 31 May.

Friday, 25 May 2012

May Fong Robinson

I first posted one of May Fong Robinson's beautiful digital artworks in March (CLICK) followed by her Crystal Liu playing a pipa in April (CLICK). May now has a sophisticated new website and recently posted her Blushing Red (2011) on it. She used Photoshop and a Wacom tablet to create this digital painting. Her new website offers a variety of ways to buy her art, from greetings cards at $4.45 and unframed prints at $22. Shipping is within two to three business days with a 30-day money back guarantee. CLICK to view a fantastic array of beautiful images. Note her Anne Hathaway.

Cookies 4U

Tomorrow the UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) imposes an EU directive to protect Internet users' privacy. The above graphic shows how ICO seeks permission to put cookies on a visitor's computer. According to the EU directive, all websites must do this by 26 May. Fat chance! Research shows that most UK government websites aren't ready for this hopeless directive (CLICK). My local council isn't ready for it. The BBC reckons it is ready; yesterday it asked my permission to put cookies on my PC, but that was a one-off. CLICK to read its privacy policy, which is a tiny link at the bottom of its home page. It tells you everything you ever wanted to know about cookies, but were afraid to ask. One of the problems is that the big players in the market are all American and can thumb their noses at EU directives. This blog is owned by Google. My Facebook pages are owned by Facebook. I know Google Reader tracks me everywhere I go. So does Facebook when I use my blog. I don't put cookies on anything, but I know they're there. My own privacy setting captures some of them. As for Google, the most popular search engine available, it refuses to allow me to visit a website unless I accept cookies, but it doesn't tell me that. Its Security Warning states that the website I'd like to visit wants to be added to my trusted sites list. Yes/No. Click Yes and I've given permission to put cookies on my PC. Click No and I don't get to visit the website I want to visit. So, this EU directive is pie in the sky. CLICK to read the latest from BBC News, whose cookies and graphics I've accepted for years.

Murray's The Spear

I thought you might like to see that South African painting all the fuss is about: Brett Murray's The Spear (2012). It's based on Victor Ivanov's poster of Lenin and depicts SA President Jacob Zuma with his flies undone. It caused a furore when it appeared in Murray's exhibition Hail to the Thief II in the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg. Zuma's ruling party the ANC is livid. Three days ago two men vandalised the painting and the gallery was forced to close. Zuma's Zulu lifestyle is the inspiration for the painting. He has been married six times, has four wives, at least 21 children, has admitted fathering a child by another woman, was tried for rape and seems to believe that a shower after sex is sufficient protection against AIDs (CLICK). A worthy target for lampooning, you might think. The latest news is that Zuma has gone to the High Court, claiming that his privates ... er ... privacy and dignity were being violated by the painting. The defence argues that the artwork is a legitimate exercise of freedom of artistic expression. This has become a major test of South Africa's constitution and has made headlines around the world. (CLICK).

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Pour Paintings

The Shizaru Gallery in Mayfair, London, has opened Pour, an exhibition of Pour Paintings by New York based artist Holton Rower, shown in the UK for the first time. This example bears the strange title If It Were Not for the Need for Lunch I Could Fly. It looks like a cut and polished semi-precious stone, but it's done by pouring cups of acrylic paint into geometric constructions that create complex abstract paintings bigger than any polished stone. CLICK to visit the Shizaru website.

New Scottish £10

The Royal Bank of Scotland has issued a new £10 banknote to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee (CLICK for a larger graphic). They are legal tender in the whole of the UK, which is bound to cause confusion at the tills. Certain serial numbers have been reserved for auction by Scottish charities. Customers outside Scotland can order up to 20 of these banknotes at the face value plus £5.90 p&p. The Royal Bank of Scotland was the first to put the monarch's head on a banknote in 1727. Excellent portrait of Her Majesty.

The Horse

Today The British Museum opened The Horse: from Arabia to Royal Ascot, which canters along until 30 September (CLICK). This is a Diamond Jubilee celebration focusing on two breeds: the Arabian and the Thoroughbred, selectively bred from Arabians. The exhibition covers 5,000 years of horsey history. Exhibits include horses in stone reliefs, gold and clay models, horse tack, trophies, rosettes and paintings by George Stubbs. The above painting of Flying Childers is by James Seymour (1702-1752). It's in Room 35 and free, perfect for kids' holidays. (CLICK for a slide show.)

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Gunter Sachs Sale

Yesterday evening Sotheby's in London flogged the art collection of German billionaire playboy Gunter Sachs, whose main claim to fame seems to have been sweeping Brigitte Bardot off her feet. The marriage lasted all of three years. Gunter committed suicide last year, aged 78, presumably due to his fear of Alzheimer's disease. This Hatstand by pop artist Allen Jones gives you an idea of Gunter's taste in art. A complete set of Jones's pervy female mannequin furniture, including a table, chair and this hatstand, sold for £4.1m, about 20 times the pre-auction estimate (CLICK).

Hirst Paintings

Today White Cube Bermondsey opened Damien Hirst Two Weeks One Summer, which runs until 8 July. I assume the Two Weeks in the title doesn't refer to the time it took Moneybags to knock up this collection of paintings, because he's been working on them since 2010. Above is his Two Parrots with Grotesque Baby (2010). It's less boring than spots, chemist shops and dead animals, but that's all I can say for it. Was it worth Damien getting his paintbrush out? Take a look at the online gallery and decide (CLICK).

Williams F1 Story

Art takes many forms. This full-scale topiary of a Formula 1 racing car and pit crew helped to win a gold medal at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for designers King & Co. The Williams F1 Story was created to celebrate the Williams team's 35-year history. The topiary F1 car took three years to cultivate at Paul King's Essex nursery. Sir Frank Williams, the team's founder, was understandably chuffed (CLICK).

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Gangster Art

Artworks from those doyens of the Parkhurst Prison art scene, East End gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray, will be up for grabs at Fakenham Racecourse on 11 July. Auctioneers James and Sons say the paintings include nudes, portraits, landscapes, seascapes, animals and still-lifes, some of them copies of works by renowned artists (CLICK). These Masquerade Masks certainly look familiar, though I can't place the original artist. It's a fitting subject for the Krays, because they wined and dined celebrities on the proceeds of crime. Reggie painted 37 of the pieces, Ronnie 5 (CLICK).

Monday, 21 May 2012

Heathrow's Slipstream

Futurecity has unveiled plans for a gigantic aluminium sculpture to dominate the interior of Heathrow Airport's new £2.5bn Terminal 2, due for completion in 2014 (CLICK). At 230ft in length, Richard Wilson's Slipstream will be the longest permanent sculpture in Europe. It's supposed to represent the thrill of an air show, but to me it looks like a giant screw. Its unintended message to victims of the UK's Border Agency appears to be "Screw you". Green thought!

Marc Quinn in Monaco

BBC adverts for the forthcoming Monaco Grand Prix reminded me that le Musée océanographique de Monaco is showing Marc Quinn "The Littoral Zone" until 15 October (CLICK). This is a retrospective of Britain's most innovative and talented sculptor, featuring 20 of his works. Above is his huge and impeccably balanced Planet (2008). I don't suppose this news will interest petrol heads visiting the Grand Prix. Unless it roars like a lion, stinks of fuel, flashes past in a blur of speed and occasionally crashes in flames, they're not fussed. One visit to Brands Hatch as a teenager was enough for me. I found it all rather boring.

Robin Gibb RIP

Late yesterday the family of Robin Gibb CBE announced with great sadness that he had finally lost his long battle with cancer and intestinal surgery (CLICK). He was 62. British born, he and his brothers, Maurice and Barry, began their singing careers in Australia when Robin was only eight years old (CLICK for BBC video). They returned to the UK as the Bee Gees. Who can forget Robin's haunting performance of Massachusetts (CLICK for YouTube video)? Saturday Night Fever helped the Bee Gees to become one of the biggest selling pop groups of all time. Robin and Barry received their CBE's in 2004 (CLICK for slide show).

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Chelsea Flower Show

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show opens to royalty and other celebrities tomorrow and to those members of the public who can afford it on Tuesday (CLICK). To the right is one of the 20 new varieties shortlisted for Plant of the Year 2012: Streptocarpus "Harlequin Lace". What I need is a robot to pick up all the dog poo in my garden, ideally one like the Japanese robot on the left. I wouldn't mind if it ... er ... she mows the lawn as well, after the poo is all bagged up!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Miniature Portraits

The Cleveland Museum of Art in Ohio, USA, is putting its collection of about 170 miniature portraits online and has begun with 54 British portrait miniatures from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries (CLICK). The database is slow, so you need to click on a portrait and wait until something happens! This fine example is Richard Cosway's Portrait of Mary Frances (Fanny) Swinburne (c.1786) watercolour on ivory with a gold and enamel frame set with split pearls, size 2¾" x 2¼".

Friday, 18 May 2012

Wildlife Art

Here's the high spot of the art year in London for anyone interested in painting, wildlife and saving money. The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation presents Wildlife Artist of the Year 2012 & Wildlife Art Exhibition at the Mall Galleries from Tuesday 22 May to Saturday 26 May (CLICK). Admission is free. All profits from the sale of paintings will support David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation projects in the field. Above is a detail from Oxpecker Ride by Claire Harkness.

Photo Gallery GIFs

The Photographers’ Gallery, newly extended at a cost of over £9m, reopens tomorrow with two exhibitions (CLICK) and The Wall. The latter is a unique space for screen media and digital images. Its inaugural display celebrates the animated GIF, created in 1987, which brought the illusion of movement to previously static images. Back in those days I was having fun creating palette-cycling images on my Atari ST using Degas Elite. Sadly, the graphic shown here isn't a GIF, but a static JPG. CLICK for an animated GIF library with over 5000 free images. Occasionally I use Microsoft GIF Animator, a freebie still kicking around today. Google for it and have fun.

Emily Mary Lamb

This gorgeous young lady is The Hon. Emily Mary Lamb at the age of 16, painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence in 1803. She became a leading society hostess and one of the political bigwigs of her day. This beautiful portrait by one of Britain's finest artists has been acquired by the National Gallery in London, under the Acceptance in Lieu scheme, and has been put on public display in Room 34, entry free. CLICK to read more about Sir Lawrence and his young sitter on the gallery's website. CLICK for a larger picture. Note: I've tweaked the gamma and contrast settings on this image to "clean" it.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Donna Summer RIP

Both the BBC (CLICK) and The Telegraph (CLICK) have posted photo tributes to Donna Summer, "the queen of disco", whose death from cancer at the age of 63 was announced today. Above is the cover of her album Crayons (2008).

The Queen at NPG

If you're not already sick of all the humbug surrounding the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, you might like to be reminded that The Queen: Art and Image opened at the National Portrait Gallery in London today (CLICK). I mentioned this touring exhibition earlier this month and showed the most original portrait in the show (CLICK). The painting here is Lucian Freud's Queen Elizabeth II (2001), which must be the worst portrait in the show. It's amazing that once an artist has established a reputation his work can degenerate into the most appalling rubbish without anyone daring to say so. The Anti-art Establishment raises him above criticism and any tripe he creates is a work of genius. Not in my book.

The Sword

Today the Wallace Collection in London opened The Noble Art of the Sword: Fashion and Fencing in Renaissance Europe, which lunges and parries until 16 September. Admission is free (CLICK). A complimentary exhibition runs alongside it: Making the Renaissance Sword, also free (CLICK). The painting shows a Swordsmith at work. Also to compliment the exhibition, there are special events on Saturday 26 May, including sword fighting demonstrations, also free and fit for boys of all ages. If you ever wanted to know what spreszzatura means, now is your chance (CLICK).

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

A New Banksy?

This stencilled graffito of a Boy Sewing (real bunting) has appeared on the wall of a Poundland store on Whymark Avenue, Wood Green, north London. The BBC dragged in a professor to confirm it was a Banksy (CLICK)! I checked Banksy's website, and it hasn't appeared there (CLICK). Yet. I'll stick with Gromit for sewing bunting (CLICK).

Scotch Tape Winner

In case you were wondering, the winner of the Scotch Tape Off the Roll sculpture contest 2012 is Jake Longenecker from Manheim, Pennsylvania, with his Free Fallin'. He wins the first prize of $5,000. CLICK for The Telegraph slide show.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Larry at No 10


Biennale Tosh

Why do we leave it up to the Arts Council, which knows nothing about visual art, to select the purported artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale? Its choice for 2013 is Jeremy Deller, infamous for his bouncy Stonehenge called Sacrilege (2012). I'm not sure where the sacrilege comes in, maybe claiming this bouncy inflatable is a work of art. Fun for kiddies big and small certainly, but art? Since 1938 the Arts Council has been commissioning embarrassing tosh for the Biennale (CLICK). It is high time we found a judging panel that knows something about art.

Watts Gallery

Watts Gallery in the village of Compton, near Guildford, Surrey, has made it on to the shortlist for the 10th annual Art Fund Prize, worth £100.000 (CLICK). The gallery, which is dedicated to the art of Victorian painter George Frederic Watts, reopened last year after a £10m restoration. The others shortlisted are the Hepworth Wakefield, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and Exeter's Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery. The winner will be announced on 19 June. Tip: the day to visit Watts Gallery is a Tuesday, when entry is only £2, instead of £6.50 (CLICK).

Monday, 14 May 2012

Louise Giblin

From 21 to 26 May the Mall Galleries in London will show Louise Giblin – Body Casting Olympians (CLICK). Why would anyone want to body cast an olympian? For a start, he or she should represent the peak of physical fitness and musculature. Louise creates metal sculptures from the casts. Here is her Beth Tweddle Rear View from her Olympian Series II. She donates the proceeds from these olympian sculptures to the Headfirst charity. Sculptures and drawings from her new Meta-Human Series will also be shown. Entry is free. CLICK to visit her website.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Rihanna Croc

Here's another of those examples of art where you least expect it. Rihanna has posted stills of herself on her Facebook page showing her getups for her latest video Where Have You Been. She had her bare breasts painted to look like crocodile skin, spine too. Then she emerges from a swamp as a pop version of The Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954). Then she's prancing in a desert. Then it's back to the swamp. Ho hum. Silly video; tedious music for hardcore fans (CLICK if you must).

Gormely in Brazil

Antony Gormely is still inflicting body casts of his naked self upon an unsuspecting world. What an ego! His latest casts are on a tall building in Sao Paulo, Brazil. As usual - except in the Alps - firefighters have been called to the scene because bystanders fear the casts are potential jumpers intending to commit suicide. The local press have nicknamed the casts "suicide statues" (CLICK). Gormley reminds me of Lady Bracknell's response to Jack's admission that he smokes, "That is well. A man should always have an occupation" (Oscar Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest, 1895).

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Charlotte Barbour-Condini

This evening I watched the semi final of the BBC Young Musician of the Year 2012. An hour an a half swept past like an express train. What talent, what performances, from all five teenagers! However, only one of them made me want to rush out and buy a CD: 15-year-old Charlotte Barbour-Condini playing that common and maligned instrument the recorder. Watch the YouTube video (bottom right corner to expand). The final is on BBC Two on Sunday at 6pm (CLICK).

Edward Lear

The Telegraph and Google are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Edward Lear, famous for his nonsense poem The Owl And The Pussycat (CLICK). I wasn't aware of it, but Lear was a very talented young artist, being paid for his work by the age of 16. He was employed by the Zoological Society of London as an ornithological artist. Above is his superb painting of an Eagle Owl. He was still only 19 when he published his first book: Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae (Parrots). For 4 years he worked for the Earl of Derby, painting the Earl's menagerie (CLICK).
Update: today a plaque to honour Edward Lear was unveiled at 15 Stratford Place in Westminster, London, where he lived from 1853 until 1869 (CLICK).

Buttocks Fashion

One finds art in the strangest of places. Here's a novel way of emphasizing female buttocks, not that they need emphasizing in Britain, which has the fattest bums in Europe, almost as flabby as Yankee bums. But this is the Bogota Fashion Circle in Colombia. The dress and handbag is by Colombian designer Marta Arredondo, part of her new collection based on Wayuu Indian culture. Fashion note: silly stockings are the in thing in Bogota this season (CLICK).

Friday, 11 May 2012

ArcelorMittal Orbit

When I first saw this artist's impression of the ArcelorMittal Orbit I hoped it was an April Fool's gag, but no. It was officially "unveiled" to the media today (CLICK). The BBC reporter took great pains to emphasize that this monstrosity is a work of art, because it was designed by that Royal Academician Anish Kapoor, but more honest commentators described it as "a cheese grater", "an obnoxious statement", "a catastrophic collision between two cranes" and "the Eiffel Tower after a nuclear attack". I'm sure east enders will simply call it "The Arse". £15 to ascend this thing! No way.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Mayan Murals

Archaeologists working in Guatemala have discovered the first known Mayan murals painted on the interior walls of a room. They look quite sophisicated too. Other finds in the room include the oldest-known Mayan astronomical tables, dating from the 9th Century (CLICK). The dig at Xultun was financed by National Geographic (CLICK for a photo tour).

Call For Entries

The National Portrait Gallery in London has issued a call for entries to the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2012. The competition is open to anyone aged 18 and over from around the world. Applications must be received in advance, either online or by post, by 23.59 on Monday 9 July. Above is last year's winning photo by Jooney Woodward, showing 13-year-old Harriet Power holding her cavy Gentleman Jack in the guinea pig judging area at the Royal Welsh Show. CLICK to visit the NPG Photo Prize website and watch out for two more of my favourites: Tatiana and Belene by Yann Gross (2011), which shows a rare flash of humour, and Keira Knightley by Michael Birt (2010).

Snuff The Pig?

Sir Terry Pratchett's 39th Discworld novel - the 9th City Watch story - Snuff has been shortlisted for the 13th Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction (CLICK). This is Sir Terry's fourth nomination; he missed out thrice. Just to keep you bedazzled with statistics, Snuff is the third fastest selling novel in the UK since records began; it sold over 55,000 hardback copies in the first three days. As usual, the cover artwork is by Paul Kidby, who perfectly captures the madcap, tongue-in-cheek world of the Disc. Upon the winning book is bestowed the honour of having a Gloucestershire Old Spot pig named after it. Snuff the pig? The paperback comes out on 7 June.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Feldmann's David

While visiting the website of the Serpentine Gallery - something I rarely do, because most of the contemporary works it shows are rubbish - I chanced upon Hans-Peter Feldmann's lurid version of Michelangelo's David (2011). A genuine blond, eh? Biblical news. The Serpentine's retrospective Hans-Peter Feldmann is his first solo presentation in a London public gallery. More interesting than the average Serpentine doodah, it continues until 5 June (CLICK for more photos). Seems to be a freebie.

Serpentine Pavilion

London's Serpentine Gallery has released this artist's impression of the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012, designed by Herzog & de Meuron & the ubiquitous Ai Weiwei (CLICK). It looks like an ice-skating rink on top of a cafeteria to me. Boring. Weiwei fans might be interested to learn that his design firm, Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd, has filed a lawsuit against the No. 2 Inspection Squad of the Beijing tax bureau for violating Chinese laws (CLICK).

The Tulip Folly

Here's a painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme I didn't know existed, because The Tulip Folly (1882) is buried in the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. (Early tulip varieties were to die for; they attracted astronomical prices and unscrupulous bulb thieves, a bit like Picasso's tripe today.) This oil painting is one of more than 19,000 images of artworks, together with related information, the museum has donated to Wikimedia for unrestricted use in the public domain with freely licensed educational content in any language (CLICK). Nice one, Walters.