Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 In A Nutshell

It's that time when pundits try to put the big events of the year into a nutshell. This photo of a boy trying to keep his T-shirt above water in the Philippines' capital Manila when it was flooded sums up the year for me. Wet, wet, wet. It began in Britain with cracked mud in dry riverbeds and low reservoirs, but became England's wettest year on record. Parts of the country are still flooded. Many countries around the planet have also suffered serious flooding. It will get worse until the twerps who run our world agree on how to tackle global warming. If they don't, start building your ark!

Donatello's David

Fond though I am of Psyché's bottom, I've decided it's time to replace William-Adolphe Bouguereau's L'Amour et Psyché (1899) in my sidebar. I've chosen Donatello's David (c.1440) partly because of its historic importance, but also because the Victoria & Albert Museum owns a plaster cast of the original bronze statue, which is in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello (CLICK). Donatello's bronze statue of David was the first unsupported standing work of bronze cast during the Renaissance and the first freestanding nude male sculpture made since antiquity. It marks the start of a trend away from sculptures of Christian saints to those of Greco-Roman gods. Donatello's David could easily be mistaken for a camp version of Hermes, messenger of the gods. The two other great Davids of the Renaissance are by Verrocchio and Michelangelo (CLICK). The Davids by Donatello and Verrocchio were both commissioned by the powerful Medici banking family.

Manet: Portraying Life

With exhibitions of masterly paintngs by Murillo and Barocci on offer in London from February, the best that The Royal Academy of Arts can come up with for its Spring biggy is boring old Edouard Manet. And it is demanding £15 from adults and £14 from silver surfers for admission! Daylight robbery! Manet: Portraying Life - the first retrospective devoted to the portraiture of Edouard Manet - opens on 26 January and limps along until 14 April. (CLICK for a third-rate video with faltering soundtrack.) Above is Manet's Portrait of M. Antonin Proust (1880) borrowed from the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Artist's Tribute

This candlelit sand sculpture shedding tears of blood on a beach in Sangam, Allahabad, northern India, is artist Raj Kapoor's tribute to the 23-year-old medical student who was gang-raped and badly beaten for an hour on a bus in New Delhi, then thrown from the moving bus. She died of her injuries yesterday and was cremated today. The six men arrested for the rape are now charged with murder and face the death penalty. Their appalling crime has caused outrage and protests across India (CLICK).

Illegal Ivory 'Art'

This box of Asian-style, ivory statuettes is part of a police haul of two tons of illegal ivory confiscated over the past two years in New York City. The haul recently went on display at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation office in Albany (CLICK). It is to create such junk - expensive junk - that thousands of African elephants are being slaughtered for their tusks alone, their carcasses left to rot. According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, authorities worldwide confiscated about 27 tons of ivory in 2011, estimating 25,000 to 50,000 elephants were killed that year. In New York it is illegal to sell ivory from elephants killed after 1978. UK and EU laws are even tighter: all trade in ivory is banned, except for "antique" ivory which predates 1/6/1947 (CLICK).

Calls For Entries

Artists, here are two more calls for entries into competitions, for both of which the closing date is 31 January 2013. First there is the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation Wildlife Artist of the Year Competition, which has been running for the last five years attracting entries from around the world. The top prize is £10,000 (CLICK). Second is the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours, which offers a variety of awards, including the Turner Watercolour Award of £2,500 (CLICK). Both competitions offer places in selling exhibitions at the Mall Galleries in London. Shown is Ronald Maddox's watercolour Digwell.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

The Flower Girl

Having praised Murillo's The Flower Girl (1670) yesterday, I thought I should show it on my blog. It seems to have been cleaned since I last visited the Dulwich Picture Gallery, which owns the painting. This is a brighter picture than I recall. At first glance it seems merely a painting of a pretty girl, but look closer and you can see the hint of a hard life in that young face. She seems uncertain whether to smile or not. Maybe if you bought one of her flowers.... (CLICK.)

Drugs In Art

Is there nothing to which drug traffickers won't sink? This picture is one of three sent from Iran to Canada via Heathrow Airport. UK Border Force officers carrying out checks on freight on Christmas Day found 10kg of opium, worth an estimated £150,000, hidden in the frames of the pictures (CLICK). So far, nobody has been collared.

Barocci Brilliance

February in London sees an explosion of old master paintings. From 27 February to 19 May 2013 The National Gallery will be showing Barocci: Brilliance and Grace (CLICK). This is a major exhibition jointly curated with the Saint Louis Art Museum, where it is on show until 20 January (CLICK). Around 130 works never before seen outside Italy will be on display, including 14 of Barocci's most important altarpieces and devotional paintings - The Last Supper from Urbino Cathedral -, four of his finest portraits plus preparatory drawings and oil sketches. Above is Barocci's Rest on the Return from Egypt (1570–73). Note the combination of rich colours and dynamism, which characterises his art and forms a progression from High Renaissance to Baroque. As you expect with these once-in-a-lifetime exhibitions, admission costs an arm and a leg: adults £12, silver surfers £11. However, silver surfers can gain entry for only £6 on Tuesdays after 2.30pm. Below is an excellent YouTube video which introduces the exhibition.

Sir Quentin Blake

Congratulations to Quentin Blake, who receives a knighthood in the New Year honours list for his work as an illustrator (CLICK). He already has an OBE and a CBE. This latest honour recognises his specially-commissioned murals and illustrations for the Nightingale Project to cheer up patients in hospitals (CLICK) and his creation of The House Of Illustration, a permanent museum and gallery due to open in north London in 2014. He has pledged his entire archive to the museum (CLICK). He created the above illustration Girl Picking Apples (2008) for Scope, a national disability charity that wants to put disabled children In The Picture. I can't think of a more deserving artist to receive a knighthood.

Friday, 28 December 2012

A Feast of Murillo

Murillo is flavour of the month this coming February. Not only will the Dulwich Picture Gallery be showing Murillo & Justino de Neve, but also The Wallace Collection in London will be showing Murillo at the Wallace Collection: Paintings of the Spanish Golden Age from 6 February to 12 May, admission free (CLICK). Murillo has always been one of my favourite artists and his Flower Girl one of my favourite paintings, but why is he suddenly springing up all over London? Answer: generations of pig-ignorant art critics following fashion gave him the raspberry, but the latest art pundits have suddenly discovered how good he was! The Wallace Collection has an extensive group of Murillo's religious paintings, to which it will be adding an important loan. Shown is Murillo's The Adoration of The Shepherds (c. 1665-1670). You might like to know that The Wallace collection is one of a handful of museums and galleries in London that will be open on New Year's Day. Its current show is Journeys East: A Discovery of Hidden Treasures (CLICK).

Murillo & Justino

Here's an exhibition to watch out for in February 2013. Murillo & Justino de Neve: The Art of Friendship opens at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London on 6 February and runs until 19 May (CLICK). Don Justino de Neve, canon of Seville Cathedral, was both friend and patron of Spanish painter Bartolomé Estéban Murillo. This exhibition will bring together over 30 paintings to show the relationship between Murillo and his patron plus Dulwich’s own paintings by Murillo. To display the collection at its best, the gallery will transform its famous enfilade into an evocation of a 17th-century Sevillian church. Murillo's Invitation to a Game of Argolla and Three Boys, which features a black boy previously almost lost in dirty varnish, have been cleaned and restored. Above is Murillo's A Young Man with a Basket of Fruit.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Medal of Honor

With the National Rifle Association of America trying to blame anything but guns for the massacre of innocents in Newtown and for gun crime in general, Electronic Arts (EA) has removed links to gun shops from its Medal of Honor website. The game-makers pride themselves on creating realistic weapons and seek advice from gun manufacturers. EA now deems links to gun shops as "inappropriate", although company logos and descriptions of the weapons remain on the game's website (CLICK). In another response to the Newtown shootings, British host Piers Morgan on CNN TV told his guest Larry Pratt, director of Gun Owners of America, that he - Pratt - was "very stupid" and "a dangerous man". More than 31,000 Americans signed a petition calling for Morgan to be deported (CLICK). So much for US gun owners' regard for the constitutional right to freedom of speech! Don't worry, Piers. The Leveson Inquiry is over. If the Yanks do kick you out, it's safe to come back to Blighty.

Art Controversies

BBC News has posted a slide show of art controversies of 2012 (CLICK). It includes the Pussy Riot trial and Madonna's gun-toting gigs, neither of which I covered as I don't view them as art. I covered all the rest. Two major art controversies of 2012 Auntie has missed are the Nude Men exhibition at the Leopold Museum in Vienna (CLICK) and the litigation over the Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull in the USA (CLICK). Shown is Moneybags Hirst's Verity, a 65ft-high bronze sculpture of a half-flayed pregnant nude with upraised sword. The 25-tonne monster is on a 20-year loan to Ilfracombe in Devon, where Moneybags lives. Will it perk up sales in his fish-and-chip shop ... er ... café? Will verdigris improve the monster?

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Gerry Anderson RIP

Gerry Anderson, the inventor of Supermarionation and creator of Thunderbirds and numerous other puppet TV shows, died today, aged 83. His shows created special effects that other TV shows couldn't match in those days. In some ways he anticipated the Hollywood all-action blockbuster and squeezed it on to the small screen decades ahead of its time. Children loved his shows. He suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease and deteriorated rapidly over the last six months. CLICK for a BBC obituary.

Poster Art 150

With greedy members of ASLEF on strike for the third successive Boxing Day, causing chaos on the Tube (CLICK), this may not be the best day to mention London Underground's 150th anniversary; but what the hell! From February to October 2013 the London Transport Museum will showcase Poster Art 150 – London Underground’s Greatest Designs (CLICK). From the start London Underground produced innovative poster designs (CLICK for an exhibition preview). This rosy-cheeked Edwardian lady points to THE WAY FOR ALL. On 9 January Royal Mail will jump on the bandwagon with a London Underground special issue of stamps (CLICK).

Doctor Who at 50

The BBC's sci-fi show Doctor Who celebrates its golden anniversary in 2013. In March, Royal Mail will issue a set of 1st class stamps showing all 11 doctors (CLICK) and 2nd class stamps depicting some of the show's most heinous villains, including the Daleks and the Cybermen. Shown are William Hartnell, David Tennant and Matt Smith. This is all terribly sexist. Half the fun of Doctor Who is watching the doctor's latest pretty girl running around squealing as an alien tries to grab her. There should be a set of stamps featuring Doctor Who's Crumpet. Jenna-Lousie Coleman is the very latest. She replaces Karen Gillan.

Happy Birthday

London Art News is 7 years old today. It began life as Coxsoft Art News, because it linked to my Coxsoft Art website; but I changed the name after I'd had enough of ribald comments! My blog took off, but my website didn't. London Art News is fast approaching 1 million views and has followers on FeedBlitz, FeedBurner, Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Doggies Reminder

Here's a Christmas reminder about doggy diets: NO XMAS PUD BOSS (2012). The PDSA has warned that grapes, raisins, sultanas, onions and human chocolate are all poisonous to dogs and can cause death (CLICK). So no sage and onion stuffing either. Also, don't put slug pellets in your garden or use crushed cocoa pods as a garden mulch: two more potential dog killers! Happy Christmas, doggies.

Io Saturnalia!

Prince Harry will be celebrating Saturnalia by serving lunch to junior soldiers at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan (CLICK). This tradition dates from the Roman Empire of 2,000 years ago and has nothing to do with Christianity. Not a lot about Christmas does! To find out more about Saturnalia CLICK. To discover the Gods of Roman Britain CLICK.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas Past

If you're not already sick of Christmas and you want somewhere free to take the kids over the holidays, the Geffrye Museum in east London is showing Christmas Past until Sunday 6 January 2013, when the traditional burning of the holly and the ivy takes place in the museum gardens. All the Geffrye's middle-class period rooms are currently decorated for Christmas in styles that encompass 400 years (CLICK). Glued to your chair? Dithering? CLICK for a Paul Kerley audio slide show of the festive rooms in 2009.

Alice In Wonderland

Tim Burton's version of Alice In Wonderland (2010) hits our TV screens on Boxing Day (BB1 6.50pm) This British-American computer-animated and live action fantasy with Mia Wasikowska as a 19-year-old Alice returning to her juvenile haunt, won Oscars for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design and is the twelfth highest-grossing film of all time (CLICK). Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter and an incredibly fatheaded Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen, plus Anne Hathaway as the White Queen; it looks promising. Alice must slay the Jabberwocky to stop her friends being chomped up. I'll vote for that.

Newsweek Print Ends

It's a not-so-merry Christmas for the editorial staff, printers and distributors of Newsweek. This is the Last-ever Print Edition Cover of Newsweek, showing its Manhattan HQ and the tag #LASTPRINTISSUE. The hash points the finger of blame. The 80-year-old US current affairs magazine goes digital in the new year (CLICK). I don't know how it managed to survive for so long. The modern reader wants news as it happens, not in a week's time. Will the magazine survive in digital format?

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Holiday Animations

Regular readers will know that I tend to use Christmas and New Year's TV to catch up on animated movies I haven't seen. Here's my pick of "new" animations over the festive season. Disney's version of A Christmas Carol looks promising (BBC1 24th 4.45pm). The Snowman And The Snowdog (see picture) was made to mark the 30th anniversary of Raymond Briggs' classic (Channel 4 24th 8pm, repeated 25th 1.55pm). Room On The Broom was created by the same team that made The Gruffalo (BBC1 25th 4.35pm). Disney's Tangled remakes the Repunzel fairy tale (ITV1 25th 3.10pm). DreamWorks Animation's How To Train Your Dragon (below) won 10 Annie Awards, so that's a must (BBC1 26th 5pm). Bolt is about a TV superdog that keeps rescuing Miley Cyrus until he finds himself out on the street (BBC1 27th 2pm). Disney/Pixar's Oscar-winning Up launched the Cannes Film Festival in 2009 (BBC1 1st 6.30pm). Disney's The Princess And The Frog is a hand-drawn cartoon harking back to the good old days of animation (BBC1 1st 4pm).

Louis & Flavia Win

For those of you who missed the show yesterday evening, pommel horse silver medallist 2012 Louis Smith and his professional dance partner Flavia Cacace won BBC's glitterball trophy for Strictly Come Dancing 2012 (CLICK). Denise Van Outen with James Jordan and Kimberley Walsh with Pasha Kovalev were powerful contenders, but the public vote went to Louis and Flavia. She jumped for joy while Louis - the bookies' favourite - looked stunned. This is Flavia's first win of the series. Congratulations to both.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

LPS Closing Date

Artists resident in the UK and over the age of 18 on 11 January 2013 might like to be reminded that the closing date for entries to the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2013 is 11 January 2013. Created by the Lynn Foundation and the Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers, the LPS Prize aims to promote representational painting. £25,000 is up for grabs. The 1st prize is £15,000. Last year's winner was Antony Williams with his painting Still life with electric fan. CLICK for details of how to enter.

Psy In Snow

Recognize him? It's a Snow Sculpture of Psy - cartoon style - being prepared for the annual Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin, the capital city of northeast China's Heilongjiang province. The 29th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival opens on 5 January 2013 and lasts for over a month. It attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year (CLICK). The South Korean rapper's Gangnam Style has become the first video to clock up more than one billion views on YouTube (CLICK). Yes, one billion!

Friday, 21 December 2012

The Art of Les Edwards

Les Edwards, the UK's top fantasy, sci-fi and horror artist has had his website completely redesigned (CLICK). He'll be updating it regularly with artwork created during his 35-year career as a professional illustrator. You'd be surprised how many book jackets boast his art. His dragons for Anne McCaffrey's Pern novels are unbeatable. He also publishes under the name Edward Miller. Above is Mrs Cake Suspects a Psychic Perturbation (2008) painted with great humour for Terry Pratchett's Discworld Calendar 2009. Take your time to browse over Christmas. There's nothing much on TV.

A Moment's Silence

A week on and a moment of silence (CLICK). Here are five sadly familiar young faces, all victims of mass murder in Newtown, Connecticut, USA. They are Noah Pozner, 6, Jessica Rekos, 6, British-born Dylan Hockley, 6, Grace McDonnell, 7 and Emilie Parker, 6. President Obama has called for US gun control proposals by January. This morning Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the powerful National Rifle Association, countered Obama's call with something that sounds like a rejected line from a John Wayne script: "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun". He wants a gun-toting guard at every school in the country. In short, his answer to gun crime is a proliferation of guns! The one question that nobody seems to have asked is: Why should the killer's mom, living in a peaceful suburban neighbourhood, have felt the need to buy two handguns and a military assault rifle? Was she expecting the Taliban to parachute into Newtown?

End Of The World

Google is celebrating the End of the Mayans' 13th Baktun with a fitting Google Doodle. You've got to hand it to those old Mayans. They successfully worked out that the shortest day this year would be the 21st. End of the 13th Baktun, beginning of the next. Doom mongers have been panicking for weeks, flocking to high places where they hope they can escape the end of the world; but the hour of doom was today at 11am (GMT) and here I am still blogging and my dogs want walkies. Oh well....

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Antiques & Fine Art

This magnificent oil painting Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti, Venice by Federico del Campo, will be on display at the Willow Gallery stand in The Mayfair Antiques & Fine Art Fair from 10–13 January 2013. The fair will be held at The London Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square, Duke Street, London. It is organised by The Antiques Dealers Fair Limited and includes exhibitors from the UK’s two main professional trade associations: the British Antique Dealers’ Association and LAPADA The Association of Art & Antiques Dealers. Admission is £10 at the door or you can print your own complimentary ticket (CLICK). What a good idea!

Was Jesus Gay?

What would Christmas be without the Reverend Glynn Cardy taking the Mickey out of his own religion? His latest billboard outside the Church of St Matthew-in-the-City in Auckland, New Zealand, hints that Jesus was gay: IT'S CHRISTMAS. TIME FOR JESUS TO COME OUT. (CLICK). It's a play on words: Jesus did indeed come out of the womb at some point, not at this time of the year, of course. The Romans set his birthday to coincide with Saturnalia. Aucklanders aren't interested in the play on words. They are furious, as usual. Last year the Rev. outraged them with Mary is in the Pink, showing a worried Virgin Mary holding a positive pregnancy test (CLICK). My favourite is Poor Joseph. God was a hard act to follow. (CLICK).

Miss Universe 2012

Having mentioned Miss Vietnam's brushwork in a recent post (CLICK) I thought I should record the result of the Miss Universe contest. I doubt if BBC News will; its feminists would throw a wobbler. And it's a happy Christmas for Olivia Culpo, Miss USA and now Miss Universe 2012 (CLICK). She comes from Rhode Island and plays the cello. Her interests include movies, museums, concerts and making people laugh. So why didn't she do a pratfall in her stiletto heels, the way Miss Guyana did (CLICK). The high heels these girls wear!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Jade Theft Update

A fifth man has been charged in connection with the theft of 18 Chinese artifacts, mostly jade, from the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge last April. Thomas Kiely of Tower Hamlets has been charged with conspiracy to commit burglary and is due to appear before Cambridge Magistrates' Court (CLICK). Four men have already been convicted for their part in the burglary, but the 18 artifacts worth millions of pounds still haven't been recovered. The police were far too slow in releasing images of the stolen items. Shown are three of them. CLICK to view all 18 stolen treasures.

Jeff Koons Wine Label

Jeff Koons is the latest artist to adorn the label for French Bordeaux wine Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, which has been employing artists to design labels since 1924 (CLICK). Jeff's design is for the 2010 vintage. It is Romanesque and very sybaritic, showing the birth of Venus (CLICK). Perfect. HRH the Prince of Wales painted the 2004 label to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Entente Cordiale (CLICK).

A Black Gardner

The Garden Museum in central London has acquired Portrait of a Black Gardner (1905) by Harold Gilman, a founder member of the Camden Town Group. A grant of £60,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, plus further support from the Art Fund and the Royal Horticultural Society, made the acquisition possible (CLICK). Since 2008 the Garden Museum has been growing its collection of paintings, prints and drawings on the history of gardening in the UK. Its current exhibition Collecting Cultures - From Cabbages to Kings offers a preview of its collection before it goes on permanent display. Admission to the Museum and Garden costs £7.50 for adults, £6.50 for silver surfers. This Gilman portrait will be displayed in the Spring of 2013 after conservation work is completed. I must admit I'm dubious of the realism of digging with a spade barefooted. Either this anonymous black gardener had soles like iron or he would have cut his feet to pieces.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Crouching Venus

The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, managed by Arts Council England, is bragging about the number of treasures it saved for the nation: 7 between 1 May 2011 and 30 April 2012 (CLICK). One I missed is Flemish sculptor John Nost the Elder's The Crouching Venus (1702). Inset is a detail showing a jug lying on its side, indicating that Venus was disturbed while washing herself. This was bought by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. You'll find it under Sculpture in room 23.

Food For Thought

Here's food for thought as we approach Christmas. Researchers at Newcastle University compared 100 main meals from four TV chefs with books at the top of the bestseller charts to 100 supermarket ready meals, then compared all meals to nutritional guidelines set by the World Health Organization. They found that supermarket ready meals were generally healthier than the recipes of bestselling TV chefs, whose meals were heavier on the fats and saturated fats, which clog up our arteries as well as our sewers. The ready meals came from Asda, Sainsbury's and Tesco. The top TV chefs were Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and former model Lorraine Pascale shown here looking suitably Christmassy (CLICK). Also, the PDSA has issued a warning to dog owners for Christmas. No Christmas pud, rich fruit cake or human choccy treats! Grapes, raisins, sultanas, onions and chocolate are all poisonous to dogs and can cause death (CLICK)!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Craigie Slasher

I can't believe that the National Portrait Gallery in London actually bought this pathetic and damaged Self-portrait by the late Craigie Aitchison, who threw a wobbler when a viewer called it "flattering" and slashed his own work. It remained in his possession until his death in 2009. He had insisted it could only be restored if the cuts remained visible. What an ego! But then he was a Royal Academician.The painting goes on display tomorrow (CLICK). Don't bother, is my advice. See my post below or CLICK to view a truly magnificent portrait.

May Fong Robinson

If you demand portraits whose eyes follow you around the room, May Fong Robinson is the artist for you. She specialises in "Portraits with a Soul" (CLICK).This is her digital painting Aurora (2012) created using Photoshop CS5 and a Wacom tablet. The portrait is of Taiwanese actress Brigitte Lin as she was before retiring from acting to become a writer in Hong Kong. May Fong Robinson is now the top contributor to Google+. She posts pictures daily: CLICK.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Christmas Cracker

I've been trying to get into the spirit of ... er ... Saturnalia ... Bacchanalia ... Druid's Green Man ... Jewish Festival of Lights ... Roman Midwinter Solstice ... and whatever other religious festivities Christianity has been struggling to encompass or suppress for the last 2,000 years. But I'm already sick of it. Firms are clamouring for punters' attention. Adverts, TV commercials, begging letters from charities, art galleries and museums; they're all at it. Gimme, gimme, gimme. Fools plunge into debt to buy food for parties and pressies they can't afford. Are you aware that retail stores use background Christmas music as a means of social control to encourage shoppers to spend more money (CLICK)? The Germans are still miffed with Coca-Cola for foisting a US version of Santa Claus on them. Haddon Sundblom created the red-cheeked, jolly Santa for Coca-Cola in 1931 and painted him for three decades. But he came good in the end with this Naughty Santa for the Playboy cover of December 1972. What a Christmas cracker! It was his last assignment before he died in 1976.

Brits in Saint Louis

Now here's a contemporary British artist whose work I've been following with interest for 20 years: Andy Goldsworthy OBE. He began with ephemeral works of carefully arranged berries and slivers of leaves, but has progressed to massive stone sculptures. This photo gives a glimpse of his latest work Stone Sea (2012), a site-specific limestone sculpture at the Saint Louis Art Museum in the USA (CLICK). These arches are in a new courtyard that joins the Museum’s Cass Gilbert-designed Beaux Arts Main Building and the new East Building designed by British architect Sir David Chipperfield (CLICK). Stone Sea and the East Building will open to the public during the Museum's 2-day celebration on 29-30 June 2013.

RA Gift To HM

I've been trying to ignore the Royal Academy of Arts' pretentious gift of 97 works on paper by Royal Academicians to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in celebration of her Diamond Jubilee, because the current crop of junk-peddling Academicians encapsulates what's wrong with British art today. I would be embarrassed - and impoverished - to own any works by Tracey Emin RA, Grayson Perry RA, Anish Kapoor RA, Gillian Wearing RA or Cornelia Parker RA. Don't expect me to go through the whole list. Look at this doodle Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee 2012 by David Hockney RA, one of the 97 works gifted to Her Majesty. It's an insult. Remember, the Royal Collection houses many of the finest works by the world's greatest artists, including drawings by Leonardo da Vinci. How well does this tripe fit in with such masters? You'll get your chance to see when the 97 go on display next Autumn (CLICK). One to miss, in my estimation.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Arty Driving Licence

Here's a novelty. Swedish artist Fredrik Saker submitted a photo of a painted self-portrait when he applied for his driving licence. It was accepted by the Swedish Transport Agency and his new licence was issued to him. He is chuffed that his art now has the official seal of approval and he is planning to paint portraits of other people who need photos for driving licences (CLICK).

Tree Of Life Wins

In a poll of just under 4,000 Art Fund supporters, Rachel Whiteread’s golden frieze Tree of Life on the facade of the Whitechapel Gallery in East London was voted the favourite work of art supported by the Art Fund in 2012. Second was Titian’s Diana and Callisto, bought for the nation. Third was Yinka Shonibare’s Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle, commissioned by Mayor Bouncy Boris for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. And fourth was Grayson Perry’s series of tapestries on class mobility The Vanity of Small Differences. Roger Hiorns' Seizure came fifth. The voters had a list of only 16 works from which to choose (CLICK).

Friday, 14 December 2012

UK Art Catalogue

The Public Catalogue Foundation and the BBC have completed their patronisingly named Your Paintings project to put online all of the UK's collection of 211,861 oil paintings in public ownership. The UK is the first country in the world to create an arts catalogue. The BBC is celebrating with a soppy Advent Calendar (CLICK). The Telegraph has posted a slide show, beginning with Sir Edwin Landseer's magnificent Monarch of the Glen (1851) and descending into more modern tripe (CLICK). It's sad how our art has declined.