2012 In A Nutshell
London Art News previews art exhibitions in London and reports on anything of special interest in the visual arts worldwide, from ice sculpture to body painting.
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.
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.
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).
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.
CLICK). So far, nobody has been collared.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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?
CLICK for a BBC obituary.
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).
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.
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.
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.
CLICK). Glued to your chair? Dithering? CLICK for a Paul Kerley audio slide show of the festive rooms in 2009.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
CLICK). What a good idea!
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).
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!
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.
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).
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.
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.
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)!
CLICK). Don't bother, is my advice. See my post below or CLICK to view a truly magnificent portrait.
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.
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.
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.
CLICK). One to miss, in my estimation.
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).
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.