Thursday, 28 February 2013

Best of Russia

With all the current kerfuffle over inappropriate touching, denied by former Lib Dem chief executive Lord Rennard and denied by ex-cardinal Keith O'Brien, this photo by Vladimir Fedorenko simply called MPs (2012) caught my eye. Inappropriate touching or merely a friendly pat on the bum? The female Russian MP doesn't appear to be objecting. Vladimir's photo is one of the winners in the Best of Russia 2012 photography competition, now on show at the Moscow Centre for Contemporary Art. The Telegraph has posted a slide show of 39 of the winning shots, and there are some stunners (CLICK). Well worth viewing.

Federico Barocci

Yesterday The National Gallery in London opened Barocci: Brilliance and Grace in the Sainsbury Wing (CLICK). This is the first time his paintings and preparatory sketches have been outside Italy. I previewed the show in December (CLICK for details and video). Above is Federico Barocci's Self-portrait (c.1595-1600). Note: silver surfers can gain entry for £6 on Tuesdays after 2.30pm.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Fulleylove's Richard III

The University of Leicester has lashed out £7,300 - more than double the auctioneer's estimate - on this painting Richard III at the Blue Boar Inn (1880) by Victorian artist John Fulleylove (CLICK). The King was reputed to have stayed at the Blue Boar Inn on 20 August 1485 before setting out to meet his fate at the Battle of Bosworth Field on 22 August 1485. The white boar was Richard III's personal device (CLICK). Fulleylove depicts an heroic knight setting forth to do battle, with crowds waving and cheering him on.

PPA Top 10

To celebrate its centenary the Professional Publishers Association (PPA) has posted its Top 10 (British) magazine covers of the past 100 years. Its choice seems to be dictated by historic importance and drama. The Telegraph has posted a slide show of the Top 10 (CLICK). The public is invited to vote for their favourite (CLICK). The cover with the most votes will be named Cover of the Century. The shortlist shows what a conservative lot we Brits are. What about the recent fashion for nude baby-bump photos on magazine covers? I don't know who began this fashion, but Britney Spears on Harper's Bazaar magazine (August 2006) is the most beautiful I've seen. This would certainly make it on to my Top 10 covers. What joie de vivre!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Pompeii Trailer

The British Museum in London has posted a trailer for its exhibition Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum, which opens on 28 March (CLICK). Shown is a Portrait of baker Terentius Neo and his Wife, who lived in Pompeii (AD 55–79). Admission is £15 for adults and for silver surfers! However, between 12.00 and 16.30 on Mondays, silver surfers can gain entry for £7.50.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Disney Scoops Oscars

Amidst all the glitz and glamour of the 85th Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday, news that Disney scooped both animation awards might have passed you by. Disney's charming Paperman (2012) won Best Animated Short Film, while Disney/Pixar's Brave (2012) won Best Animated Film (CLICK for trailer). Paperman marks an innovative return to hand-drawn animation using new in-house technology Meander, which enables artists to draw on top of modern computer-generated images to blur the line between the two formats, a technique called "final line advection". CLICK for the full list of winners and runners-up.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Adel Abdessemed's Cri

The David Zwirner gallery in London has opened Adel Abdessemed: Le Vase abominable, a solo show of new works by the controversial Algerian-born artist who now lives in Paris (CLICK). Above is his Cri (2012), a life-sized sculpture inspired by Nick Ut's Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of Vietnamese children fleeing a napalm attack in June 1972. The naked 9-year-old girl in the photo was Phan Thi Kim Phúc, whose back had been burned by napalm (CLICK). Adel's sculpture is excellent, but it is carved entirely from mammoth ivory. Not a good idea. I hope he can prove it is indeed mammoth ivory and not post-1947 elephant ivory, which cannot be worked or sold in the UK under our laws. The exhibition runs until 30 March.

Banksy News

Fine Art Auctions Miami has cancelled the sale of Banksy's Slave Labour, which shows a boy sewing Union Jack bunting (CLICK). The auction house has given no reason for cancelling the sale, but it must have been aware that feeling here was so strong that an international incident was in the offing. A new graffito has taken the place of the missing Banksy, depicting a nun with her mouth zipped shut. Saint Banksy! The firm that owns the wall, Wood Green Investments, has kept quiet about its involvement in the disappearance. No theft has been reported to the police. CLICK for a BBC video.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

What's In A Name?

Paintings by amateur artist Lewis Todd were painted on the backs of canvases painted by Francis Bacon. Mr Todd's family discovered the Bacon fragments after Mr Todd died in 2006, but had no idea how he came by them. Their value has soared from zero to an estimated £100,000 (CLICK). The fragments are thought to be discards of Bacon's Screaming Pope series from the 1950s. They have been authenticated by the Francis Bacon Authentication Committee and come up for sale at Surrey auctioneers Ewbank's on 20 March. Fancy paying £100,000 for fragments of discarded canvases by a Big Name! Ridiculous.

George Catlin at NPG

The next TERRA-supported exhibition of American art to be opened in London looks a good'un. From 7 March to 23 June the National Portrait Gallery will be showing George Catlin: American Indian Portraits, admission free (CLICK). Over 50 of Catlin's paintings of Amerindians and their customs will be on display together for the first time outside the USA since the 1840s. This is one of the most extensive, evocative and important records of indigenous peoples ever made. Above is Catlin's portrait of Wash-ka-mon-ya, Fast Dancer, A Warrior, Iowa (1844). The show has been organised in collaboration with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington. To see more, CLICK for George Catlin: The Complete Works.

Floral Art Puzzle

The BBC keeps inviting minor celebrities to select their favourite artworks from the Your Paintings collection, as though people who appear on TV have better taste than the rest of us. I usually ignore these videos, but Auntie has struck gold with its latest celebrity: art dealer and co-host of Fake Or Fortune? Philip Mould, who is an expert on British portraiture (CLICK). The first painting he selects is Portrait of a Lady, which is an unknown upper-crust woman by an unknown British artist, date unknown. He points out the small posy of flowers on the woman's arm as a possible clue to her identity. The two flowers and a dangling bud (detail shown) are exotic. Queen Elizabeth I sponsored the beginnings of the slave trade. In 1564 she lent John Hawkins her own ship Jesus of Lubeck to be used to transport slaves from the West African coast to the West Indies. Hawkins became so rich from the sale of slaves that he incorporated a slave in his coat of arms (CLICK). The slave's arms are bound in a similar position to the posy in the portrait. Could the flowers be from a plant imported from the West Indies and could they represent a boast that hubby was a rich slaver?


As it's the weekend and snowing, I thought you might have time to watch a video on Neoclassicism. Beauty And Revolution: Neoclassicism 1770-1820 opened at the Städel Museum in Frankfurt this week. The video publicises the exhibition. It's in German with legible English subtitles. The approximately 100 exhibits in this major survey include statues by Antonio Canova and Bertel Thorvaldsen as well as paintings by Jacques-Louis David. So, well worth a view.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Diamond Geezer's Red Nose

Damien Hirst is muscling in on BBC's Comic Relief this year with signed limited-edition lithographic prints of his infamous Diamond Geezer sporting a red nose. He calls it For The Love of Comic Relief. Fifty are for sale at a piddling £2,500 each and the proceeds will all go to charity (CLICK). Red Nose Day is Friday 15 March. That's the day when anyone with any sense avoids BBC1 like the plague. Who wants to see overpaid celebrities doing daft things? I don't.


On Tuesday I posted news of the disappearance of Banksy's Boy With Sewing Machine, also called Slave Labour (CLICK). Banksy seems to have posted his own opinion of its disappearance. DANGER THIEVES (2013) has appeared next to the repaired hole in the wall (CLICK). Fine Art Auctions Miami claims that everything is legal, but is it? Firstly, Banksy donated his artwork to the community. Under the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works an artist has the right to decide how his art is treated and disposed of (CLICK). Both Great Britain and the USA are signatories to the Berne Convention. In 1990 the US enacted its Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) to comply with the Berne Convention. Then we have the Artist's Resale Right in Europe, which guarantees an artist a small percentage when a work of art is resold (CLICK). I have no idea how that applies to an artwork which has been donated to a community, but I'm sure lawyers would have fun with it! In short, by smuggling Banksy's work out of the UK the anonymous "collector" has driven a coach and horses through Banksy's artistic rights. Fine Art Auctions Miami would seem to be complicit in ignoring the US VARA law. And what about naming and shaming the owner of the wall?

Thursday, 21 February 2013

East End Faces

On 23 February the recently refurbished William Morris Gallery in Lloyd Park, Walthamstow, will open its new free exhibition David Bailey's East End Faces (CLICK). Bailey was born in Leytonstone and raised in East Ham. The show includes previously unseen pictures from the 1960s, including the Kray Twins with a pet snake! Children left school at 15 in those days and they had to go out to work. Bailey's photo above shows a Boy Worker in Bethnal Green in 1961. CLICK for a Telegraph slide show.

Jane Austen Stamps

Today Royal Mail issued a six-stamp set celebrating the novels of Jane Austen and the bicentenary of the publication of her most famous novel Pride and Prejudice, which has sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility make up the set (CLICK). Royal Mail commissioned Angela Barrett to design the stamps (CLICK).

Roy Lichtenstein

Lichtenstein: A Retrospective opened at Tate Modern today, bringing together 125 of his most definitive paintings and sculptures (CLICK). Shown is his Whaam! (1963) It all looks terribly out of date to me, like 20th Century winkle-picker shoes. And why should Roy Lichtenstein's work be considered high art while the work of far better comic-book illustrators be regarded as low art? Admission costs a ridiculously OTT £14 for adults and £12.20 for silver surfers. Give it a miss, is my advice. Sorry, TERRA.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Dali Thief Caught

Last June I reported on the theft of a small Salvador Dali painting Cartel des Don Juan Tenorio (above left) from the Venus Over Manhattan art gallery in New York (CLICK). Above right is a CCTV image of the thief. He returned the painting to the gallery by express mail from Europe a week later (CLICK). Fingerprints enabled detectives to track him down. On Saturday Phivos Istavrioglou from Athens was arrested at New York's John F Kennedy airport. He made a brief court appearance yesterday, charged with stealing the painting. He pleaded not guilty. The judge set bail at $100,000 (£65,000): CLICK.

Sir Quentin Blake

Today Prince Charles knighted artist Quentin Blake "for services to illustration" (CLICK for video). CLICK for more information about Sir Quentin's well deserved honour.

CIWEM Photos

We're all used to art being used as a vehicle for propaganda, but this photo by Lu Guang takes the biscuit. Look closely and you might notice that the sheep are statues! Lu Guang took his photo Polluted Landscape (2012) on the outskirts of Holingol City, Inner Mongolia, China. Pollution from coal mines has ruined the Horqin Grassland. So the local government had more than 120 sheep sculpted - plus cattle, horses and camels - to convince myopic tourists that the land is healthy enough to be grazed! (Tourism is important to the economy.) This is one of the photos in the running for the CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2013. The winners will be announced on 9 April. The exhibition opens the following day at the Royal Geographical Society in London. CLICK for a Telegraph slide show of selected entries.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Sir Denis Mahon

Sir Denis Mahon, one of the UK's foremost art historians, amassed the finest private collection of Italian Baroque masterpieces in the world, bought in the days when they were out of fashion and undervalued. When he died in 2011, he left 57 of the most important works in his collection to the nation, on the proviso that the public should not be charged to view them. This morning, at the National Gallery in London, the Art Fund announced how these works would be distributed to British galleries and museums. The National Gallery gets the lion's share: 25 paintings including Guido Reni's The Rape of Europa (c. 1637-9) shown here. The Ashmolean in Oxford gets 12, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge 6. The rest are split between the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh and Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, with one going to Temple Newsam House in Leeds. CLICK for The Telegraph slide show of a selection from Sir Denis Mahon's collection.

Egg Tempera Wins

Congratulations to Ruth Stage of the New English Art Club who won this year's Lynn Painter-Stainers first prize worth £15,000. Here is her winning painting The Isabella Plantation, which she painted using the ancient method of egg tempera. I must admit there's too much yoke in this graphic for my taste, but the original could be stunning. Runners-up prizes of £1,500 went to Robert Dukes, Jennifer McRae, Danny Markey, Cherry Pickles and George Rowlett. The young artist prize of £2,500 went to John Hainsworth. Over 1,000 paintings were submitted for these awards (CLICK). The exhibition of selected works opened yesterday at the Mall Galleries in London and runs until 2 March, admission free (CLICK).

Monday, 18 February 2013

Banksy Cut From Wall

Last May I posted this picture of a Boy with Sewing Machine and real Union Jack bunting (CLICK). It has since appeared on Banksy's website (CLICK). So it is genuine. Last Wednesday workmen erected scaffolding and tarpaulins around the graffito and by Saturday there was nothing left but a hole in the wall. The artwork has since appeared in the Modern, Contemporary and Street Art sale to be held at Fine Art Auctions Miami on 23 February (CLICK) with an estimated value of £320,000 to £452,000. The auction house claims the Banksy is from a "well-known collector" who had signed a contract to say "everything was above board"! Firstly, real collectors don't buy and sell in the space of a fortnight. They savour their purchase while it appreciates in value. Secondly, where is its export licence? The Banksy must have been smuggled out of the UK. The sooner Miami police are involved in this case the better (CLICK).
Update: the Arts Council says this Banksy is excluded from Export Control as it is less than 50 years old (CLICK).

Richard Briers RIP

Actor Richard Briers has passed away, aged 79 (CLICK). In a long and illustrious career, which included everything from Doctor Who to Shakespeare, his role as Tom Good in BBC TV's The Good Life won him millions of fans. Shown is that fabulous cast: Felicity Kendal, Richard Briers, Penelope Keith and Paul Eddington in The Good Life. Left is a photo of Richard with his CBE at Buckingham Palace in 2003. Despite its lack of journalists today, due to a strike, the BBC cobbled together a slide show of Richard's career (CLICK). The Telegraph has posted a more comprehensive slide show (CLICK) which includes Richard brandishing bra and panties to raise a titter from Raquel Welch in the film Fathom (1967).

Scottish Landscapes

Tomorrow The Fleming Collection at 13 Berkeley Street, London, opens a double retrospective: Land and Landscape: The Painting of James Morrison and the Etchings of John Clerk of Eldin (CLICK). The exhibition celebrates Morrison's 80th birthday and commemorates the 200th anniversary of Clerk's death. Shown is Morrison's Old Montrose Winter (1984). The exhibition runs until 6 April, Tuesdays to Saturdays, admission free. The Fleming Collection is supported by The Fleming-Wyfold Art Foundation.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Half-term Holidays

It's that time again: school half-term holidays. If you live in Greater London and have a cherub or two to entertain over the next week, you'll find that most of the major museums are offering free drop-in activies for children. The British Museum is running Amazing China (CLICK). The Horniman Museum is offering Discovery For All (CLICK). The Natural History Museum is enticing Curious Collectors in the Darwin Centre atrium (CLICK). The V&A's Imagination Station gives kids the chance to create mini furniture and add it to a fantasy room (CLICK). The V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green is offering a variety of activities for New Wave Kids (CLICK). For a wider spread of fun and games for children during the half-term holidays, visit the BBC's Things To Do page and enter your postcode (CLICK).

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Bee Gees Statue

Bee Gees fans in Australia might like to know, if they don't already, that the surviving member of the group, Barry Gibb, has unveiled this life-sized statue of the boys as they were aged 9 to 12 in Redcliffe, Queensland, the town where they were discovered and where they signed their first recording contract in 1959. The statue will mark the start of the Bee Gees Way, a 70m walk that tells the group's story in words and pictures. The brothers were born on the Isle of Man, a British Crown Dependency (CLICK).

Making of a Myth

BBC News has posted a slide show of John Aggs' graphic display of King Richard III's life and death, The Making of a Myth, now showing at the Battle of Bosworth Heritage Centre in Leicester (CLICK). Ignore the BBC twit who wrote the captions and claims this to be "Manga style art". Nothing like. The free display, commissioned by Leicestershire County Council, concludes with the discovery of King Richard III's remains under a Leicester car park. Is there enough material to publish as a graphic novel? It could be a nice little earner for the Heritage Centre, given all the recent publicity.

World Press Photos

The Telegraph has posted a slide show of the winners of the World Press Photo of the Year 2012 contest (CLICK). As you might expect from last year's news, there are some grim photos. An anguished funeral of two young children in Gaza City, taken by Paul Hansen of Sweden, was the overall winner. Another grim photo features Syrian "freedom" fighters in Aleppo torturing a suspect. That one looks a bit staged to me. This photo of the Pacu Jawi bull race in Batu Sangkar, West Sumatra (2012) by Chen Wei Seng of Malaysia won the Sports Action Single category. What a shot!

Friday, 15 February 2013

British Murals

Here's another exhibition which opened in London yesterday, this one at The Fine Art Society in New Bond Street: British Murals and Decorative Painting 1910 - 1970 (CLICK). The graphic shows a dancing nude from Colin Gill's oil painting Allegro (1921). The exhibition highlights "the significance of twentieth-century murals as one of the greatest inventive achievements in modern British art". What I've seen looks interesting. The show runs until 9 March.

Pick Me Up 2013

The UK’s original contemporary graphic art festival Pick Me Up returns to Somerset House in London from 18 to 28 April (CLICK). As well as showing and selling original artworks and limited-edition prints - prices start at £10 - there will be family workshops, evening events and creative forums. Aardman Animations will host a Shaun the Sheep model-making workshop. Admission costs £8 for adults, £6 for silver surfers. A Festival Pass costs £12 if booked before 31 March.

Julian Opie: Winter

Paintings by Julian Opie have an elegant simplicity, more graphic design than traditional painting. His latest solo exhibition Julian Opie: Winter opened yesterday at the Alan Cristea Gallery in London and runs until 16 March (CLICK). The theme, as you might already have guessed, is winter landscapes. Shown is his Winter 32 (2012), one of 75 prints laminated to glass for the show.

Looking at the View

Tate Britain in London has opened an interesting free display of landscapes Looking at the View, which runs until 2 June (CLICK). It juxtaposes traditional landscape paintings with modern photos and paintings for comparison. The oil painting shown here is John Hill's Interior of the Carpenter's Shop at Forty Hill, Enfield (1813). Forty Hall is itself well worth a visit: a Grade 1 listed manor house built in the 1620s. It reopened in 2012 after restoration (CLICK).

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Trockel's Cosmos

Yesterday the Serpentine Gallery in London opened Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos, which limps along until 7 April. Shown is her digital print Prime-Age (2012). The gallery took the unusual step of allowing Ms Trockel to curate her own show, selecting some excellent work by better artists to surround her own stuff. The Serpentine blurb is unbelievable: CLICK. Admission is free.

Blade Runner Arrested

Meanwhile, in Pretoria, gorgeous South African model Reeva Steenkamp received a Valentine's Day gift she didn't expect: four bullets in the head and one in the hand! Police have arrested her boyfriend, world-famous Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius, known as the "Blade Runner", on suspicion of murder and have seized a gun registered to him (CLICK).

One Billion Rising

The campaign group One Billion Rising has chosen Valentine's Day to hold protests in India over the country's appalling treatment of women. The campaign is calling for one billion people around the world to rise up against gender-based crimes. Anoushka Shankar, the sitar-playing daughter of Ravi Shankar, supports the movement and has revealed that "As a child I suffered sexual and emotional abuse for several years at the hands of a man my parents trusted implicitly" (CLICK). The gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old student on a New Delhi bus caused outrage across India and around the world (CLICK).

Franz Stuck's Cupid

I thought I'd mark Saint Valentine's Day with Franz Stuck's sinister-looking Cupid At The Masquerade Ball (1888) pondering his next victim. This painting sums up the pangs and vagaries of romance far better than hearts, flowers, chocolates or soppy putti. I wonder what's holding up Cupid's quiver. It can't be his bottom, unless it is massive.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Darwin US Comic

Did you know that yesterday was Charles Darwin's birthday (12/2/1809)? To mark the occasion Smithsonian Books has published Darwin: A Graphic Biography written by Eugene Byrne with artwork by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Gurr (CLICK). The comic is aimed at readers aged from 10 to 15 and explores Darwin's life from his inquisitive boyhood, through his adventures in Africa, South America and Australia, to becoming the world's most revolutionary scientist. The paperback costs $9.95 from Smithsonian Books or £5.67 from Amazon UK. The big question is: Will it persuade the offspring of religious fruitcakes to give Creationism the bum's rush?

Richard III Tomb

The Richard III Society, which was closely involved in the project to locate the remains of the lost king, has released this image of a 7ft-long, hand carved, limestone monument for King Richard III's Tomb, which is intended to be erected in Leicester Cathedral next year, when the king's remains are reinterred. The estimated cost is £30,000, which the society expects to raise through donations. Note the rose. Richard's death in battle on Bosworth Field ended the War of the Roses (CLICK). History shows Richard to have been a valiant knight and the last of our warrior kings, but Shakespeare portrayed him as a villainous hunchback, pandering to popular belief in those days that hunchbacks were the embodiment of evil.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Barbara Nessim

A fortnight ago I previewed the free Barbara Nessim display in Room 74 at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (CLICK). BBC News has posted a slide show of some of the 80 exhibits (CLICK). This minimalist portrait of John Lennon caught my eye. It was commissioned by Rolling Stone magazine 8 years after a maniac shot Lennon to death in the USA. Nessim left part of the portrait blank to represent the musician's untimely end. Yoko Ono loved the portrait.

Monday, 11 February 2013


In 2005 the Lynn Foundation and the Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers teamed up to create the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize to promote draftsmanship and representational painting, with prize money of £25,000. Helen Simmonds' exquisite still life December Shadow (detail) is a fine example of the aims of this award. The Lynn Painter-Stainers exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London runs from 18 February to 2 March, admission free (CLICK). A series of free events, demonstrations and workshops will also take place during the show. For details telephone Parker Harris on 01372 462190 or email

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Brave Wins BAFTA

Hot off the presses: Disney/Pixar's Brave (2012) adds a BAFTA for Best Animation Film to its Golden Globe Award (CLICK). Pixar rewrote its entire animation system for the first time in 25 years to make Brave, which boasts a strong cast of British character actors for its voiceovers. One to put on my list of animations for Christmas viewing 2014. The Making of Longbird won the Short Animation (CLICK).

Happy New Year

Gung Hay Fat Choy, if you'll pardon my Cantonese. London is suitably wet for the start of the Chinese Year of the Water Snake. If you have an umbrella handy and a liking for the wet, CLICK to visit the Time Out London website to find out about today's celebrations in the old metropolis. I intend to stay dry and watch Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets (2002) on ITV.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Meet The Ancestor

I'm a sucker for artists' impressions of things that cannot be photographed, such as extinct animals or futuristic technology. This is Carl Buell's impression of the Earliest Placental Mammal Ancestor, which remains nameless. An international team of scientists using MorphoBank - a huge new web application for exploring the Tree of Life - traced the lineage of all placental mammals on the planet to this small, furry, shrew-like insectivore. In a mere 100 million years this little fellow evolved into 5,000 mammalian species, including whales, bats, elephants, dogs and humans (CLICK). Didn't he do well!

Crass Ineptitude

Last April I posted news of the theft of these two Qing Dynasty artifacts from Durham University's Oriental Museum (CLICK). Sentencing Lee Wildman and Adrian Stanton at Durham Crown Court, Judge Christopher Prince didn't mince his words. He told the thieving pair they had shown "crass ineptitude" in losing their valuable haul so soon after stealing it. Wildman had hidden the haul on waste ground, but couldn't find it when he returned two days later. Luckily a witness saw him rummaging and police recovered the treasure. Wildman was sentenced to 9 years in prison, Stanton to 8 years (CLICK).

Friday, 8 February 2013

Cropsey Export Ban

The temporary export bans are coming thick and fast this week. On Wednesday it was two paintings by George Stubbs of a kangaroo and a dingo (CLICK). Today it's Jasper Francis Cropsey's Richmond Hill in the Summer of 1862. Staten Island-born member of the Hudson River School, Cropsey made a number of trips to England in the 1850s to show paintings at the Royal Academy. This one he was forced to sell after running up huge debts entertaining in London. The painting has been in a number of British collections for 150 years and, as far as I know, is one of only two full paintings by Hudson River School artists in the UK. It will cost £5m to keep it in Britain. The date set is 7 April (CLICK).

Origin of the World

Yesterday's Paris Match scooped the art world with this cover picture showing Gustave Courbet's The Origin of the World (1866) together with the head of the model who allegedly posed for it. An art collector bought the portrait in a Paris antique shop in 2010 and contacted Courbet expert Jean-Jacques Fernier, who initially had reservations about the connection. He is now convinced the face belongs to Courbet's model Jo Higgerman (CLICK). The face painting could be worth as much as 40 million euros (nearly £34m).

Liberty Vandalised

One of the most symbolically important French paintings, Liberty Leading The People (1830) by Eugène Delacroix, a powerful glorification of the French Revolution, has been vandalised in the Lens museum in northern France. The famous Louvre Museum opened this branch in the city of Lens last December to bring culture to the inhabitants of a former coal-mining area (CLICK). A security guard spotted a 28-year-old woman using a black marker pen to scrawl "AE911" on the painting and apprehended her. She was then arrested. The French prosecutor has ordered a psychiatric examination of the woman. The Louvre thinks the tag can be easily removed, but has sent an art restoration expert to Lens to examine it (CLICK).

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Head Over Heels

HEAD OVER HEELS - Trailer from Timothy Reckart on Vimeo.

Among all the nominations for this year's Oscars is an end-of-course stop-frame animation by students of the UK's National Film & Television School. Head Over Heels cost £4,000 to make. It was written and directed by Timothy Reckart and produced by Fodhla Cronin O'Reilly, who sent the film off to all the major movie festivals and it kept winning! It is now an Oscar nominee in the Best Animated Short Film category. CLICK for Will Gompertz's take on all this. CLICK for the Head Over Heels website. Watch the trailer.

Tube's Labyrinth

With London Underground fares rising above inflation year-by-year and passengers moaning about cost, overcrowding and lack of air conditioning, I am amazed at the insensitivity of TfL management for commissioning arty-farty codswallop for Art on the Underground. Here's the latest: Labyrinth by Mark Wallinger. There are 270 of them, all different, but all as boring as the next. If you think it's clever of him to produce 270 variations of the same design, think again. Years ago I had a programme on one of my old computers that designed labyrinths to my specifications. I assume Wallinger has an updated version of this programme. CLICK for The Telegraph slide show of this tosh.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Sony Shortlist

This is the silliest chicken I've ever seen, captured perfectly strutting its stuff by Enerst Goh from Singapore. Ornamental chicken breeding clubs award prizes for the top chicken models, and The Walk is a large part of the scoring system. Oh, what a flounce! Goh is a finalist in the Nature & Wildlife Professional category in the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards. CLICK for The Telegraph slide show. The work of all the shortlisted photographers will go on display at Somerset House in London from 26 April to 12 May. L’Iris D’Or will be awarded on 25 April (CLICK).

Picasso Fetches £28.6m

Yesterday evening Sotheby's in London auctioned this incompetent daub by Picasso, Femme assise pres d'une fenetre (Woman sitting by a window) for £28.6 million. It's supposedly a portrait of Picasso's lover Marie-Therese Walter, painted in 1932. Picasso dumped her a few years later when he took up with his next mistress Dora Maar. Judging by this portrait, the writing was already on the wall for Ms Walter in 1932. The daub was bought by an anonymous telephone bidder. CLICK for a BBC video.