Amy Winehouse Statue
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.
Back in 2010 I reported on Spaghetti PM Silvio "Papi" Berlusconi's restoration of Venus and Mars at a cost of 70,000 Euro thingies, while it was on loan to the Palazzo Chigi (CLICK). Mars was given a replacement penis, shield, hand and the point of his sword, while Venus was given two new hands. Restoration or cultural vandalism? Since then, the statue has been returned to the Museo nazionale delle Terme (Baths Museum). The good news for purists and prudes alike is that Mars has been emasculated yet again! Is this a symbolic emasculation of ex-PM stud "Papi" or merely a return to the status quo of 1918, when the ancient statue was unearthed? All of the 2010 restorations have now been successfully removed (CLICK).
CLICK for BBC News. CLICK for The Onion spoof.
CLICK). The Shanghai exhibition comes hot on the heels of the release of the latest Bond movie Skyfall in China. Chinese censors cut a scene showing prostitution in Macau and deleted a line which mentions torture by Chinese security agents. Tut, tut, Meester Bond; no Brit lies; this ees zee people's Communist Party! Below is a Replica of Golden Girl Jill Masterson watched by Gert Fröbe as Goldfinger (1964).
With half the country under deep snow, roads impassable and farmers trying to dig their sheep out of snow tombs, it hardly seems the appropriate time for a trip to the seaside, but Weston-super-Mare opens its annual Sand Sculpture Festival on Good Friday (CLICK). This year the theme is Hollywood. Award-winning sand sculptors have been beavering away to get it all ready on time. Shown is E.T. Phone Home. The Telegraph has posted a slide show of some of these impressive sculptures: CLICK.
CLICK). Paintings, prints and home-made jewellery seem to be the main goodies on offer. Shown is Super Penguin.
CLICK). Lots 109 to 140 have been donated by artists in aid of Greek Debt Free, which aims to buy Greek Government Bonds and cancel them to reduce national debt. Moneybags, any sharks to spare?
CLICK). After he snuffed it, the collection was sold to Catherine the Great of Russia in 1779. Following the Russian Revolution, the collection went to the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. For some reason best known to itself, Russia has decided to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Catherine the Great’s accession to the throne by loaning its magnificent Walpole collection of 70 paintings to Houghton Hall. BP is the lead sponsor. The example shown is Charles Lebrun's Daedalus and Icarus (ca 1645/46). Houghton Revisited is truly a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition. It opens on 17 May and, as you might expect, costs an arm and a leg: adults £18 (CLICK).
China's first lady, President Xi Jinping's wife Peng Liyuan, has emerged upon the world stage during hubby's visit to Russia. A popular singer of patriotic Chinese ditties, big on Chinese TV, she charmed ex-KGB narcissist President Putin, not a bad trick (CLICK). It is rare for Chinese leaders' wives to grab the limelight. This early video shows Peng Liyuan singing The Sea Wind Makes You Sad. Click the bottom right corner to expand the video, ESC to return.
Breaking news: the Old Walworth Town Hall in Wansey Street, Southwark, is ablaze. It houses Newington Library, Cuming Museum and a one stop shop. More than 100 firefighters are tackling the blaze, which has engulfed the roof of the building (CLICK). Update: the fire has been extinguished, but firefighters will remain overnight to dampen down the smouldering ruins.
CLICK). The fair takes place at Chelsea Old Town Hall, King’s Road, London, SW3 5EE, from 11 to 14 April. At least 35 galleries from home and abroad will display new work by artists they represent. Prices start at £500. Above is an eye-catching exhibit.
The next exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London is the annual show of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (RI), which runs from 5 to 18 April (CLICK). This year the RI highlights the plight of Britain’s woodlands with a special show-within-a-show Trees & Landscape. Over 400 works will be on display; both by members and by artists replying to the open call for entries. Shown is Ronald Maddox's watercolour Digwell. Admission costs £3 for adults, £2.50 for silver surfers, free for under 18s.
CLICK). If you can persuade your cherubs that Tyrannosaurus rex - even a giant, roaring animatronic model - isn't all it's cracked up to be, you could steer them into the Human Biology section. Here you will find a gigantic womb, which is a true work of modern art. I visited this exhibit many moons ago. You enter the womb with the sound of a human heartbeat thumping in your ears and gaze up at the awe-inspiring Giant Model of a Human Foetus (above). It seems like an alien god from a science fiction film. They're taking over the World!
The Royal College of Art's annual secret postcard sale has proved a resounding success yet again. Believe it or not, punters have been camping outside the RCA in Battersea since Tuesday to lash out £45 on an anonymous work of art on a postcard, anonymous until after purchase when the buyer finds who signed the back (CLICK). It looks as though I was wrong about that turtle or snail being by Nick Park (CLICK). Here is his secret postcard: Life Without Pie: A Horror Story. Tesco beefburger! Yuk!
CLICK to find a larger graphic to print for kiddies' colouring in. The Warlord of Mars comic books, based on the science fantasy novels written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, are published in the USA by Dynamite Entertainment® (CLICK).
CLICK). Mammary glands aside, the 41st Olympia International Art & Antiques Fair will open at London's Olympia Exhibition Centre on 6 June for 11 days (CLICK). You can book tickets now. Don't ask how much they cost. Doing so will just prove you're a pleb who can't afford to decorate your shack in the appropriate manner.
With the UK facing the prospect of being snowed in for Easter, I thought I'd take a peek ahead at Good Friday's viewing. Amidst all the usual dross, I found Pixar Animation Studios' Ratatouille (2007) on BBC One at 4.55pm, the saga of an ambitious Parisian rat determined to become a top chef. It garnered many awards the following year, including 9 Annies (CLICK). My graphics show Remy the Rat with his Oscar® and Remy struggling to lift his BAFTA, both for best animated feature film. If you haven't seen it, CLICK for the official trailer. Hitchcock fans can look forward to Suspicion (1941) on BBC Two at 9.55am, staring Cary Grant and the delectable Joan Fontaine worried about hubby's deadly intent.
CLICK)! Sponsors of OTT awards take note. The Guardian has posted a slide show of top photos: CLICK.
A month ago I reported that the family of late amateur artist Lewis Todd had found that some of his daubs had been painted on scraps of canvas discarded by Francis Bacon (CLICK). Shown are the Six Scraps of Discarded Work from Bacon's 1950s Screaming Pope. Guilford auction house Ewbank’s estimated their value at about £100,000. Yesterday, on the second day of Ewbank’s sale, these Bacon scraps went under the hammer for a total of nearly £46,000 ($70,000) (CLICK). What a farce!
I must admit I'm rather disappointed with the category winners in the Sony Open Photographer of the Year Awards, taken by amateurs. An Explosion of Milk captured by Matías Gálvez from Chile is the most eye-catching. The title Open Photographer of the Year will be awarded at a gala ceremony in London on 25 April. The following day the exhibition opens in the West Wing of Somerset House and runs until 12 May. It will also include the work of professional photographers. Admission is £7.50. CLICK for more information. CLICK for a BBC slide show.
Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head by an Islamic thug for "promoting secularism" (girls' education), began school in Birmingham on Monday. She is very proud of her new school uniform and school badge, because they show she is a student. What determination and courage! I'm not at all sure it was wise for the BBC to release the name of Malala's school (CLICK). There are many Muslims in Birmingham, and Malala is a soft target for any Islamic nutter who sympathises with the Taliban's aim of enforcing strict Sharia Law. The world may have been outraged by a cowardly attack on a 14-year-old girl, but the Taliban still want to kill her. Even in England, she isn't safe.
CLICK). To visit the Tretchikoff Foundation, founded by the artists' granddaughter in 2010, CLICK.
CLICK). A total of 99 exhibits, some weird, some wonderful, in 7 categories will vie for the jurors' votes. The overall winner will be announced on 17 April. Will it be the Olympic Cauldron, the Raspberry Pi Computer or the Donky Bicycle for Chinese coolies living in Mayfair? I still regard the Child Vision Glasses, which the wearer can adjust for best vision, designed by The Centre for Vision in the Developing World and Goodwin Hartshorn, as potentially the most useful; but is "useful" on the jury's check list? CLICK for a slide show.
Yesterday the Thompson Gallery at 15 New Cavendish Street, London, opened Matthew Alexander: An Exhibition of New Paintings, which runs until 7 April (CLICK). The Thompson website is one of the most accessible I've seen recently. Thumbnails of the paintings on display are shown and all you need do is click on a thumbnail to view a larger image. Congratulations to Hex Digital for this excellent, user-friendly design. Alexander's impressionistic landscapes have the plein air look, as though they were dashed off before an approaching storm. Shown is his Silver Light in Pin Mill.
CLICK for Telegraph photos. CLICK for a BBC video. There has been unprecedented demand for tickets. If you haven't booked already, you won't get a ticket before the middle of May! Aladdin Sane album cover (1973). CLICK for the V&A.
Remember the talking computer Holly/Hilly in the BBC TV comedy sci-fi series Red Dwarf, played in its female incarnation by Hattie Hayridge (left)? In an imperfect example of life imitating art, the latest computerised talking head is a virtual Zoe Lister. Cambridge University's Engineering Department and the Toshiba Research Laboratory collaborated on this project, which allows you to chat with Zoe and explore her emotions. The BBC's Technology Correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones put the virtual Zoe through her paces (CLICK). Her speech is still a bit wooden, but she's prettier than Pinocchio. Will my next computer have this glamorous baldie popping up to warn me "Error: stack overflow in Line 0"? (I had one of those yesterday. I link this blog only to safe websites, but I find some dodgy ones while browsing the Web.)
CLICK). Above is David Hockney's Portrait of Dominic Elliott (2008).
The high quality of art in the doomed cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum is almost frightening. Ignore the pornographic subject of this sculpture Pan with a She-goat (pre-AD 79) and examine the quality of the sculpting. How many great works of art were destroyed forever when the Roman Empire fell? And how many of today's Big Names in art could create anything half as powerful? Life and death in Pompeii and Herculaneum opens at the British Museum in London on 28 March (CLICK).
Today HMS Belfast celebrated its 75th birthday by going green for St Patrick's Day. The ship was built in Belfast by Harland and Wolff and launched on St Patrick's day 1938. Following distinguished service in WWII, she was saved from the scrapyard and became a floating museum in the Pool of London. She is now run by the Imperial War Museum (CLICK for photos). Those pesky leprechauns get everywhere. They've even turned the Sphinx and Great Pyramid in Egypt green for St Patrick's Day (CLICK)!
CLICK, CLICK). Top: Sigourney Weaver and Robin Tunney; bottom: Persis Khambatta and Kylie Minogue OBE. Sigourney shaved her head for Alien 3 (1992). Persis shaved her head for Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). Sadly, she died of a heart attack in 1998 (CLICK). If you don't recognise Robin Tunney, she plays Teresa Lisbon in the award-winning TV series The Mentalist. Kylie is the only one who didn't shave her head. Her hair fell out as a result of chemotherapy for breast cancer. I would have added a shaven-headed Halle Berry to make this a round dozen, but I can't find a photo I trust. Beware of imitations. Many pictures of bald celebrities on the Internet are Photoshop jobs. CLICK for a bald celebs Worth1000 contest from 2006.
CLICK). Can you think of anyone else I've missed?
Today the Royal Academy of Arts in London opened George Bellows (1882-1925): Modern American Life, the first retrospective of works by this American realist painter (CLICK). Shown is Forty-two Kids (1907) depicting slum children bathing from a dilapidated dock in the filthy waters of New York's East River. The title became ironic, because bellows died at the age of 42. I've already previewed this worthwhile exhibition (CLICK). You'll find it in the Sackler Wing of Galleries, Burlington House, admission £10 adults, £9 silver surfers. CLICK for a BBC slide show.
CLICK). For a BBC video of bald Jessie J, CLICK.
It may have escaped your notice, but eight of the world's top chess players have descended on London for The World Chess Candidates Tournament, which will decide who plays the current world champion Vishy Anand. The tournament runs from 14 March –to 2 April (CLICK). With an eye for the main chance, Christie’s Style & Spirit auction on 26 March will showcase historic chess sets and tables (CLICK and search for "chess"). Shown is a German chess set made from amber (18th century). Another set is by Man Ray.
CLICK) and, ironically, to my Google+ page, neither of which I like because they thrust adverts at me. I guess Google doesn't make any money out of its Reader, because there are no adverts and the user controls the RSS feeds wanted. Today BBC News caught up with this story and posted some users' complaints (CLICK).
Thomas Heatherwick's design for the spectacular London 2012 Olympic Cauldron won the visual arts prize at this year's South Bank Sky Arts Awards (CLICK). The photo shows the flaming copper petals rising to form the dazzling cauldron. A worthy winner.
CLICK) the majority of delegates refused to retract their earlier agreement. From top to bottom in my combined graphic, the Oceanic Whitetip Shark (Carcharhinus longimanus), the Porbeagle Shark (Lamna nasus) and three varieties of Hammerhead Shark have been added to Appendix II, which means the international trade in these sharks will be regulated (CLICK). It isn't an outright ban, but it is a huge step forward.
Today the Royal College of Art opened its annual fundraising RCA Secret exhibition at the College’s new campus in Battersea. Around 2,700 postcard-sized works of art donated by Big Names and students are on display until 22 March. They cost £45 each. The sale takes place on Saturday 23 March (CLICK). You won't know if you've bought a Big Name until you turn the postcard over and find who signed it on the back. If this Turtle isn't by Nick Park, I'll eat my ... er ... a Tesco beefburger.
Yesterday the Redbridge Museum in Central Library, Ilford, opened Great Gardens, an exhibition of 500 years of Redbridge gardens, parks and open spaces (CLICK). The picture of Wanstead House shown here is a detail from A View of Wanstead in the County of Essex (c. 1781). If my researches are correct, this is a copperplate engraving by Wilson Lowry of a painting by George Robertson, published by John and Josiah Boydell. Wanstead House is long gone, but its influence in Redbridge lingers on. This exhibition is complimented by The History of Valentines Gardens currently showing at Valentines Mansion (CLICK). Admission to both exhibitions is free. Choose a warm, sunny day and enjoy Valentines Park too.
If you want to avoid queues at The British Museum, use the Montague Place entrance and climb the stairs to the first floor. Showing in Room 90 is In search of Classical Greece: travel drawings of Edward Dodwell and Simone Pomardi 1805–1806 (CLICK). Seventy never-before-seen views conveying the beauty of the Greek landscape and picturesque ruins of Classical civilisation have been selected from the archive of The Packard Humanities Institute, with additions from The British Museum's own collection. Shown is Simone Pomardi's A Hill of the Filopappou, Athens (1804). This might not be in the exhibition, but it was too good to resist. The exhibition runs until 28 April, admission free.
1. The British Museum - 5,575,946
Yesterday controversial English painter, photographer, writer and architect Graham Ovenden was accused in Truro Crown Court of being a paedophile who sexually abused young girls in London and Cornwall. Four woman claim he abused them when they were aged between six and 14. He faces nine charges of indecency with a child and indecent assault. He denies the charges (CLICK). Shown are two of his images of young girls: his beautiful photo Sam (1972) and his painting Maud (1984). The Tate gallery owns a collection of 37 of his photos and paintings, including sepia-toned images of naked young girls (CLICK). Life studies have been important to artists for centuries. There needs to be trust between artist and model, also between artist and the parents of child models. Let's hope this case doesn't shatter that trust.