Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Blumenfeld Show

On 23 May the East Wing Galleries in Somerset House open a free photo exhibition: Blumenfeld Studio: New York, 1941–1960. Berlin-born Erwin Blumenfeld (1897–1969) was one of the most influential photographers of the 20th Century, sought after for his imaginative portrait and fashion photos. Shown is one of his photos of Grace Kelly for Cosmopolitan magazine (1955). His work also included advertising campaigns and war-effort propaganda posters. Around 100 colour photos and originals of his works in fashion magazines will be on display. The show runs until 1 September (CLICK).

Monday, 29 April 2013

Sci-Fi Festival

Superheroes and aliens, even the odd superheroine, have descended on London for the 12th annual Sci-Fi London festival of science fiction and fantasy films, which runs from 30 April until 6 May at the Stratford Picturehouse in East London (CLICK). On Sunday 5 May there will be free Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Celebrations Talks, with novelists and comic book writers and artists discussing the adventures of the Timelord, followed by a screening of Dr Who and the Daleks (1965) starring Peter Cushing. CLICK for a Telegraph slide show of fans parading in costumes of varying quality.


The UK's DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) is not fit for purpose. Soon it will begin killing badgers in selected areas, against all scientific advice. Currently it is opposing the banning of neonicotinoid pesticides, claiming there isn't sufficient scientific evidence that they harm bees. Due to DEFRA's dithering, the UK abstained from a crucial EU vote on a two-year moratorium on the use of neonicotinoids, which have already been restricted in some countries. Europe's bee population is crashing, and neonicotinoids are feared to be one of the causes. The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) found that the pesticides posed a "high acute risk" to pollinators. Today the EU appeals committee votes on whether to impose the moratorium (CLICK). Fingers crossed it does.
Update: success!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Sex in Pompeii

The ancient Greeks and Romans had a much more enlightened attitude toward sex than we do, as you can see from this Winged Phallic Symbol Statue, Dionysus Temple, Delos Island, Greece (300 BC). You won't find anything like this in a modern temple, whatever the religion. On Friday 10 May the British Museum in London presents Sex in Pompeii and Herculaneum, a lecture by exhibition curator Paul Roberts from 19.00 to 20.00. I quote: "Roman art contained overtly erotic images but also others with different relevance, encompassing humour, fertility and superstition. Images of phalluses, in particular, were everywhere in the cities – a lucky symbol to protect people, houses and businesses." The Museum regards the lecture as suitable for those over the age of 11. It's free, so booking is advisable (CLICK).

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Lineup Art Expo

The next exhibition to open at the Mall Galleries in London will be Lineup: Illustration Art Expo, which opens on Tuesday 30 April and runs until Saturday 4 May, admission free (CLICK). The show allows you to dip your toes into the swirling waters of contemporary illustration and see the work of your favourite illustrators up close. Affordable original artwork and limited edition prints will be for sale. On Saturday the show will peak with an independent comics and illustration fair. Comics creators will showcase their comics and artists will be drawing live in the gallery.

Bert Hardy

BBC News has caught up with the Bert Hardy Centenary Exhibition at The Photographers' Gallery in London and has posted a slide show of some of his historic photos: CLICK. For decades he was one of Britain's top photojournalists, capturing striking images from the Blitz of World War II, through the Korean War to the Gorbals slums, using a second hand Leica camera he adapted to shoot in poor lighting conditions. From 1938 to 1957 he worked for the UK's popular Picture Post magazine. Above is one of his sunnier photos: Maidens In Waiting, Blackpool (1951). The exhibition runs until 26 May (CLICK).

Friday, 26 April 2013

New £5 Note

Today at Chartwell in Kent, the former home of Sir Winston Churchill, the Governer of the Bank of England Sir Mervyn King unveiled a new £5 note featuring Sir Winston in bulldog form. The image is from a photo taken by Yousuf Karsh on 30 December 1941. The note shows a view of Westminster and the renamed Elizabeth Tower from the South Bank plus a background image of the Nobel Prize for literature, which Sir Winston was awarded in 1953. It is expected the new £5 note will be issued in 2016. Sir Mervyn hopes it will be called "a Winston" (CLICK). I think it's more likely to be named "a Winnie", his wartime nickname..

Hong Kong Art

This must be the most striking artwork of the week. It's Tam Wai Ping's Falling into Mundane World (2013), one of six giant inflatable sculptures on display in Hong Kong until 9 June. The show, called Inflation!, opened to the public yesterday on the site of the future museum of visual arts, known as M+. It's the largest contemporary art show ever mounted in Hong Kong. Makes the Turner Prize look silly, doesn't it? CLICK for more information and a photo of an inflatable suckling pig!

Sony World Awards

At a gala ceremony in London, Norwegian photographer Andrea Gjestvang won L’Iris d’Or, awarded to the Sony World Photography Awards Photographer of the Year, plus $25,000. Andrea's winning portfolio One Day in History is a powerful series of portraits of youngsters who survived the terrible massacre on the island of Utoeya in 2011. This photo shows Iselin Rose Borch, 15, who sleeps with a pet dog to try to overcome the trauma of her experience. CLICK for a Telegraph slide show of award-winning photos.


From the sublime to the sexploitative (Coxsoft coined). Today Eleven Fine Art in London opened Jane Hilton: Precious. This is an exhibition of new photos of prostitutes in Nevada, USA, taken in 10 brothels with such titillating titles as Love Ranch North and Shady Lady’s (sic). In 2000 the BBC commissioned Jane to make ten documentary films in Madam Kitty’s Cathouse and the Moonlite Bunnyranch, both in Nevada. (This is how Auntie wastes licence-payers' money.) In 2010 Jane decided to do her own follow-up to the BBC commission, using a plate camera. This exhibition and her photo book Precious is the result. Above is her photo of Sunny Star, Love Ranch North (2012). CLICK for Eleven Fine Art and more of Jane's photos.

Summer Dreams

Here's another beautiful digital "painting" from May Fong Robinson, using Photoshop and Intuos04 Wacom: Summer Dreams. Dreams is about all we had of summer in the UK last year, what with gales, storms and extensive flooding. So this title seems appropriate as we look forward to summer 2013. CLICK to see more of May Fong Robinson's superb digital artworks on Google+. She also publishes animations of works in progress, so you can see how her images are formed, plus Web photos which catch her eye.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Turner Shortlist

This year the Turner Prize exhibition moves to Ebrington in Derry-Londonderry, which is the UK City of Culture 2013. What the hell the Turner Prize has to do with culture is beyond me. This year only two shortlisted ... er ... artists are worth mentioning: Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and David Shrigley. Yiadom-Boakye was nominated for her exhibition Extracts and Verses at Chisenhale Gallery. Shown is her pathetic Complication (2013). David Shrigley was nominated for his solo exhibition at Hayward Gallery: David Shrigley: Brain Activity. CLICK for a Telegraph slide show.

Gwyneth Paltrow Tops

People magazine has named Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow as the world's most beautiful woman, which is pretty good going for a 40-year-old mother of two. She says she keeps in shape by exercising five days a week. There you go, ladies, get off your fat bums and start doing press-ups. Older ladies go for the Jane Fonda look (No. 5).

People's Top 10 Most Beautiful Women:
1. Gwyneth Paltrow
2. Kerry Washington
3. Amanda Seyfried
4. Zooey Deschanel
5. Jane Fonda
6. Jennifer Lawrence
7. Kelly Rowland
8. Halle Berry
9. Drew Barrymore
10 Pink (CLICK).

Human Anatomy

The interaction between art and science can be traced back to cave paintings. Somebody, the "scientist", created the tools for art and the artist applied them. It works the other way round too, with artists creating illustrations to record and further the progress of science. The detailed illustrations for Gray's Anatomy, first published in London in 1858, are still in use today by students of human anatomy (CLICK). The Digital Design Studio of Glasgow School of Art has now taken the teaching of human anatomy into the computer age. Digital designers took three years to create a model of the head and neck which is claimed to be the most accurate in the world. 3D modelling allows medical students to "fly" into the human skull and through the intricacies of the brain. Bio-feedback also allows students to practise giving injections while "feeling" the insertion of the needle as though into a living patient. Dental students take note! The graphic shown here is a still from a BBC video exploring this new imaging software. It needs to be seen to be believed (CLICK).

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

BP Portrait Award

This year only two artists have been shortlisted for the BP Portrait Award 2013, both of them parents depicting their children. John Devane's The Uncertain Time portrays his three children: Lucy, Laura and Louis. Obviously he and mum got stuck on the L pages in their book of names. This triple portrait took three years to paint! Susanne du Toit's painting of her son Pieter looks as though he's hit the rebellious phase at 35. The two artists know they have won at least £10,000 (the second prize). The winner gets £30,000 plus, at the judges’ discretion, a commission worth £5,000. The BP Young Artist Award is £7,000. Prizes will be awarded on 18 June, two days before the exhibition opens to the public (CLICK).

Son of Brainwash

Hijack, the 20-year-old son of Brainwash, is currently showing his imitation street art at the Mead Carney gallery in Mayfair, London. I write "imitation" because Hijack's artworks were designed to be shown in a gallery, not on the street. His exhibit You're never too young to dream big (2013) says it all. Will the denizens of Mayfair accept Brainwash Junior as the real deal? The Telegraph has. It's posted a slide show of his exhibition: CLICK. For me, it's Banksy without soul. Hijack "1" runs until 18 May.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Tetris For Lazy Eye

Remember that old Russian video game Tetris, very popular in the 1980s? Canadian doctors report they have found a new use for it: treating lazy eye (Amblyopia). They tested 18 adults - a small sample - and found playing the game worked better than conventional patching of the good eye to make the weak one work harder (CLICK). A year ago I reported on a Tetris-style game developed by eye specialists at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland (CLICK). Ten-year-old Calum Stillie's lazy eye improved in just one week. Usually a child has to wear a patch for weeks or even months to gain an improvement.


Selected works from an exhibition by Art Below, featuring Mickey-taking depictions of the late Margaret Thatcher, were due to be shown in Westminster Tube Station yesterday, but CBS Outdoor has banned them, citing advertising guidelines (CLICK). Amazing that an American firm should decide what art is fit to be shown on the London Underground! Blame TfL for this anomaly. Shown is Ben Moore's On Earth as it is in Heaven, an amusing pastiche of Peter Paul Rubens' The Assumption of the Virgin Mary with the Iron Lady's face replacing Mary's. I can't imaging anyone throwing a wobbler over this. If you want to view the banned works, visit Gallery Different before 29 April (CLICK).

St George’s Day

Google UK is again celebrating Saint George’s Day with a doodle (CLICK). Very patriotic. How about paying your fair share of UK corporation tax to show just how supportive of England you really are? And why not campaign for England to have a holiday in honour of our patron saint? We're the only country in the UK that doesn't have a holiday for its patron saint. Above is Paolo Uccello's St George and the Dragon (1458-60) in the Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris. My favourite Uccello dragon, complete with RAF roundels, is in London's National Gallery (CLICK). Moans aside, have a very happy Saint George's Day.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Cloud: Meteoros

The bosses of St Pancras International Station in London wondered what to do with the space left by those giant Olympic rings. So they commissioned a series of "Terrace Wires" pieces to fill the gap. Here's the first of them: Lucy and Jorge Orta's Cloud: Meteoros. These are two artificial clouds bearing statues doing various things. CLICK for a BBC video. The public seem to like the installation. Looks like a potential hazard to me: while your head is in the clouds, you trip over somebody's luggage. Whoops!

Ron Mueck in Paris

Globe-trotting Aussie-born Londoner Ron Mueck has opened his latest exhibition at la Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain in Paris (phew! CLICK). The exhibition includes three new works. Here is one of them: Couple Under An Umbrella (2013). The jumbo couple show amazing warmth and affection. Sun got to the old man? Today The Telegraph posted a brief slide show of exhibits: CLICK.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Saltash Celtic Cross

Why do they do it? This 20m-high Saltash Celtic Cross, which looks nothing like any Celtic cross I've ever seen, was erected today to mark the Cornish boundary. It was designed by Simon Thomas at a cost of £500,000, of which £450,000 came from lottery funding and £50,000 from Saltash Town Council. They hope it will boost tourism (CLICK). If the natural beauty of Cornwall with its craggy cliffs can't bring the tourists flocking, I can't imagine this sculpture helping much.

Good Screams

I was intrigued to see whether Call The Midwife's Jessica Raine, who plays butter-wouldn't-melt-in-her-mouth midwife Jenny Lee, could produce some good screams for Doctor Who, episode 4, Hide. She did indeed. Wearing a silly metal hat worthy of Ascot Ladies Day, she outscreamed the best of them. She also managed her more subtle acting, which is a good trick when Matt Smith is doing his hammy thing as Doctor Who. She played gifted psychic Emma Grayling in a ghost-hunting episode reminiscent of Abbott and Costello at their worst (CLICK). The plots get sillier and sillier. Matt Smith gets sillier and sillier. His sonic screwdriver gets sillier and sillier. But his crumpet is pretty (CLICK).

Jeong WooJae

The most interesting contemporary art exhibition to open last week must be Jeong WooJae: The Girl And Her Dog, which depicts a variety of pretty Oriental girls accompanied by the same monstrous dog, like some canine guardian angel. Not Photoshop jobs. These are beautiful oil paintings. Shown is Jeong WooJae's Gleaming Flow In You (2013). He is one of the Albemarle Gallery's new Shine Artists (CLICK). You'll find the exhibition at 49 Albemarle Street, Mayfair, London, until 11 May (CLICK).

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Gromit Statues

The first four hand-painted Gromit Statues have been unveiled in Bristol, home of Aardman Animations. These were painted by Sir Paul Smith, Cath Kidston, Simon Tofield and Richard Williams. Each super pooch statue stands 5ft tall, and a total of 70 are in the pipeline, painted by international artists. They will be spread around Bristol in July and auctioned in September to raise funds for Wallace and Gromit's Grand Appeal in aid of the Bristol Children's Hospital (CLICK).

Art on the Tube

What maniac decided to waste money on Art on the Underground in 2000? The Tube is full of adverts far more interesting, more attractive and more artistic than anything Tamsin Dillon and her team of curators have produced so far. Transport for London's farcical notion of enriching the journeys of millions of people on the Tube every day is not only a waste of money, but also a waste of advertising space. Above is one of the latest crop of 15 artworks commissioned by TfL: Goshka Macuga's I came by Tube (2013). I assume this is a naughty "found image" with Tube map and Tube bra added with Photoshop or the like (CLICK). The new posters will appear in June at four stations: Gloucester Road, Southwark, St James’s Park and London Bridge. How about cancelling this tosh and reducing fares? Have the humility to put it to a passengers' vote.

Kate NHM Patron

The Natural History Museum is chuffed to announce that HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, has become Museum Patron. Catherine opened the Museum’s Treasures exhibition last November (CLICK). Her recent visit with hubby to Borneo, where they met Museum scientists researching rainforest biodiversity, seems to have been the clincher (CLICK). Shame she didn't visit the Sensational Butterflies exhibition and pose with a butterfly on her nose. The Press would have gone bananas.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Prince's Paintings

This delicate watercolour View of Beinn a'Bhuird, Cairngorms (1991) was painted by HRH The Prince of Wales. Anyone who viewed Margy Kinmonth's film Royal Paintbox on ITV last Tuesday will know that Prince Charles is an enthusiastic and talented amateur painter from a line of royal artists (CLICK). Possibly due to the interest aroused by that film, Prince Charles has selected more than 130 of his own watercolours to be published on his website (CLICK). The quality of his artwork is no surprise to me, because a few years ago I was invited to a private showing of an exhibition in which two of his paintings were displayed. All the artists had to stand by their artworks until Prince Charles and his security team arrived. I'm ashamed to say I got drunk, because it was a boiling hot evening and the chilled wine flowed like water.

Wedgwood on TV

This evening BBC Two is showing a potentially fascination programme The Genius of Josiah Wedgwood at 9pm (CLICK). Historian and author A.N. Wilson explores the life of this artistic innovator, industrialist and abolitionist, the grandfather of Charles Darwin. Above is his copy of the Portland Vase and his Abolitionist Cameo: "Am I not a man and a brother?"

Rolf Harris Accused

Shock! Horror! Rolf Harris is the latest celebrity to be arrested as part of Operation Yewtree, the investigation set up to investigate Jimmy Savile and others accused of historical sexual offences. During Rolf's long and illustrious career he has been showered with honours. This Rolfaroo cartoon (1974) was bought at auction by the Qatari royal family for $56m. CLICK for the BBC News item.

Boston Bombing Suspects

The FBI has released a photo of these two suspects captured by CCTV on the day of the Boston Marathon bombings. If you can identify them, contact the FBI. Do not approach them, warns FBI agent Richard DesLauriers (CLICK).

Storm Thorgerson RIP

Storm Thorgerson, the doyen of album-cover artists, died peacefully on Thursday surrounded by family and friends, aged 69. He had been suffering from cancer. His brilliantly striking designs included this punning Back Catalogue for Pink Floyd (1996). He was Pink Floyd's design genius from the start, but he also produced covers for Led Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel and Muse (CLICK). A very sad loss.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Alien in London

If you've wandered into Grosvenor Gardens in London, you might be wondering what on earth this monstrosity is. It's David Breuer-Weil's bronze statue Alien, which appears to have landed head first. At five times the size of the average person, you can't miss it. It will scar Grosvenor Gardens for at least six months (CLICK). What idiot gave him permission to dump it there?

Art Deco

This rare Art Deco statue Almeira in bronze and ivory by Demetre Chiparus comes up for grabs at Bonhams Knightsbridge auction of 20th Century Decorative Arts on 19 June. The bronze was hand-painted and the ivory meticulously carved. Less than five large models were ever made. It was first shown at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris in 1925, from which the term "Art Deco" was derived. This historic statue capturing the spirit of the Roaring Twenties and the emancipation of young women following World War I is estimated to fetch up to £300,000 (CLICK).

Sea Rainforest

Thank Goodness for a modern photographic exhibition in colour! Marine biologist Jamie Craggs is the Aquarium Curator at the Horniman Museum & Gardens in London. His photo exhibition Rainforest of the Sea is currently showing in the the Balcony Gallery. He and his camera have been delving into South East Asia's coral triangle, which includes Borneo, the Philippines and Indonesia. Shown is his photo of A Green Turtle Chelonia mydas. Did you know that coral reefs take up less than 0.1% of the oceans floor yet 25% of all marine life is found on reefs? And they are all under threat! This free exhibition runs until 15 September, a must for the school summer holidays (CLICK).

Endymion's Sleep

Writing about nocturnes yesterday (scroll down or CLICK) reminded me of arguably the finest nocturne of them all: Anne-Louis Girodet's The Sleep of Endymion (1791). There are two versions. The one in the Louvre in Paris is cropped and dated 1818 (CLICK). Girodet's painting is based on a somewhat hazy Greek myth. Selene, the goddess of the moon, spied the mortal shepherd Endymion asleep in the nude and fell in love with him. She was so entranced by his beauty that she asked her father Zeus to grant him eternal youth. Zeus granted her wish, but put Endymion into eternal sleep. Girodet depicts the myth with a Cupid-like boy with butterfly wings parting foliage to allow Selene as a moonbeam to shine on Endymion.


I am staggered that Government's new website Gov.uk has won the Design of the Year award. I used to give my own award for good webpage design and Gov.uk wouldn't have won it. Okay, it avoids a lot of the silly things I find irritating on poor websites, like error messages, scrolling graphics, unreadable grey-on-grey text, minuscule fonts and general lack of consideration for the user, but it is still weak and uninspiring (CLICK). I guess the judges don't often encounter web design (CLICK).

Wednesday, 17 April 2013


The Rove Gallery at 33-34 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6NN, is showing Essence by Denis Piel until 6 May, a free photographic exhibition (CLICK). Shown is Jen Yarrow, Sunkissed, Mustique, West Indies (1982). Nudes are an old excuse for black-and-white photography, creating an "art study" that isn't rude. At least, that's the excuse. Would this image really be rude in colour?

Whistler on the Thames

Today The Fine Art Society in Bond Street, London, opened Whistler on the Thames, an exhibition of James McNeill Whistler's etchings and lithotints of the River Thames (CLICK). Shown is his Lithotint Nocturne of the River Thames (1878). The expatriate American moved from Paris to London in 1859 and became fascinated by the Thames at night. In 1879 The Fine Art Society published a set of Whistler's Thames etchings, prompting a long-standing relationship with him. Nocturnes seem to have been fashionable at that time, possibly due to the competition from photography. Two of my favourite artists John Atkinson Grimshaw (CLICK) and American artist Frederic Remington (CLICK) were masters of the nocturne.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Royal Paintbox

This is a brief trailer for Royal Paintbox on ITV London at 10:35pm tonight, in which Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, - a talented artist himself - examines his family's artistic roots, revealing a treasure trove of rarely seen works created by talented royals past and present. He explains how growing up in homes filled with great art inspired him to paint, and there are examples of his own watercolours depicting the castles and houses of Balmoral, Highgrove and Sandringham. Sorry this is short notice.

Choucair at Tate

Tomorrow Tate Passé lives down to its nickname and opens a major retrospective of 97-year-old Lebanese artist Saloua Raouda Choucair (CLICK). It covers six decades of her pioneering abstract stuff, from pathetic nudes to ghastly sculptures. Shown is her Les Peintres Célèbres (1948-49). At £10 for adults, £8.60 for silver surfers, this is a ripoff. Curator Jessica Morgan gave BBC News a tour of the exhibition, which means you don't have to waste your time and money by visiting it (CLICK).

Butterfly Beauty

Today BBC News posted a Paul Kerley audio slide show of the butterfly collection - the largest in the world - at the Natural History Museum in London (CLICK). Sensational Butterflies is an exhibition of living butterflies from all over the planet in all stages of development, from egg to imago. Shown here is a magnificent Blue Morpho Butterfly (Morpho peleides) on a Girl's Face. It hails from South America and is one of the largest species of butterflies in the world. CLICK for the Natural History Museum's video introduction. The exhibition flutters about on the East Lawn until 15 September. Admission costs £4.50 or £16 for families.

Emma Watson in Wax

Marie Tussaud died on 16 April 1850. To mark the day, The Telegraph has posted a slide show of Madame Tussauds: 10 hits and misses (CLICK). The new waxwork of actress Emma Watson on the left, unveiled last month, is clearly one of the misses. Beautiful, but a different woman.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Boston Explosions

Breaking news: 3 bombs have exploded in Boston, USA, killing 2 people and injuring between 25 and 50. The first two explosions, seconds apart, were at the finishing line of the Boston Marathon, the third at the JFK Library. Shown is a video still which froze the first explosion at 4:09:49 local time. There is an emergency number to call if you have relatives in Boston (CLICK). So far, no group of lunatics has claimed responsibility for this murderous outrage.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Wandsworth Festival

The Wandsworth Heritage Festival runs from 30 May to 16 June, a fortnight of events and exhibitions (CLICK for details and booking information, where necessary). The high spot is a new exhibition of Wilhelmina Stirling's Battersea art collection, which opens at the De Morgan Centre on 1 May (CLICK). BBC News has posted a brief history of the collection with a snippet of video in which Huw Wheldon interviews Wilhelmina Stirling on ghosts in her house for Ken Russell's short film made for Monitor (CLICK). Wilhelmina Stirling was the younger sister of Evelyn Pickering, who married potter William De Morgan. Her collection includes paintings by Pre-Raphaelites Holman Hunt and John William Waterhouse, as well as by Evelyn De Morgan, one of the few women in the "brotherhood". She also collection De Morgan pottery and 16th and 17th century furniture. Shown is William De Morgan's Heron and Fish dish.

Wright Landscape

Here's another historic painting I would hate to see leave the UK: Joseph Wright of Derby's Landscape with Rainbow (1794). It seems to be Wright's copy of his own painting in the collection of the Derby Museum and Art Gallery, made for a client who left for America before it was finished. It was inherited by a local builder and was thought lost for 200 years. It comes up for grabs at Bellmans Auctioneers in Wisborough Green, Sussex, on 24th April, estimated value £70,000 to £90,000 (CLICK).

Love Among The Ruins

Here's a famous British painting that should not be allowed to leave the UK: Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones' Love Among The Ruins (1873). Despite its fame, it has been hidden away, out of the public gaze, for more than 50 years! Not only is it a magnificent work, but also it established the artist’s international reputation when it was shown at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1878. So this is BRITISH HERITAGE (unlike Picasso's daubs). It was last sold in 1958 for 480 guineas (about £500). It is expected to sell for £3m - £5m at Christie’s London auction on 11 July (CLICK).

Sebastião Salgado

The Natural History Museum in London has opened the "world premiere" exhibition of photos by a renowned photographer: Sebastião Salgado: Genesis (CLICK). On display are more than 200 prints selected from eight years of work, shot in 32 countries. The exhibition coincides with the publication of his book Genesis by Sebastião Salgado, priced £44.99. (CLICK for a Telegraph interview). Sadly, all Salgado's photos I've seen on display of wildlife, unspoilt landscapes and remote communities are in black and white. One loses so much when taking photos in monochrome. This photo of Waura Indians Fishing in Puilanga Lake, Amazona (2005) succeeds despite being in black and white, not because of it. The other bad news is the price of admission: £10 adults, £5 kids and silver surfers. The show runs until 8 September (CLICK).

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Chris Bracey: Neons

If you're into garish, here's the exhibition for you: Chris Bracey - I've Looked Up To Heaven And Been Down To Hell. This is London-based light artist Chris Bracey’s first UK solo exhibition, which opened yesterday at the Scream Gallery in London and dazzles until 1 June (CLICK). Chris has been creating neon art for over thirty years and has produced works for major films, such as Batman, Eyes Wide Shut and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He began by creating neon signs for Soho clubs (the Hell in the title). Above is his Shine A Light In The Darkness Of Your Soul. Emin, eat your heart out.
Update: CLICK for a BBC News slide show.

A Real Van Gogh?

Here's a puzzle worthy of BBC's Fake Or Fortune? Is this unfinished painting Study by Candlelight a genuine work by Vincent Van Gogh, painted in 1888? In 1948 Hollywood producer and then head of Universal Pictures William Goetz lashed out $50,000 on it. That's a hell of a price to pay if it is a fake. He bought it from a reputable art dealer and it was deemed genuine by a Van Gogh expert at the time. But is it? The term "candlelight" is a misnomer, because the halo is a blazing sun. Typical of Van Gogh's style? The face, head and hair are similar to other self-portraits executed in 1888 and dedicated to Paul Gauguin. Do I see a dedication to Gauguin on this painting? And what of the "modern" superhero drawn or printed on the canvas? It isn't modern. It's a Japanese woodcut print (ukiyo-e). Van Gogh and his brother Theo collected these prints and at one time dealt in them. In a letter to Theo, Van Gogh wrote "All my work is based to some extent on Japanese art". So it fits. Today the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, USA, opened A Real Van Gogh? An Unsolved Art World Mystery. The exhibition delves into this question and invites visitors to make up their own minds (CLICK).