Friday, 31 May 2013

Wildlife Foundation

The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation will exhibit entries in its Wildlife Artist of the Year Competition at the Mall Galleries in London, opening to the public on 4 June. The top prize is £10,000. There are 7 categories. This is the fifth year of the competition, which attracts entries from around the world. Shown is Stephen Walton's Cheetah (detail). There will be painting demonstrations on Wednesday 5th (12-3pm with Hazel Soan) and Saturday 8th (10-2pm with Mandy Shepherd and Emily Lamb). Admission to the exhibition is free. It closes on Saturday at 4pm. All profit from sales helps save endangered wildlife. CLICK for the Mall Galleries. CLICK for the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation.

Dream of Spring

This is William-Adolphe Bouguereau's Dream of Spring (Rêve de printemps) from 1901. Didn't we just! The coldest spring for 50 years in the UK. Any excuse to show a Bouguereau, the supreme master of flesh tones. You can see the blue of veins and the red of arteries below the skin. Although extremely successful in his day, sadly he was thought too chocolate-boxy by the new art pundits, who preferred Impressionism. Nevertheless the Indianapolis Museum of Art is over the moon that collectors Melvin and Bren Simon have donated this 6ft x 4ft masterpiece to the museum in celebration of its 125th anniversary (CLICK). Now take a look at the hand I've enlarged. This seems far too clumsy and awkward for Bouguereau. Is it a repair or is he hinting at arthritis in Spring's later life?

Asian Propaganda

Propaganda really is the in thing in London this year. On 17 May the British Library opened Propaganda: Power and Persuasion (CLICK). On 25 May the Museum of Childhood opened War Games (CLICK). And today the British Museum opened The art of influence: Asian Propaganda (CLICK). This exhibition covers the period 1900 to 1976, with unpublished and rarely seen posters, prints, drawings, money, medals, textiles and even teapots of political art from Asia. Shown is Nowhere to run to escape (Chay dău cho thóat) signed by unknown artist Ta. You'll find the exhibition in Room 91 until 1 September. Entry is free.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

English Magic

To add insult to injury on its waste of money at the Venice Biennale, the British Council in partnership with the Koestler Trust has taken 8 ex-offenders to the show. They are all training for a career in art (CLICK). What on earth they'll learn about art at the Venice Biennale is beyond me. How to con rich punters into buying tripe? At least Turner Prize-winner Jeremy Deller included representational murals in the British Pavilion; but his English Magic is a self-indulgent statement of his own obsessions. Shown is his A Good Day For Cyclists (2013) depicting a giant hen harrier snatching a range rover in its talons (CLICK). The money wasted on his obsessions could have gone to our museum guards.

Museum Strikes

If you're visiting one of London's leading museums today or tomorrow, be warned that some of its galleries may be closed, due to strike action by members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS). The National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain, Tate Modern, The British Museum, Natural History Museum, Science Museum and the V&A are all likely to be effected (CLICK). Blame Government and the Brit. Anti-art Establishment. They're prepared to waste millions of pounds commissioning Turner Prize winners to create facile rubbish, but refuse even to negotiate with the staff who guard our real treasures! (How much is the Venice Biennale costing us? CLICK). Cheeky postcard by Bamforth & Co (CLICK).

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Crisis of Brilliance

The Dulwich Picture Gallery is closed while it rehangs its galleries following the exhibition Murillo & Justino de Neve: The Art of Friendship. (CLICK to see what you missed!) It reopens on 12 June with Nash, Nevinson, Spencer, Gertler, Carrington, Bomberg: A Crisis of Brilliance, 1908-1922. The "crisis of brilliance" part is a quote from their drawing teacher Henry Tonks, who taught all of them at the Slade School of Art in London between 1908 and 1912. Shown is Dora Carrington's sensitive drawing of Mark Gertlier (c. 1909-11). Over 70 works will explore the group's development, culminating in their paintings made during and after WW I. Entry costs £11 or £10 for silver surfers (CLICK).

Elle Virtual Shrink

If you haven't read Frederik Pohl's Gateway (1977) I can recommend it as one of the best science-fiction novels ever. It won the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, the Locus Award and the John W. Campbell Award (CLICK). Part of the story is recounted by the protagonist to an Artificial Intelligence Freudian therapist program he nicknames Sigfrid von Shrink. Whenever I see the latest attempts at AI psychotherapy, I think of Gateway. Here is Elle Virtual Shrink, a computer-generated image created by the University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT). She will be a diagnostic and therapeutic tool for veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder when she is ready to go solo (CLICK to read more).

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Chinese Treasures

Today the Cambridgeshire Constabulary renewed its appeal to find 18 priceless Chinese treasures stolen from the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge more than a year ago. The burglars have been arrested, convicted and sent to prison, but the Museum's treasures from the Ming and Qing dynasties have never been recovered. Here are three of them. There is a reward (CLICK).

Balloons Un-Islamic

On Saturday US "conceptual artist" Yazmany Arboleda and his 100 volunteers handed out 10,000 neon-pink "peace" balloons in Kabul, war-torn capital of Afghanistan. The Afghan resident above seems somewhat bemused by his free balloon. Will it get me into Paradise? he wonders. The Taliban has since fulminated against these "peace" balloons on its official website, claiming the event encouraged un-Islamic behaviour (CLICK). Peace is un-Islamic? Sounds par for the course. I was surprised to find that a bunch of dangerous Islamic loonies has an official website. Home Secretary Theresa May is threatening us all with a snooper's charter. Why not block the websites of these nutters?

Lion Bone Advert

This powerful advertisement by campaign group Avaaz has become a bone of legal contention. It was placed in the main airport in Johannesburg last year, its aim to put pressure on South Africa's President Jacob Zuma to ban the trade in lion bones to Asian countries, where they are idiotically used in traditional "medicines" and as bogus sex potions. According to Avaaz, official statistics show that South Africa increased its export of lion bones by 250% between 2008 and 2010. Nine days after the ad. was posted, airport authorities ordered its removal as a potential "public relations disaster" for South Africa's tourist trade. Avaaz has taken the Airports Company SA (Acsa) to Johannesburg High Court, claiming the removal of the ad. breached Avaaz's constitutional right to freedom of expression (CLICK).

Monday, 27 May 2013

War Games

Propaganda seems to be the in thing at present. On Friday the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, London, opened War Games, a major exhibition exploring conflict and children's play, featuring toys, games, models and comics from around the world, starting in 1800 and arriving at the present day (CLICK). It shows how toy manufacturers, the military and some political leaders have seen games as a way of preparing children to fight real wars. As an example, Joe Maneely's cover art for War Comic #27 (1954) depicts an heroic Yank putting the boot into a nasty Korean commie. That's the stuff to give the future troops! CLICK for a BBC video of five toys that "will never be sold again".

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Natural Beauty

I thought you might like to know that English actress Emma Watson has removed her bra for a good cause: Global Green USA, the American branch of Green Cross International. She and other beauties modelled for US photographer and environmental activist James Houston to raise funds and awareness for a sustainable future. Amazon UK is offering Houston's Natural Beauty for £22.40 hardcover, reduced from £35. Order it from your library. You can see more photos and a video on Emma's website: CLICK.

The Old Man

In Rustichello da Pisa's 13th-century book The Travels of Marco Polo, the famous Venetian merchant adventurer recounts the fable of The Old Man of the Mountain, who had turned the Prophet Mohammed's fantasy of Paradise into reality. The Old Man created a fabulous garden where fresh water, wine, milk and honey flowed in streams, every type of fruit grew in abundance, the buildings were decorated in gold and beautiful girls played musical instruments, danced, sang and caressed and flattered male inhabitants. The Old Man kidnapped local youths, drugged them and when they were unconscious sneaked them into his version of Paradise. They were trained to become his Assassins. Many rulers paid tribute to the Old Man and cultivated his friendship for fear of being murdered. When a ruler displeased him - Muslim or Christian -, the Old Man would send one of his Assassins to kill him, telling the youth that if he were to die in the attempt he would wake up in the Paradise he had already experienced. His Assassins were devout, determined and fearless. The Old Man may be long dead and his garden vanished, but his evil lives on. When those two gullible Michael's who butchered Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich ran to attack the police, they believed they were going to Paradise....

Car Boot Fair

The 10th Annual Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair takes place on Sunday 9 June at Brick Lane Yard in London (CLICK). This is the silliest art fair of them all, perfect for weirdos with no taste in art. An afternoon of fun and frolics with British artists for £5. Have your prints signed by someone infamous, maybe a Turner Prize winner. Gates open at noon and clang shut on the frolics at 6pm.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Master Drawings

Today the Ashmolean Museum attached to Oxford University opened Master Drawings, a summer exhibition of the Ashmolean's treasures of Western Art on paper (CLICK). Drawings by Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael are included, also Turner and Gwen John among the more moderns works. Admission prices are £5 for adults and £4 for silver surfers; under-18s are allowed in free.

Tornado Alley

Finding that the Discus Thrower is in the Dallas Museum of Art in Texas reminded me of Tornado Alley and that devasting twister which virtually wiped Moore, south of Oklahoma City, off the face of the map four days ago (CLICK). The photo shows teachers taking traumatized girls away from Briarwood Elementary School in south Oklahoma City. It's the most positive image I've seen of the disaster. They survived. Many didn't. My sympathies go out to all those who lost homes and loved ones. I checked on Texas and it is indeed in Tornado Alley and has more than twice the twisters of any other state, over 8,000 (CLICK)!

Brit. Museum in Texas

If you're wondering what's happened to The British Museum's famous marble Discus Thrower - a 2nd Century AD Roman copy of a lost Greek original -, it's gone to the Dallas Museum of Art in Texas until 6 October. DMA has come up with the catchy title: The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece: Masterworks from the British Museum (CLICK). It goes on to state that DMA is the first US museum to show this "international touring exhibition of more than 120 objects exploring the human form through exquisite works exclusively from the British Museum’s famed collection of Greek and Roman art". Treasures on display include marble and bronze sculptures, fine painted pottery, funerary monuments, terracotta and gold jewelry. Usually entry to DMA is free, but it will charge $16 for admission to this special exhibition. My advice to my American readers is to hotfoot it down to DMA. This is a golden opportunity.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Joaquin Sorolla Sold

Yesterday in London, Sotheby's led its sale of 19th Century European Paintings with Joaquin Sorolla's Niños en la playa (1916). A private buyer snapped it up for £2,770,500. It had remained in the artist's family until the sale, occasionally loaned to major Sorolla exhibitions and also featured on a Spanish stamp. Now it has vanished into a millionaire's vault, lost to public gaze (CLICK). There should be a law against it. The good news is that his complete works are available to view on the Internet: CLICK.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Atrocity Update

The soldier brutally slaughtered in Woolwich has been named as Drummer Lee Rigby of the 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. His commanding officer Lt Col Jim Taylor described him as "an experienced and talented side drummer and machine gunner, he was a true warrior and served with distinction in Afghanistan, Germany and Cyprus" (CLICK). The Islamic lunatics who butchered him and charged the police probably hoped to wake up in Muslim heaven attended by 60 virgin girls. Instead they'll wake up to the NHS and a police guard! Two more Islamic nutters have been arrested for conspiracy to murder. Our politicians witter on with platitude after platitude, but have no idea how to deal with the menace of jihad. Making all our schools secular and removing religious instruction from the syllabus would be a start. The World Health Organisation recognises religiosity as a form of mental illness. All our children need to be protected from it.

Constable Bought

Tate Britain has bought John Constable's Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows (1831) for the bargain price of £23.1m, thanks to major grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund, The Manton Foundation and Tate Members. This is one of his monumental six-foot canvases, painted shortly after his wife's death. It's been on loan to The National Gallery for 30 years. The bad news for London art lovers is that it will go on constant tour to Tate Britain's partners in the purchase: the National Museum of Wales, the National Galleries of Scotland, Colchester and Ipswich Museums and Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum. But it has been saved for the nation. The heirs of Lord Ashton of Hyde might have sold it to an American museum (CLICK).

RA Summer Rubbish

Here's another import from Africa: El Anatsui's TSIATSIA (2013) being draped over the façade of Burlington House for the Royal Academy of Arts' Summer Exhibition. It's bling with bottle tops strung together with copper wire. I assume it was commissioned by the RA, because it took a year to make and Ghanaian-born sculptor El Anatsui is sought after by anti-art establishments around the world. He lives and works in Nigeria, where he holds a professorship in sculpture at the University of Nigeria. CLICK for a BBC interview. The 245th RA Summer Exhibition limps along from 10 June to 18 August, admission £10 for adults, £9 for silver surfers (90%). Pensioners in London are expected to be rich (CLICK).

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Terrorists in Woolwich

You've heard the phrase "caught red-handed". This is what it means in reality. The graphic is a still from an ITV exclusive video which shows an Islamic nutter before he was shot by police in Woolwich, south-east London. Garbled details are still coming in. According to local MP Nick Raynsford, the victim was an off-duty soldier from Woolwich Barracks. He was wearing a Help For Heroes T-shirt. The attack took place in John Wilson Street at about 2.20pm. The two killers drove their car at the soldier, probably killing him instantly, judging by the crumpled state of the vehicle. They then got out and beheaded him, using long knives and a butcher's meat cleaver. They shouted the Islamic slogan which translates as "God is great". When police arrived, one of the killers produced a gun and they both ran toward the police. They were shot and wounded and are now under arrest in hospital. One of them is from Nigeria, where Islamic group Boko Haram has been under attack by the Nigerian army. COBRA meets again tomorrow (CLICK).

Evil in Hong Kong

Despite all their guff about anti-consumerism, brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman - much loved by the Brit. Anti-art Establishment - are following the money around. They tried their hand in Russia, got the raspberry and vowed never to return. Now they've unveiled their latest show in White Cube's gallery in Hong Kong to coincide with Art Basel opening a Hong Kong fair, which Jake Chapman hypocritically dismissed as a "shop". The big European auction houses are already there. Yes, it's all move to grab a fistful of yen or whatever currency the Chinese use. The Chapman brothers' diabolical tosh The Sum of all Evil features skeletons, Nazi soldiers and crucified Ronald McDonalds (CLICK). So far the most popular modern "art" to have sailed into Hong Kong is Florentijn Hofman's inflatable Rubber Duck, which has been floating round Victoria Harbour and brought the tourists flocking to see it and buy little replicas (CLICK).

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

London Art Week

Sadly, Gustav Klimt is famous for his tawdry bling, rather than for the quality of his art; but this delightful drawing Annerl, thought to be from a photo of his 5-year-old sister who died 10 years earlier, shows what a fine artist he was (CLICK). The drawing comes up for sale during the inaugural London Art Week, which combines Master Paintings Week and Master Drawings and Sculpture Week, from 28 June to 5 July 2013. Specialist art dealers in St James and Mayfair will exhibit a wide range of artworks from the 1st century BC to the 20th century (CLICK). Have a gawk at treasures you can't afford.

Quinn's Michael Jackson

Yesterday I mentioned Marc Quinn's statue of a naked Michael Jackson (scroll down or CLICK). In case you haven't come across it before, here it is: Quinn's Michael Jackson after Michelangelo's David. I don't know whether this statue was commissioned by the warbler himself as part of his self-deluding ego trip or whether it arose from Quinn's sense of humour. Either way, I think the statue would have looked better among the garden gnomes at RHS Chelsea Flower Show than Quinn's jumbo orchid. Gold medal winner?

Monday, 20 May 2013

Quinn at Chelsea

Today royalty, celebrities and the press descended on the Royal Horticultural Society's 100th Chelsea Flower Show. Garden gnomes are rampant this year as a centenary joke and will be banned for the next 99 years. British artist Marc Quinn unveiled his latest sculpture, a Giant Orchid, which was lost among the floral displays. His statue of a naked Michael Jackson would have looked better, lurking in the foliage. Tomorrow sees the medals awarded. Tickets for the public are already sold out (CLICK).

Ashmolean Gets Ruskin

The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford has acquired John Everett Millais' Portrait of John Ruskin (1853) under the Acceptance in Lieu of Inheritance scheme (CLICK). This is the portrait that destroyed the art critic's marriage. While painting the portrait, posed during the friends' holiday in Scotland, Millais fell in love with Ruskin's teenage wife, Effie. The following year the marriage was annulled and a year later Millais and Effie wed. Oh, the scandal! But by today's standards it was all very prim and proper. The story has recently been turned into a movie starring Dakota Fanning (CLICK).

Sunday, 19 May 2013

News In Briefs

Yahoo is to buy social networking firm Tumblr for $1.1bn (CLICK). While the family of a deceased Hungarian art collector argued the toss about who was to get what, thieves stole 500 of the artworks in dispute (CLICK). The exhibition Houghton Revisited, which reinstates the art collection of Britain's first Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole, sold to Catherine the Great of Russia in 1779 to pay debts, opened on Friday, courtesy of the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (CLICK, CLICK).

Google Blocker

This morning Google blocked me from my own blog, due to attempted sign-ins by third parties from foreign parts. London Art News must be getting popular! Two thirds of my readers are in America. Google asked for my telephone number in order to give me a code to validate my own sign-in. As soon as I clicked on my telephone number, the phone rang with the validation code. I was quite impressed. Not only had Google detected the third-party attempts to hijack my blog, but also had swiftly given me the solution.

Saturday, 18 May 2013


The latest exhibition to open at the British Library is Propaganda: Power and Persuasion, a groundbreaking display of international state propaganda of the 20th and 21st centuries, from Uncle Sam's famous pointing finger, through Nazi hate to Potato Pete and the Green X Code. I love this daft Chinese film poster for The White-Haired Girl (1950). How to dance ballet holding a rifle!! Brits call this sort of thing "public information films". Only nasty foreigners dish out propaganda. The exhibition runs, skips and jumps until 17 September. Bad news is the price: £9 for adults. Under 18s are free (CLICK).
CLICK for a Nick Higham's video for BBC News.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Eleanor Slater Portrait

This impressionist oil painting caught my eye today: Portrait of Eleanor Slater (1911) by American artist Robert Henri. Who? you might ask. Eleanor was the granddaughter of Samuel Slater, known as the Father of the American Industrial Revolution. Look at her face and bearing. This is no bejewelled, coiffured, powder puff of a female. She is one powerful young lady you wouldn't want to mess with. This portrait - estimated value $35,000-$45,000 - is one of the treasures in the estate of the late Mrs Nat King Cole. The property comes up for auction in Australia in Mathesons' AA Auctions this weekend (CLICK).

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Best of the Best

Yesterday evening the Natural History Museum in London was awarded the inaugural Best of the Best award at the Museums and Heritage Awards for Excellence 2013. It also won a trophy for its Scott’s Last Expedition exhibition and commendations for its new permanent Treasures Cadogan Gallery and the marketing campaign for its Animal Inside Out exhibition (CLICK). In short, of all the museums in Britain, the Natural History Museum is the bees knees. It's been my favourite since I was boy. Shown is a Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) photographed in the Sensational Butterflies exhibition (CLICK).

Dalí's Hasty Plum

Here's a turn-up for the book: 14 Salvador Dalí watercolours of "fruit" never seen before. They were commissioned by a private collector in 1969 and have remained in private hands ever since. Dalí took traditional 19th Century botanical lithographs and put his own surrealist interpretation on them. Shown is his Prunier hâtif (Hasty Plum) sprinting on legs of branch and blossom, estimated value £40,000 to £70,000. The complete series of "FruitDali" comes up for grabs in Bonhams Impressionist and Modern Art sale in London on 18th June. They are expected to fetch around £1m in total (CLICK).

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Archikids Festival

Bored cherubs about the place? If they're 5-11 years old, you could volunteer them to become Archikids. From 17-19 May the Archikids Festival will be offering them over 50 free architectural activities in the City. Organised by Open-City, this festival aims to bring families into the buildings and spaces of the Square Mile. CLICK for a Festival Programme of fun things to do.

Japanese Netsuke

This delightful wooden netsuke of a female hare, carved by Toyomasa, fetched £43,250 at Bonhams London auction of the Adrienne Barbanson Collection. All lots of 58 Japanese netsuke were snapped up for a total of £611,213. To find out more about netsuke CLICK. If you want to view the real thing, rather than photos, you'll find netsuke in The British Museum, the V&A Museum and the Horniman Museum - all in London - and The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. Car boot sales? You'll be lucky.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Drawing Clubs Show

The Prince’s Drawing Clubs Annual Exhibition opened four days ago at The Prince’s Drawing School, 19-22 Charlotte Road, London, EC2A 3SG, and runs until 5 June, with over 400 drawings on display (CLICK). The show is open Mondays to Thursdays 9am-9pm, Fridays 9am-8.30pm and Saturdays 1-4pm. Founded by the Prince of Wales to promote the art of drawing, the School provides free tuition and mentoring for state-educated children aged 10–18 through its Young Artists Programme. Shown is Anita Iyawe's musical skeleton with cello and umbrella (don't ask). CLICK to see more. The School also runs a Postgraduate Programme and a Public Programme with courses for adults (CLICK).

Three Goddesses

A week ago I posted news of a postcard-sized miniature of Queen Elizabeth I attributed to Isaac Oliver and dated circa 1590 (CLICK). It shows the Queen and Greek goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. There can be no doubt that the miniature was inspired by this painting: Hans Eworth's Elizabeth I and the Three Goddesses (1569) which is displayed in the new exhibition at The Queen's Gallery in Buckingham Palace: In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion. CLICK to see a larger graphic.

Monday, 13 May 2013

BP Walk Through

Tomorrow Tate Britain in London opens BP Walk Through British Art, a chronological re-hang of its collection in over 20 revamped galleries which has taken three years to complete (CLICK). Admission is free. The chronological order makes for some strange bedfellows, such as Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema's charming A Favourite Custom (1909) with Walter Sickert’s gritty modernist junk La Hollandaise from 1906. They look like the work of different centuries. Around 500 artworks from the 1500s to the present day show the rise and fall of British art, with great masterworks leading to despicable modern tripe.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Nude by Prinet

While browsing Google Images for a still life the other day, I found this oil painting. Some joker had called it "Still Life". It's Rene Francois Xavier Prinet's Nudo su un Divano Rosa or Nude on a Pink Divan (c.1925). According to the Bridgeman Art Library, it's in a private collection, which partly explains why I haven't seen it before (CLICK). I like a woman who reads books, especially when she has the most pattable bum since The Rokeby Venus (CLICK).

Pop-Up Garden

In partnership with Swiss design company Vitra, the Design Museum has opened a Pop-Up Garden in The Tank, its Thames-side display area near Tower Bridge. Overpriced goods by top designers are on display (CLICK). Surrounding the Pop-up Garden are seating areas where tourists can indulge in lunch from the Design Museum Café. How long will summer last? is the big question.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Slave Labour Sale

A year ago I posted this photo of Banksy's mural Slave Labour with real Union Jack bunting. In February it was cut from the wall owned by Wood Green Investments and promptly appeared in the sale catalogue of Fine Art Auctions Miami. Such was the furore caused by the loss of this Banksy that the US auction house bowed to pressure and withdrew it from sale. Now it has come up for sale again, this time offered by The Sincura Group - "your gateway to a VIP life" - in its sale at the London Film Museum, Covent Garden, on 2 June (CLICK). Haringey residents are hopping mad again (CLICK). Shame on the unscrupulous people involved in this case, the anonymous "collector" out to make a fast buck, Wood Green Investments, which must know who the greedy "collector" is, and The Sincura Group for putting Slave Labour up for sale to would-be VIPs.

In Fine Style

Yesterday The Queen's Gallery in Buckingham Palace opened In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion, an exhibition which explores the sumptuous costumes of British monarchs and their courts during the 16th and 17th centuries through portraits in the Royal Collection. Displayed are over 60 paintings by the great artists of the period plus drawings, garments, jewellery, accessories and armour (CLICK). Above is a painting attributed to William Scrots, showing Elizabeth I when a Princess (c.1546) aged about 13. She is portrayed as a bookish and devout girl with bible in hand. The exhibition struts its stuff until 6 October, entry £9.50 for adults, £8.75 for silver surfers.

Skywhale in Oz

The prize for Soppy Sculpture of the Week must go to Patricia Piccinini's Skywhale (2013). She seems to have taken a leaf out of Sir Terry Pratchett's Discworld books: surely that's the head of his galactic turtle Great A'Tuin. Instead of four elephants on top, she's dangled giant pendulous udders below, presumably hoping to cater for Aussie tastes. We can't complain. This 34 metres-thingy-long jumbo hot-air balloon weighing half a tonne was made in Bristol, UK. So we got a large chunk of the £232,000 it cost. Skywhale was commissioned to celebrate the centenary of Australia's capital Canberra and today it was officially launched outside the National Gallery of Australia. Tim Blair on The Telegraph website described it as the perfect symbol for the Aussie parliament, "a bloated, gaseous, multi-breasted monster feeding those who dwell in its poisonous shadow while leeching off the rest of us" (CLICK). No sense of humour! It's a gas.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Dinosaurs in London

How do know-nothing people get their posh jobs? The BBC quotes John Scott, Chairman of the City of London Corporation's arts advisory board as saying "We're delighted to bring such fantastic sculptures to the streets and people of the City with the help of our partners from the worlds of both business and art." Fantastic? Three steel cutout dinosaurs from Jake and Dinos Chapman, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, dating from 2007 at a guess, Antony Gormley's boring self-statues called Parallel Field, and something or other from Robert Indiana have all been chosen for this year's Sculpture in the City show, which will launch on 20 June (CLICK). I wouldn't describe this crap as art, John. You've been duped!

Rory McEwen at Kew

Sticking with botony, tommorow the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew opens Rory McEwen The Colours of Reality (CLICK). The exhibition covers his output from the 1950s to the 1980s. His eye for detail was incredible, as you can see from his Indian Onion above (1971) and the YouTube video below. The drawback is the price. You have to buy garden tickets at £14.50 for adults and £12.50 for silver surfers. Kids 16 and under are free. There is also a book: £20 paperback.

Click lower right to expand, Esc to return.

RHS Chelsea Show

The Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Flower Show in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year (CLICK). It's always fascinating to see how plots of land can be turned into works of art. This year the University of Lincoln will be showing a garden designed to respond to Twitter activity. Digital Capabilities features a Perspex wall, the panels of which will open or close depending on the volume of tweets about the show: hashtag #rhschelsea (CLICK). If you can't be artistic, at least be creative. The show runs from 21 to 25 May.

SELF Winner

Yesterday the Royal Society of Portrait Painters opened its annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London, with over 200 works on show (CLICK). The inaugural SELF Prize, worth £20,000, was won by Czech artist Jan Mikulka with his Self Portrait (above). He beat 945 other paintings submitted by 635 artists (CLICK). The show runs until 24 May. Admission costs £3 or £2.50 for silver surfers.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Boy With Frog Goes

Yesterday US artist Charles Ray's 8ft tall Boy With Frog (2009) was removed from outside the Punta della Dogana on the Grand Canal in Venice, where it has stood for the last four years. A copy of a 19th-century lamp-post will take its place. Art lovers are furious with the council. Dogs will cock a leg. Froggy billionaire Francois Pinault commissioned the statue to stand outside the Punta della Dogana, a former custom house which now houses his collection of contemporary art (CLICK). Where will the boy go?