Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Miedo al Agua

Christie's London sale of 19th Century European Art on 21 May is led by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida's Miedo al agua (1909). Not one of the master's best, but it still captures that warm feeling of a child enjoying bright Spanish sunshine on a beach (CLICK).

3D Petrie Museum

UCL’s Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology - one of the top specialist collections of ancient Egyptian artefacts in the world - has launched a high quality 3D object library that allows visitors with modern browsers to manipulate the objects (Microsoft IE V 11<, Google Chrome V 8<, Mozilla Firefox V 4<). Shown is an image of a Foot cover for a Mummy. CLICK to try out your browser....

Harrogate Fair

The "cognoscenti of the North" are wetting themselves with excitement at the prospect of the Harrogate Antique and Fine Art Fair, which runs from 2 - 5 May (CLICK). Philip Mould & Company will be attending the fair for the first time, taking a selection of exquisite miniatures to display. This lovely young lady caught my eye: Elizabeth Haughton, the daughter of a wealthy Jamaican plantation owner. She looks remarkably modern, but John Smart painted her portrait in 1775 when she was 17 years old (CLICK).

Mariachi Player

Ay caramba! Ees Banksy in Mexico around 2001. Gringos cut Mariachi Player from wall and take away on big burros. Poor peons see no more. Americanos want mucho pesos at Julien’s Auctions Beverly Hills. Ees mucho rats too: Anarchy Rat, Rapper Rat and Gangsta Rat. Bomb Hugger too. Ees show publico on 16 - 26 June. Ees big bucks sale, live and online, on Thursday 26 June. CLICK for prices!

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The Culture Diary

The Beta version of The Culture Diary is launched, supported by Arts Council England, British Council, Department For Culture Media & Sport, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Mayor of London, UK Trade & Investment and Visit Britain (CLICK). This is a private-access database for British cultural organisations planning cultural events in Great Britain and abroad. At present "The Culture Diary is a business-to-business tool and not accessible for the general public or press." So how will it advertise its events? By telepathy? Shown is Antony Gormley's innovative Sound II (1986) in the Crypt of Winchester Cathedral.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Memphis Living

Victoria Miro Mayfair at 14 St George Street, London, WIS 1FE, has opened Hernan Bas | Memphis Living, new paintings and works on paper by the artist. The title of the show comes from the short-lived Memphis Group founded in Milan by architect and designer Ettore Sottsass. These new works are inspired by that movement. Shown is Invalid (2014). The exhibition runs until 31 May (CLICK).

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Pole Dancing

Today I noticed a poor quality BBC video of the Pole World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, where more than 150 pole dancers from around the world have been competing (CLICK). I had no idea how artistic these top athletes are. Now the good news for London fans. The International Pole Sports Federation will be holding the World Pole Sports Championships London in July. You can book tickets now (CLICK). The BBC spends a fortune televising boring old sports like football and rugby with no artistic content, just mud. Let's hope it can spare a few quid on the World Pole Sports Championships London. It might persuade me to switch on my television set.

The Artist

The multi award-winning The Artist (2011) on BBC Two this evening (Sunday) at 9pm looks well worth viewing (CLICK). It stars Jean Dujardin as George Valentin and Bérénice Bejo as Peppy Miller, not forgetting the Jack Russell Terrier Uggie as Jack (the dog).

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Ukrainian Art

The treasure trove of art amassed by deposed Ukrainian president and would-be dictator Viktor Yanukovich has gone on display in Kiev at the National Arts Museum of Ukraine. It includes Russian icons and many portraits of himself. In the photo an art historian indicates one of the Russian icons. Good examples can be costly. The exhibition is called Code of Mezhygirya. Yanukovich was President Putin's willing puppet and while he remained in power Ukraine was effectively owned by Russia. Although he tries to take the moral high ground, Putin is furious that a democratic uprising took Ukraine out of his control. CLICK for a brief BBC video of the exhibition.

New Tube Map

Londoners will soon have the chance to own an artwork by Turner Prize-winning artist Rachel Whiteread. Art on the Underground commissioned her to design the latest cover for the Tube Map, the 20th. It's full of round holes, exposing parts of the map within. Whiteread is big on holes. She punningly calls her creation The Hole of London 2014. Groan. With more strikes planned over ticket office closures, I can't help wondering how much Art on the Underground lashed out on Whiteread's clever-dick nonsense. Too much is my guess. The new free maps will be released at underground stations on 16 May. CLICK for more information.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Time Top 100

Time magazine has published its 11th 100 most influential people issue with Beyonce showing her knickers on the cover. Does she do anything else but show her knickers, maybe whistle a tune or two? Don't mention the word "bossy"! Other influential persons include Edward Snowden, Malala Yousafzai, Steve McQueen, Benedict Cumberbatch, Miley Cyrus and President Putin (CLICK).

Christie's Mayfair

For some reason best known to itself, Christie's Mayfair has opened Polke/Richter-Richter/Polke, an exhibition of 65 works from 30 collections by Gerhard Richter and Sigmar Polke, two German twits who had the arrogance to think they could resurrect painting when it hadn't died. Remember the Coxsoft adage: When in doubt pose a pretty girl beside it. The pretty girl with lovely legs is a Christie's employee staring at Gerhard Richter's tripe Abstraktes Bild. The other two paintings are by Sigmar Polke, both imaginatively named Untitled (CLICK).

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Pink Lady Winner

The winner of the 2014 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition is Tessa Bunney with Lao PDR, food in action. That is dough the cook is swirling around! CLICK for a slide show of Jay Rayner's take on the category winning photos. He chaired the judging panel.

Knights In Armour

Thomas Del Mar Ltd, in association with Sotheby's, is selling items from the John Woodman Higgins Armory Collection on 7 May. It isn't just suits of armour up for grabs. There are weapons, shields, Japanese woodcuts, oil paintings and even stained glass windows showing historic military aspects. There is an online catalogue: CLICK. If you want to view these items for real, a public exhibition takes place at Thomas Del Mar Ltd, 25 Blythe Road, London, W14 0PD, from Sunday 4 May to Tuesday 6 May. Times vary.

Banksys For Sale

The Sincura Group is at it again. Last year it sold Banksy's Slave Labour (2012) after reputable Fine Art Auctions Miami withdrew it from sale, due to a public outcry (CLICK). The Sincura Group collection of misappropriated Banksy murals is on display at the hotel Me London on the Strand until Sunday. Entry costs the astonishing rip-off price of £17.50. If it makes you feel like a VIP to pay such an outrageous charge, go ahead. Bidding opens today and concludes on Sunday. Banksy has disowned the auction, saying it did not have his consent. Auction house Bonhams said buyers should be wary of buying artwork which had not been authenticated (CLICK).

Other Art Fair

The sixth edition of The Other Art Fair opened today at Ambika P3 in Marylebone, London, and runs until 27 April. This is the UK's top artist-led fair. Tracey Emin is one of the selectors, which doesn't say much for the art on offer. She's selling her own prints for £50. Admission costs £6 for adults, £3 for silver surfers. The Taxidermy Class costs £65, if you fancy watching a Guinea pig get stuffed (CLICK).

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Women And Art

The BBC's overpaid director general Tony Hall has announced that "BBC Arts will be at the very heart of what we do." That's the good news. The bad news is that he has appointed gimmick peddler Sir Nicholas Scrotum as a consultant (CLICK). For some reason BBC iPlayer will premiere some of the new art shows. A case in point: independent television production company Matchlight's The Story of Women and Art, written and presented by award-winning Professor Amanda Vickery, will premiere on iPlayer later this month and then be shown on BBC Two in May (CLICK). It remains to be seen whether Amanda knows her artistic onions or will deliver a feminist diatribe on chauvinist society. Here she is smirking at an emasculated statue. Oo-er.

Prince George

The fern frond was much in evidence during the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's tour of New Zealand. I was wondering when a kangaroo would pop up during their tour of Australia. An anonymous artist had the same idea. He or she holds aloft a portrait of Prince George (2014) wearing a kangaroo on his chest, while the crowd waits for Prince William and Kate to arrive at Manly beach, Sydney.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Putin Crimea Coin

A new limited edition coin is to be minted at a Russian factory to commemorate President Putin's annexation of Crimea. A poor image of Putin is on one side of the 1kg silver coin, while a map of the Crimean Peninsula adorns the other side. The limited edition of 500 is called The Gatherer of Russian Lands, a phrase traditionally used to describe Ivan III, known as Ivan the Great (CLICK). According to Forbes' list of the world's most powerful people, Vladimir Putin is No. 1; Barack Obama is No. 2 (CLICK). So, Yankee threats aren't going to phase Vlad. They're just going to irritate him. Prove to Russians he's a liar, not a hero.

Exotic Lands

On 29 April the Mall Galleries in London opens Patrick Gibbs: Everyday Lives, Exotic Lands. This is the London-based artist's first solo show at the Mall Galleries (CLICK). He caught the travel bug in a big way and has visited over 70 countries. His latest batch of paintings were inspired by travels to Burma, Cuba, Kerala, Laos, Morocco, and Sri Lanka. Shown is his Fishermen, Inle Lake, Burma. All his paintings are for sale. CLICK to see some of his works in the exhibition, which runs until 3 May.

Monday, 21 April 2014

King Charles III

You couldn't keep the British royal family out of the news if you tried. Here's the latest bone of contention: a poster for Mike Bartlett's play King Charles III currently showing at the Almeida Theatre in London. TfL took exception to the tape over Prince Charles' mouth and demanded the face be pixelated for Underground posters, in case the original image caused offence (CLICK).

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Bailey's Queen

This photograph of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (2014) by David Bailey was released today in honour of the Queen's 88th birthday tomorrow, 21 April. To confuse matters, her official birthday falls on a Saturday in June, which this year is the 14th (CLICK). The photo was commissioned on behalf of Government's "Great" campaign, which aims to bring trade and tourists flocking to the UK.

Food Photos

If you're into the art of food photography, the next exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London is the show for you. Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year 2014 opens on 23 April and licks its lips until 27 April. Admission is free. Minority interest? 6000 photos were submitted to the competition this year in 16 categories. The overall winner gains £5000. Shown is a detail from Thomas Schauer's ClubFood. For the first time the shortlisted images have been posted online for viewing: CLICK.

St Paul's Sculptures

Visitors to St Paul's Cathedral in London will find two giant additions to the head of the nave: Gerry Judah's White Cruciform Sculptures (2014). They're part of the Cathedral's commemoration of World War I and are supposed to represent the horrors of warfare, both past and present. To me they represent the horrors of modern art installation thingies. The interior of St Paul's Cathedral is fabulous and well worth a visit. It doesn't need this type of addition. CLICK for a larger graphic.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Sand Sculptures

Weston-super-Mare's annual Sand Sculpture Festival has opened and runs until 5 October. This year's theme is Once Upon a Time, which gave the 20 international artists plenty of scope for their imaginations. The Hunger Games and The Hobbit feature in the exhibition (CLICK).

BP Portrait 2014

The National Portrait Gallery in London has released the names of the three artists shortlisted for the BP Portrait Award 2014, now worth £30,000 to the winner plus a £5,000 commission. The three artists are Thomas Ganter from Frankfurt, Germany, Brooklyn-based David Jon Kassan from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA, and Richard Twose based in Bath, England. Shown is David Jon Kassan's Letter to my Mom (the Hebrew inscription). She didn't want her portrait painted and epitomises the grumpy old lady, so different from smiling models. The winner will be announced on 24 June. The free exhibition opens on 26 June (CLICK).

Friday, 18 April 2014

Artists Brains

A recent study has found that artists have structurally different brains compared with non-artists. Researchers scanned the brains of 21 art students and 23 non-artists, using a scanning method called voxel-based morphometry. Although the samples of the populations are small, the findings are statistically significant (i.e. not produced by chance alone). The subjects were tested on their ability to draw. Increased grey and white matter were found in the art group in both left and right hemispheres in areas involved with fine motor control and performance of routine actions, enabling enhanced processing (CLICK). What does all this mean? Put simply, my guess is that it demonstrates the old adage "Practise makes perfect". The more you draw, the more connections you build up in your brain. Interesting, but it reveals nothing about creativity.

Mobile Lovers Taken

On Wednesday I reported on the Broad Plains Boys Club appropriation of Banksy's latest street art: Mobile Lovers (CLICK). Police visited the club to confiscate the work, which has now gone on display in the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery over Easter (CLICK).

Happy Easter

Happy Easter from London Art News.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Ray Harryhausen

The BBC schedules often amaze me. Today at 11am BBC Two premiered a fascinating tribute to the master of stop-motion creature features: Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan. Top film directors Peter Jackson, Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton, Nick Park and Steven Spielbery paid tribute to Ray. Why on earth was this excellent programme scheduled for kiddie time? This evening the Beeb is showing nothing worth viewing! The good news is that until 24 April Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan is available to view on iPlayer: CLICK.

Kelpies Lit Up

Andy Scott's massive twin sculptures The Kelpies have been fully illuminated for the first time as a dry run for the night-time launch which will also feature sound and pyrotechnics. The launch is on 17 and 18 April. The public will be able to tour the structures from the following Monday. The Kelpies are part of the £43m Helix project between Falkirk and Grangemouth (CLICK).

Cupid and Sappho

One of Jean-Honoré Fragonard's most popular subjects Sappho inspired by Cupid (1780) is up for grabs in Bonhams Old Master Paintings Sale in London on 9 July, estimated at £800,000 - £1,200,000. This version is known as the Portanova Sappho to acknowledge its previous ownership by the socialite couple Sandra and Ricky di Portanova but also to distinguish it from Fragonard’s other works on the same theme: love sonnets (CLICK). Tits and poetry; what more could you want in the 18th Century?

Malala's Portrait

Jonathan Yeo's portrait of Malala Yousafzai, entitled Girl Reading (2013), comes up for sale in Christie's New York auction of Post -War and Contemporary Art. It first appeared last year in the exhibition Jonathan Yeo Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery in London (CLICK). It was announced then that Jonathan would be donating the portrait to benefit the Malala Fund, a charity set up by Malala to support the fight for girls’ right to education. The portrait is estimated at $60,000 - $80,000. Malala says "I hope that whoever buys the painting knows that their generosity will directly help children in some of the most challenging environments in the world.” CLICK to view a larger graphic of this excellent work.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

New Ealing Comedy

When I heard the news that men in North Korea had been ordered to emulate their dictator Kim Jong-un's daft haircut, I manfully resisted the temptation to lampoon the story; but the latest development takes the biscuit. The M&M Hair Academy in South Ealing put this offer in their window with a picture of Kim Jong-un and the question Bad Hair Day? The owner of the salon was unaware that the North Korean Embassy is only 10 minutes walk away. The next day officials from the embassy demanded to speak to the manager about his use of their revered megalomaniacal leader's image. He replied that England is a democracy and told them to leave (CLICK).

Banksy in Bristol

The latest Banksy appeared in the guerrilla artist's home city of Bristol on Sunday and was removed by crowbar almost as soon as it was spotted. Phone Lovers (2014) depicts an embracing couple checking their mobile phones. It is now in the Broad Plains Boys Club, which left a message in place of the artwork informing fans where it is and asking for a small donation to the club to view it. CLICK for Jon Kay's video report.

Vikings Live

If you think you saw Viking warriors sailing past the Houses of Parliament in a replica Viking boat yesterday, don't panic! It was merely a publicity stunt to mark the release of Vikings Live from the British Museum to 400 cinemas across Britain on 24 April (CLICK).

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

FeedBlitz News

The Heartbleed Bug is a very nasty hacking tool for accessing data from computer servers. This makes it a lot worse than viruses that attack home computers. The bug literally bleeds data from the servers. Hence the name Heartbleed (CLICK). There is good news for FeedBlitz users. According to Phil Hollows, the founder and CEO of FeedBlitz, this automated email service "doesn’t use the platforms affected, and we don’t use OpenSSL for SSL encryption on our servers" (CLICK). However, Phil also warns that if you use the same password for various applications, you should change it.

Mo Meets Mo

Will the real Mo Farah CBE please step forward. In case you can't tell, he's the one in the middle. Yesterday Britain's double Olympic gold medallist visited Madame Tussauds in London to meet his two brand new wax lookalikes portrayed in his trademark “mobot” pose. The figures are wearing authentic Team GB athletics kit. The one in the tracksuit stays in London. The other will go to Madame Tussauds in Blackpool. It took 20 artists four months to complete the figures with each one costing £150,000. Realistic sculpture doesn't come cheap. CLICK for more information.

Lynn Chadwick RA

The Royal Academy of Arts in London is celebrating the centenary of the birth of one of its old boys by installing four of his "steel beasts" series in its Annenberg Courtyard (CLICK). This is the first time the group has been displayed in public together. The photo shows Lynn Chadwick's Lion I (1990). Don't ask me why his parents gave him a girl's name. The display limps along until 16 May.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Latest Banksy?

What appears to be the latest Banksy popped up in Cheltenham on Sunday morning on the corner of Fairview Road and Hewlett Road. It depicts three sinister snoopers behind a telephone box which is three miles from the Government listening post GCHQ (CLICK).

Matisse Cut-Outs 2

I previewed the Tate Passé show Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs last October and gave it the thumbs down due to its rip-off admission prices (CLICK). Today BBC London News paid a visit to the show to remind me, but hasn't posted its video online. The show opens on 17 April and runs until 7 September. Shown is Matiss's Blue Nude (1952). CLICK for a silly Tate trailer and more information.
Update: the BBC has finally published its video: CLICK.

Fabergé Easter Egg

What would Easter be without a Fabergé Imperial Easter Egg? This one contains a Vacheron Constantin watch. It was given by Alexander III, Emperor of all the Russians, to his wife Empress Maria Feodorovna for Easter 1887. The Bolsheviks confiscated it from the Empress and subsequently sold it. More recently it turned up at a bric-a-brac market in the Mid-West of America. It was bought for $14,000 for its gold scrap value! The new owner couldn't sell it, because its scrap value wasn't worth that much. In desperation he googled "Egg and Vacheron Constantin" and found he owned a treasure worth millions! It is on public display from today until 17 April at Wartski, 14 Grafton Street, London, W1S 4DE. CLICK to read more.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Easter Fair

The Horniman Easter Fair takes place in the Museum and Gardens on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 April. It's traditional fayre for children, featuring an Easter Egg Hunt and Bunny World (CLICK). There are other free, drop-in events across the holiday, including Family Art Fun, Minibeast Safari and making Easter Bunny Glove Puppets (CLICK).

ACE Tripe

What passes for art nowadays constantly amazes me. Take Phillip Lai's "sculpture" Untitled (2011). It's made of wood, varnish, lamp, concrete, leather shoes and cooking pots! He made it specifically for his show Phillip Lai: Besides in Gallery 3 at Camden Arts Centre in London (CLICK). Arts Council England wastes public money on tripe like this. Somebody needs to teach ACE about art.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Baby's Fern Frond

New Zealand's national emblem, a fern frond, is getting plenty of publicity lately. Having opened a new velodrome in Cambridge, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were tickled pink to receive this tiny cycling jersey in the country's colours for Prince George (CLICK).

London Preview

Christie's and Sotheby's both have brief exhibitions in London to show off key lots in their New York auctions. Sotheby's boasts the 100.09-carats "Graff Vivid Yellow" diamond while Christie's offers Jeff Koons' Jim Beam D J.B. Turner Train and a Francis Bacon triptych.

Joan Fontaine

BBC Two's unheralded season of Alfred Hitchcock films resumes this afternoon with two of his early black-and-white classics starring Joan Fontaine. The thriller Suspicion (1941) begins at 1pm (CLICK). The psychological drama Rebecca (1940) begins at 2.35pm (CLICK).

Daydreams & Diaries

For those of you not clogging up the roads in the mad exodus from London for the Easter break, here's another outing for the cherubs. Daydreams and Diaries: The Story of Jacqueline Wilson is showing at the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, east London. Dame Jacqueline Wilson DBE, FRSL, has sold over 35 million copies of her books in the UK alone and they have been translated into 34 different languages. From 2005 to 2007 she was British Children's Laureate. The exhibition runs over the summer, until 2 November (CLICK).

Friday, 11 April 2014

Skyline Roof Gardens

Here's the latest artist's impression of the long awaited Battersea Power Station redevelopment in south London. It shows the proposed Roof Gardens of The Skyline by Foster and Partners. The Skyline looks a most desirable property, but Frank Gehry's contribution to the third phase is a clever-dick wobbly residential development that makes your eyes go funny. CLICK for more pictures.

Queen Unveiled

Yesterday during a state reception at Government House in Wellington, New Zealand, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, and hubby Prince William unveiled the latest portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. New Zealand artist Nick Cuthell painted this uninspiring portrait. Diplomats take note that the Queen is wearing a silver fern-leaf broach to show New Zealand's national emblem. She has lent this broach to Kate for the tour and Kate wore it when she disembarked at Wellington Airport. Kate's black Jenny Packham evening dress has hand-stitched silver beading on the shoulder in the shape of a fern (CLICK).