Saturday, 31 May 2014

Meriam Ibrahim

Following unanimous condemnation from British political leaders over the death sentence and 100 lashes imposed on Meriam Ibrahim, under-secretary Abdullahi Alzareg at Sudan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that Sudan guaranteed religious freedom and was committed to protecting the woman (CLICK). His claim that Sudan guarantees religious freedom is a blatant lie. For decades Sudan has persecuted non-Muslim tribal peoples such as the Nuba. Sudan demanded the men be circumcised and convert to Islam. The men refused and took up primitive arms. Sudanese jets bombed their villages. Sudanese soldiers captured their women, raped them and forced them into concentration camps (CLICK). Let's hope he is being more honest about the fate of Meriam Ibrahim. Shown is a photo of her on her wedding day (2011) combined with a photo of her in prison holding her newborn baby (2014).

Anthony Quinn Art

The late Anthony Quinn is well remembered as an Oscar-winning actor, but less well known as an artist. Gallery Different at 14 Percy Street, London, aims to set the record straight with Anthony Quinn’s Eye, a solo exhibition of Quinn's paintings and sculptures which runs until 8 June (CLICK). Shown is his sensuous Eternal Mother sculpted in pink marble. Looks interesting.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Botticelli For Sale

Here's another rarity up for grabs: Sandro Botticelli's Study for a Seated St Joseph (1480s). It's been put up for auction by the Estate of Barbara Piasecka Johnson, widow of the late John Seward Johnson, the Johnson and Johnson pharmaceuticals magnate. It is one of nine Renaissance and Baroque artworks from her Estate to be offered in Sotheby’s London Evening sale of Old Master and British Paintings on 9 July. Proceeds from the 9 Johnson lots will go to charity, mainly helping children with autism. The Botticelli is estimated at £1m to £1.5m (CLICK). When you consider that this historically important rarity is by a master of the Early Renaissance, why on earth should any sane billionaire pay £50m for junk by Mark Rothko?

Van Dyck For Sale

Father Jamie MacLeod bought this Portrait Sketch by Sir Anthony van Dyck from an antiques shop for £400 twelve years ago. The frame was labelled Sir A. Van Dyck, but the dealer obviously didn't believe it or he wouldn't have sold the work for such a piddling price. More recently Father MacLeod took the painting along to the BBC's Antiques Roadshow, where it was spotted by presenter Fiona Bruce, who also presents Fake Or Fortune? She thought the painting looked genuine and called in art expert Philip Mould to look at it. After the painting was cleaned, Van Dyck authority Dr Christopher Brown verified it was genuine. It is believed to be a preparatory portrait sketch for The Magistrates of Brussels, a major work which was destroyed by a French attack in 1695. Christie's London will put the sketch on display from 5 to 8 July prior to auction, with an estimated value of £500,000 (CLICK).

Thursday, 29 May 2014

NOW Gallery

London is to get a new public gallery space for contemporary art and design as part of the tart up of the Greenwich Peninsula. The NOW Gallery is due to open in September (CLICK). It looks to me like an old C&A store waiting for its racks of clothes to be wheeled in.

MF Husain at V&A

"When in doubt...." She may be only a silhouette, but this V&A employee posing in front of M.F. Husain's Indian Households at a press preview certainly has a beautiful profile. London's Victoria and Albert Museum has opened M.F. Husain: Master of Modern Indian Painting, a series of monumental triptych paintings representing Husain’s view of the richness of Indian culture. Using the word "Master" to describe the perpetrator of this modernistic tripe, doesn't say much for the rest of India's artists. The V&A owes some of them an apology. I've seen better. At least the exhibition is free. It infests Room 38a until 27 July (CLICK).

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Viktor Popkov

Somerset House in London is currently showing Viktor Popkov: Genius of the Russian Soul until 18 June, admission free. This is the UK’s first exhibition entirely dedicated to this award-winning artist, now deceased. It's part of the UK-Russia Year of Culture, which has been overshadowed by President Putin's devious doings in Ukraine. Shown is Popkov's masterpiece Spring at the Depot (1958). The exhibition brings together for the first time 40 significant Popkov paintings. You'll find it in the West Wing Galleries (CLICK),

E17 Art Trail

Artists in Walthamstow are celebrating the 10th birthday of the E17 Art Trail with an even bolder arts festival in a new summer slot, from 31 May to 15 June. Many artists' studios will be open to the public and there are so many exhibitions you'll need to download the Trail Guide to avoid missing the ones that might interest you (CLICK). Vestry House Museum will be showing botanical art (CLICK). And don't forget to visit the refurbished William Morris Gallery, winner of the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2013 (CLICK).

Rothko Repaired

A fortnight ago Mark Rothko's Black on Maroon (1958), one of his Seagram Murals, returned to public display at Tate Passé in London after 18 months of restoration work. Polish dickhead Wlodzimierz Umaniec vandalised it and copped two years in prison for his trouble. (Here's one more reason for voting for UKIP.) It took 9 months of microscopic analysis to find the right solvent to remove the dickhead's indelible ink and another 9 months to restore the damage (CLICK). Why bother? This example of Rothko's tripe is valued at £50 million ($84 million). He donated it to Tate Passé before committing suicide. Note the Coxsoft maxim "When in doubt, pose a pretty girl with it". If she's wearing sensible shoes, instead of stiletto heels, she looks more intellectual and this semblance of intellectualism transfers itself to the painting by association. Ah, the Art Lark!

Pussy Art

Russian artist Svetlana Petrova is making a name for herself on the Internet by inserting her fat ginger pussy named Zarathustra into classic works of art. Shown is her Arrangement in Grey, Black and Ginger with Zarathustra sprawled on the lap of Whistler's Mother. BBC News has posted a collection of her paintings: CLICK. The exhibition Russian Extremes - From Icons to I-Cats opens at The Barn at Stonehill House, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, on 30 May and purrs along until 5 June, admission free (CLICK).

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Martyrs in St Paul's

St Paul's Cathedral has opened the most inappropriate video installation thingy imaginable: Bill Viola's Martyrs (Earth, Air, Fire, Water). The seven-minute videos delivered across four colour vertical plasma screens show models in modern dress - jeans and the like - being attacked by the traditional elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water to represent their final torment. Shown is Air Martyr being buffeted by wind. In no way does this hi-tech buffoonery seem appropriate within the grandeur and beauty of St Paul's. Secondly, with demented Islamists blowing themselves up across the planet in insane expectation of gaining Muslim Paradise with 60 virgins awaiting them, is this a good time to be extolling the virtues of martyrdom? Bill Viola's video nasty, which he gifted to Tate, is on extended loan to St Paul's (CLICK). If I were the Dean, I'd return it to Tate promptly.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Hirst at Cannes

This 10,000-year-old mammoth skeleton clad in steel and gilded by Damien Hirst's workers, entitled Gone But Not Forgotten, was one of three alleged artworks Moneybags donated to Amfar's annual fundraiser for AIDs research at the Cannes Film Festival. It fetched £8.9m, an impulse purchase by Ukrainian businessman Leonard Blavatnik, who doesn't know what he's going to do with it. Give it to President Putin, Leonard. Sharon Stone has been hosting this charity auction for an unbelievable 20 years, since it began, in fact (CLICK).


Themes & Variations in Notting Hill, London, has opened WORDS, a solo exhibition of 30 word-sculptures by journalist turned pop artist Helen Kirwan-Taylor. Shown is her girlie LOVE. There are also limited-edition prints. The exhibition runs until 23 June (CLICK).

Ai Weiwei at YSP

Chinese non-artist Ai Weiwei is currently infesting the newly refurbished 18th century chapel in Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield. He's not doing it in person, of course, because the Chinese government has banned him from travelling abroad; but that doesn't stop his minions from following his orders. Ai Weiwei in the Chapel is his first exhibition in England since the Sunflower Seeds debacle at Tate Modern in 2010. There are a number of "sculptures" inside the chapel: chairs, a wooden map of China and what looks like an onion. Outside stands his Iron Tree (2013) complete with nuts, bolts and rust, until 2 November (CLICK).

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Timothy Spall Wins

Turkish movie Winter Sleep (2014), a three-hour family saga, has won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. I don't think I could sit through that, especially if it's in subtitles. The Best Actor prize went to Timothy Spall for his role as grumpy old JMW Turner in Mike Leigh's critically acclaimed biopic of the British artist Mr Turner (2014) made by Thin Man Films. Sadly, it was made for Film4. Can I be bothered to sit through all those commercials when it comes on TV? CLICK for more Cannes news.

Second Nature

The Espacio Gallery at 159 Bethnal Green Road, London, is showing Second Nature, a group show "providing a fresh look into the natural world". It's the gallery's second year on the Chelsea Fringe trail. Shown is Jennifer Bennett's May Flower. The show runs until 3 June (CLICK).

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Cannes Kiss Horror

If I were Iranian actress Leila Hatami I would defect to a decent country and seek asylum. She received a greeting peck on the cheek from Cannes Film Festival president Gilles Jacob. According to Iranian morals she should have recoiled in horror and kicked him in the balls. Islamic students in Iran are now demanding Leila be flogged for her "sinful act" under article 638 of the criminal code, which deals with public morality. The maximum sentence is 100 lashes in public and would probably lead to the victim of this brutal torture being admitted to hospital. Amnesty Internationale's Tom Davies says such torture is banned under international law, but Muslim nutters don't give a damn about that. Suppressing non-Islamic behaviour is their sole concern (CLICK).

Mac's Big Blaze

Those of us who saw videos - or the reality - of yesterday's conflagration at Glasgow School of Art's world-renowned Mackintosh building were appalled at the potential loss of this iconic structure and its historic contents, as well as the threat to life of students inside. Today's good news is that no students were caught in the blaze and that Scottish Fire and Rescue Service estimates more then 90% of the structure is viable and that up to 70% of the contents have been protected. The course work of the School's students has also been saved (CLICK). Shown is a photo of the Mackintosh art nouveau Library before the fire.
Update: bad news the library was completely destroyed in the fire (CLICK).

Friday, 23 May 2014

Teenage Dali

After exhaustive investigations, Spanish art experts have finally confirmed that this oil painting, The Intrautirine Birth of Salvador Dali (sic), is a genuine early work by a teenage Salvador Dali. It was bought in a Spanish antique shop in 1988 for a mere 25,000 pesetas (about $200). For years it was dismissed as a fake, because it bears the date 1896, eight years before Dali was born. It turns out the date was Dali's joke. I suspect the angels and the volcano were too. CLICK for technical details.

Constable's Sea Beach

Viewers of BBC One's Fake Or Fortune? screened in January 2014 will remember this oil painting by John Constable entitled A Sea Beach, Brighton, which was sold by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, as iffy (CLICK). The team established it was genuine. It comes up for auction in Bonhams Old Master Paintings sale in New Bond Street on 9 July, estimated at £400,000 to £600,000 (CLICK).

Cupcake Katy

The National Portrait Gallery in Washington has been given this oil-on-linen portrait of Katy Perry entitled Cupcake Katy (2010) by New York artist Will Cotton. The tongue-in-cheek painting has been donated by the wealthy Dicke family, whose fortune derives from a US forklift truck company based in Ohio. Don't sneer. The artist has captured Katy's fruitcake pop persona extremely well and she dominates the picture. Fans take note: the portrait goes on display in the Gallery on 18 June (CLICK).

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Rembrandt Etchings

Here's another online resource for art students and art historians. It isn't as sophisticated as MoMA's website, but it works. The Morgan Library & Museum has digitized its collection of 488 etchings by Rembrandt and beginning today, 22 May, the collection is available to anyone online. You can zoom, download or print (CLICK). I plodded through 61 etchings until I found this Self Portrait in a Cap, Open-Mouthed (1630). Rembrandt was obviously experimenting with facial expressions.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014


Yesterday Tate Britain opened Kenneth Clark - Looking for Civilisation, which runs until 10 August (CLICK). The title refers to the landmark television series shown on BBC2 in 1969. I recall watching it, but little more than Greek architecture and statuary stuck in my mind. Sadly Tate Britain couldn't plunder either the architecture or the statues, so the exhibition concentrates on the painters Clark espoused. Shown is John Constable's Sketch for Hadleigh Castle (ca 1828-9). At £10 for adults and £8.60 for silver surfers I wouldn't bother. Better to buy the book. CLICK for more information on Civilisation.

Rosa Triplex Puzzle

Just over a week ago I posted news of Christie's London sale of the Surtees Collection in June, including Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Rosa Triplex portrait of May Morris, Jane Morris's daughter (CLICK). Now here's the puzzle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has just opened The Pre-Raphaelite Legacy: British Art and Design (CLICK). And who do I see but May Morris? How many versions of Rosa Triplex did Rossetti paint? The MoMA database produced no results when I searched it. Don't tell me MoMA bought this version from a US pastor!

Madiba in Chelsea

One of the few benefits of my paying the licence fee for profligate BBC is its annual coverage of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which I enjoy. This year, amongst many interesting exhibits, it showed us the Kirstenbosch stand from South Africa in the Great Pavilion. Kirstenbosch has created this Tribute to Nelson Mandella out of dried proteas. The stand won Silver-Gilt Flora (CLICK).

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Fake Hirst Spin

US pastor Kevin Sutherland of the Miami Church in Florida has been jailed for six months for having tried to sell fake Damien Hirst works to an undercover detective. He tried to sell this spin painting to Sotherby's, but the auction house told him it could be a fake. Hirst's studio in London, Science Ltd, confirmed the work was a forgery. Sotheby's informed New York police. A detective emailed Sutherland and asked whether he had any Hirst artworks for sale. Yes! Five all told. The detective arrested Sutherland when they met to do a deal on the fakes, for which Sutherland wanted $185,000 (£109,844). The assistant DA said "This crime was motivated by greed" (CLICK). And the moral of this tale? Never buy any Hirst tripe from a US pastor.

Pot of Basil

William Holman Hunt's tragic masterpiece Isabella and the Pot of Basil (c. 1868) comes up for auction in Christie’s London sale of Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite and British Impressionist Art on 17 June with an estimated price tag of £5m to £8m. The tragedy is twofold. The year before he began this painting, Holman Hunt's wife died of consumption. He then poured his grief into depicting the tragic heroine of John Keats’ epic poem whose brothers murder her lover Lorenzo. Isabella disinters the corpse, decapitates it, buries the head in a pot of basil and waters the plant with her tears. In 1886 art critic Cosmo Monkhouse described it as a “picture of the century, to be mentioned hereafter whenever the history of the art of England is written”. High praise indeed. Hunt painted two versions, both of which were bought by art dealer Ernest Gambart for 1,800 guineas. One ended up in the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle, the other made its way to the Delaware Art Museum in the USA (CLICK).

Monday, 19 May 2014

NHM Alive

I must admit the BAFTA television awards don't light my fire, because British-made TV shows consist mainly of soaps, quizzes, sport, daft debates, OTT dramas, cookery programmes (no wonder Brits are fat) and general nonsense, plus I dislike most of the cocky presenters. One commercial featuring Ant and Dec is one too many. Amidst all the tripe in the list of winners (CLICK) I did spot one programme that would have persuaded me to switch on my TV if I subscribed to Sky which I don't. (It's bad enough being ripped off for the licence fee without volunteering to pay extra for more boring TV.) Collossus Productions / Sky 3D won the Specialist Factual BAFTA for Sir David Attenborough's Natural History Museum Alive. The veteran wildlife presenter wrote the script and with the help of ground-breaking 3D and CGI technology takes the viewer on a magical journey through the museum at night as extinct creatures that once ruled the planet and its skies come alive again. CLICK for a clip.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Ice Age Giants

On 23 May the Natural History Museum in London opens Mammoths: Ice Age Giants, an exhibition created by The Field Museum, Chicago, USA. The video preview mimics the Hollywood hard sell in such a farcical way that it is funny (CLICK). Tickets cost £10 for adults or £28 for families. This ... er ... monumental exhibition showcasing mammoths and their giant relatives runs until 7 September.

Redbridge Green Fair

The Redbridge Green Fair - a biennial event - returns on Sunday 25 May. It calls itself "A community festival with a green theme". CLICK for details.

Uri's Spoon Gorilla

BBC News has posted a video of the unveiling of a huge gorilla made entirely of spoons (CLICK). It was made for Uri Geller, whose main claim to fame is in bending spoons on TV without actually putting them under physical pressure. The photo shows sculptor Alfie Bradley lurking beneath the Spoon Gorilla. Initially he thought he would need 5,000 spoons, but it turned out 40,000 were required. An appeal on social media led to spoons being donated from across the world. The artist spent 5 months welding each one by hand at the British Ironworks Centre in Oswestry. He says the inspiration was the movie King Kong, but I recall David Mach's Silver Streak - a gorilla made of coat hangers - at the RA Summer Exhibition in 2010 (CLICK).

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Cannes 2014

Neil Smith is the BBC's man on the French Riviera for the 67th Cannes Film Festival. CLICK for his daily reports. Bummer of the festival appears to be Grace of Monaco, a soapy biopic starring the lovely Nicole Kidman. Top tip for this year's Palme d'Or award is Mike Leigh's Mr Turner, starring Timothy Spall giving the finest performance of his career as grumpy old British artist JMW Turner. Amidst all the art house stuff, DreamWorks premiered its potential blockbuster How To Train Your Dragon 2. Make a note for future Christmas viewing.

MoMA Online

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MoMA) has announced that nearly 400,000 artworks in its collection are available for free download. I tested its collection website and downloaded Balthus' Thérèse Dreaming (1938). The model was pubescent Thérèse Blanchard, whose family were neighbours of Balthus in Paris. The website is impressive, fast and efficient and didn't complain that I'm using an out-of-date browser. (I hate such complaints.) There are numerous ways to search the database: by artist, maker, culture, methods, materials, locations, date, era, departments (CLICK). It also tells you whether the target artwork is currently on display or not, useful for locals. This is an excellent resource. CLICK for a larger image of Thérèse Dreaming.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Art and Life

Here's a YouTube preview of Art and Life, which opens at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London on 4 June and runs until 21 September.

Memorial Museum

In a moving ceremony to open the National September 11 Memorial Museum at the site of the World Trade Center in New York, President Barack Obama told relatives of the nearly 3,000 Al-Qaeda victims that it was an honour to recall "the true spirit of 9/11: love, compassion, sacrifice." He did his best to put a positive spin on murder (CLICK). Now is a good time to recall that Dr Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA track down Osama bin Laden, is serving a 23-year prison sentence in Pakistan for aiding the enemy (the USA). His lawyer has recently resigned due to death threats (CLICK). So much for Pakistan's war on terror! What style of plonker is PM David Cameron to waste £650 million of British taxpayers' money on this dangerous, medieval, Islamic state? (CLICK)

Women and Art

This evening at 9pm BBC Two is showing Episode 1 of a three-part series The Story of Women and Art (CLICK). Professor Amanda Vickery scours European art history from Renaissance Italy to the Dutch Republic to discover a "hidden world of female artistry". Oh, those nasty male chauvinists have been at it again! Shown is the prof. on the edge of the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Boko Hokum

Seven years ago a group of Muslim nutters living in Britain set up a website to cure us all of "islamophobia", using the dishonest slogan Islam is peace (CLICK). I've put that lie into the mouth of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau to show how insane it is. Note his use of crossed kalashnikovs as his logo. The latest Islamic atrocity has popped up in Sudan, where a court has sentenced a pregnant woman to be hanged to death for apostasy (after the birth of her baby) plus 100 lashes for adultery, because her marriage to a Christian man was not valid under Islamic law (CLICK). Of course we daren't criticize that wonderful religion! What would our thought police say?

Yeo's Malala Sells

Jonathan Yeo's portrait of Malala Yousafzai entitled Girl Reading (2013) fetched a total of $102,500 (£62,000) at Christie's Afternoon Session of Post-War and Contemporary Art in New York today. The proceeds go to the Malala Fund, a charity set up by Malala to support the fight for girls’ right to an education. Following the shocking kidnapping of more than 250 schoolgirls by the murderous Islamic lunatics of Boko Haram, the Malala Fund said the money will go to Nigerian charities focused on education and advocacy for women and girls (CLICK). I think this is a very naive donation, because the Nigerian economy was built on fraud (CLICK), the president is untrustworthy, the rebellious army is taking pot shots at its own general and Boko Haram is being allowed to win.


True to BBC Director General Tony Hall's recent promise "BBC Arts will be at the very heart of what we do", Auntie has set up a new arts page called ARTS (CLICK). The good news is that it loads like the clappers, probably because most punters haven't found it yet. The bad news is that it looks pathetically inartistic and its emphasis appears to be on British "culture" rather than art. The big question is: Does Auntie know anything about art or will it merely trot out official propaganda?

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Ute Tailgate Art

I haven't come across much worthwhile car art lately, so this example of Ute Tailgate Art posted on Art News Blog caught my interest (CLICK). It cleverly creates the optical illusion of a bound and gagged woman with a shovel laid across her body, apparently destined for murder and burial. It's caused ructions in Townsville, Australia, and the police were called in. They say there's nothing they can do about the offensive image, because there are no criminal laws against bad taste. Appalling joke in the worst possible taste or not, it's a terrific example of trompe l'oeil. I'd love to see more of the unknown artist's work.

Surtees Collection

Think you recognize her? Well, you don't. This isn't Dante Gabriel Rossetti's famous muse Jane Morris, but her daughter May Morris. Rossetti's triple portrait of May is known as Rosa Triplex or The Triple Rose. Rossetti scholar Virginia Surtees bought the painting in 1951 for £285. It is now worth an estimated £700,000 - £1,000,000. Now aged 97, Virginia Surtees is selling her collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings and drawings. The Surtees Collection comes up for grabs in Christie's London sale of Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite and British Impressionist Art on 17 June. CLICK for a larger image and more information.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

HR Giger RIP

Swiss artist and designer H. R. Giger has died of injuries sustained in a fall, aged 74. He was one of the most imaginative artists of the 20th Century, creating a new style of art he called "biomechanical". This often involved monstrous mechanoids in fantasy couplings that were almost, but not quite, pornographic. His "Xenomorph" monster in Sir Ridley Scott's science-fiction masterpiece Alien (1979) won him a visual effects Oscar in 1980 and spawned a lucrative franchise (CLICK). A sad loss.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Deutsche Börse Prize

It was announced today that the winner of the £30,000 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2014 is Richard Mosse. He was nominated for his exhibition The Enclave at the 2013 Venice Biennale, Irish Pavilion. It's one of these tedious video installation thingies. Using discontinued military surveillance film, he shot the jungle warzone of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where 5.4 million people have died since 1998, in pretty pink. It doesn't work for me. Shown is a still Safe from Harm (2012) from The Enclave. CLICK to watch a video on The Photographers' Gallery website. The show runs until 22 June.

Ben Johnson

Believe it or not, this is an exquisitely detailed painting, not a photograph. It's Room of the Niobids II (2013) by Ben Johnson, one of his Museum Rooms series (2011-2014). You can see the series in his latest exhibition Ben Johnson "Time Past Time Present" at the Alan Cristea Gallery at 34 Cork Street, London, until 7 June (CLICK). The exhibition looks well worth a visit.

WWI Naval Officers

Last year I posted news of the National Portrait Gallery's appeal to raise £20,000 to restore Naval Officers of World War I (1921) by Sir Arthur Stockdale Cope, a massive work measuring 8ft x 16ft 10” (CLICK). The money was raised and both painting and frame have been restored to commemorate the First World War centenary. The painstaking work took five months. The painting is now on display to the public for the first time in over 50 years with its companion paintings: Sir James Guthrie’s Statesmen of World War I and John Singer Sargent’s General Officers of World War I. All three paintings were commissioned by Sir Abraham Bailey and are now reunited in Room 30 (CLICK). Sorry, Biggles fans; the Royal Flying Corps was merely the air arm of the British Army until 1 April 1918, when it merged with the Royal Naval Air Service to form the Royal Air Force (CLICK).

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Euro Song Fiasco

I find it difficult to believe that 120 million people watched yesterday's Eurovision Song Contest: more than 3 hours of the most tedious television imaginable. Party political broadcasts are more fun. It's enough to make anyone with any sense want to get the hell out of Europe. Vote UKIP to save us from Eurovision's moronic tedium of bad music and fireworks. But will Nigel save us? Even in Britain an average of 8.8 million fans watched drag queen Conchita Wurst, known as The Bearded Lady, warble Rise Like a Phoenix to win the competition for Austria (CLICK).

Frida Kahlo

More art on ITV London! Wonders will never cease. In today's Perspectives - Under My Skin: Emeli Sande in Search of Frida Kahlo at 10pm, the award-winning singer/songwriter travels to Mexico City to find out how her heroine overcame diversity to establish herself as one of the world's best-known female artists (CLICK). I suspect Sande's interest in Kahlo is more as a successful woman and role model than as a painter. The part title Under My Skin arises from a tattoo of Freda Kahlo's face which Sande had etched onto her forearm. Kahlo is best known for her self-portraits with those famous beetling eyebrows, Shown is her surrealist painting The Broken Column (1944) which depicts herself with nails in her flesh and tears spilling from her eyes. It's a powerful self-portrait of pain.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Alison Chaplin

London artist Alison Chaplin is currently showing an exhibition of En Plein Air paintings of Epping Forest at The View, Rangers Road, Chingford (CLICK). It looks well worth a visit. This beautiful oil painting is Forest Path (£1.250). CLICK to view more of Alison's artwork.

Frieze New York

The 2014 Frieze New York Art Fair opened on Randall's Island yesterday. These four visitors are completely ignoring the arty tripe on the wall. They obviously visited the show to be seen in the right place and to have a good yak with their chums. So much for art (CLICK).

Pace Cartoon Art

Yesterday Pace London in Lexingtom Street opened a group show with a thought-provoking title: Everything falls faster than an anvil, which runs until 18 June. According to O’Donnells Laws of Cartoon Motion (says the blurb) a falling anvil will always land directly upon a character's head, regardless of the time gap between the body and the anvil's respective drop. So much for the humour of the title. Carl Ostendarp designed the wall-to-ceiling drip murals that form a backdrop to the exhibits, which explore the influence of the cartoon on contemporary art (CLICK). The red sculpture is Claes Oldenburg's Geometric Mouse (1971). The acrylic painting below is John Wesley's Untitled (2011-2012).