Monday, 30 June 2014

Bridge East London

The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has released this artist's impression of its proposed Bridge East London to cross the River Thames, linking Beckton with Thamesmead at Gallions Reach. Designed by architects HOK and design consultants Arup, the new £600m bridge would include a segregated cycle lane and its central span would be high enough for ships to sail underneath. Transport for London (TfL) will begin a 10-week public consultation on river crossings in east London on 7 July (CLICK).

City Life

The Store Street Gallery in Bloomsbury is displaying a two-person show until 12 July: City Life. David Hinchliffe paints impressionistic cityscapes, such as this oil painting of Piccadilly Circus, London. Julia Whitehead likes to look down on pedestrians scurrying about (CLICK).

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Glastonbury Banksy

Here's another Banksy tale. His The Sirens of the Lambs, last seen in his "residency" of New York City, has been mewling its way round Worthy Farm, home of the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts. The girlie festival goers seem bemused by it (CLICK). BBC News, which is obsessed with Glastonbury, has posted photos of the show: CLICK. I can't fathom why anyone wants to go to this mud fest. I wouldn't go if it were free.

Spy Booth Update

The kerfuffle over Banky's Cheltenham Spy Booth has hotted up. Today retired chartered surveyor Phil Jones has pinned this warning notice to chipboard that was erected around the artwork last Wednesday (CLICK). Cheltenham Borough Council could issue a stop notice to halt the removal of the work. Damaging a listed building is a serious criminal offence which carries a maximum prison sentence of two years or an unlimited fine. Also, as Mr Jones claims, the council may own the face of the party wall (CLICK).

Saturday, 28 June 2014


The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford, opens its summer exhibition Discovering Tutankhamun on 24 July. Howard Carter’s original records, drawings and photographs of the search for and discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb will be on display, together with objects from ancient Egypt’s Amarna Period (c. 1350–1330 BC). Entry costs £9 for adults, £7 for silver surfers. The show runs until 2 November (CLICK).

Dennis Hopper Photos

The Royal Academy of Arts in London has opened Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album, which runs until 19 October. These photos from 1960s America were discovered after Hopper's death in 2010 and it's the first time they've been shown in the UK (CLICK). Dennis Hopper wasn't the best photographer in the world - this photo of Roger Vadim and Jane Fonda on their wedding day in 1965 is overexposed -, but he was there, among the movers and shakers, snapping away to capture a record of that era. Admission to the show costs £10 for adults, £9 for silver surfers. CLICK for a BBC slide show of some of his photos.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Call For Art

Here are two interesting items from the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London. Firstly, on 1 July the Gallery opens An Impossible Bouquet: Four Masterpieces by Jan van Huysum, the most revered Dutch still-life painter of the 18th century. His bouquets were "impossible" because they included flowers that bloom at different times of the year. It took him a year or two to include all the flowers he wanted to paint in a picture. Shown is a detail from his Vase with Flowers (c.1715). CLICK to see more.

Secondly, In celebration of their 60th Anniversary, the Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery are calling for entries to be included in a special selling exhibition at this world famous gallery in the autumn. Enter your work no later than 31 July CLICK for an entry form.

Meriam in US Embassy

The latest news on the Meriam Ibrahim saga is that she has been freed again and is now sheltering in the US embassy in Khartoum with her husband and two children. She was released on condition that she stay in Sudan and return to court to face charges of forgery and providing false information. The charges relate to the travel documents issued to her by South Sudan. The documents are genuine, but South Sudan is a separate country and Sudan claims she should have used a Sudanese passport to leave the country (CLICK).

Banksy Grab

The latest attempt to grab a Banksy is being made in Hewlett Road, Chelterham: Phone Snoopers (2014). The wall in question belongs to a private house which is a listed building. While Angela DeSouza from the Women's Business Club is trying to raise £1 million to buy the artwork to stop it being removed, Councillor Colin Hay is seeking advice on whether the Banksy can be legally removed (CLICK).

Jeff Koons Retro

Jeff Coons produces so much tawdry bling that it is easy to forget he is an accomplished artist. Today the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York opened Jeff Koons: A Retrospective, which fills nearly the entire museum with 35-years-worth of Coons' work (CLICK). The exhibition travels to the Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Paris, in the autumn and to the Guggenheim Bilbao in summer 2015. Today's ArtDaily has posted a collection of photos from the exhibition (CLICK). Shown is Antiquity 3, 2009-11.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Jim'll Fix It

Today's headline revelations that Jimmy Savile sexually abused hospital patients aged from 5 to 75 and may even have descended to necrophilia are shocking enough (CLICK). But this was just his NHS victims. We still haven't received the report into his activities at holier-than-thou BBC. It was the BBC that made Savile into a "star", first as a radio DJ and then on TV with Top of the Pops and Jim'll Fix it, which ran from 1975 to 1994. I never liked him in any of these roles. I always thought he was a stupid, narcissistic bighead. So many BBC TV presenters are. Who the hell selects them for BBC stardom?

Kodiak Bear

If you're wandering down Oxford Street in London and see a large Kodiak Bear looming overhead, don't panic! It's merely a bronze statue by Nick Biddy. It's part of Westminster City Council’s City of Sculpture Festival, which gives tourists something extra to gawk at (CLICK).

Tic Tac Tattoo

By coincidence I came across another example of tattoos today. Two paintings by Chinese-born artist Lui Liu - Tic Tac Tattoo I and Tic Tac Tattoo II (both 2003) - were sold at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas, for more than $311,000. Shown is Tic Tac Tattoo II. CLICK for I.

Tattoo Art Today

Here's a most unusual exhibition which opens in the Embankment Galleries, South Wing, Somerset House, London, on 3 July. Time: Tattoo Art Today displays the work of 70 of the world’s most influential tattoo artists, but without any skin! Somerset House commissioned each of them to create a completely new work for the exhibition on the theme of time, working with any medium and on any canvas except for their usual surface of skin. Shown is Time by Claudia de Sabe, one of the two curators of the exhibition as well as a leading tattoo artist herself. The exhibition runs until 5 October, admission free. CLICK for more information.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Eli Wallach RIP

Eli Wallach, who played bandit chief Calvera in John Sturges' The Magnificent Seven (1960), has died aged 98 (CLICK). When you consider the cast of seven good guys Eli was up against, he had to come across as extremely dangerous in order to keep the plot from descending into farce. That he succeeded brilliantly shows what a fine actor he was. That movie - based on Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (1954) - is one of the greatest westerns ever made.

Max Weber

Yesterday the Ben Uri Gallery in St John’s Wood opened Max Weber: An American Cubist in Paris and London, 1905-15. Russian-American Jewish artist Max Weber is credited in the USA with introducing Cubism to New York. There's very little of his work in the UK. The University of Reading has loaned Ben Uri Gallery 14 rare paintings for this exhibition. Shown is Weber's Apollo in Matisse's Studio (1908). The exhibition limps along until 5 October, admission free (CLICK). It needs to be.

Serpentine Cocoon

When in doubt, pose a pretty girl by it, even if she does have dyed red hair and bovver boots. The pretty girl is Serpentine Gallery assistant Sian Landau. She's posing in front of the Serpentine Pavilion 2014, designed by Chilean architect Smiljan Radic. BBC London's Brenda Emmanus interviewed him in Hyde Park. The sound quality is poor (CLICK). The Pavilion opens tomorrow (CLICK).

BP Portrait Award

The annual BP Portrait Award 2014 has been won by German artist Thomas Ganter with his portrait of a vagrant: Man With A Plaid Blanket (2013). Ganter wins £30,000. The vagrant, whose name is Karel, earns a meagre living by cleaning car windscreens. The second prize of £10,000 went to Richard Twose for his portrait of pensioner Jean Woods. Richard is a teacher and artist who lives in Bath, England. New Yorker David Jon Kassan won the £8,000 third prize for A Letter To My Mom (2013). The exhibition of the top 55 entries (out of a record 2,377) opens tomorrow at the National Portrait Gallery in London, admission free (CLICK). For the first time in its history, portraits by a husband and wife have been selected for the show: Tim Hall and Henrietta Graham. They share a studio outside the fishing village of Mousehole in Cornwall (CLICK).

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Meriam Detained!

Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian woman freed from death row on Monday, has been re-arrested with her family at Khartoum airport when they tried to leave the country. Allegedly she did not have the correct travel documents. She will be required to obtain a passport and exit visa on her release, which a spokesman told the BBC would be "soon". Ominously she and her family have been taken to the headquarters of one of Sudan's security agencies. That could be very bad news (CLICK).

Paths of Glory

The Imperial War Museum London reopens on 19 July with what it promises to be "the largest First World War art exhibition for almost 100 years". Truth and Memory: British Art of the First World War will run until 8 March 2015, admission free. (CLICK). One of the most outstanding paintings of the show will undoubtedly be the ironically entitled Paths of Glory by official war artist Christopher Nevinson. These two corpses were deemed too realistic for home consumption and the painting was banned. But it was bought for the collection of the Imperial War Museum. BBC war correspondent Allan Little mourns these two young soldiers and others like them (CLICK).

Chang Fee Ming

Today the Royal Opera Arcade (ROA) Gallery opened Chang Fee Ming: A Traveller’s Diary (CLICK). This is the first solo show in London by self-taught Malaysian artist Chang Fee Ming, whose intricate watercolours of vanishing cultures are collectors' items. Shown is In Khadijah's Garden (2013). Obviously the patterns attracted him, rather than the headless figure. To emphasize Ming's importance, on Thursday evening the show will be officially opened by The High Commissioner of Malaysia to the UK (CLICK).

La Grotte Success

Less than a week ago I posted news that the Chauvet Cave Pont d'Arc in southern France was still awaiting UNESCO world heritage status after five years (CLICK). The good news is that the UNESCO committee of bureaucrats in Doha, Qatar, has finally got its collective finger out. Yes! Chauvet is now being called the "Prehistoric Sistine Chapel" (CLICK). For tourists there is even better news: a full-scale replica of the cavern with its 1,000 drawings is under construction nearby and will open to the public next year.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Ibrahim Released

Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to death by a Sharia court after refusing to renounce her Christianity, has been freed from jail, according to her lawyer. Her death penalty was overturned by an appeal court after international outrage (CLICK).

Obama 3D Bust

No need for death masks anymore. This is a 3D printed bust of US President Barack Obama (2014). It's a world first unveiled at the White House Maker Faire a few days ago. It was commissioned by the Smithsonian Institution using a variety of agencies. (CLICK for details.) All it needs now is a realistic paint job from Madame Tussauds™. When will they abandon their callipers for 3D printing (CLICK)?

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Hesketh Hubbard

Tomorrow the Hesketh Hubbard Art Society opens its annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries in central London. This is London’s largest life-drawing society, which has been holding weekly drawing classes since 1930. That should mean lots of nudes on display, but the Society seems rather shy about showing them. Maybe it wants to avoid one of those health warnings about nudity! I'm not sure what this anonymous graphic is supposed to be. It looks to me like the head of a horse, but that could be simply what I want to see. The show runs until 28 June, admission free. There will be daily workshops in the Learning Centre, charge £5 toward the cost of a model (CLICK).

Saturday, 21 June 2014


Here's a fine example of how the BBC wastes licence-payers' money. It sent Will Gompertz and a video team to The Hague for a press preview of The Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, a renovated and expanded 17th century Dutch palace which reopens on 28 June. And the rather silly video Will Gompertz made doesn't work (CLICK)! The good news is that Mauritshuis boasts a new website that allows you to explore high quality images of its collection of Dutch Golden Age paintings online. Sadly the website is tortuously slow (CLICK). Teething problems? Shown is Vermeer's brilliant Girl with a Pearl Earring (c.1665).

Masterpiece Fair

The Masterpiece Fair London enriches The Royal Hospital Chelsea from 26 June to 2 July. Philip Mould & Co. will be showing a recently discovered painting by George Romney of his celebrated muse Emma Hamilton. As you would expect, there will also be miniature portraits on display. This example is by the master John Smart: Portrait Miniature of Ann Hurlock, a watercolour on ivory oval mounted in a Louis XVI tortoiseshell and gold snuffbox. A general admission ticket costs £25. CLICK to drool.

Colour Blind?

Inspired by the National Gallery's latest exhibition Making Colour, which I previewed a few days ago (CLICK), BBC News has posted an interesting article on colour blindness. This beautiful, eye-catching painting is by colour-blind artist Justin Robertson, who has a problem with flesh tones and used to avoid them (CLICK). I know one severely colour-blind man who cannot tell the different between the colours of traffic lights. He has to judge by their position. If you want to check your own vision, CLICK for a colour blindness test.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Goddess Paint

Do you sometimes wonder that you and your social circle are the only sane people in an increasingly insane world? Atrocities by mad Muslims are daily news. Here's another fruitcake religion. This is Samita Bajracharya (2010) who until she began menstruating was a Kumari Devi. The Nepalese believe that the Hindu goddess Durga, known as Taleju in Nepal, is reincarnated in the body of specially favoured pre-pubescent girls, who must act as the goddess and receive offerings from her devotees. The girl lives in isolation and is dressed and painted by her mother to look the part. The goddess leaves the girl's body as soon as she menstruates (CLICK). Whacky or what? Humanity has created at least 2,500 deities. We create them. They don't create us. Why do we bother?

Fall In for WWI

Yesterday The British Library in London opened Enduring War: Grief, Grit and Humour as part of its contribution to the First World War Centenary. Using posters, poetry, books and pamphlets from the period, the exhibition examines how people coped with life during the war. The image shown is a Parliamentary Recruiting Committee poster Fall In (1914) attempting to whip up patriotic fervour to recruit soldiers for the trenches. The display is in the Folio Society Gallery, admission free, until 12 October (CLICK)

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Kids Art Week

Did you know that this is Children's Art Week? Neither did I until yesterday. It used to be Children's Art Day, but that proved so successful that it's been extended to a week with events up and down the country. It's organised by Engage, a charity which promotes access to, enjoyment and understanding of the visual arts through gallery education. Shown is a schoolgirl enjoying Children's Art Day 2010. CLICK for a list of events in the UK. London venues include the National Portrait Gallery, V&A Museum, Foundling Museum, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Forty Hall & Estate, Design Museum and the Photographers' Gallery.

Summer Showcase

Today the Courtauld Gallery in London opened its Summer Showcase: Bruegel to Freud, Prints from the Courtauld Gallery. This is an introduction to the Courtauld's collection of some 20,000 prints, which cover 500 years and a variety of printing techniques, ranging from Andrea Mantegna’s engraving of The Flagellation of Christ (c. 1465-70) to modern prints by Lucian Freud and Chris Ofili. Shown is Henri Matisse's lithograph Seated Nude Woman with tulle blouse (1925). The show runs until 21 September, admission £6 adults or £5 silver surfers (CLICK).

Making Colour

Yesterday the National Gallery in London opened Making Colour, the first exhibition in the UK to explore the mysteries of pigments used in art. Mainly showing paintings from the Gallery's own collection, which spans art from the early Renaissance to Impressionism, but with borrowed mineral specimens, textiles, ceramics and glass, rooms of the Sainsbury Wing have been themed in different colours, from lapis lazuli to deep green viridian. The dazzling central room is devoted to gold and silver. Modern scientific research also reveals how the human eye and brain respond to colour in unexpected ways. The exhibition runs until 7 September. Timed-ticket entry costs £7 for adults, £6 for silver surfers (CLICK). Shown is Camille Pissarro's The Avenue, Sydenham (1871).

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Chauvet Cave

Look at these expertly painted horses heads, including a prehistoric French rhinoceros, painted some 30,000 years ago on a wall of the Chauvet Cave in Ardeche, southern France. Back in 2007 the French applied to UNESCO to have the Pont d'Arc classified as a world heritage site. After five years, they are still waiting! "La Grotte" as UNESCO calls it (grotto) has made UNESCO's "tentative list", but still there is no firm decision (CLICK).

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Japanese Art

Here's another online sale, Christie’s inaugural online auction of Japanese Art: Meiji Period Magnificence (1868-1912) until 24 June. The works on offer include finely-crafted cloisonné, metal work, lacquer and ceramics among other items. CLICK for more information.

Catherine Goodman

Today the National Portrait Gallery in London opened Catherine Goodman: Portraits from Life. You'll find it in Rooms 41 and 41a, admission free. Shown is her portrait of Kensington restaurateur Sally Clarke entitled The Cook. The exhibition runs until 23 November (CLICK).

Monday, 16 June 2014

Richard III's Tomb

It looks like a plain pine box for King Richard III's Tomb in Leicester Cathedral. What an ignominious end for the monarch who gave Shakespeare his most hated villain and Sir Laurence Olivier one of his finest roles. Still, it's better than a car park. The Richard III Society envisaged an attractive limestone monument with an estimated cost of £30,000 (CLICK). The total cost for reburial in the new pine-box design, released today, is estimated at £2.5m (CLICK). That's inflation: quality goes down, price goes up.

Ryder Cup £5

The Royal Bank of Scotland has unveiled a special Ryder Cup £5 bank note to commemorate the return of this golfing tournament to Scotland after more than 40 years. It will be legal tender in the UK, but won't go into general circulation. In fact it will cost £20 to buy (CLICK). Is that inflation or what? And where does Scottish independence fit in with this fiver? So far the "debate" has been between Alex Salmond's sunny optimism and the scaremongering gloom of the opposition. Where are the hard facts? How can The Royal Bank of Scotland retain its royal status if it belongs to a foreign country? And who will back up its currency? Alex Salmond?

Sunday, 15 June 2014

The Art Room

This neat little graphic represents The Art Room, a charity that provides art as therapy to 5-16 year old children, patron HRH The Duchess of Cambridge. Tomorrow 16 June Face Time: The Art Room opens in the Threadneedle Space at the Mall Galleries in London. This is a selling exhibition of artworks donated by over 60 leading international artists to help fund the charity. Admission is free. CLICK for details.

La Dolce Vita

On Friday, Christie’s Popular Culture department opened its inaugural online-only Vintage Film Posters sale. Don't panic! The auction runs until 24 June. Lots begin at £500 (CLICK). Giorgio Olivetti's Poster for Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life), starring Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg, is estimated at £10,000 – £15,000. The film had busty Anita splashing about in Rome’s Trevi Fountain and won the Palme d'Or at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival. And look out for Hollywood's paranoia over the rising tide of American feminism ATTACK OF THE 50FT. WOMAN (1958) which spawned various imitations and a remake in 1993.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Fly Past

I live under the flight path of those aircraft heading for Buckingham Palace as the climax to the Trooping the Colour ceremony. So I get to see the Fly Past before the royals do. What struck me today was the impeccable timing required to get them over Buckingham Palace in the correct order, because the slowest - the helicopters - went first and the fastest - the Red Arrows - came last. It's an impressive sight, but not so impressive as the insane confection of a hat worn by the Duchess of Cornwall. It must be a strong contender for Silliest Titfer of the Year Award. Here we see the Duchess of Cambridge looking askance at the Cornwall titfer (Cockney rhyming slang tit-fer-tat = hat) and making a mental note to shun Camilla's milliner (CLICK).

London Big List

London Art News has been included in the London Big List under Art. The list includes everything from official websites to football clubs, all reviewed and tested for quality and/or popularity (CLICK).

FIFA Paint Job

Caught red-handed, the most insane paint job ever! Here we see a ground staff member spraying green paint on the football pitch at Arena da Amazonia, Manaus, ahead of England v Italy in the Group D opening game of FIFA World Cup. An overly enthusiastic application of fertiliser caused the grass to die back (CLICK). Blatter resign, you old fool. Does anyone know if the paint is non-toxic?

Friday, 13 June 2014

Brussels Nudes

This last year I've noticed more and more art exhibitions in Brussels. I suppose the city at the heart of the EU feels the need to keep all those visiting MEPs entertained. This is the latest attempt to keep their spirits up: John De Andrea's realistic nudes at the Sorry We're Closed gallery (CLICK). Shown is Lisa (2006). The models are cast from life with such sensitivity that even the imprint of their knicker elastic is captured. John inserts their pubic hair by hand, one at a time. The show runs until 31 August. If Britons knew who their MEPs were, we could ask their opinions of the show, but we only get to vote for parties!

Banksy's Residency

If you didn't follow Banksy's one month "residency" in New York last year, you won't know that one of his stunts was to set up a stall in Central Park with his own works for sale for $60 apiece. Only a handful were bought. Two of them have now come up for auction in Bonhams sale of Contemporary Art in London on 2 July. They are Kids on Guns, estimated at £50,000 – £70,000, and Winnie The Pooh with his paw in a mantrap, estimated at £30,000 - £50,000 (CLICK). Treat yourself to Banksy's video of his residency.

Twombly Twaddle

It seems I must update my maxim "When in doubt, pose a pretty girl next to it". New maxim: "When it is unbelievable rubbish, pose Sir Nicholas Serota in front of it". Here you see the old smoothie posing in front of one of Cy Twombly's series of Bachus dribbly daubs. For some reason best known to himself, the late Cy Twombly bequeathed Tate Passé three large canvases from the Bacchus series (2006-8) and five equally awful bronze sculptures. Tate reckons they're worth about £50m (CLICK). Twombly is not the first appallingly bad American "artist" to leave tripe to Tate in his will. Mark Rothko did the same. I guess Sir Nick butters them up.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Pietro Tacca

I might as well make it a bronze day. This statue of Antinous (c. 1630) attributed to the Italian sculptor Pietro Tacca went on display at The Getty Villa yesterday. The Villa is a recreation of an ancient Roman country house, full of treasures from early antiquity, through ancient Greece to the Roman Empire. So why display a 17th-century bronze there? it was based on the Belvedere Antinous, an ancient Roman marble statue which was itself based on a Greek original of the 4th-century B.C. (CLICK).

Lady Godiva Sale

This shining bronze cast of Salvador Dali's rather silly sculpture Lady Godiva avec papillons (with butterflies) comes up for grabs in Bonhams London sale of Impressionist and Modern Art on 23 June, estimated price £250,000 to £400,000 (CLICK). Thought you'd like to know.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Gauguin's Roses

Bonhams in London has discovered a previously unknown oil painting by Paul Gauguin: Bouquet de roses (1884). It wasn't too difficult to spot, because it is signed "P Gauguin 84". Gauguin appears to have painted it as a gift for a local politician in Rouen. CLICK to read more.

Gormley's Room

Antony Gormley's latest ... er... thingy ... called Room (2014) has been unveiled at the Beaumont Hotel in Brown Hart Gardens, Mayfair, London. The hotel is still being developed and will open this autumn, when hotel guests will be able to enter Gormley's Room. For the rest of us, the exterior will be public art. I'm no Gormley fan, but I must admit Room evinces an alien grandeur (CLICK).