Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Dulwich Open Show

In celebration of their 60th Anniversary, the Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery are holding a special Open Exhibition in the Gallery’s temporary exhibition spaces. The exhibition opened today and runs until 12 October. Over 150 pictures are on display (CLICK).

Three Night Markets

Three Night Markets is a group exhibition in London's City Hall, running weekdays only until 16 October. Xanthe Mosley has enjoyed a two-year residency at Billingsgate, Smithfield and New Covent Garden. She will be displaying the results of her residency in large-scale works on the 2nd floor Chamber Lobby and Café. Shown is a detail from her Market Traders at New Covent Garden Flower Market. CLICK to read more about Xanthe.

Fatherhood II

Dan Llywelyn Hall's portrait of Prince William entitled Fatherhood goes under the hammer at Bonhams First World War Centenary Sale on 1 October in London, estimated at £8,000 - £10,000. All the proceeds will go to The Victoria Cross Trust and War Memorials Trust (CLICK).

Nigerian Art Show

Throughout October the Nigeria Art Society UK is celebrating Nigeria’s centenary with an art show at the Waterloo Action Centre (WAC) Gallery at 14 Baylis Road, Waterloo, London. Nigeria@100: Transforming a British Experiment? is a group show with a variety of styles reflecting Nigeria's cultural heritage from colonialism to the present day. Shown is Titus Agbara's excellent painting of children braiding one another's hair. Its title Apprehensible meant nothing to me. Titus kindly explained that Apprehensible is traditional person-to-person learning as opposed to Western-style education. CLICK to view more art.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Leonardo Ermine

Engineer Pascal Cotte has spent three years using reflective light technology to analyse Leonardo da Vinci's The Lady with an Ermine, which shows Cecilia Gallerani, a young beauty in the Milanese court who was mistress to Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, nicknamed "the white ermine". Cotte's pioneering technique Layer Amplification Method (LAM) allows stages in the painting to be separated, as shown here. Previous examinations using X-ray and infra-red analysis have revealed far less detail (CLICK).

Roundabout Winner

A public art sculpture by Philip Bews and Diane Gorvin, Arrivall 1471, commissioned by the Tewkesbury Battlefield Society at a cost of £65,000 to commemorate the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471, has won the Stonehill Roundabout on the A38 the accolade Roundabout of the Year (CLICK). The sculpture was made from green oak from Gloucestershire trees and took two years to build. It will feature on the cover of the Best of British Roundabouts Calendar 2015 (CLICK). To visit the artists' website CLICK.

The Nakeds

If you're into drawing, this is the London gallery for you. Drawing Room is the only public, non-profit gallery in the UK and Europe dedicated to the investigation and presentation of international contemporary drawing. The gallery is currently showing The Nakeds, a group exhibition of drawings of the body exposed. It starts with Egon Schiele and comes up to the present day (CLICK). Shown is Stewart Helm's The Line and the Lust (2011).

Hunter's Animals

You have until 5 October to visit the Stafford Gallery at Wimbledon Fine Art, London, to view Angela Hunter: New Animal Sculpture (CLICK). From mad March hares to rockhopper penguins, Angela's sculptures are a delight. Stretching cats too. Even a snail. They're made in bronze resin in editions of 15 or 12. Shown is her Otter.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Turner Tripe 2014

You didn't really want to know that the Turner Prize opens at Tate Britain on 30 September, did you? At £10 for adults or £8.60 for silver surfers, it's a complete waste of money (CLICK). The only reason for visiting the show was to see the Stuckists demo outside and to pick up a free "The Turner Prize Is Dead" badge. But Stuckists won't be demonstrating against the prize this year "in protest" that it's become too pathetic (CLICK). Shown is last year's winner Laure Prouvost with a dead fish on her head. This silliness sums up the Turner Prize for me.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

NG Membership

The National Gallery in London has launched a Membership scheme. For £50 a year members get free, unlimited entry to all special exhibitions, invitations to a programme of after-hours events, an exclusive online magazine with behind-the-scenes features, a range of special offers and the latest news through the Membership e-newsletter (CLICK). Admission to the Gallery is still free. So is London Art News. Your choice.

Mario Merz

Yesterday Pace London at 6 Burlington Gardens opened Mario Merz. Who? He was an Italian "artist" with a thing about igloos. Shown is an igloo from a three-domed installation thingy that forms the centerpiece of the show. It's called Spostamenti della Terra e della Luna su un Asse (Movements of the Earth and the Moon on an Axis). It was the last igloo he made before he died in 2003, This is the first major UK exhibition of his work in more than 20 years. It limps along until 8 November (CLICK).

Alcatraz & Blenheim

There's no escaping Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei. His garbage is currently infesting Alcatraz - the former US Federal Penitentiary, now a tourist trap - and Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, England's grandest stately home. I can't think of two more disparate venues. It's ceramic crabs for the Blenheim retrospective (CLICK) and this Chinese dragon, entitled With Wind, for Alcatraz (CLICK). Allegedly both exhibitions are about human rights and freedom of expression. I'd like a cut of his earnings from these shows. So would the Chinese government. He remains under house arrest and had to use virtual reality software to place his exhibits in the Blenheim show.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Anselm Kiefer at RA

Tomorrow the Royal Academy of Arts opens Anselm Kiefer in the Main Galleries of Burlington House. "Is he our greatest living artist?" asks The Independent. Not in my book, he isn't. If what I've seen so far is anything to go by, he's just another crap contemporary artist. Shown is Kiefer's Heroic Symbol V (Heroisches Sinnbild V) from 1970. Why anyone should lash out £14 to see this tripe when there are so many excellent free exhibitions in London is beyond me. CLICK for more images. CLICK for the RA.

Sad Inheritance!

Joaquín Sorolla's Sad Inheritance! (1899) is one of the most powerful and memorable paintings I've ever seen. It shows a priest helping boys crippled by poliomyelitis into the sea for bathing. A life on crutches was the prospect for hundreds of thousands of unfortunate children prior to the introduction of the polio vaccine in the 1950s. This painting is on display in a new exhibition in Madrid (CLICK).

CRW Nevinson

The Osborne Samuel Gallery in London is marking the centenary of the outbreak of World War One with its exhibition CRW Nevinson: A Printmaker in War and Peace, which runs until 18 October. A pacifist, Nevinson became an official war artist and captured the brutal mechanisation of "modern" warfare. Shown is his lithograph After a German Retreat, Labour Battalion Making a Road through a Captured Village (1918). The gallery is also co-publishing and launching a new book CRW Nevinson – The Complete Prints (CLICK).

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Jimmy Nelson

Here's another fascinating photo exhibition: Jimmy Nelson: Before They Pass Away. These are peoples out of touch with the modern world and Jimmy has been trying to make a photographic record of them before they vanish. Shown is his photo of A Maori Woman at Rauwhiri Winitana Paki, Taupo Village, North Island, New Zealand (2011). What a freckly beauty! This free exhibition is at the Atlas Gallery, which has one of those clever-dick websites that tells you nothing, not even where the gallery is. I tracked it down to 49 Dorset Street, Marylebone, London, W1U 7NF. It even had the show down as forthcoming when it opened today! CLICK if you must. Better still, CLICK for the BBC's In pictures. The photos are terrific.

Emma Watson at UN

Here's English actress Emma Watson looking very smart and businesslike in her role as UN Goodwill Ambassador, launching a new HeForShe campaign for gender equality last Saturday. How can we ever forget her as the bossy young girl in the Harry Potter movies? Apparently that wasn't all acting. She revealed in her speech that being called "bossy" as a girl drew her toward feminism, because it was a put down aimed at girls. They had to know their place and not compete with the boys. The Daily Mail is buzzing with news of her speech (CLICK). For a video CLICK. A joke from Woody Allen sums it up: "In my house I'm the boss, my wife is just the decision maker."

Painted Statues

An exhibition at the Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum in Copenhagen caught my eye this morning. It's showing 120 original works from Antiquity and painted reconstructions showing how they would have looked when originally finished (CLICK). The myth that all ancient Greco-Roman statues were unadorned white marble has existed for centuries. The reality is that the paint had worn off, but enough traces remain to allow modern scientists to establish the truth. I've combined two photos to show the difference: Caligula (37-41 C.E.) and Caligula painted reconstruction (2011). The infamous Roman emperor looks a nice lad given colour, doesn't he?

Towry Award

Congratulations to Mackie for winning the £10,000 Towry Award for Best Work in 2014 with his two surrealist oil paintings of caravans. This one is Autumn Rhythm, which shows a copy of a Jackson Pollock daub inside. The notice in the window incongruously advertises "Fresh Fish here". The Towry Award is one of at least 28 prizes awarded in a variety of categories in the 18th National Open Art Competition, the richest in the UK with a total of £60,000 awarded this year (CLICK). The exhibition of winning works runs at the The Embankment Gallery, Somerset House. London, until 25 October, admission free (CLICK). All works are for sale.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Alice Gross 1 Month

Thursday marks one month since the disappearance of 14-year-old schoolgirl Alice Gross, and detectives will stage a reconstruction of her disappearance in the hope it will jog somebody's memory. Shown is a family photo of Alice with the iphone she was carrying when she vanished. This has never been recovered. Meanwhile the hunt goes on for prime suspect Arnis Zalkalns (CLICK).

Ed Forgets Deficit

Ed Miliband, Man of Steel.
Time to wheel out of retirement my Ed Miliband, Man of Steel graphic (2012). His boring Labour Party conference speech that put union leaders to sleep TOGETHER, during which he forgot to mention how he would sort out the UK's financial deficit TOGETHER if elected, made his ten-year plan look like pie in the sky (CLICK). Whatever one might think of Scottish Gruppenführer Alex Salmond, there is no doubt he would make a far more effective Leader of the Opposition than Red Ed. This is a paid job and a vital one in any democracy. Isn't it time the Man of Steel learnt how to do that job before reaching for the sky?

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Threadneedle Prize

The shortlist of six artists competing for the £20,000 Threadneedle Prize 2014 has been released. BBC News has posted their work on its In pictures webpage: CLICK. As far as I'm concerned, the only one worth rewarding with a prize is Craig Wylie's EW (hood). Of course it won't win. It's too good. Only rubbish wins the Threadneedle Prize. The exhibition opens at the Mall Galleries in London on 25 September, admission free. If you waste your time on this show, don't forget to vote for the Visitors’ Choice Award, worth £10,000 (CLICK).

Liu Xiaodong

This painting by Liu Xiaodong, one of China's foremost contemporary artists, is coming up for grabs in Sotheby's Hong Kong Evening Sale on 5 October. Curious about Disobeying the Rules (1996) I watched Sotheby's video on the painting (CLICK). The voiceover is spoken in Chinese, but there are subtitles in English. The subject combines two photos: one of migrant workers in a truck going to work, the second a truckload of pigs being driven to an abattoir. Liu Xiaodong thought the migrant workers had as much control over their destiny as the pigs for slaughter. The painting expresses his social concern.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Endless River

This is the cover art for the new Pink Floyd album The Endless River, due out in November, the group's first new album in 20 years. The death of Storm Thorgerson, who created Pink Floyd's brilliant album covers, left the group with a huge gap to fill. They found an 18-year-old unknown Egyptian digital artist Ahmed Emad Eldin, who came up with a lone figure poling a Thames skiff over clouds to a bright sunset (CLICK).

Cleavage Kerfuffle

Under the headline "Bollywood cleavage row shows India's 'crass' side", the BBC Delhi correspondent goes into depth about the ongoing saga over Bollywood star Deepika Padukone's cleavage as carped about in The Times of India. The cleavage was found in a video posted over a year ago. So this is hardly outstanding news. Of course Auntie daren't show us the bone of contention in case it causes offence, which leaves us wondering what the fuss is all about. I googled Deepika Padukone's cleavage, as you do. It isn't the same dress, but it is the same cleavage. Rather nice too; demure by Hollywood standards. I reckon the headline is right (CLICK).

Toy Brick Show

There must be big money in making sculptures out of toy bricks, because Nathan Sawaya gave up being a US corporate lawyer to indulge his hobby of LEGO® sculpting. His exhibition The Art of the Brick is on a world tour with over 80 sculptures. On 26 September it opens at the Old Truman Brewery Gallery at, of all places, Brick Lane. Admission costs a bomb: £14.50 adults and £11 silver surfers, Mondays to Thurdays. It's more expensive Fridays to Sundays (CLICK). BBC Breakfast interviewed him this morning about his art (CLICK).

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Wedgwood Update

On 1 September The Art Fund launched its £2.74 million public appeal to save the Wedgwood Collection (CLICK). Since then. £1 million has been donated by the public, unlocking a further £1 million from a series of major donors, trusts and foundations. Just under £750,000 is left to find to reach the total purchase price of £15.75 million. The Art Fund has until 30 November to raise the readies to buy the Wedgwood Collection (CLICK).

Ray Bradbury

The estate of the late, great Ray Bradbury is up for grabs in an online auction by Nate D. Sanders on 25 September (CLICK). Ray had assembled one of the finest collections of sci-fi art, original comic book art and Disney animations ever to hit the market. Shown is James Bingham's illustration The Fog Horn (c.1951) which was used in the Bradbury anthology The Golden Apples of the Sun (1953).

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Black Eye CoverGirl

The National Football League (NFL) in America is getting it in the neck from activists protesting at its cavalier attitude to footballers battering women. It began with a video of American football star Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiancée out of a lift. Boys will be boys: two-match suspension. Next came a video of Rice throwing the punch that knocked the woman - now his wife - unconscious. Then journalist and activist Adele Stan took up the cudgels and altered an advertisement for cosmetics company CoverGirl to make it seem the model had a black eye. With a PhotoShop enhancement the protest went viral. NFL sponsors are now sweating (CLICK).


From 24-28 September the LAPADA Art and Antiques Fair 2014 will be in Berkeley Square, London (CLICK). Philip Mould & Co will be displaying an historic collection of portrait miniatures. Shown is a portrait of Charles Howard, 10th Duke of Norfolk (1767). Snappy dresser.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Ig® Nobel Winners

The winner of this year's Ig® Nobel Prize for Physics is a Japanese team that measured the amount of friction between a shoe and a banana skin and between a banana skin and the floor when it's stepped on. BBC News got so excited about this study that it posted a cartoon of said slippage (CLICK). The graphic I've posted derives from the winning Neuroscience team of Kang Lee et al from the University of Toronto, Canada, for trying to understand what happens in the brains of people who see the face of Jesus in a piece of toast. My biggest grin came from Raquel Rubio et al of IRTA, Spain, who won the Nutrition category with this study: "Characterization of Lactic Acid Bacteria Isolated from Infant Faeces as Potential Probiotic Starter Cultures for Fermented Sausages". Remind me not to nibble fermented sausages! See what tickles your fancy in Improbable Research (CLICK).

Great Gallery Video

Ten days ago I posted news that the refurbished Great Gallery in The Wallace Collection would reopen today (CLICK). Wendy Hurrell of BBC London News took a video team along to ogle the new ceiling and interview Christoph Vogtherr, Director of The Wallace Collection (CLICK).

Constable at V&A

Tomorrow the V&A Museum in London opens Constable: The Making of a Master. For the first time Constable's major works will be presented alongside his preparatory sketches and the paintings of old masters of classical landscape whose values he assimilated and transformed into popular images of the English countryside. Shown is Constable's Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows (1831). Sadly, admission costs an arm and a leg: £14.00 plus booking fee £1.40 = £15.40 for adults, £13.40 for silver surfers (CLICK).

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Nat. Open Art

Today Somerset House in London opened the National Open Art Exhibition, which showcases the winners of its annual competition to nurture creative talent in the UK. It provides a platform for artists to display and sell their paintings, drawings, original prints, photography, wall hung installation thingies and computer generated art. Prize money totalling £60,000 is dished out. Shown is Len Green's Spring Fever (2013). Get it? Springs. Turnip Prize loser? "Too much effort"? Admission is free (CLICK).

Astronomy Photos

Another autumnal day, another photographic exhibition. But this one is special: the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014. The overall winner this year is James Woodend with his Aurora over a Glacier Lagoon (2014). Paul Kerley's video is disappointing with irritating music and two twits of judges, one with a plum in her mouth, wittering on about their choices (CLICK). The Guardian shortlist is better, but incomplete (CLICK). Best of all is the website of the Royal Observatory Greenwich in London, which gives you all the winning categories and oodles of information about the images and cameras. The free exhibition opened today and runs until 22 February 2015 (CLICK).

Alice Gross Case

In Tuesday's Crimewatch programme the police said they wanted to question Latvian builder Arnis Zalkalns, who was caught on CCTV cycling in the same direction as missing 14-year-old schoolgirl Alice Gross 15 minutes later. Zalkalns disappeared a week after Alice vanished. The police have now released news that Zalkalns served a 7-year prison sentence in Latvia for murder before coming to England, where of course we welcomed him with open arms. All foreign murderers welcome, providing they have served their prison sentence. In 2009 he was arrested in the Ealing area of west London on suspicion of indecently assaulting a 14-year-old girl, but no further action was taken. Typical. Shades of Rotherham. Zalkalns was last seen riding his red Trek mountain bike. If you see him, dial 999. The police regard him as potentially dangerous (CLICK).

Scotland Decides

Today Scotland decides. ArtDaily found the perfect picture for the Scottish referendum on independence: the Scotland Border Sign in Berwick-upon-Tweed, England’s most northerly town. What amazes me about the Yes/No debate is that nobody from the Better Together campaign has pointed out that the United Kingdom is more than the sum of its parts. Separation will not only weaken what's left of the UK, but also it will weaken Scotland. I don't believe that Gruppenführer Alex Salmond gives a toss about the people of Scotland. His concern seems to be forging his own place in history and to hell with the fallout (CLICK).

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Jerwood Drawing

A spoken description of a Roman pot held by the Museum of London is the gimmicky nonsense that has won Alison Carlier this year's Jerwood Drawing Prize of £8,000. The second prize of £5,000 went to Welsh artist Sigrid Muller for her watercolour drawing Seed Pods, competent but boring (CLICK). Neither award says much for the exhibition at Jerwood Space in London until 26 October (CLICK).

Irma Stern

I find this difficult to believe; but, according to Bonhams' blurb, South African Expressionist painter Irma Stern (1894-1966) is one of the top-selling female artists of all time! Bonhams at New Bond Street in London presents The Irma Stern phenomenon. Up for grabs in The South African Sale on 1 October are 11 of Stern's daubs estimated at a total of £2-3 million. This is one of her better ones: Still life with African Woman (1945) in its original Zanzibar frame, estimated at £800,000 - 1.2 million (CLICK).

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Rude Cyclists

A storm of controversy has broken over the heads of the six IDRD-Bogota Humana-San Mateo-Solgar cyclists from Colombia, after their photos at the Giro della Toscana in Tuscany hit the Internet. Their cycling kit with flesh-coloured panels around the midriff made them look naked. The BBC was so prudish it put a black stripe across the crucial zone (CLICK). I put some images into my trusty copy of XnView and did some graphic jiggery-pokery to delve into this shocking exposure. You can see that the "rude" part is a pad. In the Tuscan sunshine this pad casts a shadow that looks like pudic hair. Not so rude after all. CLICK to view an original photo.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Photography Oxford

Photography exhibitions seem to be marking autumn in the UK. Oxford has gone bananas with a festival spread around 20 venues across the city. The inaugural Photography Oxford, which opened yesterday, has a wide variety of stunning photos caught by camera clickers from Britain, the USA, Germany, New Zealand, France, Finland, Egypt and Italy. Some of the winning pictures from this year's World Press Photo Awards are also featured. The dedicated website is tricky dicky and unhelpful. For instance, Wendy Sacks splendid photo of brothers in water is the home page graphic, but no details are revealed. Where to find it? What's its title? Camera details? One exhibition I did track down and highly recommend is that of Maisie Broadhead at Art Jericho. She photographs modern women within a domestic context in the style of Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer. The festival runs until 5 October. CLICK for the irritating festival website. CLICK for a BBC selection of images from the festival.

Black Chronicles II

Autograph ABP at Rivington Place, London, recently opened Black Chronicles II, a free exhibition of over 200 studio photos of black Victorians, the majority of which have never been exhibited or published before. Many of these photos were unearthed as part of Autograph ABP's current archive research programme The Missing Chapter, a three-year project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The webpage for this show is a good example of what a webpage should be with its 50/50 mix of sample graphics and readable text and no silly gimmicks. Many art galleries could learn from this website: CLICK.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Shark Trade Ban

Now for some good news. From tomorrow the first ban on shark and manta ray trade comes into force. This was agreed last year at a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Thailand. Shown is an Oceanic Whitetip Shark (Carcharhinus longimanus), one of the species to be elevated to Appendix II of the CITES code, which means that traders must have permits and certificates. The porbeagle, manta rays and three varieties of hammerhead sharks will also be protected (CLICK).

Amy Winehouse

Sculptor Scott Eaton's life-size bronze statue of singer Amy Winehouse was unveiled in Camden, north London, today on what would have been her 31st birthday. Amy's parents Mitch and Janis Winehouse attended the unveiling in Camden's Stable Market, where it will be a permanent memorial to Amy. Fans came from as far away as Hawaii to see the statue unveiled. It's tragic to think that Amy died of accidental alcohol poisoning at the age of only 27. CLICK for a BBC video.

Photobook Award

The inaugural Bar-Tur Award for photography talent took place in 2009, sponsored by Amnon and Armon Bar-Tur in memory of late wife and mother Ann Lesley Bar-Tur (1947-1984). Amnon Bar-Tur has now decided to sponsor a new award in conjunction with The Photographers’ Gallery in London. The Bar-Tur Photobook Award will offer an emerging photographer the chance to publish his or her first book with The Photographers’ Gallery and Trolley Books in 2015. The Award is open to all photographers and artists who have not yet published a book (self-published excepted) and are either studying or have graduated from a UK-based visual arts course within the last five years. Applicants are not required to be living in the UK (CLICK).

Briton Beheaded

Only yesterday the family of aid worker David Haines issued an appeal to Islamic State (IS) fanatics holding him captive to make contact with them (CLICK). This still from an IS video shows the fanatics' response. Presumably under threat of torture, David says "I would like to declare that I hold you, David Cameron, entirely responsible for my execution." After more coerced propaganda from David, another British voice - we assume the executioner's - declares "This British man has to pay the price for your promise, Cameron, to arm the Peshmerga against the Islamic State." PM David Cameron has called the murder of David Haines "an act of pure evil (CLICK)." True. So when is Government going to ban the fount of this evil: Sharia Law (CLICK)?

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Sarcophagus Lid

You don't expect to find a 3,000-year-old Egyptian Sarcophagus Lid in a house in Essex. So, when Stephen Drake of Willingham Auctions climbed through a hole in a wall and found the relic covered in cobwebs, he experienced an Indiana Jones moment. The Egyptian embassy in London tried to prevent the auction, demanding that the sarcophagus lid be repatriated to Egypt, but Willingham Auctions refused and the lid fetched £12,000. The incompetent paint job on the face was done by its former owner, big game hunter and journalist Captain "Tiger" Sarll, who is thought to have had the lid shipped to England. He died in 1977 (CLICK).


The Stolen Space gallery in London is currently showing TWOONE: Hunted Hunter's Head. His real name is Hiroyasu Tsuri. TWOONE is his street art name he adopted after moving from Japan to Australia. He now paints large murals by commission. CLICK to view more of his work.

Francesca Woodman

Victoria Miro Mayfair is currently showing Francesca Woodman: Zigzag. This young American photographer was obsessed with her own body and took naked self-portraits in all sorts of weird and wonderful poses. She committed suicide in 1981 at the age of 22. This example is Untitled, taken at the MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, New Hampshire, in 1980. The exhibition runs until 4 October. CLICK for more information.