Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Kites from Kabul

On 4 July the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green opens Kites from Kabul, which looks a lot more interesting than all the girlie stuff the adult V&A is currently exhibiting. Turquoise Mountain, a British charity in Kabul, presents a display of kites made by artists and children in Kabul, inspired by Afghan and Islamic designs. Photos and video show kite flying. Admission is free (CLICK).

Diary of a Seducer

Tonight Imagine on BBC One presents Jeff Koons: Diary of a Seducer at 22:40 hours. With Koons retrospectives infesting the Whitney Museum in New York and the Pompidou in Paris, Alan Yentob ponders the pulling power of the King of Bling. Wear sunglasses and earplugs for this programme to cut out the glare and the waffle. Shown are Koons, Yentob and a shiny bunny (CLICK).

Gainsborough Find

This previously unknown chalk-and-gouache presentation drawing by Thomas Gainsborough for his painting Gypsy Encampment, Sunset (c.1778–80) was discovered by Bainbridges of Ruislip (Middlesex). The auction house spent a year authenticating the drawing, which has impeccable provenance from artist through to the present owner. It comes up for sale in Bainbridges auction on 2 July, estimated at £20,000 – £30,000 (CLICK). Gainsborough's oil painting is currently on display in Tate Britain. CLICK to view it online.

Monday, 29 June 2015

A 'New' Rodin

This 2.15 metre statue of nude goddess Aphrodite was sculpted by Auguste Rodin for a play in Paris in 1913. It was cast only in plaster for its stage appearance and the original mould was thought lost. However last year the mould was discovered and the first bronze of the statue cast. It fetched over £731,000 in Christie's Impressionist and Modern Art sale in London on Thursday (CLICK).

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Patrick Macnee RIP

BBC News has published a tribute by his co-stars to actor Patrick Macnee, who died this week in California at the age of 93. Macnee played suave British secret agent John Steed in the 1960s TV series The Avengers. The show returned in the 1970s as The New Avengers, starring Joanna Lumley and Gareth Hunt alongside Macnee. The photo dates from 1976. CLICK for videos and more information.

Frieze London

Frieze London returns to Regent’s Park in a newly designed tent from 14 – 17 October. Over 160 of the world’s leading contemporary galleries, from almost 30 countries, will present the worst of international contemporary art. Once again the Sculpture Park will infest the English Garden. Shown is a photo from Frieze London 2014. Tickets will be available from July. CLICK to find out more.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

London Art Week

Twice in the last five days I've mentioned London Art Week (3 - 10 July): CLICK, CLICK. The official website finally popped up. Over 40 leading art galleries and three auction houses, all within Mayfair and St James’s, will be displaying their wares with special exhibitions to tempt rich punters, museums and art galleries. Many of the exhibits haven't been on public display before (CLICK).

M.C. Escher

Today the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art opened The Amazing World of M.C. Escher, comprising over 100 works on loan from the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague in The Netherlands, Escher's country. Original drawings, prints, mezzotints, woodcuts and lithographs confirm Maurits Cornelis Escher as the most original and popular artist of the 20th Century. Shown is his Bond of Union (1956) which to me suggests the European Union sliced up and spinning out of control (CLICK). Londoners, don't panic! M.C. Escher comes to the Dulwich Picture Gallery on 14 October. The bad news is the price: £14 adults, £13 silver surfers (CLICK). Note: visitors are charged only £9 adults or £7 silver surfers for the same exhibition in Scotland!

Friday, 26 June 2015

Fake or Fortune?

A new series of Fake or Fortune? comes to BBC One on Sunday 5 July at 8pm. Shown are the art sleuths: Dr Bendor Grosvenor, Philip Mould and Fiona Bruce. Series 4 begins with an investigation into three small pictures by LS Lowry, who is probably Britain's most faked artist. His simple style lends itself to faking and he often signed his works with Biro! A "scientific discovery" is promised (CLICK).

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Artists Animals

As part of London Art Week (3 - 10 July) the neighbouring galleries of Rafael Valls and Tomasso Brothers Fine Art will present exhibitions of artists’ animals: 1) The Painter’s Menagerie and 2) The Sculptor’s Menagerie respectively. The collections range from classical antiquity to the 19th century by European and British Old Master painters and sculptors. Shown is Philip Ferdinand de Hamilton's oil painting An Anglo-Arabian Horse in a Spanish Dress Saddle standing in a Landscape. CLICK for a larger image.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

NPG Reminder

The closing date for entries into the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015 is Monday 6 July. This is the leading international photographic portrait competition, open to everyone aged 18 and over from anywhere in the world. CLICK for more information.

Demure Allen Jones

Coming up in Bonhams Post-War & Contemporary sale on 1 July in London is this demure Portrait of Barbara (1957) by Allen Jones, his former girlfriend when they studied at Hornsey College of Art. Jones submitted the painting as part of his application to the Royal College of Art. It still has a sticker on its back to identify it as Jones’s "Testimony of Study" number 1 of 28. The college tried to persuade him that figurative art was dead; but Jones stuck with it, producing the sexist and female-demeaning furniture for which he has become infamous. Barbara put her portrait in the sale, estimated at £25,000 - £35,000 (CLICK).

Crossroads of Curiosity

The British Library Piazza is home to David Normal’s art box installation thingy Crossroads of Curiosity (2015) until 8 November. Images from the extensive British Library collection are projected onto the light box. Visitors can find out about them. Entry is free (CLICK).

Nude With A Tale

Sotheby's is to re-launch Irish art sales in London on 21 October. Leading its next auction is Sir William Orpen's Nude Girl Reading (ca 1921). The nude was his lover Yvonne Aubicq, the daughter of the Mayor of Lille. That's a map she's reading. CLICK for the full story.

Prud’hon Reminder

Back in April I previewed Pierre-Paul Prud'hon: Napoleon’s Draughtsman (CLICK). The exhibition opened yesterday at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London and runs until 15 November. Entry costs £5 or £4 for silver surfers (CLICK). Shown is Prud’hon's Male Nude, Arm Extended.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

James Horner RIP

Oscar-winning American composer James Horner has died in a plane crash in California aged 61 (CLICK). I've been wondering how best to present this sad news and decided to avoid all the well known movie scores he composed. So here is Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) his first major movie success. Play the YouTube trailer to hear how he cleverly combines the original Star Trek theme with his own very scary music. This is considered to be the best of the Star Trek movies.

Barbara Hepworth

Tomorrow Tate Britain opens Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture for a Modern World, which runs until 25 October. This is the first major Barbara Hepworth exhibition in London for almost 50 years. Shown is her Pelagos (1946) which I rather like. The bad news is the price: £16.30 for adults, £14.50 for silver surfers (CLICK). I can't say I like her abstract sculptures that much.

Pavilion 2015

Back in March, an artist's impression of the proposed Serpentine Pavilion 2015 looked good (CLICK). The reality opened to the press yesterday and proved to be a garish, plastic mess, fun for kiddies to run through, but nothing inspiring for adults. It opens to the public on Thursday. The photo shows Spanish architects Jose Selgas and Lucia Cano posing in front of their colourful mess (CLICK).

Hitler Paintings

Why on earth would anyone in his right mind spend £71,000 on this uninspiring painting of Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria? The usual: dead artist plus Big Name: Adolf Hitler. This daub should appreciate in value. It was sold to a Chinese buyer by Weidler Auctioneers of Nuremberg. In total, paintings by Hitler fetched £286,000. So much for taste in the art market (CLICK).

Monday, 22 June 2015

Frans Pourbus

As part of London Art Week (3 - 10 July) the Weiss Gallery in Jermyn Street will showcase two groups of paintings. The first is a collection of seven portraits by Frans Pourbus the Younger. Shown is his Elisabeth of France as a young girl (ca 1612) later Isabelle, Queen of Spain. The second group is a selection of British portraits, ranging from the landed gentry in early Elizabethan times to the pinnacle of Jacobite activity in Europe. In this group is a portrait of King Charles I wearing armour (CLICK).

Liverpool Mayas

Having posted Marc Quinn's gold Kate Moss yesterday, how could I resist following it with this Mayan Golden Frog with Turquoise Eyes? It's one of 385 treasures displayed at the World Museum, on loan from Mexico: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes - Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia. The good news is that admission to Mayas: revelation of an endless time is free. The bad news is that the World Museum is in Liverpool and this is the only venue the exhibition will visit in the UK. It runs until 18 October. CLICK for more information.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Gold Kate Moss

In case you hadn't noticed, today is Father's Day (CLICK), the Summer solstice (CLICK) and World Yoga Day (CLICK). So what better image could combine all three events but Marc Quinn's Microcosms (Siren) a statue of Kate Moss caste in solid gold? The gold represents the brightness and heat of the Summer sun, the pose displays Kate's version of a yoga position and her female beauty is for dads.

Masterpiece Fair

The Masterpiece Fair returns to London in the South Grounds at The Royal Hospital Chelsea from 25 June until 1 July. Entry prices vary widely. A general admission ticket, valid for one day only, will set you back £25 (CLICK). Shown is David Jagger's Portrait of a Young Chinese Girl (1936) complete with plucked and pencilled eyebrows, which were fashionable in the 1930s. This is one of the goodies to be found on the stand of Philip Mould & Co. The company will also display a selection of miniatures, a portrait of King Richard III and a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II as a princess painted by Dame Laura Knight in 1950.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

No Small Beer

Modern artists make names for themselves by getting other people to do all the work. It proves they're an ideas person, not a mere artisan. Oliver Beer's Reanimation - Snow White (2014) comprises 500 images hand-coloured by French school children. For this and a few other bits and bobs he won the Daiwa Foundation Art Prize 2015, worth £5,000 plus expenses for a 7 day stay in Japan, where he will exhibit in the Aoyama | Meguro Gallery in Tokyo this autumn. You can see his work at the Daiwa Foundation Japan House Gallery in London, together with work by the runners up, Julie Brook and Mikhail Karikis, until 17 July, weekdays only. Admission is free (CLICK). Oliver also won The Saatchi Gallery / Channel 4 New Sensations prize in 2009 (CLICK).

Unseen Waterloo

The Terrace Rooms in the South Wing of Somerset House in London are currently showing Unseen Waterloo: The Conflict Revisited to commemorate the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo. Since 2009 top photographer Sam Faulkner has been visiting the annual Waterloo re-enactment in Belgium to capture the historically accurate uniforms each participant creates for the event. Shown is Sam Faulkner's photo Drummer Boy 52nd (Oxfordshire) Regiment of Foot. The exhibition runs until 31 August. Admission is free (CLICK).

Friday, 19 June 2015

Top Gear RIP

The BBC is pinning its hopes on keeping alive its most financially successful TV show on Chris Evans, seen here with his bodyguards or maybe BBC executives. Following the sacking of Jeremy Clarkson for biffing a producer (troops are not allowed to biff officers; a cenury ago he would have faced a firing squad) and the resignations of co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond, Chris Evans got the job of driving Top Gear into the ground (CLICK). Evans may be a millionaire petrol head with a fleet of Ferraris, but he's also one of the most egotistical and irritating BBC presenters. Homer Simpson would have been a far better choice.

Funeral Procession

Yesterday, to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo, the National Portrait Gallery in London displayed for the first time in its entirety the 66-feet-long panorama The Funeral Procession of Arthur, Duke of Wellington for one hour only. The photo shows a member of staff gazing at the work, a print of the hand coloured etching and aquatint created by Samuel Henry Gordon Alken and George Augustus Sala, published by Ackermann & Co on 1 March 1853. The funeral procession to St Paul's Cathedral was the greatest spectacle ever seen in England and was watched by a crowd estimated at a million and a half people.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Wild Eyed

The Photographers’ Gallery in London has opened FreshFaced+WildEyed 2015, its annual exhibition and competition to showcase the quality and breadth of graduate work from visual arts courses across the UK. Shown is Girls! Girls! Girls! (London College of Communications). The show runs until 5 July (CLICK).

BP Winners 2015

The National Portrait Gallery in London has announced winners of the BP Portrait Award 2015. As I predicted, Michael Gaskell's magnificent Eliza (2015) was pipped at the post again (CLICK). He has been selected five times for the BP Portrait Award and won second prize on three occasions He wins the £10,000 second prize again. I thought the judges would plump for Matan Ben Cnaan's sun-drenched Annabelle and Guy (2015). He wins £30,000. CLICK to see all the winners. The exhibition opened today and runs until 20 September, admission free. Why waste money on gimmicky shows when you can view high class paintings for free?

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Waterloo Memorial

Today Prince Charles visited the battlefield of Waterloo to commemorate the trouncing of French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte by the Duke of Wellington 200 years ago. The prince unveiled Vivienne Mallock's Waterloo Memorial (2015) which depicts two life-size British soldiers defending the north gate of Hougoumont Farm, a vital part of the battle. This is the first memorial to the thousands of British troops who died in the battle on 18 June 1815. There will be battle re-enactments at the weekend (CLICK).

Naked Shoe Ad

On Sunday I commented on the perverse decision by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to ban Belgravia Auto Valet's humorous advert showing bikini-clad models washing cars (CLICK). On Monday, in the London Evening Standard, I came across this advert for Reebok X FACE Stockholm footwear, featuring a naked Ashley Madekwe. Despite the slogan "You're Naked With It", I fail to see how the ASA can allow an advert for shoes showing a naked actress. Not that I'm complaining. It makes a very attractive picture.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

More NG Strikes

Sir Nicholas Penny, the retiring Director of the National Gallery in London, has agreed that staff should receive the London living wage. The other good news is that PCS Union rep. Candy Udwin (shown) won an interim relief hearing at an employment tribunal last week and is back on the payroll. The judge ruled it was likely a full hearing would find she had been dismissed for Trade Union activities. Sir Nicholas will hear Candy’s appeal against dismissal on 2 July. However, he is still determined to push ahead with daft privatisation! So Gallery staff will strike for a further 10 days beginning from 20 June (CLICK).

Monday, 15 June 2015

Japanese Wildlife 2

Did you see Japan: Earth’s Enchanted Islands last week? If so, did you notice the beautifully modulated tones of narrator Michelle Dockery, who stars as Lady Mary Crawley in the ITV drama series Downton Abbey? I must admit I don't usually like female narrators. Some are schoolmarmish. Some chatter away like they're yakking with a girlfriend. The most irritating are the ones who try to be funny. Michelle is perfect. Her timing is immaculate. Episode 2/3 is The Southwest Islands, which are tropical, on tonight at 9pm. Expect giant land crabs and giant moths. Shown is a baby Japanese monkey. CLICK for trailer videos and details.

Another Munnings

Here's the finest painting I've seen today: Sir Alfred James Munnings' Going to The Meet, Captain F.G. Chamerlin and his sister on Household Heath, Norwich (1907). It is one of the largest and most ambitious commissioned paintings that Munnings undertook. It comes up for grabs in Dreweatts Fine Pictures sale at Donnington Priory on 8 July estimated at £600,000 - £800,000 (CLICK).

Rothschild at BM

The British Museum in London has opened a new gallery to house the Waddesdon Bequest, A Rothschild Renaissance. This is a magnificent collection of nearly 300 medieval and Renaissance treasures left to the Museum in 1898 by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild. It also includes a few 19th-century fakes! Shown is a Huntsman Automaton (c. 1617-1620) by Wolf Christoff Ritter of Nuremberg. These automata were fun pieces at German drinking parties. If the automaton stopped in front of you, you had to drink its contents (CLICK).

Sunday, 14 June 2015

ASA Paranoid?

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) seems to be getting paranoid about feminism. It has ruled that an online advert by Belgravia Auto Valet showing two bikini-clad models getting themselves in a lather while washing cars was "sexist and degrading to women ... and likely to cause serious or widespread offence.” One person had complained! On the strength of that single complaint the ASA banned the advert. What has the ASA come to? Now take a look at the car-washing scene from Cool Hand Luke (1967). The film was brilliantly directed by Stuart Rosenberg and starred Paul Newman. George Kennedy won an Oscar for his performance.

Blind Artist

BBC News Magazine has published a document by recently deceased artist Sargy Mann about his loss of sight, which was prolonged and painful. For the last ten years of his life he was completely blind (CLICK). Shown is his Frances in hammock by the river No.2. The Cadogan Contemporary gallery in London is exhibiting Sargy Mann: Final Paintings until 4 July (CLICK).

An American Photo

This must be the most powerful Propaganda v. Reality photo ever taken. The poster proclaims the World's Highest Standard of Living, There's no way like the American Way, and depicts a happy white family grinning in their car. Even the dog is white! Below the poster stands a queue of black Americans on the breadline. Margaret Bourke-White captured Kentucky Flood. She was born on 14 June 1904.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Summer Exhibition

Kirsty Wark and Morgan Quaintance visit the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition on BBC Two at 9pm tonight. It seems to be party time, with various celebrities taking their first peek at the exhibition. Shown is Stacy Martin. I have no idea who she is, but she looks pretty in pale pink. Comedian Harry Hill managed to get a picture selected for the show. He's quite chuffed by his success (CLICK).

Tourists Warning

A group of men stripped naked on sacred Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia, on 30 May. Eleanor Hawkins (inset) merely stripped to the waist, but she and three co-accused admitted public indecency and were imprisoned for three days. Eleanor was also fined 5,000 Malaysian ringgit (£860). This all sounds totally ridiculous to western ears, but tourists must remember there are strange beliefs in foreign parts (CLICK).

Friday, 12 June 2015

Spare Rib

The British Library has digitized selected highlights from 21 years of the feminist magazine Spare Rib, which ran from 1972 to 1993. Shown is a detail from the Front cover Spare Rib Issue 122, September 1982: Stuff this for a lark… he said he’d help! (The helpful father.) Wonder Woman miffed (CLICK).

NEAC 2015

The New English Art Club Annual Open Exhibition 2015 opens in the Mall Galleries in central London on 18 June and runs until 27 June. Many fine paintings will be included. Shown is Church with Bulrushes by Charles Rake NEAC. There will be figurative works to suit most tastes. All are for sale. Admission costs £3 adults, £2.50 silver surfers. CLICK to view featured artworks.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Fighting History

Tate Britain in London has opened Fighting History, an exhibition focusing on the conflict, martyrdom and catastrophe found in history paintings from the 18th Century to the present day. Shown is John Singleton Copley's The Death of Major Peirson, 6 January 1781 (1783). The major died while successfully counter attacking a force of damned Frenches that had invaded Jersey. He was shot by a sniper. His black manservant killed the sniper. Admission costs £10.90 for adults, £9.50 for silver surfers (CLICK).

Terrace Wires

The Royal Academy of Arts and HS1 Ltd, owners of St Pancras International station in London, are collaborating to develop Terrace Wires as a showcase for contemporary art. The first installation thingy is One More Time (2015) by Cornelia Parker RA. She redesigned the station’s DENT London clock in black, so that it gradually eclipses the original clock as passengers alight from the trains (CLICK). Ho-hum.

Friendship Portraits

Today the National Portrait Gallery in London opened Friendship Portraits: Chantal Joffe and Ishbel Myerscough, a free display of collaborative paintings by these two artists. Shown is Ishbel Myerscough's Two Girls (1991) which depicts herself and Chantal at the start of their friendship at Glasgow School of Art. Girls? They look like a pair of hookers in their 40s. The Gallery has added this double portrait to its permanent collection. The display is in Rooms 41 and 41a (CLICK).

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

G7 Summit

German chancellor Angela Merkel entertains US President Barack Obama at the G7 summit in Bavaria.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Waterloo 2nd Win

The French are still miffed about losing the Battle of Waterloo. Back in March I showed a Belgian two-euro commemorative coin to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle, which was fought in Belgium. The French blocked the coin on the spurious grounds that it would create tensions when Europe's unity is under threat (CLICK). The Belgian mint has got round the French protest by issuing these new 2.5-euro commemorative coins, using a rule that allows eurozone countries to issue coins in irregular denomination (CLICK). So France has effectively lost the Battle of Waterloo twice! Makes your heart sing, doesn't it?

Monday, 8 June 2015

Japanese Wildlife

BBC Two begins a new wildlife series this evening: Japan: Earth's Enchanted Islands at 21:00 hours ... er ... 9pm. The first of three episodes is Honshu, the central island of Japan with over 100 million people. Much of the island is mountainous, home to black bears, monkeys and fireflies. Shown is an Atlas Moth emerged from its cocoon with its wings unfurling (CLICK).

Freud's Letters

The family of poet and critic Stephen Spender (1909–1995) has put up for sale ten unpublished letters written by the teenage Lucian Freud to his friend. This letter from 1941 features a tearful self-portrait by Freud. They will be offered at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Day Auction in London on 2 July with an estimate of £28,000 to £42,000. View them at Sotheby’s in New Bond Street from 27 June (CLICK).

YBA For Sale

Not the sort of thing you'd want in your living room. Jake and Dinos Chapman's life-sized fibreglass reworking of Goya’s Grande hazaña! Con muertos! (A heroic feat! With dead men!), the most gruesome sheet from his The Disasters of War series (1810-20), comes up for grabs in Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction on 30 June. Great Deeds Against the Dead (1994) will be on view at Christie’s London from 26 June, together with works by other Young British Artists (YBA): Hirst, Ofili and Saville (CLICK).