Monday, 30 November 2015

A Forger's Tale

In his book A Forger's Tale, published since his release from prison with extracts in The Sunday Times, Britain's master forger Shaun Greenhalgh has claimed that he created Leonardo da Vinci's La Bella Principessa. Greenhalgh based the chalk-and-ink drawing on a supermarket checkout girl named Sally in 1978. Experts have accepted the da Vinci as the real deal worth £100 million (CLICK).

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Julia Margaret Cameron

Yesterday the Victoria and Albert Museum in London opened Julia Margaret Cameron to mark the bicentenary of her birth. She was one of our most important and innovative photographers of the 19th century. The exhibition features over 100 of her photos from the V&A's collection. Shown is her photo of Annie (January 1864). The exhibition runs until 21 February 2016 (CLICK).

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Export Ban

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export ban on the oil painting St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child from Dieric Bouts’ workshop, a popular subject in the 15th century. The asking price is £3,300,000 plus VAT of £83,320. CLICK for a larger graphic.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Blake Portraits

Peter Blake is known for his pop art. His portraits go into private collections where they cannot be seen by the public. Today Waddington Custot Galleries in Cork Street, London, opened Peter Blake: Portraits and People with paintings borrowed from private collections to put the record straight. Shown is Blake's Simon Sainsbury and Stewart Grimshaw (1996). The show runs till 30 January (CLICK).

Holy Cow!

Religious nutters never seem to be able to look objectively at their lunacy. Siddhartha Kararwal's Bovine Divine (2015), a life-sized polystyrene cow dangling from a helium balloon, was installed in Rajasthan state, India. Hindu activists brought the installation down and garlanded and blessed it before it was seized by police. The artist and two colleagues were briefly detained by the police, who have since apologised. The raid is viewed as a sign of growing religious intolerance in India (CLICK).

Monday, 23 November 2015

Planet Dinosaur

BBC One is repeating its groundbreaking series Planet Dinosaur, in which the monsters of millions of years ago are brought to life by brilliant computer wizardry. Shown is Carcharodontosaurus from Africa. Produced and directed by Nigel Paterson, narrated by John Hurt, executive producer Andrew Cohen, this is the BBC at its very best. Catch Planet Dinosaur on iPlayer or on TV (CLICK).

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Modern Nudes

Sotheby's S/2 London has opened The Nude in the XX and XXI century curated by independent curator and writer Jane Neal. Shown is Kees van Dongen's Femme Nue Blonde (1906) which is about as flat and lifeless as a nude can be. CLICK for details and a list of artists.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

V&A Wishing Tree

As part of its India Festival, the V&A Museum employed Delhi-based designers Sarthak and Sahil to create the divine Kalpataru: The Wishing Tree, based on the ancient Hindu festival of Diwali or Festival of Lights. You'll find it in the Grand Entrance (CLICK).

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Kangaroo Dundee

If you're getting sick of all the publicity being heaped on the death cult ISIS, publicity which will guarantee them new recruits, the BBC is repeating Kangaroo Dundee, which shows the better side of human nature. The series follows Chris "Brolga" Barns, who runs Brolga's Kangaroo Sanctuary near Alice Springs in central Australia. Seeing how he cares for orphaned baby kangaroos is amazing. In this photo he is teaching an orphaned joey how to jump into a pillow case pouch. Catch it on iPlayer (CLICK).

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Black Armband

In the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, Michelangelo's David wears a black armband and his plinth is draped in the French tricolour in memory of those young people who were murdered in the Muslim atrocity in Paris on 13 November.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Enduring Freedom

The Halcyon Gallery in New Bond Street is currently showing Enduring Freedom, a major new solo exhibition by British artist Mitch Griffiths, expressing his disillusionment. Here is his Finest Hour. The exhibition runs until 28 November. CLICK for more information.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

NCIS Attack

Crime got too real for NCIS star Pauley Perrette, who plays loopy but brilliant lab technician Abby Sciuto in the top US crime drama. On Thursday night she was attacked outside her Hollywood home and punched in the face several times by a man she described as "psychotic". He threatened to kill her. Police later collared him, name David Merck, and charged him with aggravated battery (CLICK).

Paris Atrocity

Civilised countries around the world have illuminated their outstanding buildings with the French tricolour to show solidarity with the victims of the insane Muslim atrocity in Paris late on 13 November, murdering at least 129 innocent people and wounding 350; some of these are critically injured and may not survive. In London, Tower Bridge and The National Gallery were lit in red, white and blue. This sand sculpture STOP TERRORISM PRAY FOR PARIS VICTIMS (14/11/2015) is by an Indian artist in Bhubaneswar.

Friday, 13 November 2015

A Bedlam Artist

The Bethlem Museum Of The Mind in south London is showing a major retrospective of the art of Richard Dadd, a promising young artist whose work was shown at the Royal Academy. Here is a detail from his circular painting Puck (1841) which depicts naked people dancing round the mischievous elf from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. In 1843 Dadd murdered his own father in a psychotic episode and was locked up in Bedlam, where he continued to paint. The Art Of Bedlam: Richard Dodd runs till 6 February 2016 (CLICK).

Jean-Étienne Liotard

Here's the finest portrait I've come across today. It depicts a little lady with a big name: Maria Frederike van Reede-Athlone aged 7 (1755-1756). It was painted by Swiss artist Jean–Étienne Liotard, the master of pastel techniques, which allowed portraits to be painted much quicker than with oil paints. Jean–Étienne Liotard: A Cosmopolitan Artist is at the Getty Center, USA (CLICK).

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Lord Mayor's Show

IF you fancy braving a rainy, wind-swept London on Saturday, the Lord Mayor's Parade begins at 11am. This is the 800th anniversary of the parade. It includes more than 7,000 people, 200 horses and 155 floats and promises US drum majorettes with wet, shiny legs. The day will end with fireworks over the Thames at 5.15pm (CLICK). Shown are paintings on the side of the Lord Mayor's Coach.

Photo Prize 2015

This year's Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize of £12,000 has been awarded to London-based photographer David Stewart for Five Girls (2014) a recreation of a photo he took in 2008 when his daughter and her group of friends were about to start their GCSEs. They have now all graduated from university. My favourite photo in the shortlist, Ivor Prickett's Amira and her Children, came fourth. CLICK to view all the winners. The exhibition opened today and runs until 21 February 2016, admission £4, silver surfers £3.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Pamela Golden

If you fancy something unusual in painting, trot along to Marlborough Contemporary, which today opened Pamela Golden: Charlie Don’t Surf. Pamela has based her latest series of paintings on found images of US soldiers in the Vietnam War combined with old sci-fi movie images. As you can see from Shoe Fly Dragonfly Get Back To Your Mother (2015) the results are striking (CLICK).

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Modigliani Record

Yesterday in New York Christie’s sold Amedeo Modigliani's Nu couche (1917-18) for a record $170,405,000, the second highest price ever achieved at auction for a work of art. How times have changed. When Modigliani first showed this oil painting in Paris, it drew a crowd to the gallery window and the local police ordered the exhibition to be shut down immediately (CLICK).

Pyotr Pavlensky

Russian "performance artist" Pyotr Pavlensky made headlines in 2013 when he stripped naked and nailed his scrotum to Red Square in Moscow (CLICK). For his latest stunt he set fire to the doors of the headquarters of the FSB security service, formerly the KGB (CLICK).

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Alphonse Mucha

Yesterday the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, opened Alphonse Mucha: In Quest of Beauty. The Centre has enhanced its own collection of Art Nouveau with a loan from the Mucha Trust, The show displays over 65 works: drawings, paintings, photographs, posters and coloured lithographs. Above is Reverie (1897). The show dazzles until March (CLICK).

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Sleigh Bells

If you were asked to name the most influential artist of the 20th Century, you probably wouldn't think of Walt Disney; but you should. Walt Disney Animation Studios has put more bums on seats than any other art studio. But what an uninspiring start! A researcher at the British Film Institute (BFI) National Archive discovered a 6-minute short Sleigh Bells (1927) featuring the first ever Disney character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Due to a contractual dispute, Disney abandoned Oswald, and Mickey Mouse was born. Disney Studios has restored the newly found film, which will be screened by the BFI in London on 12 December (CLICK).

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Discerning Eye

The 2015 Discerning Eye exhibition will open at the Mall Galleries in central London on Thursday 12 November and run until Sunday 22 November, admission free (CLICK). Shown is Jo Fox's Make No Sound (paper, ink, pastel, from 2014).

Wednesday, 4 November 2015


Until 6 December The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge will be showing Following Hercules: The story of classical art. Forty objects, from miniatures and Renaissance prints, drawings and paintings, to Wedgwood cameos, show how Hercules represents classical art (CLICK).

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Masters of Everyday

When Royal Collection Trust conservators prepared Isack van Ostade's A Village Fair with a Church Behind (1643) they discovered a man squatting to do a poo in the foreground. This figure had been hidden behind overpainted foliage for more than 100 years. The painting is one of 27 that will go on display in Masters of the Everyday: Dutch Artists in the Age of Vermeer, which opens in The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, on 13 November. The Music Lesson by Vermeer is another masterpiece included (CLICK).

Monday, 2 November 2015

Sexist Halloween

A dad has started the hashtag #MoreThanCute after his little girls failed to find superhero Halloween costumes for girls. This is the best they could come up with: a red cape, belt and blue gloves and wellies. She looks cute, bur she had scant choice in the matter (CLICK).

Alice Video Game

On 20 November The British Library opens its free Alice in Wonderland exhibition, which celebrates 150 years since Lewis Carroll’s fantasy was published (CLICK). The Library holds Carroll’s original handwritten manuscript, then entitled Alice’s Adventures Under Ground. Using this and other items from the collection, teams of students were challenged to create an original video game. Shown is a still from the winning game: The Wondering Lands of Alice by Off Our Rockers, a team of six students from De Montfort University in Leicester. Visitors to the Library's Alice exhibition can try out the top three games.