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Friday, March 31, 2006
  Pro Hart - The art Mafia doesn't like me
This week the Australian artist Pro Hart died, so there has been quite a bit about him in the media. Most reports seem to highlight the fact that he was never collected by any important art museums in Australia.
My personal opinion is that Pro Hart should of been happy with the commercial success he had. He painted quirky, folksy type popular images of times past. Old Australian bush scenes that verge on the corny were how he became so popular. He knew it too, and repeated himself to become a reasonably wealthy man.
I couldn't find any decent collection of his paintings online, but a Google image search brings up a few Pro Hart paintings.
Alan Dodge from The Art Gallery of Western Australia told the Australian newspaper "He is one of the most delightful illustrators of the Australian folk idiom, but let's not use the word art anywhere. He's incredibly popular and there's nothing wrong with that."
He probably deserves some kind of slight mention in the history of Australian art, but a very minor one (no pun intended - he was a miner before becoming a painter). He was a folk artist and that's how he should be categorized. It's not a good or bad thing, it just means he's not in the same room as other Australian artists like Brett Whiteley, John Olsen, or Fred Williams.
>> Art News, Famous Artists
Thursday, March 30, 2006
  Shakespeare Book to be Auctioned
A very rare William Shakespeare folio of plays will be auctioned off by Sotheby's in July. It is expected to make more than $6 million or £3.5 pounds. The book was printed in 1623, not long after the death of Shakespeare and is still in its original binding.
Sotheby's says it is the "most important book in English literature", but it is not the only one around. There is an estimated 40 full copies still in existence today.
For sale: book that stopped Shakespeare's labors from being lost
"There are copies of Shakespeare folios in libraries and institutions around the world. But copies in their original binding hardly ever go up for sale, and there is only one recorded as remaining in private hands. It was sold by Oxford's Oriel College to the late Sir Paul Getty.
Sotheby's said the most recent comparable copy of the first folio to be sold fetched $5.6 million (£4.7 million at current rates) at Christie's in New York in 2001." Scotsman
>> Book News, Auction News
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
  Buying Art for Money or Love?
Charles Dupplin works for the London based insurer Hiscox, and has wrote a few tips on collecting art. Hiscox also has its own collection of contemporary art here.
Dupplin's 3 tips for investing in art include..

He also mentions that a work does not have to cost a lot to be enjoyable art..
"Finally, it’s worth noting that the first piece of art that I ever bought cost me £22. Once infected with the bug, I continued to buy more and more expensive pieces, but the £22 piece of art hangs above my desk at home in London. I have never lost the enjoyment that I get from it." Read the full article at ArtInfo
>> Art Collecting

Tuesday, March 28, 2006
  Britney Spears Naked Sculpture
britney spears naked sculptureA nude sculpture of the pop star Britney Spears clutching a dead bear rug has been creating a bit of a stir recently. The work by Daniel Edwards, titled "Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston" shows Spears naked, pregnant, and sensually bent over on her knees.
The artist said this about the pose.. "The image from behind of the kneeling pose is very strong so I felt the front of the sculpture needed an equally powerful image which is where the bearskin comes in."
Spears Sculpture on Display Next Month
"The gallery said it received about 3,000 e-mails from around the world in just a week, split between anti-abortion and abortion rights opinions."
"We also got calls from Tokyo, England, France. Some people are upset that Britney is being used for this subject matter," said gallery co-owner David Kesting. "Others who are pro-life thought this was degrading to their movement. And some pro-choice people were upset that this is a pro-life monument." ABC News
The Britney Spears nude sculpture will be exhibited at the Capla Kesting gallery in Brooklyn, USA in April.
>> Art Exhibitions, Art Controversies
  Thomas Kinkade Trial
The Painter of Light's court case has been making a little progress. Here's a previous post on Thomas Kinkade and his "ritual territory marking".
Dark clouds gather over 'Painter of Light'
"A court-appointed arbitration panel has ruled in favor of two former owners of Kinkade-branded galleries, ordering his company to pay them $860,000 (£500,000) for breaching "the covenant of good faith and dealing" and failing to disclose pertinent business information.
The panel found that his firm "painted an unrealistic and misleading picture of the prospects of success for a dealer", while using religious language to foster an atmosphere of trust." Guardian

The report also says Kinkade still has 6 more claims, including one from a former gallery owner that lost $3 million and his marriage.
Thomas Kinkade also denied anyharassmentt claims.. "You've got to remember, I'm the idol to these women who were there. They sell my work every day, you know. They'reenamoredd with any attention I would give them. I don't know what kind of flirting they were trying to do with me. I don't recall what was going on that night."
>> Art Scandals, Famous Artists
Monday, March 27, 2006
  Pro Hart Dies at 77
The Australian artist Pro Hart passed away today at the age of 77. Although Hart is a household name in Australia, he was never really accepted in the art world, with very few art museums or important art collections having his work on the walls. The artist became famous throughout Australia after a carpet cleaning television advertisement where he created works of art on the carpet with food.
He was born Kevin Charles Hart on the 30th of May, 1928 in the mining town Broken Hill. Hart was a self taught artist that often painted outback scenes, landscapes, and floral works.
Pro Hart had been unable to paint for the past 6 months after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Hart died on the 28th of March, 2006.
>> Artist Obituaries
  Post Secret Blog
post secret blog
The man behind the Post Secret website, Frank Warren talked to USA Today about the success of his blog. It says he has had nearly 30,000 postcard secrets sent to him in the post, with hundreds of new ones being sent each week.
I've mentioned the Post Secret blog before, but it is worth mentioning again.
Blogger gives dark secrets the first-class treatment
"Just a year after its launch, PostSecret is a smash hit. It's the third-most-popular blog in the blogosphere of nearly 30 million blogs, based on the number of other blogs that link to it, according to Technorati, the leading blog-tracking service. Nielsen BuzzMetrics says PostSecret always is in the top 20 at blog-watching every Monday morning. It also gets 2.3 million unique visitors a month and 3 million page loads a month, according to another Web-measuring service,
This week it won a record five Bloggies in the sixth annual weblog awards, including the top prize, Weblog of the Year. Warren's book, PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives, a compilation of 400 postcards, is selling well enough after three months that he's planning four more." USA Today
>> Art Blogs
Sunday, March 26, 2006
  Photoshop Art Fakes
van gogh and star bucks
Over at there's a competition to make famous works of art look fake. The idea is to use Photoshop to manipulate paintings from any period by changing or adding details to the work.
So there's a lot that are quite obviously changed, but there are others that are more subtle. The work above is obviously Van Gogh's Cafe Terrace at Night with a Starbuck's coffee sign out the front. But it took me a minute or two to work out what was changed on the painting below.
photoshop fake
Of course I felt stupid after I saw the change! I was looking for a new product on the table I think. See Vermeer's real Milkmaid.
See all entries in the Photoshop competition.
#Note.. Adobe Photoshop is a computer graphics editor that is used by many graphic designers and digital artists. It's great for manipulating and creating images on the computer. It's quite expensive, but I think Adobe also has a cheaper version of it.
>> Art News, Art Competitions
Friday, March 24, 2006
  Antoni Tapies at Waddington Galleries
The Spanish artist Antoni Tàpies has an exhibition on at the Waddington Galleries in London until the 22nd of April.
The Telegraph asked Tapies a few questions and talked about the exhibition. Here's a couple quotes from the man..

Read the full Telegraph story or view selected works from the exhibition the Waddington Galleries website.
>> Art Exhibitions

Thursday, March 23, 2006
  Archibald Prize Winner 2006
2006 archibald prize winnerThe winner of the Archibald Prize for 2006 was announced today at the Art Gallery of NSW, Australia. Marcus Wills has won it with his unusual "The Paul Juraszek monolith (after Marcus Gheeraerts)" painting.
The portrait is of the Melbourne sculptor Paul Juraszek and the style is inspired by a Flemish painter and illustrator, Marcus Gheeraerts the elder.
The Archibald prize is probably Australia's most famous art contest. It has been going for 85 years and usually attracts a lot of visitors and media attention. It has also created the odd controversy or two over the years, which I'm sure also helps with media attention and visitors.
(see more details about the prize at the Archibald website)
2006 Archibald Prize winner
Juraszek appears in the painting 29 times and in most cases the sculptures featured are his. The original etching is an allegory about the reformation. At the bottom of the painting there are iconoclasts smashing up relics, bones and bibles and tossing them into a pit. Behind are clerics and, one assumes, their congregation collecting the relics and taking them away. All over the head, little religious ceremonies are taking place with monkeys involved in several of them - Gheeraerts' dig at Catholicism one imagines. In Wills' version it is Juraszek's sculptures that are being smashed and then rescued by others. "In most of the little scenes the people are doing similar things to those in the original painting though I don't see my version as a religious comment," says Wills. Instead he sees it as "a kind of an allegory about the artist." The Archibald Prize
See a list of the finalists this year too. My three picks would be Jun Chen, Geoffrey Dyer, and Craig Ruddy. The 2005 Archibald Prize winner was John Olsen.
>> Art Competitions
  Australian Blogs Directory is a new weblog directory for Australian bloggers. There's more Australians blogging than I thought actually. It's free to add your blog too.
Here's some other blogs I've found interesting lately (not particularly Australian or art related.)

There's lots more out there too. Feel free to share any of your favorite blogs (or your own blog) in the comments.
>> Blogging News

  South Park's Chef Mauled by Bear
After the recent South Park and scientology controversy, with Tom Cruise protesting and Isaac Hayes jumping ship, I was wondering how the creators would replace the Chef, or his voice.
Apparently in a new episode, the Chef kept telling the South Park kids that he wanted to make sweet love to them, after joining the "Super Adventure Club". The children try to save Chef from the evil club, but he ends up being burned and mauled by a bear and a mountain lion.
Isaac Hayes played no part in the making of the episode, so the voice was probably taken from previous programs.
In a eulogy read out by one of the children at Chef's funeral, they subtly poke fun at the real life scientology saga (labeling it the "fruity little club")
"A lot of us don't agree with the choices the Chef has made in the last few days, some of us feel hurt and confused that he seemed to turn his back on us. But we can't let the events of the past few weeks take away the memories of how Chef made us smile. We shouldn't be mad at Chef for leaving us, we should be mad at that fruity little club for scrambling his brains." See some more details on the Forbes website (just skip the big annoying ad first)
>> Cartoon News, Art Controversy News
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
  Robert Hughes on Rembrandt
There's an interesting article over at the New York Review of Books by Robert Hughes about the Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn. Hughes christens Rembrandt the first real "God of Realism" after Caravaggio. Not because his work is realistic like a photograph, but real like everyday life.
Hughes mentions a few moments when Rembrandt is too real in the paragraph below..
The God of Realism
"It may well be that giving vent to it was Rembrandt's compensation for the anal obsession with neatness and cleanness that characterized Dutch domestic life. He did etchings of a man peeing and a woman defecating. A dog, tensely extruding a large turd from its backside, appears in the foreground. And his large painting of the infant Ganymede snatched up into the sky by Zeus in the form of an eagle shows the child uncontrollably pissing in terror, which must be about the most anti-classical rendering of a scene from the classics ever given by a major artist.. though it is certainly what you would expect a baby boy to do under the circumstances." NYBooks
>> Famous Artists News
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
  Michelangelo Drawings: Closer to the Master
michelangelo drawings exhibitionI've always loved drawings, as they are the most immediate and intimate form of expression. You can't hide much in a drawing, it's all there to see. They also show how an artist thinks, how they're searching for more, and often how they are just having fun.
The Michelangelo Drawings exhibition that was recently at the Teylers Museum in the Netherlands and is about to open at the British Museum focuses on the working drawings of the master.
According to the British Museum, the exhibition..
"Traces sixty years of Michelangelo's stormy life, from intimate studies made when he was in his early twenties to the visionary Crucifixion scenes carried out shortly before his death."
"Reunites material not seen together since the dispersal of the artist's studio more than 400 years ago, offering a wholly different perspective on the defining genius of the Italian Renaissance."

The exhibition may also set attendance records as it has already more than trebled the British Museum's record for advance ticket bookings. The previous record of 3,670 advance bookings to the Persia exhibition in 2005 has been smashed with more than 11,000 tickets to the Michelangelo Drawings being booked already.

There's quite a few stories floating around on the Internet about the exhibition. The Guardian has a few works from the exhibition online, there's some information at the BBC, and Karl Zipser has wrote a couple essays on the exhibition when it was at the Teylers Museum. One discusses the role that drawing played in Michelangelo's career, and the other talks about what is real and what is fake from the Michelangelo drawings.
>> Museum Exhibitions, Michelangelo News
  Damien Hirst's New Shark
The British artist Damien Hirst plans to tread water and earn up to £24 million doing it. His iconic work of a dead shark floating in formaldehyde, "The Physical Impossibility Of Death In The Mind Of Someone Living" completed in 1991 has been one of the works to be repeated. The original was sold last year to the American Steve Cohen for £7 million ($12 million), while the new derivative work of the dead shark "The Wrath of God" sold to the Samsung Museum in South Korea for £2.28m ($4 million).
The new shark has also come from Australia, but it is also less than half the size of the 1991 original.
Hirst earns £2m at the shark factory
"Among the apparently derivative artworks are a shark in formaldehyde, which has gone for £2.28m, and a work involving three preserved sheep, which is for sale at £5.7m.
Even the artist, who recently put his fortune at £100m, admits that he risks treading water creatively. "I feel I am not going anywhere any more with these works. They look nice and they can sell for ever, but I am not moving forward"
Times Online

There's also a Damien Hirst exhibition in Mexico, which seems to be selling too. The show is called "The Death of God" and will be showing at Galeria Hilario Galguera up until August (that's a six month long exhibition and the first exhibition for the gallery.)
Damien Hirst conquers Mexico
"In England if I did a show like this they would think: "Oh God, it is so obvious." Putting a skull in a painting is too obvious. Because a skull means death. But here they understand that a skull is a metaphor of transient life because Mexico has such a long history loaded with imagery. In North America I would also have problems with this show because they are so afraid of death, they hate this, they cannot look at a skull; they feel like they are under attack. It's more to do with a sense of humor failure than anything else." ArtNewspaper
>> Damien Hirst News, Art Exhibition News
Monday, March 20, 2006
  Signature of Sydney Art Competition
The Signature of Sydney art competition has a prize pool of $180,000 which should attract a few entries. According to the organizers they are "looking for artists who can capture the ubiquitous Sydney spirit, it’s vibrant business pulse, it’s lifestyle, it’s passion."
The Task: Create a new, contemporary icon of Sydney and capture its real spirit - with its people, architecture, nature, and all the modern businesses that fill this city with life.
First prize is $150,000, second is $20,000 and third is $10,000.
Proceeds from an auction of 50 finalist works will go to the Make a Wish Foundation. See the Signature of Sydney website for more details on the competition.
>> Art Competitions
Sunday, March 19, 2006
  Spencer Tunick in Venezuela
spencer tunickThe American photographer Spencer Tunick managed to get more than 1500 people in Caracas, Venezuela to shed their clothes and pose for him in his latest installation of flesh. (the photo to the left is not of the Venezuelan nudes)
People that pose for the Tunick photo shoots often comment on how free and liberated they feel while doing it. Which makes me think about how much we hide behind our clothes. How we have made a natural thing like being naked, so unnatural. Being naked in a public place with others may bring up some kind of lost primal feelings, like a remembering of the past in some wacky kind of way.
Venezuelans pose nude in public
Tunick said each volunteer will receive a print of the installation.
"I'm not going to tell my mother about this until I receive the print," said Josefa Maria Briceno, a 35-year-old surgeon who posed despite having second thoughts. "She's going to think I'm crazy."
"The body represents beauty, love and peace. There was a lot of beauty and energy in the people today." Spencer Tunick
>> Spencer Tunick News
Friday, March 17, 2006
  Tom Cruise and South Park
tom cruise - south parkTom Cruise seems to be in the news for all the wrong reasons lately. It is reported that the actor and scientologist, Cruise has threatened to not promote his upcoming film (Mission Impossible 3) if Comedy Central aired an episode of South Park that poked fun of the "religion". Viacom (makers of MI3) is the parent company of Comedy Central (makers of South Park). Scientology seems to give people an attitude and rob them of a sense of humor.
The "Trapped in the Closet" episode from season nine of South Park had Tom Cruise refusing to come out of the closet and made fun of scientology.
The creators of South Park released this press release..

"Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for Earth has just begun! Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies. Curses and drat! You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail! Hail Xenu!!!"
Trey Parker and Matt Stone, servants of the dark lord Xenu

The voice of the Chef, Isaac Hayes has also recently quit the show as his sense of humor was stolen by scientology.
"The Closet" the Controversy and Tom Cruise
"Parker and Stone publicly parted ways with Isaac Hayes, the longtime voice of Chef, after the "Shaft" legend complained South Park had gone too far in satirizing religion. The duo said Hayes, a Scientologist, never complained about the show until it took on Scientologists." E Online

South Park was also under attack by Catholics recently too.
>> Cartoons, Art Controversies
  Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea
With a bit of a boom going on in the contemporary art market, the Gagosian Gallery is expanding in New York's Chelsea area. Gagosian already has a gallery in Chelsea, so there must plenty of activity in the buyer's room. They also have galleries in London, Beverly Hills, and currently two in New York.
Gagosian Plans New Chelsea Gallery Amid Boom in Art Market
"Other Chelsea galleries have been expanding in the past year. Matthew Marks Gallery opened its fourth branch in November, and Perry Rubenstein Gallery opened its third in September. PaceWildenstein gallery added a second showroom in October, and Friedrich Petzel opened his second Chelsea space in January to show the works of younger, emerging artists."
"Gagosian's expansion 'has a lot of significance since Gagosian is the most powerful contemporary art dealer in the world,' said Christoph van de Weghe, a former Gagosian staffer who now owns a gallery on West 23rd Street. 'For him to get a second gallery in Chelsea is a statement of how strong the business is and how much there's demand from people to buy contemporary art.'' Bloomberg
>> Art News
Thursday, March 16, 2006
  Ben Quilty's Car Paintings
expressionist car paintingVery few artists have pulled off a good painting of a car. It's kind of like painting a smile, they just don't seem to work. The closest to pulling off a good smile would be Leonardo's Mona Lisa, but even that is more of a smirk than a smile.
But the car paintings of the young Australian painter Ben Quilty are really quite impressive. Perhaps it's because he knows his subject..
"These are part of a series of paintings of a car, a 1972 L J Torana with a 3.3 litre blue motor, stage three head, extractors and cam, electronic ignition and a three-speed floor shifter : standard weapon for a young man's Australian suburban life." Ben Quilty
Here's some more car paintings from an exhibition at the Grant Pirrie gallery in Sydney.
>> Contemporary Artists
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
  Auction House Christie's Closes in Australia
Christie's in Sydney and Melbourne will be closing up shop after it's last auction on April 10. The international auction house has had an Australian arm since 1969, and has returned a profit for the past 11 years, but that isn't enough to keep Christies Australia open.
The two other major art auction houses in Australia (Deutscher-Menzies and Sotheby's) will probably see this as great news.
Christie's Aussie offices passed in
"Its local chairman, Roger McIlroy, will be leaving after 30 years with the company. Most employees - about 30 people in all - will lose their jobs.
Mr McIlroy said the company had some notable successes, including the highest price paid at auction for an Australian painting, Frederick McCubbin's Bush Idyll, which fetched $2.3million in 1998, and $1,982,500 for Brett Whiteley's The Jacaranda Tree (On Sydney harbor) in 1999.
Christie's was responsible for selling many important corporate collections, including the Dallhold (Alan Bond), the Mertz, BHP-Billiton and the Coles-Myer." The Australian
>> Art Auction News
  Artist Blogs
To start a blog, or not to start a blog? That was the question that the artist Robert Genn recently spoke about in his latest Painter's Keys newsletter. He quoted George Bernard Shaw.. "When you know the artist you think less of the art." Robert also said "At the present time there are 70,000 new blogs going up every day. Several thousand readers of this letter run some sort of blog. Some bloggers report hundreds of visitors, others thousands. While exposure won't make an inadequate artist successful, blogs are a part of the widespread and ongoing democratization of our world. Unless something comes along to wreck it, the future is online. There's a future in posting your art for the world to see. There's a future in telling your story. There's a future in sharing."
See the feedback that artists left about having a weblog.

My opinion on whether an artist should have a blog or not is mixed. A blog really is just a website, it's just easier to update and is well suited to a news or journal type website. So of course every artist should have a blog.
Blogs can be a tool for marketing, a place to let collectors know of your new art, or a place to ramble about your shopping list or how the neighbor's cat is walking over your car.
I disagree with the George Bernard Shaw quotation above, as all my favorite artists are artists I know a lot about. I generally want to know everything about an artist that I admire. But many artists that use blogs to put their work online forget that people read them. It's just boring hearing about shopping lists, the weather, or cleaning the house.
Use your blog to talk about your art, or at least art in general, but don't bore your readers to death with news about the weather. Unless you share the gory details of your life in an interesting way. The British artist Tracey Emin would probably write a good blog. The Post Secret blog is also an interesting way of sharing too much without being boring.
>> Blogging News, Art Marketing
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
  Helen Frankenthaler Gum Painting Cleaned
Helen FrankenthalerOh, what a relief! I wasnt sleeping properly at night.. worrying about how the Helen Frankenthaler painting with a piece of gum stuck to it by a 12 year old boy would hold up after having the gum removed.
Ok, enough sarcasm.
The Helen Frankenthaler abstract painting titled "The Bay" has had the piece of gum removed successfully. Alfred Ackerman rated the job a 6 out of 10 for difficulty, and was happy to report that all is now well with the 7 foot high painting.
Boy's gum is plucked from valuable art
"After intensive research, experimentation and surgical work with high-performance tweezers, hand-rolled Q-tips and a fast-evaporating solvent -- plus some purposeful fooling around with gum -- the quarter-sized residue on Helen Frankenthaler's 'The Bay' is gone."
Ackerman also said "It's possible we'll need to tweak it a bit when it gets under the light in the gallery, but I'm happy." Detroit Free Press
>> Art News
Monday, March 13, 2006
  The Yellow House - Van Gogh and Gauguin
yellow house in arlesA new book has been released about the yellow house and the time that two crazy masters spent together painting, fighting, and cutting ears off. Martin Gayford's "The Yellow House" discusses the time that Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin spent 9 weeks together in Arles, France.
Sounds like it was a challenging time for Gauguin, with Vincent flipping out.
"I had to leave Arles, he was so bizarre I couldn't take it. He even said to me, 'Are you going to leave?' And when I said 'Yes' he tore this sentence from a newspaper and put it in my hand: 'The murderer took flight'." Paul Gauguin

And of course it talks about the famous ear cutting incident..
"Vincent returned to the Yellow House, perhaps after he had completed the mission on which he was going out, according to Gauguin's first account. Possibly he posted his letter to Theo, or he went and had a drink, or both. Later in the evening, around 10.30pm to 11pm, he took the razor with which he sometimes shaved his beard and cut off his own left ear - or perhaps just the lower part of it (accounts differ). In this process, his auricular artery was severed, which caused blood to spurt and spray."
Read more about the book at the Telegraph.

So much of art history is exaggeration and mythologizing, but that's how I like it. Great artists generally live boring lives as they're either painting or thinking about painting. So if the occasional tall story wasn't made up, no artist would ever get a biography published.
>> Art Books, Vincent van Gogh, Famous Artists
Sunday, March 12, 2006
  Self Portrait - Art Gallery of NSW
vincent van gogh self portraitSelf Portrait - Renaissance to Contemporary is on at the Art Gallery of New South Wales up until the 14th of May. The collection spans 500 years and includes some masters of the self portrait. Vincent van Gogh (Self Portrait with Felt Hat), Rembrandt, Velasquez, Gerhard Richter, Chuck Close, and more..
The exhibition focuses on self portraits using oil paints and includes 49 works, many of which have not been seen in Australia.
"Self-portraits are confessions of an inner state, they always come as a surprise to me. I look at them and think, why, that’s not what you look like at all. There is no objectivity there, only ceaseless transformation; a human being has so many facets. The self-portrait is the best means of studying them." Otto Dix Quote
See more detail on the Self Portrait exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW.
>> Museum News, Van Gogh Self Portrait Painting
Saturday, March 11, 2006
  Saatchi Gallery Debts
According to this report by the Guardian newspaper, the company that was set up to run the Saatchi Gallery in South Bank, London has has found itself in court for not paying a debt of £1.8 million.
Saatchi firm wound up with debts of £1.8m
"Mr Saatchi, who was earlier accused of "distortion, intimidation and evasion" in his dealings with the landlords, has already announced plans for a new gallery to display his collection, said to be the most important of British contemporary art in the world. It will open in Chelsea, west London, in 2007. A liquidator will now examine the assets of Danova.
However, a spokesman for Mr Saatchi said Danovo was purely the vehicle through which the lease for the County Hall building was held. It has no association with Mr Saatchi's artworks and no other recoverable assets. He said Mr Saatchi had offered to pay £1.6m in full and final settlement of the debt, adding: "That offer remains on the table."

The new Saatchi Gallery at Kings Road, Chelsea looks impressive, and big enough at 50,000 square feet. See a virtual tour of the new gallery.
>> Arts News
Thursday, March 09, 2006
  Gordon Parks Dies at 93
The photographer and film maker Gordon Parks has died this week at the age of 93. Parks worked as a photographer for Life magazine between 1948-68, focusing on the struggles of black Americans. He used the camera as a tool to make others aware of the poverty and racism in America.

"I picked up a camera because it was my choice of weapons against what I hated most about the universe: racism, intolerance, poverty." Gordon Parks

Gordon Roger Alexander Buchannan Parks, born on the 30th of November 1912 - Died on the 7th of March 2006
>> Artist Obituaries
Monday, March 06, 2006
  Freedom of Expression
I know that the Muslim cartoon controversy seems to have settled down and everyone is probably tired of hearing about it in the news, but I came across an interesting article in a Turkish newspaper by the Professor of Islamic Studies at John Carroll University, Zeki Saritoprak.
Muslims, Cartoons and Freedom of Expression
"Islam has a great respect for freedom of expression and free society, although it always regarded freedom as limited by the freedom of others. An absolute freedom is only found in the jungles among animals. We don't live in a jungle.. we live in a multi-cultural, multi-religious society and freedom of others includes a respect for the faith, tradition, property, and personal dignity of people."

"The content of the caricature is perjury. It is based on false assumptions and unreliable references about Islam and its Prophet. It is not a matter of making a joke, but is a matter of giving misinformation in a pejorative way."

And a word or two about coming together..
"Today, more than any time, we need a dialogue between religions and civilizations. Unfortunately, not all Muslims are informed of the details of Western societies and cultures. Because of this Muslims around the world do not see a Danish newspaper as merely a newspaper published in Denmark. They see it as a newspaper published in Europe, a predominantly Christian continent.. as a Christian blow to Islam. Muslims should be calm, and Westerners should be more sensitive to the faith of Muslims." Read the rest at the Zaman newspaper
>> Cartoon News, Art Controversies
Sunday, March 05, 2006
  More on Thomas Kinkade
I saw a post over at BoingBoing that linked to a story at the LA Times on Thomas Kinkade. It seems the "Painter of Light" is a bit darker than he portrays himself. My last post on Kinkade was a bit more complimentary, but I guess we all have a dark side..
Dark Portrait of a 'Painter of Light'
"In litigation and interviews with the Los Angeles Times, some former gallery owners depict Kinkade, 48, as a ruthless businessman who drove them to financial ruin at the same time he was fattening his business associates' bank accounts and feathering his nest with tens of millions of dollars."
"In sworn testimony and interviews, they recount incidents in which an allegedly drunken Kinkade heckled illusionists Siegfried & Roy in Las Vegas, cursed a former employee's wife who came to his aid when he fell off a barstool, and palmed a startled woman's breasts at a signing party in South Bend, Ind."

And, this one is pretty funny.. especially for someone that presents themselves as a good Christian artist that has a paintbrush guided by God..

"And then there is Kinkade's proclivity for "ritual territory marking," as he called it, which allegedly manifested itself in the late 1990s outside the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim.
"This one's for you, Walt," the artist quipped late one night as he urinated on a Winnie the Pooh figure, said Terry Sheppard, a former vice president for Kinkade's company, in an interview." LA Times
>> Famous Artists News
Friday, March 03, 2006
  Thomas Kinkade Art
thomas kinkade painting I really admire artists that can turn their passion into a viable living, and feel I should bow down to the few artists around that become fabulously wealthy from doing what they love.
Even though Andy Warhol's art never really excited me very much, I admired his business skills. He's easily in my top 10 most interesting artists list.
I probably admire good business artists so much because of the lack of business skills I have as an artist. It's a challenging thing to commercialize something that can often be quite personal or intimate, but it has to be done. Once the painting leaves the easel, it becomes a product that needs marketing, promotion, and a price.
"I had reservations about making art a business, but I got over it." Mary Boone
Anyway, an article in the Times online newspaper was talking about how art appreciates in value. It mentioned the contemporary British artist Damien Hirst and how his accountant claims the artist is worth about 100 million pounds (roughly $175 million USD). That's quite an impressive figure and I can understand how he would get to that number as he's often breaking auction records and being featured in art publications worldwide.
But what I did find surprising is that the American artist Thomas Kinkade, or the "painter of light" is possibly more cashed up than Damien Hirst! In the year 2000 his company made $140 million from selling his prints and posters.
I had previously just thought of Kinkade as a painter of fluffy patriotic scenes that can sometimes make me wonder what would posses someone to hang such a thing on the wall. After checking him out online, I've changed my mind about the man completely.
The man is more pop than Andy Warhol. I still think his paintings are way too patriotic and sickeningly pretty, but he is creating the work he likes and is making truck loads of cash doing it.
Check out his official website and the Thomas Kinkade Company website. If Warhol was still around, I believe his website would function in a similar way.
His online gallery is set up to SELL. He has everything from golf gear with the Kinkade name stamped all over it, through to Thomas Kinkade silk scarves.
Not every artist could pull off a similar online system, and many wouldn't want to, but every artist could learn something from the way Thomas Kinkade sells himself online.
>> Art Marketing News
Thursday, March 02, 2006
  Helen Frankenthaler with Gum
Helen Frankenthaler paintingA 12 year old boy recently decided to discard his gum by sticking it to a painting by the New York abstract painter Helen Frankenthaler.
"The Bay" painting has been left with a small stain on it, but the assistant curator at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Becky Hart says it will be fine.
Being an expressive abstract work probably makes the issue less than front page news. It would of been different if it was stuck on the nose of Mona Lisa or an important figurative work. I remember an art teacher talking about an important painting that had a sticker put on it, and went on to damage it badly, but really can't recall what painting it was!
12-year-old sticks gum onto $1.5M painting
"Holly Academy director Julie Kildee said the boy had been suspended from the charter school and says his parents also have disciplined him.
"He is only 12 and I don't think he understood the ramifications of what he did before it happened, but he certainly understands the severity of it now," said Kildee." USA Today
>> Art News
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
  Duchamp's Fountain Attack
The Village Voice has an interesting article up about lunatics that enjoy destroying important art. It talks about how it has been going on for a long time, with religious fanatics believing that God doesn't like art, especially art that's good enough to worship.
Idol Thoughts
"God may or may not be displeased with Pierre Pinoncelli, the 77-year-old French performance artist who on January 4 took a hammer to Duchamp's famous urinal, Fountain, in the Dada show at the Pompidou Center. As with most bad artists, Mr. Pinoncelli was repeating himself. In 1993 he urinated into Fountain and then damaged it. Fountain, recently voted "The Most Influential Artwork of the 20th Century" by over 500 British art professionals, turned art on its head, set many of the innovations of the last 100 years in motion, and has rankled viewers ever since." Village Voice
>> Marcel Duchamp News
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