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Thursday, November 30, 2006
  50 Works of Art to See Before You Die
brett whiteley self portraitJonathon Jones of the Guardian is putting together a list of 50 great works of art to see before you die. He has started with a list of his 20 favorite art works and is asking readers for their suggestions.

My contribution would be Self Portrait in the Studio, by Brett Whiteley, in the collection of the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney.

His list is very European, so my selection is very Australian. One of the drawbacks about living on an island half a world away from the great museums of Europe and America is that masterpieces are in short supply. The good weather in Australia seems to make up for the lack of masterpieces though.

Here's his list of 20 art works to see before you die..

Jan van Eyck, The Madonna of Chancellor Rolin, c.1435, Musée du Louvre, Paris
Caravaggio, The Burial of St. Lucy (1608), Museo di Palazzo Bellomo, Syracuse, Sicily
Rembrandt, Aristotle with a Bust of Homer (1654), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
San Rock Art, South African National Museum, Cape Town
Paul Cézanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire from Les Lauves (1904 - 6), Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow
Michelangelo, Moses (installed 1545), Church of San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome
Leonardo da Vinci, The Adoration of the Magi, (c. 1481), Uffizi Gallery, Florence
Mark Rothko, The Rothko Chapel (paintings 1965-66; chapel opened 1971), Houston, Texas
Vermeer, View of Delft (c.1660-61), Mauritshuis, The Hague
Matthias Grünewald, The Isenheim Altarpiece (c.1509-15), Musée Unterlinden, Colmar, France
Hans Holbein, The Dead Christ, (1521-2), Kunstmuseum, Basel
Velázquez, Las Meninas (1656), Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid
Funerary Mask of Tutankhamun (1333-1323BC), Egyptian Museum, Cairo
Jackson Pollock, One: Number 31, 1950, Museum of Modern Art, New York
Masaccio, The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise (c.1427), Brancacci Chapel, Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence.
Pablo Picasso, Guernica (1937), Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid
Titian, Danaë (c. 1544-6), Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples
Raphael, The School of Athens (1510-11), Stanza della Signatura, Vatican Palace, Rome
Parthenon Sculptures ("Elgin Marbles"), c. 444 BC, British Museum, London
Henri Matisse, The Dance (1910), Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

>> Famous Artists, Brett Whiteley
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
  Marlene Dumas Interview
marlene dumasArtInfo has interviewed Marlene Dumas in New York recently. The South African born painter, now living in Amsterdam, is famous for her sexually charged, often controversial figurative paintings. She also claims the title of most expensive painting to sell at auction, by a living female artist ($3.34 million for "The Teacher")

Anyway, I stole some quotes from the interview with Marlene Dumas, which can be found here at ArtInfo (the ArtInfo website is worth a visit for those that haven't been there yet.)

>> Famous Artists

Tuesday, November 28, 2006
  Aboriginal Rock Art Saved?
australian aboriginal rock artThe Western Australian government has seen the light and will no longer oppose the heritage listing of an area in the Dampier Archipelago, which will save some of the oldest art in the world on the Burrup Peninsula in Western Australia.

A proposed multi million dollar liquefied natural gas processing plant would have destroyed the thousands of aboriginal paintings and rock carvings throughout the region. The company that would have managed the plant (Woodside Petroleum) has now also dropped its opposition to the heritage listing, in return for a 6.8 square kilometer area to create a "gas precinct".

Woodside drops opposition to heritage listing of rock art
Greens spokeswoman Rachel Siewert is concerned that Senator Ian Campbell (Federal Environment Minister) will put the economic benefits of the gas production ahead of the environment. "We're all extremely worried that he's going to list the area, except the bits that Woodside want to develop on," she said. ABC

It amazes me that we put profit above thousands of years of history, but doesn't surprise me in the least. Some of us should still be swinging from trees and chewing on bananas. I know it's much easier to criticize than it is to take action, but I'm pretty sure 90% of the Australian government have tails and eat too many bananas.

There's more details of the debate here, more information on the Dampier rock art here (with a book of the rock art available to purchase online), and an internet campaign to try and stop the madness here.
>> Art, Controversies
  Michelangelo's David McDonald
david mcdonaldMichelangelo would be rolling in his grave if he saw this version of his David. McDavid is an entry in a recent Photoshop competition at Worth1000 called Art Ads.

The brief is to "Take a piece of fine art and turn it into an ad for a company of your choice. Humor is the main focus."

See all the entries here (it's definitely Worth a look!)
>> Digital Art
Sunday, November 26, 2006
  Noble Pet Portraits
noblepet pet portraitFor the pet lovers amongst us, I have found a way to glorify your pet and give your friends something to giggle about when they come over. The Italian pet portrait painter Daniela Ria offers a service that nobelizes your cat or dog.

So you can turn a mangy mutt into an Aristodog or your soggy moggy into a Noblecat!
"Enhancing their unique characteristics, she interprets animal faces like respectable diplomats, gracious damsels, solemn generals, elegant duchesses, boastful ambassadors, fine countesses, fat merchants, delicate ladies, distinguished gentlemen, and magnificent leaders." Noble Pets

I generally find pet portrait paintings to be dry and lifeless, a little like taxidermy, but some of the NoblePets are quite funny.
>> Weird News
Saturday, November 25, 2006
  BgArt News Blog Comments
commenting on blogOne of the great things about blogs is that you can share your own opinions on the posts, with comments. They add so much more depth to any blog, especially BgArt News Blog. But the beauty of allowing anyone to comment also opens the door to people that are out to scam and take advantage of blogs.

Blog spamming or comment spam is done by unscrupulous people trying to promote their products (usually things like pills, viagra, financial services, etc) by linking to their scammy websites. Often it is automated to randomly publish their links on blogs that don't have spam protection measures in place.

Up until recently I have been quite lucky as I have only had to delete a handful of these spam posts each week, but lately it is just getting out of hand. So I have turned "word verification" on for comments, in an attempt to stop the automated blog spammers.

This just means that if you comment on a post, you will also have to type in the random letters shown for the word verification. You can still comment with your real name, your blogger account, or as anonymous.

It's a pity that such people exist, but such is life. Unfortunately spams and scams are just a part of being online. I also get more than 200 spam emails per day, but that's another story! (thank God for Norton's anti-spam software).

That's my whine for month!
>> Blogs
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
  Animals in the Womb
animals in the wombI found this fascinating little piece of news over at the BoingBoing directory of wonderful things. There's a new documentary from National Geographic that goes inside the womb of animals like never before.

It's a mix of art and technology working together to show what goes on inside animals..
"Using state-of-the-art visual effects, computer graphics and real-time, moving 4-D ultrasound imagery, we can see inside the unique world of animal fetal development in a way never before possible. For the first time, these pictures shed light on how an elephant, a dolphin and a dog develop in the womb."

There's more details of it over at the National Geographic website with a video preview of a dolphin moving around inside the womb. There's not much "art" about this story, but it's still fascinating.
>> General News
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
  Lucien Freud Number One in Britain
The Great Art Fair in London has done a poll to find out the favorite artist of artists at the event. Lucien Freud has topped the list, with Leonardo nowhere to be seen in the top ten.

Other notable artists that never made the grade were contemporary artists like Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. They seem to get the vote of the media with anything they do deemed newsworthy, but artists at the Great Art Fair didn't feel the same way about Hir-min.

The top ten artists are mostly British or European.

The Great Art Fair is in London from the 30th of November through to the 3rd of December. There's more information at their website here or a list of artists exhibiting here.

I wonder how different this list of artists would be if they do the same thing at the Great Art Fair in New York City in April 2007?

"We have seen many statistics and results about the British public's favorite artistic talents, and can read countless critic's profiles expounding the virtues of a variety of names in art, but this is the first poll to be conducted amongst working artists." BBC
>> Famous Artists, Art Exhibitions

Monday, November 20, 2006
  OJ Simpson Book Burning
The media mogul Rupert Murdoch has had a moment of clarity and decided not to go ahead with publishing the OJ "If I Did it" book nor airing a television interview with OJ Simpson. The famous (infamous?) former football player and actor was set to profit from the murder of his wife and her friend, with the publication of the book "If I Did it".

The book was to be about how he "might" have committed the murder of his wife "if" he did do it. If there ever was a time to start burning books, it would have to start with this vulgar book.

Murdoch scraps OJ Simpson 'confession' show and offers apology to the bereaved
In an apparent attempt to contain a public relations debacle for his media empire, News Corporation, Mr Murdoch apologized to the families of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman, and described the planned publication of a book by Mr Simpson entitled If I Did It, and an accompanying two-part television interview, as "an ill-considered project".
The book and interviews, due to go out next week, were intended to describe the 1994 stabbings of the two victims in hypothetical terms, "if he were the one responsible", heavily implying Mr Simpson's responsibility without formally admitting guilt
. Guardian
>> Books, Controversies
Sunday, November 19, 2006
  Quotes from the Global Creative Leadership Summit
In New York recently there was a Global Creative Leadership Summit where leaders from business, technology, government, science and the arts got together to discuss how their disciplines could work together and possibly benefit each other.

ArtInfo got some quotes from two speakers at the event.. Chuck Close and Franceso Clemente. I completely agree with the first quote about inspiration.

There's also a video from the first day of the event over at the Global Creative Leadership Summit website.
>> General Arts

Thursday, November 16, 2006
  Big Numbers at Big Auction Houses
Sotheby's and Christie's auction houses recently sold close to a billion dollars worth of art in just a few days. Between the 7th and 9th of November, they sold $847,251,000 at their Impressionist and Modern sales.

Here's the Top Ten paintings..
  1. Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II
    $ 87,963,000
  2. Gustav Klimt, Birch Forest
    $ 40,336,000
  3. Paul Gauguin, L'homme à la hache
    $ 40,336,000
  4. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Berliner Strassenszene;Bäume
    $ 38,096,000
  5. Paul Cézanne, Nature morte aux fruits et pot de gingembre
    $ 36,976,000
  6. Gustav Klimt, Apple Tree I
    $ 33,056,000
  7. Gustav Klimt, Houses at Unterach on the Attersee
    $ 31,376,000
  8. Amedeo Modigliani, Le fils du concierge
    $ 31,096,000
  9. Egon Schiele, Einzelne Häuser (Häuser mit Bergen); Monk I
    $ 22,416,000
  10. Amedeo Modigliani, Vénus (Nu debout, nu médicis)
    $ 15,920,000

Sotheby's sold $296,888,400 worth of art and Christie's sold a record $550,362,600 worth. I wonder how long it will take before we get our first billion dollar painting?! It sounds like a ridiculous figure, but I thought $100 million was a ridiculous figure too.
Sotheby's has published an art market review for November here.
>> Art Auctions

Tuesday, November 14, 2006
  Fra Angelico's Found in Spare Room
Fra Angelico's FoundI'm always suspicious of masterpieces being found in garages or spare rooms. If I was an art forger I would use this technique as you get a lot of media attention and you're not really saying it is by the artist, you're saying you found it in the garage. The art experts will say it is or isn't by the artist.

The two small works by Fra Angelico will be auctioned next year and are expected to sell for more than one million pounds.

A 1 million pound art find behind the spare room door
"The paintings were discovered by Oxford librarian Jean Preston, who died this year, in a box of odds and ends in America in the 1960s. She did not know what they were but thought them "quite nice" and told her father, an amateur collector, about them. He paid a modest sum for them and passed them down to his daughter when he died. Miss Preston, an expert on medieval texts, lived the rest of her life austerely, traveling everywhere by bus or on foot, buying her clothes from a catalogue and eating frozen meals, not realizing she had a fortune behind the door of her spare room." Guardian
>> Art Collecting, Famous Artists
Sunday, November 12, 2006
  Tree Drawings
tree drawingsYou may have heard of elephants or monkeys drawing, but what about trees drawing? The British artist Tim Knowles attaches pens to the tree and lets the wind do the rest of the work. They produce some interesting results too.

The exhibition catalogues sums it up like this..

Tim Knowles creates drawings independent of his own hand, using elaborate apparatus or time consuming practices. Interested in the process of drawing Knowles invents experimental and playful procedures to introduce chance and unpredictability into his work. Often he will employ and expose mans relationship to nature, in an ongoing series which will feature in the exhibition, Knowles attaches pens to the tips of branches of various trees; placing paper in front of them he allows the chance movement of the wind to dictate the composition of the final drawing. The artist surrenders final control of the work, questioning the authority of the artist whilst allowing the fundamental and primordial characteristics associated with drawing to be communicated.

See more info about Tim Knowles at the Rokeby Gallery, or an exhibition at the gallery. I found this link over at the Drawn blog.
>> Strange Art News, Art Exhibitions
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
  Free Art Nudes if you Pose Nude
free art nudesThe artist "Johnny Naked" has a project where you can take home a piece of art for free if you agree to pose nude for him. Here's what happens..

"The installation which has been on display throughout the year invites viewers to agree to pose for a nude portrait in the Gallery 825 space in exchange for possession of the nude portrait of another person on display in the installation. Upon posing for the project, the subject's portrait replaces the one currently on display, which is then given to them as "payment" for their participation." Gallery 825

The project/exhibition is called "The Ever-Changing Naked Picture Project" and is at Gallery 825 in Los Angeles.

It reminds me of an exhibition a couple years ago where visitors were given a 25% discount if they viewed the exhibition in the nude.
>> Art Exhibitions, Strange News, Photography
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
  Sotheby's Contemporary Art Auction
Sotheby's has understood the importance of the internet for marketing and selling art for a while now. Their online catalogues are free to browse (they now require you to be registered, which is free) and they're just as good or better than the printed catalogues.

A new marketing tool they have discovered is the use of video online. For the promotion of an upcoming contemporary art auction, there's a video now online of Tobias Meyer (Worldwide Head of Contemporary Art and Principal Auctioneer) discussing some of the important works available.
The video can be seen here (it's worth waiting for it to download). You can also browse the catalogue from the video page if you have registered.

A couple of the works that I would be bidding on if I was a billionaire are by Andy Warhol and Francis Bacon.

andy warhol self portrait
20 x 16 in. 50.8 x 40.6 cm
Executed in 1964
Estimated price for the Warhol self portrait.. 3,500,000 to 4,500,000 USD

francis bacon painting
78 x 58 in. 197 x 147 cm
Executed in 1968
Estimated price for the Bacon painting.. 9,000,000 to 12,000,000 USD

The Sotheby's contemporary art auction starts on the Tuesday the 14th of November in New York.
>> Art Auctions
Friday, November 03, 2006
  Record Price for Jackson Pollock Painting
most expensive painting in the worldThe New York Times has reported that a Jackson Pollock drip painting owned by David Geffen has been sold for $140 million. If confirmed, this would make it the most expensive painting in the world.

"Just last month Mr. Geffen sold two other 20th-century paintings a Jasper Johns and a Willem de Kooning for a total of $143.5 million. Given that he is among many business figures who has expressed interest in buying The Los Angeles Times, media industry analysts speculated that he was trying to raise cash for a potential bid. The Pollock, a densely tangled composition in browns and yellows, is unusually large, measuring about 4 by 8 feet, and was painted on fiberboard". NY Times (may require free registration to view full article)

It looks like a lot of major art collectors want to own "the most expensive painting in the world" and are prepared to pay anything for it. I'm not saying that Jackson Pollock or Gustav Klimt don't deserve to have such a title, but it would be interesting to see what buyers are now willing to pay for an important work by Vincent van Gogh or Pablo Picasso.
>> Art Collecting, Jackson Pollock News
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
  Draw Your Own Furniture
draw your own furnitureThis idea reminds me of that Picasso video/photo where the little Spanish master is drawing a bull's head or a face (I can't remember what it was) in the air with something. Ok, I didn't explain that properly, but those that have seen it will know what I mean!
Update: Here's the picture of Picasso that I was talking about, thanks to Brian.

"The four FRONT members have developed a method to materialize free hand sketches. They make it possible by using a unique method where two advanced techniques are combined. Pen strokes made in the air are recorded with Motion Capture and become 3D digital files; these are then materialized through Rapid Prototyping into real pieces of furniture." Sketch Furniture

I think it would be great to use this technology to create sculpture, rather than the wobbly looking furniture they have made with it. I guess the furniture is a way of commercializing the idea.

>> General Arts News
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