BgArt News Blog
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
  Art Collector Heinz Berggruen Dies at 93
The Jewish German art collector Heinz Berggruen has died on the 23rd of February at the age of 93. Berggruen collected major works by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse, Alberto Giacometti, and Pablo Picasso.

"Mr. Berggruen, who had a home in Paris, also kept an apartment on the top floor of the newly renamed Berggruen Museum and was frequently seen showing visitors around the paintings. “Every day, I say ‘good morning’ and ‘good night’ and tell them to sleep well,” he once noted with a typical smile of pleasure." NY Times
>> Obituaries
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
  Archibald Packing Room Prize Winner
archibald prize packing room winner 2007Australia's most talked about art prize will soon (March 2) announce the winner for 2007. They have already announced what is called the "Packing Room Prize", which is where the gallery staff that install the exhibition get to vote for a winner. It's a good way to let the media and public know that the Archibald prize is coming, and it's a tradition that the award has had for a long time.

The Packing Room Prize winner was the Sydney artist Danelle Bergstrom, with a portrait of the Australian actor Jack Thompson, called "Take Two: Jack Thompson"

"Danelle chose to paint Jack Thompson for several reasons; "He's an Australian icon whose acting career spans more than 40 years, he's a committed environmentalist and importantly because he's down to earth, unpretentious and a truly genuine Australian bloke." Jack Thompson has appeared in more than 70 feature films and television series. He is also a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN High Commission for Refugees." Archibald Prize

The Archibald finalists for 2007 are online here. For those that are good at picking winners, go have a bet on your favorite artist at SportingBet! (yes, you can really bet on it). If I was a gambling man I would put my money on Paul Ryan's Fink on the Phone. The favorite to win is Paul Hannah's self portrait "Tubes".

I would not be surprised if there was no winner awarded in 2007 though, as none of the paintings are very inspiring.
>> Australian News, Art Prizes
Sunday, February 25, 2007
  Finger Painting Child Prodigy
Here's a video of a finger-painting child prodigy working on a Ninja Turtle picture. My bet is it's a fake.. but stranger things have happened. There's a link to the website at the end of the video, which is very commercial, which possibly confirms my suspicions.

>> Videos Online
Friday, February 23, 2007
  Banksy Painted Over
banksy grafittiA Banksy work was recently painted over by rail staff in the UK, which has prompted locals to complain. Rail staff now have photos of work by Banksy, so they don't make the same mistake again.

Does that mean that money lifts an artist above being called a vandal? Are people annoyed by the fact that it's such a great piece of grafitti or that it could have been sold at Sothebys for $50,000? If Thomas Kinkade suddenly gets the urge to start putting his art on buildings without permission, should we leave them up too?

I have nothing against Banksy.. I actually like him.. he makes me smile.. this story just got me thinking about art..

The rail officials first said "We don't want graffiti on our property and we will remove it," he said. "It's ugly, illegal and the public don't like it."
They then said "We have now issued our maintenance crews with photographs of Banksy's work, so if they come across it, they'll recognise it for what it is. We will then try and remove it if at all possible and auction it for charity." Read more at This is London
>> Banksy, Controversy
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
  Child Prodigy Adora Svitak
I have noticed the name of "Adora Svitak" in the comments of several child prodigy posts on BgArt News Blog, so I thought I better find out who she is. She is a 9 year old writer that has been labeled a child prodigy. Adora published her first book at the age of seven, called Flying Fingers.

Unlike painters that have been labeled child prodigies, I really have no opinion on young writers that are thought of as prodigies. I still agree with Mr Greenberg's quote about young artists / painters though..
"In visual arts, prodigies don't count. In music and literature, yes, but not in art." Clemente Greenberg

I haven't read Adora Svitak's Flying Fingers book, but she certainly seems like a smart little girl. There's videos on YouTube of her giving talks and being featured on television programs like Good Morning America.

Here's a poem by Adora from her website here..

The Philosopher
In his candlelit chamber…
The philosopher works…
Day and night…
Without a rest.

It is great research…
But never credited…
Nothing has worked…
Nobody has paid attention…
But this time they will.

And the philosopher tires…
But he keeps on…
He keeps on through the night.

And on the morrow…
The philosopher wakes…
And studies his books.

A scroll and a stick…
That will tell him…
A ruler made by Merlin…
Will give him success.

And so his work is credited…
Like the philosopher dreamed it would be…
And, his work done, he fell into the
Endless Slumber…
Which he well deserves.

Here's an article from the Guardian about Adora Svitak or see her official website for more information.
>> Books and Writing
Sunday, February 18, 2007
  Geostationary Banana Over Texas
banana over texasHere's something for the kooky category. The Geostationary Banana Over Texas project hopes to put a giant banana over Texas.

The artist behind the Banana Over Texas work is César Saez. Saez plans to put the banana between the high atmosphere and earth's lower orbit for about one month. It will be visible to Texans with the naked eye, day and night.

Everything is bigger in Texas.. even the giant bananas floating in the sky.

From the project's website, here's some reasons why they are doing it..

The banana is ‘pop’ (and foreigner). It is a common thing, and yet, it comes from far away.
- “..because there are no bananas in Texas, at least no banana plantations.
- bananas do not grow in Texas”.
This intervention has irony. Like the paradox about localized actions with global dimensions.
This is a daring action, defiant like a cowboy act. And the banana is macho and phallic, they say.
It is in Texas because it has oil,and a lot of Walmarts, Exxons and Halliburtons. (and The Ranch)

It is a buffoon act, trying to impress…Texan dominant Aerospace, and all the Gun Clubs.
At the end it as a Show, a banana in the sky is an odd celebration to spectacle, to the advertisement industries; and to the Warhol Art.

>> Weird News
Friday, February 16, 2007
  London Art Market Sales
sothebys art auctionThe world art market has showed no signs of slowing down in February. Chris-toby's have had an impressive month in London with almost $500,000,000 being sold between them. Their sales included Impressionist and Modern paintings and works on paper, German and Austrian Art, and Surrealist art.

European buyers are now getting the attention of American sellers after the February frenzy.. "Such a sum verges on the territory previously held by US auctions. London's rising strength as a market is a continuing trend in recent seasons. In part this is a reflection of the city's proximity to well-heeled eastern European buyers, but is also a result of US sellers seeking a stronger currency than the dollar. Several of the highlights were drawn from American collections." Sotheby's

Top Ten Auction Sales from the February Frenzy

Chaim Soutine, L'Homme au Foulard Rouge
£ 8,756,000
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Les Deux Soeurs
£ 6,852,000
Fernand Leger, Les maisons dans les arbres
£ 6,292,000
Amedeo Modigliani, Jeune fille au beret
£ 6,068,000
Rene Magritte, Le pretre marie
£ 5,284,000
Egon Schiele, Selbstbildnis mit gespreizten Fingern
£ 4,500,000
Edgar Degas, Trois Danseuses Jupes Violettes
£ 4,164,000
Raoul Dufy, La Foire aux Oignons
£ 4,052,000
Claude Monet, Maison du jardinier
£ 4,052,000
Amedeo Modigliani, Homme au chapeau
£ 3,940,000

>> Art Auctions, Art Collecting
Thursday, February 15, 2007
  BgArt News Blog at My Blog Logs
BgArt News Blog has gone Web 2.0 and joined a blog networking site called My Blog Log. I'm not sure why I joined, but a few other blogs were joining, so I thought I would give it a try too.

The only use I can see for it so far is.. if you are a member of MyBlogLog and you visit a site that has the "Recent Readers" widget on it, you will see your avatar/picture on it (see the images to the right, below "BgArt News Blog INFO") My profile is here and the BgArt News Blog page is here. Do join the BgArt News Blog community if you are a member as I don't have any friends yet!
>> Internet News
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
  Charity Art Auctions
ArtInfo has recently looked into the good and bad of charity art auctions. They have asked if they are the place to pick up art bargains, or are they a good place to offload lesser works?

Barbara Guggenheim says "Many charity auctions are put together by companies that sell the charity on the idea that they’re going to auction off Chagalls and Dalis and such, and split the profits with the charity some way," Guggenheim said. "Those auctions are filled with low-quality material—if not fakes. Other charity auctions are filled with things that collectors want to get rid of, or lesser works by artists who’ve been imposed upon. Because that’s the rule, you shouldn’t expect to find serious material there." ArtInfo

I wonder how other artists feel about giving to charity auctions? I have been approached by email to give to charity art auctions, but have never agreed to them because I am probably too critical of anything that lands in my inbox. Has anyone had any success/failure with buying or giving works to charity art auctions?
>> Art Auctions
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
  Who is Banksy?
banksy detailBanksy, Banksy, Banksy.. this guy seems to be everywhere. The mainstream media love publishing stuff on this guy. Andy Warhol would be proud of the inches published on Banksy over the past 18 months.

He has an official website, where I stole the image to the left of this post (it's a detail of a larger work). There's no links on his homepage, but he does have more pages to his site. I'm not sure how you are meant to find more pages of his site if you don't know about them, but here's some outdoor works, indoor works, and a Banksy manifesto.

"The time of getting fame for your name on its own is over. Artwork that is only about wanting to be famous will never make you famous. Any fame is a by-product of making something that means something. You don't go to a restaurant and order a meal because you want to have a shit." Banksy Quote

Coxsoft has a few Banksy posts on his art blog. He points to a piece on the BBC website where they say that the notoriously secretive artist is the thirty-something year old Robert Banks of Bristol in the UK. They also say that Banksy has no formal art education, started painting grafitti at 14, he used to bootleg rock memorobilia, and has spent time in detention for petty crimes.

His name and art may be familiar to millions of people of worldwide, but there are very few photos or details known about the actual artist. Simon Hattenstone of the Guardian has been one of the few journalists to interview the artist. Hattenstone says..
"Banksy is Britain's most celebrated graffiti artist, but anonymity is vital to him because graffiti is illegal. The day he goes public is the day the graffiti ends." Guardian Interview with Banksy

See a video below of Banksy at work in Palenstine, where the artist has this to say about the "segregation wall" seperating Palenstine and Israel..
"The segregation wall is a disgrace.. The possibility I find exciting is you could turn the world's most invasive and degrading structure into the world's longest gallery of free speech and bad art." Banksy

>> Banksy
Sunday, February 11, 2007
  Christopher Lees Painting Video
Leith has let me know of this painting video below on YouTube. It's of the Australian painter Christopher Lees working on a large painting called "Harmony Reign". It's set to classical music and really works. It was also quite frustrating for me as I don't have a studio to paint in!

>> Australia, Painting
Saturday, February 10, 2007
  Scam Resource for Artists - Bogus Art Fair
It's a pity that resources like Bogus Art Fair are needed, but such is life. Bogus Art Fair is a resource for tracking and warning artists of shipping scams, online pirates, identity theft, phishing, websites with unfair terms, and more.

"Scams and fraud are increasing problems for anyone with an online presence, be it as simple as having an email address or as active as having an intricate website and participating in several discussion forums. Artists are a particularly susceptible group because most of us are happy for a sale and looking for that big break."

There's also a nice collection of links here, with plenty of websites relating to frauds and scams online.
>> Art Scams, Website Reviews
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
  Proposed Jeff Koons Train Monstrosity
jeff koons trainA giant Jeff Koons puppy might be cute and bring smiles to the faces of thousands of people, but a giant train hanging from a crane probably won't do much for people.. other than confuse them and make them think that all art sucks.

If realized, the 161 foot tall hanging train would be located at the entrance of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, just like his giant Puppy graces the entrance of the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum.

"Mr. Koons imagines periodic chugging noises. "It will be absolutely so authentic a performance of a train," he said, that it could fool "an engineer who’s worked on a train his whole life."

"Mr. Govan compared the project to the Eiffel Tower, expressing hope that the piece would become a landmark for Los Angeles. “The beautiful thing,” he said, “is that we would see it from the 10 freeway and from downtown." NY Times

>> Art Controversies, Famous Artists
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
  Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year
frog photoCoxsoft reports that the Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition was splashed with oil on the weekend. (there's a photo of the vandalized photographs at his blog).

The annual event seeks to "find the best wildlife pictures taken by photographers worldwide of all ages." The Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year award is sponsored by the Shell oil company and is held at the Natural History Museum in London.

There's more about the incident at IndyMedia..
"The Shell Wildlife Photographer of the year competition based at the Natural History Museum in London was the scene of mayhem on Saturday morning as 20 activists, inspired by the Camp for Climate Action, threw paint around the exhibition. The black oily paint across the photographs served to remind the public and the museum that the event is tainted by Shells slimy political agenda. A spoof banner was hung from the main hall above the famous dinosaur skeleton, and leaflets distributed outside, in order to alert visitors and staff to Shell's ludicrous involvement with the exhibition. Although there were scuffles in the exhibition when security staff grappled with activists, NO-ONE was arrested."

Update: I couldn't resist adding this Shell website and this Shell website.. or more acurately, anti-Shell websites.
>> Controversies, Art Contests
Monday, February 05, 2007
  Gagosian Gallery Profiting from the Internet
Artists have been taking advantage of the internet to sell work for a few years now. Painters can now make enough money on eBay to pay the bills. There's also a group of artists that have created quite a buzz with the use of blogs to sell their paintings.

But traditional bricks and mortar art galleries are also taking advantage of the internet to promote and sell works by their artists. An exhibition at the Beverly Hills Gagosian gallery by Tom Friedman was sold out before the opening after collectors were shown digital images of the exhibition. Works were sold for up to $500,000 too, so they're not just the small and cheap works that many artists sell online.

"It’s another sign of the acceleration of the contemporary art market: New works, even in the six-figure range, are selling by digital image alone. For the Friedman show, Gagosian set up a private section on its Web site, accessible only by a password sent via e-mail message to select collectors. More typically, gallery directors send off e-mail messages with JPEGs — a format for digitally storing and transmitting images — to potential clients." NY Times (requires free registration)
>> Art Collecting, Being an Artist, Art Exhibitions
Friday, February 02, 2007
  One Thousand Paintings Imitator
In a recent post I mentioned the Art Initials website, where the artist (entrepreneur?) is selling two letter initial paintings. I thought that the One Thousand Paintings artist and the Art Initials artist must have had a personal or working relationship, as the websites and the idea were so similar. But Sala from One Thousand Paintings says this is not the case..

"If you look at the website, you will see that not only the paintings look similar (which is fine with me - no one has a copyright on blue symbols on white background), but the entire concept is almost identical (again, fair enough - no one should have a copyright on an art project).

What is somewhat disturbing is that the content of the site seems to be largely copied from, sometimes almost word by word. The site structure is basically identical: all paintings have wikipedia information below the detail information, the authenticity check is identical, even the photographs look similar."

Imitation is a form of flattery, but I would probably be a little peeved to have an idea copied like this. There are very few new ideas in art, so the best thing to do is probably just take it as a compliment and move on. If I could sum up the history of painting in one word it would probably be "regurgitation".

This is the One Thousand Paintings website..
one thousand paintings

And this is the Art Initials website..
art initial paintings

>> Controversies
Thursday, February 01, 2007
  Search for Da Vinci Masterpiece
"The Battle of Anghiari" is said to be the masterpiece of all time, but the problem is that nobody knows where it is. Maurizio Seracini believes he may be on the verge of uncovering the lost masterpiece behind a wall at Florence's Renaissance town hall in Italy.

"For art historians, finding Leonardo’s lost Battle of Anghiari is in the same league as finding the Titanic or the still lost tomb of the Ancient Egyptian architect Imhotep — as big as you can get." TimseOnline

"Now that the Italian government has given him the go-ahead to complete his investigation, Seracini says he is just a few months away from finding out once and for all. If he is right, there is no overestimating the importance such a discovery would have." YahooNews
>> Leonardo da Vinci
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