BgArt News Blog
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
  Damien Hirst Corporation Layoffs
damien hirst exhibitionI told myself that I wouldn't mention Damien Hirst for a while as he's a bit of a news hog, but I just can't help myself. There's no other artist out there like him. None of my artists friends have told me that they're laying off up to 20 employees as none of my artist friends have 20 employees to lay off.

The quote below is from the Guardian newspaper here.
"On Thursday, up to 17 of the 22 people who make the pills for Hirst's drug cabinet series were told their contracts were not being renewed, according to two sources close to Science Ltd, Hirst's main art-producing company. Another three who make his butterfly paintings were also told they were surplus to requirements.
It is thought that amounts to approximately half of the London-based artists who work for Hirst. They are paid about £19,000 a year, sources said. In June 2007, Lullaby Spring, a cabinet filled with hand-painted pills, sold for £9.65m."

Artinfo also mention the story here.

>> Damien Hirst News, Being an Artist
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
  John Everett Millais Painting Discovered
Lost John Everett Millais's portrait of Effie GrayThe skeptic in me says that there are no original lost masterpieces hiding in closets or the storage sheds of long lost relatives, but I guess it could be possible.

A British woman has discovered a painting by the Pre-Raphaelite English artist John Everett Millais valued at £50,000. The story is that the 45 year old woman was given the painting as a gift for her 9th birthday and forgot about it until she moved house.

Millais is most famous for his Ophelia painting at the Tate Britain, inspired by Shakespeare's play Hamlet.

There's more on the lost masterpiece on the Telegraph website here.

Other lost masterpieces (or found fakes/copies) include the $50 million Jackson Pollock and some lost Australian paintings found in Texas.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
  Patricia Piccinini at Roslyn Oxley9
Patricia Piccinini is currently showing a bunch of weird and wonderful things at the Roslyn Oxley9 gallery in Sydney. The show is called Related Individuals and closes on the 6th of December.

Patricia Piccinini at Roslyn Oxley
Patricia Piccinini
The Long Awaited, 2008
silicon, fibreglass, human hair, plywood, leather, clothing 152 × 80 × 92cm

Patricia Piccinini Transgenic Skull for the Bodyguard
Patricia Piccinini
Not Quite Animal II (Transgenic Skull for the Bodyguard), 2008
bronze 28 × 14.5 × 19.5cm

My guess is that at least half of all working artists in the world have created at least one skull this year! Every art magazine I pick up has at least one skull in it. Are we looking at our own mortality or is it just because of the Damien Hirst skull?
Thursday, November 20, 2008
  Thirsty for Hirsty
I know I probably mention Damien Hirst more than any other artist, but it's because he makes more news than any other artist. The man is a marketing genius.

Hirst says Art is too Expensive..
Damien Hirst has a personal fortune of around £200 million and is capable of pulling off his own $200 million auction, but he thinks art is too expensive. He spoke the Independent and said "I think it's quite good [adjustment in art market prices] because it became unreal ... You start to think you are touched by God. I have always thought that art is worth what the next guy is prepared to pay."

Those with a shed full of Damien Hirst works won't like the reality of the next quote by Hirst from the Independent article.. "If I want to sell new work, I'll price it lower. If people have got less money, you can either just shut your door and say, 'Screw everybody', or I can wait until everyone can afford my work or price it cheaper."

The gloom was prompted after "Beautiful Artemis Thor Neptune Odin Delusional Sapphic Inspirational Hypnosis Painting" failed to sell at auction for $3 to 4 million. Hirst said that the current seller paid him half the current asking price less than a year ago, so it hardly sounds like a meltdown.

Art+ Auction Looks back at the Great Hirst Sale
From the Art+Auction report.. "London dealer Helly Nahmad, although an early supporter of Hirst, refrained from bidding at the evening sale. “I prefer to be in something that has a lot less risk,” he says. Nahmad feels the entire sale was indicative of the art-market “moving closer to a business model.” He characterizes Hirst as being “between a superstar artist and a luxury brand” and terms investing in his latest oeuvre as “much easier than buying a modern picture— all you need to know are two or three facts: It’s Hirst, it’s Sotheby’s, it’s luxury. . . . You could have a Hirst company as large as LVMH." Continue Reading the article..

Damien Hirst Stocking Fillers
If you don't think the sky is falling and you have a spare 50 thousand pounds this christmas, you might want to visit the Damien Hirst shop for some plastic skulls painted with house paint. Other Criteria has a variety of Hirst skull options for sale.

Damien Hirst Skull
£50,000 + VAT
Hallucinatory Head (OC 6158) Damien Hirst
210 x 140 x 140 mm
Household gloss on plastic skull

Or if you like your skulls with a lower jaw and eyes..
Damien Hirst Skull
£50,000 + VAT
Transcendent Head (OC 6136) Damien Hirst
210 x 140 x 140 mm
Household gloss on plastic skull

Damien Hirst the Art Director - Sienna Miller Video
Mr Hirst has also become the art director of a music video starring actress Sienna Miller. "See the Light" is a song by The Hours music group. Sienna Miller pushes her way through a very Hirst-like landscape..
The Hours - See The Light

That's all from the Damien Hirst News Blog today! ;-)
>> Damien Hirst News
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
  LIFE Photo Archive on Google
Pablo Picasso StudioLIFE is teaming up with Google to create a massive online database of more than 10 million photos from the 1750s through to today. It is a work in progress but there is already an impressive collection of photographs online now.

"For 70 years, LIFE has been about one thing, and that’s the power of photography to tell a story," says Andy Blau, LIFE’s President. "LIFE will now reach a broader audience and engage them online with the incredible depth and breadth of the LIFE Photo Archive from serious world events, to Hollywood celebrities to whimsical photographs." Time Inc. EVP, John Squires adds: "We’re delighted Google recognized the rich value of our photo archive and worked with us to bring it to millions of consumers. Consistent with the launch of the TIME Archive, PEOPLE Archive and the SI Vault, this initiative continues our efforts to build valuable new revenue opportunities from our rich heritage."

LIFE Image Archive OnlineThe LIFE photography archive is hosted here by Google. There's an excellent collection of Pablo Picasso pictures here. The Google Image Search is free for personal and research purposes. Copyright and ownership of all images will remain with Time Inc.

Update: Searching for "Artists at Work" brings up an interesting set of images, with the likes of Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Georges Rouault, Fernand Leger, Marc Chagall, Alice Neel and more coming up.
>> Photography News
Friday, November 14, 2008
  Damien Hirst Levi's Jeans and T-shirts
I love and hate Damien Hirst in equal portions. I love the marketing genius that the man is, but I also dislike him for similar reasons as he has made art all about business. Only a (starving) fool would ignore business altogether in art, but I still find myself clinging to a romantic art that is above money and press releases. There's all kinds of art though, so I probably admire Hirst more than I dislike him.

The British artist is now teaming up with Levi's Jeans to do a limited edition collection of t-shirts and jeans. The Damien Hirst X Levi’s® collection uses well known Hirst themes like spots, skulls, butterflies and his spin paintings. The prices start at £55 for tees and £150 for jeans, so now everyone can own a Damien Hirst.. kind of.

Damien Hirst Clothing Collection Levis

Here's a short Damien Hirst interview about the Levi's collection..

1. How did the original collaboration between you and Levi’s® come about?

I’ve always worn Levi's® and I saw a collection that (designer) Adrian Nyman made using Warhol's art and I loved it so much I bought the whole collection. Adrian heard about it and contacted me and asked if I’d like to work with him, the Warhol estate and Levi’s®, and of course I jumped at the chance.

2. Why did you decide to partner with Levi’s® to create another Damien Hirst X Levi’s® limited-edition collection?

Because I really enjoyed the experience of working with Adrian and Levi’s® and loved the clothes.

3. What was your inspiration for this collection?

I loved the idea of art you can wear.

4. What was the inspiration and meaning behind your iconic imagery of the skull, spots and butterfly?

I live in Mexico and I love the way they celebrate all the bad and good aspects of life there. In life we are here for a good time, not a long time and I hope the imagery communicates that.

Damien Hirst X Levi’s® collection

5. Do you have any favourite pieces or items in the collection you are most excited about?

I love it all.

6. Have you ever provided design inspiration for a clothing collection before?

I painted heavy metal album covers on schoolmate’s denim jackets when I was at school.

7. Have you seen people out and about in pieces from your Damien Hirst X Levi’s® limited-edition collection? Do you like the idea that people can now "wear your art"?

I tried to sign someone’s t shirt I saw in a club but they wouldn’t let me because they didn’t believe I was Damien Hirst, funny huh?

8. What similarities or differences do you find between expressing yourself creatively through art versus fashion?

I don’t see a difference really, anything done well is art, but this way a lot of people get to own my stuff and in a not too precious way.

>> Damien Hirst News
Thursday, November 13, 2008
  Art Fag City's Cease and Desist
Those with a blog or website should be interested in the discussion over at Art Fag City where the estate of Helmut Newton has sent Paddy Johnson a cease and desist letter. She posted a nude Naomi Campbell photo by the fashion/erotic photographer Helmut Newton when she mentioned a Naomi Campbell retrospective at the upcoming Art Basel Miami in 08.

I don't believe that the Internet should be a lawless free for all, but what kind of business threatens legal action for receiving free publicity?! The image used is a low resolution jpg file that has zero commercial value and was used to promote an upcoming event, so I'm still trying to figure out how the estate of Helmut Newton has a problem with it.

The law firm and Helmut Newton estate are either really smart or complete idiots. Perhaps they realise that bloggers have big mouths and they will gain much more publicity by creating a controversy in the blogosphere. Or maybe they just don't get the Internet. Either way, I won't be mentioning any Helmut Newton exhibitions or auctions anytime soon.

Read the cease and desist letter and the ongoing discussion here.
>> Photography News
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
  Writers Need Religion Too
After my Religion and Art rant earlier in the week I have been coming across articles on the topic everywhere I look.

One report in the Time magazine on the controversial writer Salman Rushdie talks about the necessity of religion for writers, even atheist writers. Rushdie said "When I'm writing books, something weird happens; and the result is the books contain a large amount of what you could call supernaturalism. As a writer I find I need that to explain the world I'm writing about. As a person I don't need it and as person I do. I would agree, that tension is irreconcilable. But it's just there. It's just so."


"I think that a lot of us, whether we are religious or not.. there are no words to express some things except religious words. For instance, 'soul.' I don't believe in an afterlife or heaven or hell, yet there isn't a secular word for that feeling that we are not only flesh and blood. Whether you're religious or not you may find yourself obliged to use language shaped by religion." Read the rest of the Article at Times online.

Art critic for the Guardian Jonathan Jones says "Religion, in other words, is mixed up with magic, or to put it another way, the kinds of religion that nurture art tend to be. Catholic idolatry begets beauty. Protestantism does not." Guardian

There's an interesting discussion in the comments of the last post on Religion too.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
  Death of the Postcard (India & South America)
A friend of a good friend has recently finished a travel documentary and a book to go with it called The Death of the Postcard. It's an experimental travel documentary exploring India and South America, directed by Adrian Barber.

It's probably more travel than art, but my friend says its "arty" enough to be posted on an art blog, so I'll trust him ;-)

Below is a preview of them in Varanasi, India. Here's a funny quote from it.. "City with uncountable cow shit chappatis. If you have not stepped in one, you were probably not there."

Death of the Postcard is an ongoing travel project that accepts travelers contributions (travel photos and videos).
>> Travel News
Sunday, November 09, 2008
  Religion and Art
Michelangelo Sistine ChapelI was talking to a friend about political art, telling her that I thought they shouldn't mix. Then without thinking too much about it, I said religion and art shouldn't mix either. But before she replied, I corrected myself and said I don't know what I'm talking about. Religion has inspired some of the most wonderful art ever created. Imagine an art history without religion. Maybe we need more religion in art today.. more offerings to God.. more inspiration from the divine.

As much as I like religion in art, I don't like living it and I don't like the ugliness that it has created worldwide. I'm also not an atheist as I see God in everything and every one. I also wouldn't like to see religion taken from people as its an excellent way to control the masses. Six billion free people scares me more than six billion semi-anethetized sheeple trying to please a book or dogma.

Some of the craziest of us have been people that abandoned a belief in a venegful God, so if you took away the fear of God from 6 billion of us, it would create chaos.

That's my rant for the month. I'm sorry if I offended most visitors to BgArt News Blog ;-)
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
  Shepard Fairey Wine Label for Kenwood Vineyards
Two wonderful things coming together; art and wine. Street artist and Barack Obama supporter Shepard Fairey has created a wine label for the Kenwood Vineyards in California.

I must confess that I spend a lot of time looking at wine labels (and consuming wine responsibly), but I see very few wineries turning to fine artists for their wine labels. I always thought wine and art were a wonderful mix, so it seems natural to commission artists for wine labels.

Shepard Fairey Wine Label for Kenwood Vineyards

Here's a detail of the wine bottle cap designed by Shepard Fairey with his Obey Giant logo.

Wine Label by Shepard Fairey

Chateau Mouton Rothschild is a series of French wines dating back to 1945 with wine labels done by famous artists. Giants like Georges Braque, Salvador Dali, Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Georg Baselitz have created labels for the wine. See the Baron Philippe de Rothschild website here or a website showing all the artist wine labels online here.
>> Wine News
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
  America Votes: We're Not Retards
Barack Obama Portrait by Shepard FaireyPhew! I'm not a very political creature, but I was very concerned that a person like Sarah Palin could possibly take control of the United States of America.

I know that Barack Obama is just a politician and isn't going to save the world from its many problems, but he doesn't scare the hell out of me like Sarah Palin does.

The Barack Obama portrait to the left is by Shepard Fairey. There's more on the Fairey Obama portrait here at Modern Painters.
>> Political News
Monday, November 03, 2008
  Australian Paintings Found in Texas
Australian PaintingsSimilar to the last post, but much less fantastical, moderately valuable Australian paintings have been showing up in Texas, USA.

This year there have been two Australian paintings bought from Texas thrift stores/charity shops for very small amounts and have been valued by auction houses for much higher amounts.

A John Coburn painting was bought for $45 and is now worth $20,000 and a Grace Cossington Smith was bought for $25 and is now valued at $45,000.

Read more about them on the Sydney Morning Herald website here.

I'm not pointing fingers or doubting the finds, but stories like these do make it easier for forgers. It gives you instant provenance and the works are minor enough to not draw too much scrutiny, but $20,000 or $40,000 is still a nice little pay day. Not as much as $50,000,000 but still worth the effort.
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