Sunday, July 04, 2010

4th July 2010 - Who's made a mark this week?

I guess Charles Saatchi's decision to donate 200 pieces from his art collection to the nation PLUS HAND OVER his rather large gallery in Chelsea is an example of putting down a fairly major mark on the art world.  As if he needed to.  Initial responses by commentators suggests people were bowled over his munificence.  However is it a "good thing"?  While I actually agree with a number of things which Charles Saatchi has said in the past about art and the art world, I think I'm going to be a dissenting voice on this one - at least in part.

The Guardian commented on the act of apparent philanthropy in Charles Saatchi: the image of a perfectly modern philanthropist.  However is it an act of philanthropy?  Running a gallery is an extremely expensive endeavour when it's as big as the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea.  I do hope the British Government has been very business-like about this and also requested a very sizeable endowment for the running costs of the gallery. 

If it were down to me I'd take the art and refuse the gallery unless it came with an endowment sufficient to maintain its upkeep for a fairly lengthy period.  Here's my reasons why:
  • To my mind the gallery was pretty much a vanity exercise linked to maintaining the value of the art in his collection.  I may be wrong but that's what it looked like to me because of where it is located - right in the middle of the Kings Road, Chelsea.
  • Saatchi is also known for getting bored with his galleries.  Still not a good reason for the government to take his boring gallery off his hands.
  • We already have one gallery in London.  It's called Tate Modern and that's now being extended to become an even bigger gallery. 
  • London is also the art gallery capital of the world in terms of the number of premier art museums and galleries and I'm not really sure that we need another one. 
  • If it were somewhere else in the country that might be a different matter as art museums and galleries have been demonstrated to have a significant impact in terms of economic regeneration.  However places other than in London are in far more need of that sort of injection right now and the cost benefit analysis works much better if you located a Museum of Contemporary Art somewhere other than London.  Chelsea certainly does not need it.  In fact there can be very little justification whatsoever for spending public money on the Kings Road Chelsea.
Most importantly of all we simply cannot accept another potentially bottemless pit for government expenditure at a time when government departments are now being asked to spell out what 40% cuts in expenditure might look like.  Even if the money were available, which current recipients of Arts Council money would need to go without if this gallery were to be funded.  Or are the Arts Council lovies still without a business brain between them as has been apparent at times in the past?

I'm sure Saatchi must have some philanthropist friends.  Let all those billionaires who want to spend money on art come up with a sizeable endowment fund for a gallery which can in time show artwork from all their various collectors - and that might just be an acceptable proposition.  A new Museum of Contemporary Art with no input from public money whatsoever.  They can site it wherever they like if it is entirely a privately funded endeavour - but if they want to be called philanthropists then there needs to be wider economic benefit and that means locating it outside London.

This is a link to a BBC News slideshow of what's in the gift

Art Blogs

Drawing and Sketching
  • Bamboo - a post by David Apatoff on Illustration Art about Ronald Searle and drawing with a bamboo pen on the Burma Siam railroad during WW2
  • This is an article from 2004 which I came across this week.  It's about the rebirth of drawing.

Coloured Pencils and Pastels

Poolside, White Hat
12" x 9" pastel
copyright Sally Strand
  • This is Sally Strand's interview A New Day, A New Vision with Deborah Secor for The Pastel Journal December, 2009.  It includes some great images of her art which show her work as looking more and more like Degas in terms of hatching technique.  I've been a huge fan of Sally for years (it's the hatching!) and my account of a workshop with her is included on her website.
  • For those who have not already seen the post on the UKCPS News blog, Beverley Courtney wins People's Vote at Keswick.  I think I'm right in saying that animals with big eyes have won the People's Vote at the last three exhibition and have also won the top prize twice.  I wonder how often this happens in other national art societies.
  • You can now see the online exhibition and slideshow of coloured pencil artwork work donated by CPSA members for the Silent Auction held at the CPSA 2010 Convention this year in California.
copyright the artists / CPSA

Ludwig, whose set of 85 greens have become foundational for many pastelists, was heard to remark while painting on location in sultry Atlanta, Ga., that he didn’t have the right green. His greens, which run the gamut from intense warm yellow-greens to the darkest cool blue-greens, enhanced with additions of cool reds, pale blues and warm yellows, were made to fill colors he felt were missing from his palette.
Painters and Painting
  • Tales the palettes tell - I'd love to know how Robert Genn got the photos of some of those palettes of famous artists.  The psychology of the person on the palette is there to see!
  • Carol Marine (Carol Marine's Painting a Day) is writing about painting in Telluride

Still Life
Still lifes are about relationships: between objects arranged on a table, between formal elements on a flat canvas, what Georgia O’Keeffe called “singing shapes.”
If you're interested you can read more in Gail Leggio's article Singing Shapes about Still-life Paintings

Wildlife Art

Art Business and Marketing

Local groups
  • Made in Leicestershire is a showcase website for a range of handcrafted work by local artists and designer makers. It's funded by all the local councils.  I'm not quite sure what it is about Leicestershire but it seems to be much better than most at creating groups to raise the profile of local artists
  • If you know if a similar group for your area please let me know.

Art and the Economy / Art Collectors

  • There's been lots of comment this week on BP Sponshorship of the arts which continues to be an issue for some protestors with the attention now turned to the Tate.  It rather looks like this one might run and run!  Here are a couple by way of example - Tate Britain party picketed in protest against BP sponsorship, BP arts sponsorship: can Tate afford it? plus Johnathan Jones's comment Tate is right to take BP's money.  Much (but not all) is of the ethical diatribe variety which forgets that if you take away sponsorship then either activities get cut completely or the funding has to come from another source.  I do get constantly frustrated by those commenting on arts who like to take the purist line while failing to pay any attention whatsoever to the wider economy and/or appear to believe that organisations and activities can survive on thin air. Protestors are rather less successful at identifying replacement sources of sponsorship.

Art Competitions and Art Societies

    Art Exhibitions

    Telling Stories is the first major exhibition to explore in-depth the connections between Norman Rockwell’s iconic images of American life and the movies. Two of America’s best-known modern filmmakers—George Lucas and Steven Spielberg—recognized a kindred spirit in Rockwell and formed significant collections of his work.
    This installation includes works from the 1960s through 1999. Exceptional watercolors, pastels, charcoal, and pencil drawings reveal works on paper as studies for creations in other media, as sketches of ideas, and as finished works of art. Drawings often reveal greater spontaneity and experimentation than paintings and sculpture.
    • I also love the slideshow for 1934: A New Deal for Artists which celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Public Works of Art Program by drawing on the Smithsonian American Art Museum's collection of vibrant artworks created for the program.

    Art History

    Art Studios

    Art Supplies

    • Two upcoming Art Fairs which will have lots of art suppliers in attendance 
      • Art in Action, in Oxfordshire 15-18 July - this is the link to the 2010 event 
      • SAA Show - All About Art, Islington, 22-25 July 2010 (Supported by Chroma; Clairefontaine; Daler-Rowney; Da Vinci; Derwent; Faber-Castell; Hahnemühle; Longridge; Schmincke; Sennelier; St Cuthberts Mill; Wabbo; West Design and Winsor & Newton)
    • On Wednesday I reviewed Caran d'Ache NEOART Pastels

    Book reviews

    • Today I posted my Book review: The Concise British Flora in Colour which has proved to be a very nostalgic exercise for a book first published in 1965.  I'm just wondering how many nods of recognition there might be when people read this entry



    Opinion Poll

    A third of artists have subscribed to art magazines in the past but no longer do so,  while many artists now find the content they want online.  International Artist emerged as the favourite art magazine of most artists in the June Making A Mark poll.
    • The apparent switch of artists from subscriptions to online content is reflected also in recent surveys about people's willingness to buy online content.  This is a link to a recent survey by YouGov - No pay for online papers.  It appears content has to be very specialised and very good before most people are prepared to pay. 
    A vast majority (83%) replied that they would refuse to pay, with only two percent of respondents willing to shell out for online content in the current format. Only four percent would pay for online even when the content in question was not available anywhere else.

    Websites, webware and blogging

    and finally........

    More than 750,000 unique visitors have now found their way to Making A Mark since January 2005 - not bad considering no advertising!  I'm thinking that might mean it may hit 1million visitors by the end of the year! :)

    and one last word - I hope all my American readerrs are enjoying Independence Day!


    1. That's a delicious pastel painting by Sally Strand. I can see why you love it.

      As for Mr Saatchi - I did think to myself when I heard of this donation: 'That's one way to clear out one's impulse shopping". I didn't realise the gallery went with the art - be interesting to see what evolves.

    2. Re the photos of the artists' palettes, I don't know where the photos came from, but they all appear at the following link together with an article about them.

      Thanks for your blog, especially the Who's made a mark this week. SO much to look at and sometimes learn from. Brilliant.

    3. You asked for other sites for local artists how about for all kinds of artists in and around Frome, Somerset


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