Thursday, September 30, 2010

Record-breaking Gauguin Restrospective opens at Tate Modern

The first retrospective exhibition of Paul Gauguin's work opens at Tate Modern today.  Gauguin - Maker of Myth is the first major exhibition of his work in the UK in over half a century.  The last major retrospective was at the Tate Gallery (at Millbank) in 1955 and the last exhibition of any of his work (other than in collections) in the UK was in 1966 when the focus was on his work on Pont Aven.  So in effect this is, for many people, a once in a lifetime exhibition.

I find Paul Gauguin to be a very seductive artist.  Back in the early 90s, when I first encountered him in the Musee dOrsay, I didn't like his work much but as I have seen more and more of it in every gallery I visit I began to appreciate it more and more and I think I've now almost reached the status of being a fan!

Scope of the Exhibition

The work is well laid out across 11 rooms in total as follows.  Click the links to see the online exhibition guide.
Gauguin: Maker of Myth will trace the artist’s unique approach to storytelling. Bringing together over 100 works from public and private collections from around the world, the exhibition will take a fresh and compelling look at this master of modern art.  
1.  Identity and Self Mythology - the exhibition starts with a series of self-portraits.

Self Portrait with Manao tupapau 1893-4
oil on canvas
Musee d'Orsay, Paris
A highlight of the exhibition will be a sequence of powerful self-portraits including Self-portrait as Christ in the Garden of Olives 1889 (Norton Museum of Art, Florida) and Self-portrait with Manau tu papau 1893 (Musée d’Orsay, Paris). These works demonstrate Gauguin’s aptitude at role-playing as he adopts different guises of victim, saint, Christ-like martyr and sinner.  
2.  Making the Familiar Strange - his still lifes don't look quite like other people's still life

Still Life with Fruit 1888
oil on canvas
The State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow
3.  Life and Times 1848-1891 - this is one of two rooms which bring together a selection of books, letters, photographs and othe documentary materials about his life, his reading and his writing, the places where he worked and the relationships he had with other people - poets, critics and artists.

4. Gauguin's Drawings - it was great to see that this man is somebody who practised observational drawings and kept a sketchbook

5. Landscape and Rural Narrative - a very peculiar thing happens when you try to take a photograph of his landscapes and that's that they change colour very slightly.  I've never experienced this to the extent that it happens with Gauguin's work - and I'd love to know who made his paints!  I really like some of his landscapes - and you can expect a further post about these on my Art of the Landscape blog

Tahitian Landscape (1891)

oil on canvas
Minneapolis Institute of Arts

6.  Sacred Themes - this includes the paintings of the yellow Christ and the green Christ

7. The Eternal Feminine - this shows how he progresses through his depiction of female subjects

8.  Life and Times 1889-1903 - this period of his life was dominated by his two trips to Tahiti and then subsequently the Marquesa Islands where he died in 1903

9.  Gauguin's Titles - fascinating and a subject for a future post

10.  Teller of Tales  - Gauguin has a longstanding fascination about mixing text and words and this room shows some of the ways he did this 

11.  Earthly Paradise - contrasts the way he portrayed the place with what it was like in reality for him 

Visiting this exhibition - practical matters

This is a very large exhibition.  There's an awful lot to take in and if you want to appreciate it properly you need to allow a good time.  This exhibition is also going to be very popular - it's broken box office records for pre-opening bookings.

There is plenty of space for lots of people but it was very hot on Tuesday when I visited and I'd certainly suggest you visit when it's less busy if that's an option.

The audio guide works like an iPod Touch which means it includes film as well as slideshows and audio about the works.  First you see the painting - then you watch a film of the place where he painted it.  They are however variable.  The first one I got didn't work properly at all - so check yours works properly before going inside.

Understanding the man

It's interesting reading the various reviews of the show.  Some make assumptions about who influenced his work and in what ways.

However I have to say it was watching Waldemar Januszczak's documentary programme about Gauguin on Monday night that pieces of the jigsaw began to fall into place for me.  I can't recap the whole programme here and unfortunately it's not available on iPlayer or DVD.  However for me I suddenly realised that everything I had ever read about Gauguin had missed out the bit about his Peruvian heritage and the fact that he lived in Peru when he was a small child.  That and the extent to which he travelled before he even picked up a paint brush suggested to me that the theme behind this exhibition - of identity and myth-making - has to be very slowly unpacked to get at all the nuances which exist in terms of who he was as a man - and how he presented himself to the world.
Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin was born in Paris and spent his early childhood in Peru. Joining the merchant navy at seventeen he travelled for six years, visiting South America, Scandinavia and other parts of the globe. In 1871 he joined a Paris stock broking firm and in 1873 married Mette Gad, painting in his spare time. In 1883, with five children to support, he resigned from his job, determined to pursue an artistic career. From 1886, separated from his family, Gauguin became increasingly disenchanted with Paris and worked mainly in Brittany, with influential spells in Martinique and Arles. After leaving Europe for Tahiti in 1891, apart from two further years in France, the remainder of his life was spent in the South Seas. 
Tate Modern
When you look at Tahiti on the map, you begin to realise he's in the one bit of the French empire which is close to Peru.

He's a lot more complex and his art is far more wide-ranging than I'd ever realised before.  That's another one of the reasons why it pays to go round slowly.  I came out knowing that I was going to have to revisit maybe once or twice more before I've got the full value out of what is in this very dense and yet apparently simplistic exhibition.  There are layers upon layers.

It doesn't matter if you only go to look at the paintings - because some of these are very powerful.  You will however be surprised to see the extent to which he carves and makes sculptures and the sheer diversity of his artwork - he worked in virtually every medium.
Gauguin: Maker of Myth reflects the artist’s remarkable breadth of approach by including examples from every period of his practice. Works in a wide range of media including painting, monotype, woodcut, watercolour, ceramics, carvings and decorated objects will be shown alongside rarely-seen illustrated letters, sketchbooks, memoirs and journalism, revealing intimate insights into the artist’s working practices and thought processes.  

However if you come armed with some knowledge about his background and then also review some of the documentary evidence also on show, besides seeing the art you will also come out with a much richer appreciation of Gauguin the man as well as Gauguin the artist and, of course, of the art.

He's like a puzzle.  As one of the curators said "You think you've just begun to understand him - and then he throws you a curve ball"

I'm going to write more than one post about this exhibition as, like the Van Gogh, at the beginning of the year, I think it deserves it.

Information - Gauguin: Maker of Myth
  • 30 September 2010 – 16 January 2011 (Press View: 28 September 2010)
  • Tate Modern, Level 4

  • Admission £13.50, (concession £10.00)                                                                                     
  • Open every day from 10.00 – 18.00 and late night until 22.00 on Friday and Saturday
  • For public information number please print 020 7887 8888
The exhibition continues until 16th January.  It then moves across the Atlantic and opens at the National gallery in Washington DC in February 2011

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Jerwood Drawing Prize 2010 won by Virginia Verran

Winner - Jerwood Drawing Prize 2010
 Bolus-Space (signal) - By Virginia Verran
Pens on canvas, 76 x 62 cm

Virginia Verran has won the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2010 and has been awarded £6,000 for her drawing Bolus-Space (signal).  Virginia’s description of her winning work is clear and concise:
‘Intuitions · layers · planes · demarcations · nations · symbols · threats · bombardments · pointings · ponds · settlements · migrations · repetitions’
Her work, along with that of the 70 short-listed artists will be shown at Jerwood Space, London SE1 from 29 September – 7 November 2010, and will then tour to Cheltenham, Berkshire, Carmarthen and Durham. 

Virginia studied at Chelsea College of Art, London (1983-84) and Winchester School of Art (1980-83).  She is now based in North London and teaches at University College Falmouth, Chelsea College of Art and Design, and Slade School of Art.  She has exhibited in a number of solo and group shows, including the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2009.

The Jerwood Drawing Prize is the country’s leading award in drawing, and is the largest and longest running annual open exhibition dedicated to drawing in the UK. Established in 1996 as the annual Cheltenham Open Drawing Exhibition it was renamed the Jerwood Drawing Prize when the Jerwood Charitable Foundation became the principal supporter in 2001.

The panel of selectors considering just under 3,000 entries which were submitted in 2010 were:
  • Charles Darwent, Art Critic, Independent on Sunday; 
  • Jenni Lomax, Director of the Camden Arts Centre; and 
  • Emma Talbot, artist. 
Readers of this blog will be pleased to know that their shortlist included established artists as well as relative newcomers and students fresh from art school.
The Second Prize of £3,000 was awarded to Cadi Froehlich who is currently studying for a Fine Art Foundation Degree at Brighton University City College.

Two Student Awards of £1,000 each, were awarded to
  • Warren Andrews for David M. Hutchinson Drawing device no 436
  • James Eden & Olly Rooks for their collaboration, Burst. 
Warren is currently studying at Wimbledon College of Art, his work ‘deals with how an audience approaches and views ‘art’, and the role perspective’. Both James and Olly recently graduated in Fine Art from the University of Plymouth and have been working collaboratively for two years.

Information about the Jerwood Drawing Prize Exhibition

Venue: 29 September – 7 November 2010:  Jerwood Space, 171 Union St, SE1 0LN (The 2010 exhibition will later tour to Cheltenham, Berkshire, Carmarthen and Durham. )
Opening Times: Mon - Fri 10am – 5pm Sat & Sun 10am – 3pm Closed Bank Holidays
Admission: Free
Nearest tube:  Southwark, London Bridge or Borough 


Jerwood Visual Arts will host a series of Monday evening events to accompany the exhibition starting at 6pm on 4th, 11th, 18th October 2010.  Events are free but must be booked in advance.

Jerwood Space is also participating in the 2010 Big Draw and will host events on 22nd and 23rd October.

Monday, September 27, 2010

26th September 2010 - Who's made a mark this week?

"The art which made a mark" 
The New York Times has a slideshow Op-Ed at 40: Four decades of illustration which highlights the stunning drawing, graphic illustration and creativity which drew on the 'lions' of social commentators from the past.  It's a ten minute film and I urge you to watch it - it's both fascinating and stimulating.

Art Blogs

The art blogs this week include those I spotted while finding the website links for the artists selected for the ING Discerning Eye competition

  • First, congratulations to Kellie Hill (One Painting a Day - small studies by Kellie Marian Hill) whose blog makes it to 1,000 posts on Monday - and we know that because she numbers them  all.  Make sure you visit and tell her well done!
#992 Halved Avocao III by Kellie Hill (9" x 12"
Drawing and sketching
Coloured Pencils and Pastels
  • Two coloured pencil posts about coloured pencils on Making A Mark Reviews this week
    • Your favourite coloured pencil - an update provides an insight into how people are voting this year for their favourite coloured pencils and provides a bit of a surprise for all Prismacolor fans.
    • In UPDATE: Coloured Pencils - Resources for Artists, I've summarised how the changes made to my resources website for coloured pencils has made information about coloured pencil art - and how to create it - more accessible.  PLUS it includes requests for links to information about any product reviews or tutorials you might have written which may be suitable for inclusion.

Painters, Painting and Plein Air

When you start off, you wish you were successful and well known. Then you get to the point where enough people have bought your art to realise that it's going to last longer than you do.
  • One of the artists selected for the ING creates wooden automata - which is something I haven't seen in a long time see Peters Wooden Automata

Art Business and Marketing

Art and the Economy / Art Collectors

The Environment Trust in Richmond upon Thames is having an art auction on 21st October.  It has some well known artists contributing work to benefit the many environmental projects being supported by the Environment Trust.

Art Competitions and Art Societies

Art Exhibitions and art fairs

  • I reckon the big blockbuster London Exhibition this Autumn is going to be the Gauguin: Maker of Myth exhibition at Tate Modern which opens on Thursday.  As always the broadsheets have had an early look see (I'm going on Tuesday!) and....
  • A New York Times article about two places where you can currently see Monet in Paris - In France, Monet Is Rediscovered.  I do wish reviews by newspapers - when read onscreen - would give you the hyperlinks to the exhibition (as this blog does) - but they very often don't.  Here are the links!:
    • Musée d'Orsay: Claude Monet (1840-1926) 22 Sept - 24 Jan 2011 a new exhibition has opened at the Grand Palais while the Musée d'Orsay undergoes works
    • Musee Marmatton - which hasn't given up its iconic piece 'Impression Sunrise' to the exhibition (it's a David and Goliath story!)  A Museum for Monet - an exhibition at the Marmottan Monet Museum exhibition opens 7 October 2010 to 20 February 2011.  I think a day trip to Paris might just be in order.........

Art Education / workshops / Tips and techniques

Art instruction books
Color and Light Graphics from Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter
Art Videos
"Camelhead Backlit" 9x12, oil
featured in
Backpacker Painting: Outdoors with Oil
Art class and workshops
  • I came across the Norfolk Painting School this week and have been very impressed by its content - which relates to teaching people to paint in oils
  • Jeanette Jobson will be teaching a workshop in gyotaku in March 2011 in St. John's, NL. Registration details will be available starting November 2010 on my blog and in the November newsletter.
Tips and techniques

Art History

  • Both the BBC and Channel 4 are providing comprehensive series of programmes this autumn - these are my summaries of what's on offer
    • BBC:  New BBC Art Programmes this autumn has a number of series including one about the history of watercolour painting and travel, the art of Germany, the story of british sculpture and the fig leaf plus what happens when you look at renaissance art with the benefit of digital technology
    • Channel 4:  New Channel 4 art programmes this autumn provides an overview of five topic areas delivered by five different individuals - all of whom like art but none of whom have any formal involvement with the art world.
  • Do your television channels provide programmes which are accessible around the world?

Book reviews

A focus on Illustration this week - here are two posts from Escape from Illustration Island


    • If your business brain thinks it's worth adjusting your palette for what's fashionable in colour terms then you might want to check out the colours identified by fashion insiders as being what we will be seeing in Spring 2011 in the latest PANTONE Fashion Color Report

    Opinion Poll

    • Don't forget to vote on this month's Making A Mark Opinion Poll - Which numerical performance measure matters most to you as an artist? (see right hand column).  This closes just after midnight GMT on Thursday.  The results will be published later the same day
    • The Making A Mark opinion Poll for October will be published on the 1st October

    Websites, webware and blogging

    • James Gurney (Gurney Journey) was recently asked for his seven secrets of blogging - and you can find out what he had to say in How to Blog

    and finally........

    You couldn't make this up! Want to see a giant painted toads (some in pink and orange) selling for between £1,250 to £3,600 per toad?  The BBC has an article about painted toads which have been recently gracing the streets of Hull - see Hull's Larkin toads make £60,000 at charity auction

    PS Sorry this is a bit late this week.  If it's not done by 5pm on Sunday I have problems getting it finished on Sundays!

    Saturday, September 25, 2010

    ING Discerning Eye 2010 - selected artists

    2010 ING Discerning Eye - the selection process
    If you want to see work by the artists selected for the ING Discerning Eye exhibition at the Mall Galleries in November click the links below.
    Sponsored by ING Commercial Banking, this is an exhibition of small works independently selected by six prominent figures from the art world: two artists, two collectors and two critics. 

    This is a list of the selected artists PLUS a link (where I could find one) to what I think is a website which represents their work.  Please do get in touch if I've got any wrong and I'll revise accordingly.

    John Affleck    
    Paul Allen
    Margaret Ashman
    Stephen Avery   
    Debbie Ayles 
    Richard Baker
    Louise Balaam    
    Fay Ballard   
    Andy Barker   
    Jeanette Barnes    
    Mychael Barratt   
    Robert Bates   
    Nicola Bealing   
    Barbara Beaumont   
    Katharine Scarfe Beckett   
    Anne Birtchnell   
    Hannah Biscombe    
    Ilse Black
    Day Bowman 
    Richard Brayshaw  
    Anthony Broad  
    Oona Campbell 
    George Charman 
    Michael Clark  
    Austin Cole
    Graham Crowley
    Sally Cutler 
    E Davis
    Anne Desmet
    Leo Du Feu
    David  Edmond
    Michael Edser
    Hilary Ellis
    Gethin Evans
    Peter  Foster
    Jo Fox
    Atsuko Fujii
    Susan  Fynes
    Stephen Gibbs
    Kate Giles
    David Gladwell
    David Gould 
    Carolyn  Gowdy
    Emily Gregory-Smith
    Nicola  Grellier
    Nigel Grimmer 
    Roxana Halls
    Alex Hanna
    Arabella Harcourt-Cooze 
    Peter Haslam Fox
    Julie Held
    Aude Herail Jager
    Joan Hickson
    Eileen Hogan
    Kaori  Homma
    Marguerite Horner  
    Felicity House 
    Linda Hubbard
    Sally Hunton
    Brian Innes
    Diana Ivers
    Barbara Jackson 
    Poppy James 
    Frederick Jones  
    Mary Jane Jones 
    Jane Kelly 
    Odile Kidd
    Martin Kinnear
    Maggie Kitching  
    Sue Lansbury
    Felix Le Brox
    Peter Lennertz 
    Rachel Levitas
    Rosemary Lewis
    Kathy Little
    Shirley  Lloyd
    Keren Luchtenstein
    Marie Mackay
    Briony Marshall
    Lyndsay Martin
    Brian Massey
    Caroline  McAdam Clark
    Jennifer Merrell
    Pam Meymon
    Michael Middleton
    Christopher Miers 
    Bethany Milam
    Melanie Miller 
    Sophie Molins - has a very different sort of website! 
    Christopher  Moon
    Anthony Murphy 
    Tony Noble 
    Venetia Norris
    Kelly  Parish
    Hildegard Pax
    Penny Payne  
    Heather Pegrum   
    Deborah Pennack
    Beegrant Peterkin
    Julie Pickard
    Elizabeth Picton
    Danny Pockets
    Jenny Pockley
    Yulia Podolska
    Tim Pomeroy
    Caroline Ponsonby  
    Kelly Pretty
    Olha Pryymak 
    Susan Relph
    Sara Lee Roberts
    Alice Robertson
    Ann Roy
    Sharma Roy Jhuma
    Patricia Rozental
    Rose Sanderson
    Philippa Schofield
    Angela Smith
    Art Louis Smith
    M Simon Smith
    Carolyn Smith-Shaw
    Nicki Soroli
    S Spackman
    Fianne Standford
    Charlotte Steel
    Mia Stewart Wilson
    David Stubbs
    Graham Swift
    A Lincoln Taber
    Jacqueline Taber
    Michael J Taylor
    Susan Taylor
    Joy Thompson
    Anabel Tilley
    Inge Tong  
    Delia Tournay-Godfrey
    Will Tuck   
    Stephanie Tuckwell 
    George Underwood
    Sheena Vallely
    Tina Vanderwerf
    Alex Rooney  
    Aude Van Ryn / J.Mariko 
    Marcus West 
    Toby Wiggins 
    Allan Williams
    Susan Angharad Williams (former winner)
    Lee Wright
    Simon Wright
    William Wright
    J Yuen Ling Chiu
    Xiaojun Zhao 

    You can also find the artists listed on the ING Discerning Eye website with the number of artwork selected but no further details as yet.

    Friday, September 24, 2010

    New Channel 4 art programmes this autumn

    Further to New BBC Art Programmes this autumn here's a list of what we can expect from Channel 4.  My jaw is beginning to drop as the television companies get better and better at realising they do need to fulfil their missions to educate and inform - and programmes about art are a jolly good way of doing that.

    Maybe they also noticed how many people visit art museums in the UK - from home and abroad?

    The Genius of British Art
    Instead of a single presenter across all six episodes, we would go for six presenters, each presenting their own individually authored film. This decision was fundamental in terms of setting the content and style of the series. Instead of aspiring to make a comprehensive history of British art, we would set out to present the viewer with six

    Who would we invite to present these films? We decided to avoid the usual suspects: professional art critics. Instead we went for people who we thought had a strong personal stake in the type of art they would explore for us; people who had a passion for art.
    From the 1st October to the 5th November, The National Gallery will be hosting 6 live events to promote Channel 4's 'Genius of British Art' Series.  Each of the presenters will be delivering a talk on their topic (The Genius of British Art - Channel 4 lectures bookable via the National Gallery)

    The programmes are broadcasting on Sunday night at 7pm and the lectures are on the previous Friday at the National Gallery at 6.30pm.  It looks like they'll also be available on 4OD.
    There are six programmes:
    • Power and Personality  (Broadcast: Sunday 3rd October 7pm. Lecture: Friday 1st October, 6.30pm) Historian Dr David Starkey examines how royal portraiture from Henry VIII to Princess Diana has had an enduring influence on the iconic power of personality. 
    • Art for the People  (Broadcast: Sunday 10th October 7pm. Lecture: Friday 8th October, 6.30pm) Cultural commentator Dr Gus Casely-Hayford, whose ancestor arrived as a newly freed slave in 18th-century London, explores William Hogarth’s revolutionary pioneering of art for the people.     
    • Flesh (Broadcast: Sunday 17th October 7pm. Lecture: Friday 15th October, 6.30pm) Novelist Howard Jacobson breaks through the frost of Victorian prudery in search of an eroticism all the more potent for its moral ambiguity. 

    • Visions of England (Broadcast: Sunday 24th October 7pm. Lecture: Friday 22nd October, 6.30pm) Sir Roy Strong shows how the English invented a landscape art which reveals a sometimes shocking and subversive insight into our deepest fears. From Constable and Turner up to David Hockney and Mark Wahlberg in our own time, landscape artists have reflected visions of England on the cusp of great change.  
    • Modern Times  (Broadcast: Sunday 31st October 7pm. Lecture: Friday 29th October, 6.30pm) Janet Street-Porter revisits her own youth to show how from the 1950s onwards, modern art – from the likes of Patrick Heron and Francis Bacon to Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst and Gilbert and George – has been at the forefront of social and cultural changes which define our world today. 
    There's also an article by the maker/Executive Producer of the programmes - about making the programmes

    I had a good look through the documentaries and this is what crops up Art, Design and Literature (54 programmes)

    This indicates that there's an educational series of 28 episodes about Tate Modern and National Gallery for 14-19 year olds "coming soon to 4OD" whic......
    takes an informed view of some the most stunning, vital and celebrated pieces of art to have been created throughout the ages. 

    Tate Modern focuses its gaze on the work of the twentieth century artists whose work still resonates to this very day while the National Gallery puts the work of the masters and pioneers under the microscope in a style that's designed to entertain as much as it educates and informs.
    Plus you can also still watch - on 4OD - Life Class - Today's Nude from last year (which as I recall was responsible for a phenomenal jump in my traffic!)

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    Which is the best book for people wanting to learn to draw?

    In my opinion the two Best Books for people wanting to learn how to draw - by a very long way - are:

    Both books are listed on "The Best Books about Drawing and Sketching" and I already know that BOTH books have lots of fans.  I certainly always recommend BOTH of them to anybody who asks which book I think is the best (and you can find links to my book reviews on the lens)

    However Which is the best book for people wanting to learn to draw?  Click this link to get to the new "duel" module which I've introduced on my drawing books site - so you can now tell me whether you're a huge fan of Bert's book or a complete devotee of Betty's!  Choose your side and leave your comment!

    I'm sure that your comments will be invaluable for those coming to the books for the first time.  I know I loved hearing about your views when we looked at favourite drawing books 3 years ago when I ran a project reviewing drawing books


    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    Favourite Coloured Pencil Brand - 2010 Poll Update

    Your favourite coloured pencil - an update over on Making A Mark Reviews...... provides a perspective on the popularity of different coloured pencils from the perspective of the 551 people who have voted on the Making A Mark 2010 POLL: Which is the best brand of artist grade coloured pencil? on Coloured Pencils - Resources for Artist since the beginning of January.

    The disaggregation of manufacturer brands into pencil brands has been interesting and may surprise some artists.  Prismacolor Pencils are NOT the top brand of pencils in 2010.

    The post provides some suggested reasons for the differences between the earlier poll (see Two new coloured pencil opinion polls for 2010 ) and this year's.

    But what do you think?  Read the analysis first (relating to technical sampling issues, marketing, and pricing) and then tell me if you think there's another reason behind the changes.

    Below are the two charts from the first poll and the 2010 poll.
    OPINION POLL 2007-2009: Results as at 31st December 2009

    2010 POLL: Which is the best brand of artist grade coloured pencil?

    Monday, September 20, 2010

    New BBC Art Programmes this autumn

    This is a round-up of what it appears we can expect in the way of programmes about art on BBC television (BBC1, BBC2 and BBC4) this autumn. 

    Those of you can access BBC iPlayer will also hopefully be able to see programmes too - if they're marked up as eligible for iPlayer (and not all are).  Commiserations to those who cannot access the programmes as yet!

    I wonder when the BBC is going to learn that some people would like to be able to download and pay for its art programmes without waiting to see if BBC America or other local TV stations decide to  transmit them?

    There is one caveat.  I get different results to "what art programmes are coming?" depending on how I access the information - and NONE of them actually provide transmission dates!  Does the BBC have a schedule or not one wonders!

    BBC One 

    It's so nice to see British watercolours at last getting an airing on television.  Looks like we're in for a bit of a "Grand Tour"
    A celebration of the rich yet largely untold story of British watercolour. Focusing especially on the work of amateur travelling painters of the 19th Century, Sheila Hancock will look closely at the technique of watercolour painting and the unique strengths of a portable medium as a means of record in the days before photography.

    She will travel through the Lake District and other parts of the UK, and through France and Italy to revel in the beauty of Venice and the Tuscany. Sheila will also concentrate on the paintings of famous artists such as Turner and Constable, whose watercolour works are often overlooked.

    This programme will be a celebration of an art form at which amateurs excelled but in which leading artists, who boasted of their prowess in oils, often made their most personal and intimate works – thousands of which, to this day, remain hidden in gallery drawers for Sheila Hancock to unearth.
    Interestingly, John Thaw and Sheila Hancock knew and stayed with the lady I first stayed with on a painting holiday.  I'm just wondering whether it has any connection....

    BBC Two

    Now according to the BBC Two schedules for Arts and Music none of this is actually happening!

    Impressionism (working title)  I have a feeling this one is not yet "ready to rumble"

    This is a reappraisal of impressionism and all the artists who contributed to the movement by Waldemar Januszczak
    Impressionism was a conglomeration of different ambitions and styles. The main players of Impressionism – Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Degas, Seurat – were crucially important, but there were 31 artists in the first Impressionism exhibition, 90 per cent of whom subsequently slipped out of sight.

    Even critical Impressionists, such as Caillebotte and Guillaumin, who were such prominent exhibitors in the movement, are little understood or appreciated these days. Waldemar will seek to shine a light on these "forgotten" artists. He will also explore the fierce revolutionary relationship that the movement had with science including experiments and examinations of optics, paints and techniques relevant to the time and the artists.

    Matthew Collings is leading on this project.  I've begun to notice that exhibitions are beginning to focus on how digital technology can help explain art and it's no surprise that television documentaries would find this connection to be a very suitable topic for a television programme.
    Spanning 50 years of Renaissance genius, from the early Renaissance of the 15th Century through to the High Renaissance of the early 16th Century, the episodes look at the artists Piero della Francesca, Raphael and Hieronymus Bosch. 

    Using digital technology, the series gives a general audience access to the intricacies of technique and delicate details that are normally only seen by conservation experts or the artists themselves. The technique, known as "image mapping", involves knitting together very high resolution images of small areas of the painting so that the camera can move from a wide-shot of the whole painting to close-ups of tiny details which are not visible to the naked eye. 

    These close-ups reveal delicate details of technique and in some cases startling details of imagery which are not even apparent when viewing the paintings in a gallery.

    BBC Four

    Andrew Graham Dixon doing for Germany what he did last year for SpainThis series is part of BBC Four's Germany season
    The Art Of Germany takes an in-depth look at the cultural centres of a 500-year-old legacy that rivalled Italy for artistic brilliance during the Renaissance.

    Via the great themes of Germanic art, landscape, folk lore and national identity, it explores some of the greatest artists of all time – Durer, Holbein, Caspar David Friedrich, Otto Dix, Joseph Beuys and Gerhard Richter – who carved out a unique national style that still endures today.

    James Fox tells the remarkable story of Cornwall's unique contribution to British art.
    For a period in the 20th century, Cornwall was the home of the avant garde, eclipsing London, Paris and New York, as a group of super-talented individuals sought refuge and inspiration in the West Country.

    From painter Kit Wood, who brought the surrealist influences of Twenties Paris, to Barbara Hepworth's Modernist sculptures, James traces Cornwall's evolution to the hub of a new international art movement, and explores its sudden fall after the mid-Sixties.

    The Art Of Cornwall also covers the work of artists Peter Lanyon, Patrick Heron, Terry Frost and sculptor Naum Gabo.

    It appears that the title and content are not quite in synch as it seems that this series is less about the Portrait OF the artist so much as Self Portrait BY the artist.  However I'm looking forward to this one - they've picked four artists who produced memorable self-portraits and the scope sounds very interesting.
    In Portrait Of The Artist, art critic Laura Cumming tracks the evolution of the self-portrait across nearly six centuries, taking in work by Dürer, Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Warhol. Along the way she explores the real lives behind great self-portraits and how their mirror gaze has, in turn, changed the way we look at ourselves.

    Laura explores the work of leading artists whose self-portraits not only defined the genre but helped change how artists saw themselves and their role in the world.

    She also investigates the variety of inspiration behind self-portraiture, discovering paintings that have been created to proclaim an artist's genius, to communicate with family after they've died, and to exorcise evil spirits.

    I think this is the programme which connects the portrait (above) to sculpture (below)!

    Witty, eclectic and deeply insightful, this single film is a journey through the most enduring subject for world sculpture, a journey that carves a path through politics and religion, the ancient and the modern.  Actor David Thewlis has his head sculpted by three different sculptors, while the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, artist Maggi Hambling and art critic Rachel Johnston discuss art's most enduring preoccupation, ourselves.

    I think sculpture is becoming more and more popular with the British public as wer beginning to see more and more of it in our everyday surroundings - such as on the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square or Gormley's Angel of the North next to the motorway - and it stopped being associated with boring commemorations of illustious people.

    In The Story of British Sculpture, Alastair Sooke reveals three golden ages of British sculpture.....

    Alastair explores the true stories behind the creation of some of Britain's most iconic artworks, including the monuments of Westminster Abbey, Nelson's Column, the statue known as Eros in Piccadilly Circus and the Angel of the North.

    The Story Of British Sculpture explores the work of sculptors past and present, including some of Britain's greatest artists such as Alfred Gilbert, Jacob Epstein and Barbara Hepworth, who have inspired great modern sculptors like Anthony Caro, Damien Hirst and Anthony Gormley, who Sooke interviews in the course of this series.

    This one sounds as if it could be mildly amusing as well as interesting.  It remind me of the Pete and Dud's "Dagenham Dialogues"  about nudity in art and how a slip of cunningly placed gauze always seemed to arrive in a certain place.
    Stephen reveals how the work of Michelangelo fuelled the infamous "Fig Leaf Campaign" – the greatest cover-up in art history; how Bernini turned censorship into a new form of erotica by replacing the fig leaf with the slipping gauze; and how the ingenious machinations of Rodin brought nudity back into the public eye.

    In telling this story, Stephen turns many of our deepest prejudices upside down, showing how the Victorians had a far more sophisticated and mature attitude to sexuality than we do today.
    In summary:
    • I love the scope
    • I like the presenters who are good at making art accessible while not down-shifting in intellectual terms 
    • I'm puzzled as to whether all will definitely make it to our screens this autumn (or winter) AND
    • I NOW NEED TO KNOW THE DATES for transmission to make sure I don't miss them!
    Do please comment below - or if you wish to, comment on the BBC blog - New programmes on BBC Four this autumn

        Sunday, September 19, 2010

        19th September 2010 - Who's made a mark this week?

        Oil Baron by Martin Roberts
        (who I met at the Threadneedle Debate about Arts Funding
        of which more next week)
        I find September in the UK is always a month when a lot if happening in the Art world.  Major new exhibitions open, major events take place and major competitions are making significant announcements.  This last week has been very busy!

        The Liverpool Biennial

        The Liverpool Biennial (or Biennale is you're going to be European about it!) started yesterday in Liverpool and runs from 18th September to 28th November.  It's the UK's leading festival of Contemporary Visual Art.    
        The big question this year is going to be whether this will be the last time we see the Biennial in its current form given the fact that public funding cutrs loom large on the horizon and one of its funding sponsors has already been axed.
        For ten weeks every two years the city of Liverpool is transformed into the most amazing living gallery of new art, showcasing the best contemporary artists from around the world.
        Works by almost 900 artists from around the world are going on show as part of the UK's largest contemporary arts festival, the Liverpool Biennial.
        The event attracted 975,000 visitors the last time it was staged, in 2008.
        BBC News - Cultures clash at Liverpool Biennial of art
        Major UK Art Competitions and Prizes

        The John Moores Contemporary Painting Prize is also based in Liverpool - with the exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery - and is always associated with the Biennial.  On Thursday night - just before the Festival started we heard the announcement that Keith Coventry (won the) £25,000 John Moores Painting Prize 2010

        Building the Riverside Museum by Patricia Cain

        Which was 24 hours after Wednesday night here in London when I heard who had won the Threadneedle Prize for contemporary figurative art.  Now if I'd got digitally enhanced I could have written my blog post while sat at the dinner table listening to the speeches - but instead I took photos - including one of the winner who you can see and read about in Patricia Cain wins £25,000 Threadneedle Prize 2010.  She's a very nice lady and it was really good to see a pastel drawing win a major prize!

        Jonathan Jones on the Guardian was rather less complimentary about the Threadneedle competition and figurative art - which I'd be a tad more persuaded about if he didn't keep trailing the artist (Michaelangelo) he's just written a book about because it increases the chances I'll think he's writing advertising copy rather than critical commentary!

        Meanwhile this is My Threadneedle Prize shortlist - right artist - wrong pastel drawing!

        Art Blogs

        Audio Interviews with/about artists
        • This is a post about an audio interview with Kurt Jackson about his new exhibition - words and pics are definitely worth listening to and looking at - see Kurt Jackson and the River Dart
        • You can also listen to Lisa Jardine's A Point of View The Sistine tapestries about the four huge tapestries from the Sistine Chapel which the Vatican have lent to the Victoria and Albert Museum to mark the visit of Pope Benedict XVI.  The V&A is the home of Raphael's huge Cartoon (preparatory drawings for the tapestries). The tapestries were not seen alongside the cartoons by Raphael in his lifetime as they were not completed until after his death
        The reuniting of Raphael's Sistine Chapel tapestries and their original designs is little short of a miracle
        Raphael: Cartoons and Tapestries for the Sistine Chapel, at V&A, Seven magazine review

        Drawing and sketching
        There's a new drawing blog Line by Line - on the New York Times of all places.  Thanks to Rose Welty for the tip-off. 
        •  This is how it describes itself (below).  I've added it to the drawing blogroll and will be keeping an eye on it to see how it does.  Quite a lot of these type of blogs start well and then peter out....however this one has a limited life of 12 weeks.  I wonder how much he will post in that time?
        LINE BY LINE:  A series on learning the basics of drawing, presented by the artist and author James McMullan. Line By Line begins with installments on line, perspective, proportion and structure, and continues from there, using examples from art history to illuminate specific issues. Pencil and paper recommended.
        Coloured Pencils and Pastels
        I've got the 'official posts from UKCPS News about the 9th Annual Open International Exhibition below.  Here are the artists who've been blogging about their pictures being in the exhibition!

        Art and the Economy / Art Collectors

        Art Competitions

        It's fascinating to see that we now have Visitors Choice awards for paintings chosen by people on Twitter and Facebook!  So here's the update for the BP Portrait Awards

        Art Exhibitions

        New exhibitions, viewing today......
        Sixteen examples of the fantastic composite heads painted by Giuseppe Arcimboldo will be featured in this exhibition, their first appearance in the United States. Bizarre yet scientifically accurate, the unusual heads are composed of plants, animals, and objects. 
        Opening next week.......
        • Angus McEwan ARWS RSW - his new work "Resonance" opens at the Open Eye Gallery, 34 Abercromby Place Edinburgh EH3 6QE on Thursday the 23rd of September 2010 and continues until to 12th October 2010. Click the link to see works in this show about Cuba
        • Hilary Paynter - an exhibition of Wood Engravings at the Bankside Gallery 22 September - 3rd October.  She has a very weird website but it's worth the effort.

        Art History, Galleries and Museums

        Art Society Exhibitions

        Loire Valley Harvest by Janie Pirie
        These are the posts relating to the the 9th Annual Open International Exhibition held by the United Kingdom Coloured Pencil Society at the Stamford Arts Centre
        The ‘THE NATURAL EYE’ - The 47th Annual Exhibition of the  Society of Wildlife Artists opens at the Mall Galleries on 22 September and runs to 2 October 2010

          Art Education / workshops / Tips and techniques

          Art instruction books
          Art class / workshops
          Art Demonstrations
          Art Videos

          Art Studios

          Art Supplies

          Billie also alerted me to Daniel Smith's Watercolor 66 Try-It Color Sheet which I wrote about on my Making A Mark reviews blog - and then daniel Smith sent some suggested videos they'd loaded on to YouTube about to use the sheet (and the post is now updated with those links)


          Websites, webware and blogging

          Using Color to Increase Participation

          and finally........

          This was amusing - Revealed: the colour of the social web is the colour of Twitter.  What grey, blue and pink say about you on Twitter.  Maybe avoid the pink? ;)