Thursday, April 30, 2009

descent and attribution

Thirteen paintings attributed to Adolf Hitler,  their authenticity certified by an Austrian expert, were put on sale at auction in the UK last week; an article about the auction may be viewed here.  The German state of Bavaria seized all of Hitler's property after the fall of the Third Reich in 1945, and the state of Bavaria owns the rights to his estate, irrespective of the wishes expressed in his  private will. 

casting doubt

When a suitcase containing old rolls of film arrived at the International Center of Photography  last year, one of the conservators smelled the rolls,  dreading to detect an acrid odor indicating nitrite decay. What was ultimately revealed was a cache of photos of the Spanish American War,  including some from war photographer Robert Capa.  The negatives did not provide the answer to the question which followed Capa throughout his career: whether he staged his most famous image "The Falling Soldier," an image which purports to show a Spanish militiaman falling back at what would appear to be the instant a bullet takes his life. 

An article about the 'Mexican suitcase,' and the artists whose work it contained, may be viewed here

plus ça change

In 2007, Sarkozy announced a comprehensive development project for greater Paris; the consultation process was launched in June 2008, and brings together the professional expertise of 10 international architecture and urban planning concerns.  There are 2 components to the consultation:  (1) the 21st century post-Kyoto Protocol metropolis, and (2) the present and future analysis of the Paris agglomeration. An article from Architecture Lab may be found here

Results are on display during a period of public debate, from April 29, 2009 continuing through November 22, 2009, at Musee de la Cite, Paris, France.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

look don't touch

A London artist poured 90,000 litres of highly toxic copper sulfate into a condemned building in South London, for this exhibit which has been shortlisted for the Turner Prize. The liquid cooled after 4 weeks to form a shimmering mass of sharp edged crystals, beautiful but deadly. The exhibit was viewed last fall in a condemned building in Elephant and Castle by visitors wearing boots and gloves.  A slideshow may be found here.

The Turner Prize exhibition at Tate Britain, October 6, 2009 through January 16, 2010. 

ultimate fight club

The OIC has demanded the removal of an online video game depicting religious leaders, as 'incendiary in its content.' Players can fight each other with cartoon images of Jesus, Muhammed, Buddha, God and Ganesh.  The Italy-based game developer responded by saying that the game has been around for a year, and no religious organization had previously complained. The group previously released Super Columbine, Virtual Jihadi and Operation: Pedopriest.

An article with a link may be found here

nip tuck

The human body is their medium, the operating room is their atelier. Their tools are clamps, scalpels, and sutures.  Anatomical art is not new of course; many ancient and non-Western cultures practice scarring, binding, piercing and stretching. 

I Am Art: An Expression of the Visual and Artistic Process of Plastic Surgery through May 9 at Apexart, TriBeCa.

fiddle dee dee

In the State Department of Agriculture building in Atlanta, hangs a 4'x7' mural depicting slaves picking and ginning cotton as an overseer weighs the bags.  The slavery mural is one of 8 paintings commissioned in 1956 to create a visual timeline of agriculture in Georgia.  More from the Atlanta Journal Constitution, here

no idea

Despite a threat from Islamists, 2 Pakistani brothers operating from an unmarked house in Karachi, earn more that $1million  per year, stealthily manufacturing and exporting fetish- and bondage- wear to the West. Veiled and uneducated female laborers who assemble the handmade goods are reported to have no idea what they are used for. When a curious employee inquired about the purpose of the sleep sack, she was told it was a body bag for the American military in Iraq.

An article which appeared in the New York Times may be found here

Monday, April 27, 2009

real deal?

The Italian state spent 3.3M Euro (USD 4.2M) late last year to purchase a linden wood crucifix attributed to Michelangelo,  from an antique dealer in Turin.  Prosecutors for Italy's National Audit office are now looking into the purchase to determine whether the state overpaid, and Renaissance art experts will be asked whether the work should be attributed to Michelangelo; the New York Times article may be found here

Update June 6: An official inquiry has been started in Italy to determine whether a statue attributed to Michelangelo was actually the work of the master. 

no Che

This image could be banned in Poland under a government proposal to outlaw materials which incite fascism and totalitarian systems. The proposed changes, which are in the committee stage in the Polish Parliament, would additionally have the effect of banning the symbols of communism, as well as trade in materials bearing Nazi emblems.  Apparently markets in western Poland have profited from German neo-fascists buying third Reich memorabilia verbotten under Germany's stricter regulations.

Violators would earn a 2 year incarceration. A thoughtful article is found here


Ad censors have branded this anti-domestic violence public service announcement as too shocking for tv, and are requiring that key scenes be cut before it may be broadcast.  Charities working to combat domestic violence argue that the censors are shielding the public from the reality of domestic violence;  an article may be found here

does this dress make me look

This poster has been banned on the grounds the combination of image and text suggest that the product could increase confidence. Three complaints received by the advertising standards authority said the poster implied that if the man pictured had confidence, he would either make negative comments about the woman, or try to take advantage of her; the ASA said it would most likely be understood by consumers that the beer would give the man confidence to tell the woman that the dress was unflattering.  The ad agency's marketing director expressed surprise at the ban. The article may be found here

memento mori

The claim in this ad for pomegranate juice has been banned by UK watchdogs as misleading, though no intent to mislead was found. The producer offered the 'no one would take it seriously' defense. While consumers are unlikely to believe the juice could make them immortal, some might believe that it would contribute to a longer life; the claim for longer life was not substantiated,  so the ad must not appear in its current form again.  A full article may be viewed here

second chances

A substantially-completed mural has been rejected by a local community in the Auckland area of New Zealand, and the artist's compensation withheld. With local municipal and community funding, and after discussions with sponsor of the project, one of the country's better known Pacific artists had almost completed a 25 meter mural, when he was advised that the community did not appreciate or understand the work, and was requested to produce a more acceptable work-- all as discussed in an article which may be found here

positively inspiring

Art experts have noted a similarity between the figures in Picasso's mural Guernica, and the images in a Mozarabic Bible from the 10th Century which is housed in the Cathedral in Leon, Spain.  The Bible was exhibited in Barcelona in 1929 and Paris in 1937, at times when Picasso could have been exposed to the expressionist drawings in the medieval text.  An article suggesting similarities may be found here

happy anniversary Guernica

On April 27, 1937, the German Luftwaffe obliterated a Basque village in northern Spain, the world's first mass aerial bombardment of a civilian population;  1,600 people died in the attack. Picasso, asked to create a work decrying the event, produced a mural that would become one of his most famous works; the original hangs in the Reina Sofia, Madrid. A large tapestry reproduction of the piece was donated to the United Nations in 1985, where it was displayed outside the entrance of the security council.  On January 27, 2003 the UN tapestry was covered with a large blue curtain, described by the UN press secretary as an 'appropriate background' for cameras covering an impending press conference. The press conference advocating the bombing of Iraq was then held. 

An article about some of the images may be found here

Sunday, April 26, 2009

come away

When an Italian prime minister stated on national television that he would marry showgirl-turned-lawyer Mara Carfagna in a heartbeat, if he were not already married, his wife demanded a public apology; he complied in a letter published in the local media. Carfagna was subsequently appointed the prime minister's Equal Opportunities Minister; she has also been voted the world's hottest politician, here. These images, made from actual photographs on painted bodies of neoclassical inspiration, are currently on view at the Art & Savonnerie, in Savona, Italy.  The artist has stated his intention was to pay homage to the Prime Minister; an article on all this and more, may be viewed here

buzz kill

A woman observed on a bridge in Sweden, appearing disoriented and in danger of harming herself was escorted by law enforcement to a psychiatric clinic, where she swore and spat at staff,  and was finally restrained and sedated. The woman subsequently revealed that the events were pure theatre, part of a graduation project at a local college of art, craft and design.  A psychiatrist at the clinic called her actions stupid and part of a modern paradigm stating that art needs to have a message; the art student's academic advisor was also criticized.  An article with details may be viewed here.


Artist's quote:  'I want to communicate without my work needing a paragraph on the wall next to it.'  Well, alright.

buried treasure

On exhibit in London,  2 hoards of medieval jewelry, coins, and silverware unearthed in Colmar France in 1863, and Erfurt Germany in 1990.  Both hoards were buried at the time of the Black Death in the mid-14th Century, most probably by Jewish families who were being expelled or murdered;  Jews were blamed for the spread of the disease. After the exhibit closes, the items from Erfurt will be placed on permanent display at the former synagogue in Erfurt.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

again with the cross and the crown

Previously, this artist has not produced art with political subjects. This 30" x 54" acrylic on canvas will be on exhibit Wednesday, April 29, for 12 hours--7 to 7--on the South Plaza of Union Square Park, New York, New York; its title is "The Truth."  An article including glosses from the artist may be viewed here

Update: April 29: The artist cancelled the unveiling, due, if he is to be believed,  to negative public commentary received in the first 48 hours of the image being released to the media last Friday.

a bad apple

This iPhone app has been removed from the App Store in response to concerns voiced by child welfare groups.  An article summarizing the controversy may be viewed here.

genre bender

Last week, 2 in a series of 4 gay historical romance novels were released by a Pennsylvania-based publishing company, the first ever released by a major publisher. The 2 were quickly ranked in the top 100 of Amazon's best-sellers in 'romance' and ranked 1 and 2 in the genre of 'gay romance.' The series reportedly is being marketed at heterosexual-female audiences.

An article about the genre, and the Amazon cataloguing error which caused deranking of many gay and lesbian subjects earlier this month, may be viewed here.

in the city of no lights

A poster advertising the new movie Coco avant Chanel, has been removed from Paris trains and busses, a decision questioned even by a lawmaker involved in drafting the anti-smoking legislation in the city, who was quoted as saying that the ban should not extend to cultural heritage, in an article found here.

Paris' ban on smoking in public took effect earlier this year; the film opened in France this week. A poster showing the lead actors in an embrace was substituted.

Update May 26: The poster will be permitted in the Metrobus area, subject to conditions, per an Artforum article which may be found here.


Archaeologists working in the area which is now called eastern Pakistan have unearthed materials bearing unusual symbols, believed to belong to the Indus, an isolate community dating back 4500 years; more than 500 Indus symbols have been identified. There is scholarly debate as to whether this is a language or pictograms; an article distinguishing the 2 may be viewed here. The found images include fish, rings, men and cowheads.

pentagon paper

The US Pentagon will release hundreds of photographs showing the alleged abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan during George W. Bush's time in office.  The release of paper is in response to a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by the ACLU 5 years ago.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

princely sums

Known for his collage and re-photography works--photographing existing photos and selling them as his own--a group of this artist's work is at the center of a dispute with a collector; the collector says the value of the works fell deeply after being consigned to an auction house for a private sale that was never held.  The artist also faces a copyright infringement lawsuit from a French photographer.  There is an article exploring the relationship of the artist with hedge fund manager/collectors here;  while an article about the subject of the suit in the Southern District of New York,  Cariou v. Prince et al, may viewed here.

it's the hypocrisy stupid

Expected to engender discussion at TriBeCa this week,  a new documentary takes on the subject of closeted politicians who promote anti-gay legislation;  an article may be found here.  The producers are releasing the film in theaters immediately following,  on May 8, perhaps to capitalize on the expected publicity from its debut at the film festival. 


As of now, realtively few street artists have made their way into mainstream venues, however this graffitero exhibited at the Tate Modern; a Wall Street Journal article including an interview with the artist may be viewed here.  

His new exhibition is at the A.L.I.C.E. Gallery in Brussels, through May 23.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Before production even began, the Japanese director was aware this film would face legal issues including strict censorship in Japan.  His solution was for this erotic-odyssey film to be co-produced in a country with more lenient laws;  all the processing and post-production were done in France.  On its release in 1976, it was banned outright in many countries due to non-simulated sex scenes; and today there are still many versions, depending on the country and code of censorship.

Restored on Blu-ray this month, as described in detail here; still censored in Japan and still unrated. 

rights managed

The lead fundraiser to build a monument to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the National Mall in Washington DC has paid Dr. King's family for the use of his words and his image in fundraising materials,  though there has been no charge for use of his likeness in the monument itself, all as more fully laid out in an article which may be found here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

big giant head

England's latest public art project topped off this week, to be unveiled next month; the Spanish artist based his design on the head of a young girl. Pre-cast in sections of white marble and concrete mix, the Dream stands almost 65 feet tall, situated on top of a slag heap from a long-closed mine.  The piece is part of the Big Art Project, which aims to create new works of public art, commissioned by communities, and to encourage debate on the importance of art in the built environment.  An article discussing the public reaction to the sculpture and its cost to taxpayers, may be viewed here. Former miners proposed the idea and the local council arranged funding at a cost of 2M British pounds (approximately 4M USD.)


A Spanish artist caused some controversy when this work was first unveiled at Madrid's ARCO art fair earlier this Spring,  before it quickly sold to a Florida collector for the US equivalent of $41,000.  The artist, who counts himself as a fan, stated: "It is a joke but it is also paradoxical that if he did kill himself his work would be worth even more. That is a metaphor for the current state of the art world." The artist's website may be found here.

A private museum in the Ukrainian capital of Kieve,  owned by a wealthy collector of Hirst's work, opens the largest exhibit of Hirst's work ever this week:  'Requiem' at the Pinchuk Art Center, through September 20. 

Monday, April 20, 2009


The first version of Death on a Pale Horse was part of a commission from King George III for 36 pieces to be installed in a planned "chapel of Revealed Religion" which was never built;  the subject of this drawing comes from the Chapter 6 Verse 8, Book of Revelations, the last book of the Bible. The drawing was completed in 1783, however the  King later rejected it as a Bedlamite scene. The artist pursued the composition independently, finally producing his monumental (14'10" x 25'2") oil on canvas in 1817. King George III died blind, deaf and mad, at Windsor Castle January 29, 1820.

The piece is on display at the Royal Academy in London, through May 24.

Sts. Gilbert & George

An exhibit from the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam this Spring, featured, Mondriaan, Malevich, Chagall, Rothko, Bacon, Gilbert & George, and Marlene Dumas. The venue was a converted 15th century gothic church space,  De Nieuwe Kerk; the collection was installed in a specially designed temporary structure in the form of a white cross.

Details about the artist may be viewed here

arresting development

The Democratic Party of Japan is now proposing an amendment to the sweeping anti-loli law of last year, the effect of which would be to overlook 'possession' of material featuring images of underage participants, while making harsher criminal consequence for its commercial production, sale, and distribution, citing the potential for abuse of search powers by the state. Last year, Japan's Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications speaking in favor of harsher laws, was quoted: "It must all be banned. Compared to the benefits of freedom of expression, preventing human rights violations caused by underage porn is far more important--who cares if freedom of expression is massively curtailed."  This same minister, a former Justice Minister, has been a vocal advocate for the revision of Japan's Constitution, on the basis that it is an 'American imposition.' Urban Dictionary's take on lolicon may be found here; while information about the 1946 birth of Japan's Constitution may be found here.  

Sunday, April 19, 2009


The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center opens in Skokie, Illinois today. There is a children's exhibition space which, according to a Chicago Sun-Times article which may be found here, censors violence, while conveying lessons, such as speaking out against oppression. Thirty-two years ago this summer, Illinois Nazi's of the National Socialist Party of America applied for a permit to march in Skokie, a community which is home to many families of survivors of the Holocaust, in a case with both freedom of assembly and freedom of expression issues, National Socialist Party v. Village of Skokie, 432 U.S. 43 (1977).  The Museum website may be found here

Saturday, April 18, 2009

slum dogs

The creative team behind a film which has grossed over $300M and won 8 Oscars in February, will make a donation to an international charity focusing on children's development in India, following innuendo of exploitation of the child actors in the film. In a news release, the director and producer stated that (British currency equivalent of) $745,000 had been pledged to a five year program intended to improve the lives of children in Mumbai, where the movie takes place.  In February, it was revealed that 2 of the child stars were still living in makeshift shacks on the outskirts of Mumbai;  the children have since been re-housed by Indian authorities, as reported here

public speaking

In Olympia Washinton state, the city manager has recommended what has been called a 'do-over;' that is, not going forward with a $180,000 proposal for a bronze sculpture on the outside of a yet-to-be built new city hall building.  The winning submission was the result of a selection process which was followed; however there was negative public outcry after the selection was announced. The city council has yet to make a final decision. 

The artist was quoted, in an article which may be viewed here,  as saying that the sculpture was meant to represent the voices of the people. 

Updated, April 22:  The city council voted to cancel the installation, due to public complaints about the design.

Friday, April 17, 2009

no puffing

A legend of French comedy has been deprived of a trademark prop, over censors' concerns that it would abridge French tobacco advertising laws, if shown on buses and metro platforms, where 'direct and indirect' alcohol and smoking advertising is banned.  An international Reuters article may be viewed here.  An online magazine published a copy of the unaltered image, which may be viewed here

Update May 26:  The poster will be permitted in the Metrobus area, subject to conditions, per an Artforum article which may be found here

tex mex

Burger King announced this week that it would revise ads for its 'texican' whopper fast-food sandwich in England and Spain, after Mexico's ambassador called the ads offensive, and damaging to his country's image and its flag; an article may be found here

The revised campaign, without characters or flag images, will be on air 'as soon as commercially possible.'  


A British artist created a wax and human hair sculpture; the sculpture was sold to a collector, who then loaned it to the Roman Catholic Diocese in the south of France, for display in its cathedral throughout holy week;  the decision to display was made by the Bishop of the Diocese, who reportedly defended his decision as meaning to provoke shock. Locals reacted by staging protests against the artist and the church, with accusations of 'sacrilege';  an article providing some detail may be viewed here.   

The artist is said to be working on large-scale pieces, including a statue depicting Lucifer draped in telephone cables.  He calls the subject work, Pieta, though it is not in the classical tradition of Pieta; a thoughtful article about the Pieta motif may be found here

trophy conservation

An artist in Washington state paints on elephant ears, roughly 5 feet tall and 3.5 feet wide, and stretched and mounted over marine plywood,  which hunters bring back from Africa, as described in an article here. She requires the commissioning hunters to provide her with a copy of the permit issued in Africa, showing that they were authorized to hunt the animal.  There is a line between conservation hunting and trophy hunting,  and the line is not always an agreed-upon one.  

Thursday, April 16, 2009

trillions and trillions

Some hold Robert Mugabe's regime responsible for hyper-inflation, which in turn is credited with causing near-total economic meltdown in Zimbabwe. The regime is also widely understood to have carried out both beatings and banishments of journalists.  Then recently, the regime has imposed a duty of 55% on newspapers, rendering information unaffordable for the average person. 'The Zimbabwean', which has the tagline "a Voice for the Voiceless," has launched an ad campaign utilizing actual currency, to raise awareness and increase readership.

The country's economic breakdown is near complete and its now life-threatening implications include lawlessness and economic unaffordability of health care presaging an epidemic humanitarian and healthcare crisis, viewed here.  

killer ads

The Chinese media, as well as some of the country's bloggers, perceived insult over the use in German condom ads of an image of a dead revolutionary leader. A caricature of the leader, a former Chairman of the Communist Party, joins images of Hitler and Osama bin Laden, in the trade dress of the prophylactics. The ads bear no text; an adweek editor called the messages 'self-evident.' The advertising agency has reportedly sent a letter of apology to the Chinese consulate in Frankfurt.   An article containing further detail may be viewed here

Last month, Hitler and Mao and Stalin were used in a Greek ad for radio.

well then, unhang them

An unprecedented exhibit in North Viet Nam, to consist solely of nude paintings, had been approved by a local province, when the overarching Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism subsequently denied the grant of a license.  The artist, who had hung the works at the exhibition space, in  reliance on the province's approval,  was required to take them down,  as reported on Art.Info,  here.  The reason given by the Department in witholding the grant of a license: that some <emphasis supplied> of the paintings do not meet artistic standards and are inappropriate to Vietnamese habits and customs.

In 2007, communist authorities granted a photographer of the human form permission for an exhibit, though it never took place due to impossibility of locating a venue.