Archive for the Culture Category

Bloody Hell! Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty “bloody painting” sells for £35,000

Posted in Culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 15, 2012 by Robin Gosnall

A painting smeared with the blood of Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty has sold for £35,000. Their bloody collaboration, Ladylike, was purchased for less than half the amount it was hoped to reach at auction.

Ladylike was one of twenty bloody paintings on display in an exhibition of Doherty’s work at The Cob Gallery, Camden, London NW1. The sanguine sketch of Winehouse, described as a bloody self-portrait, was expected to sell for between £50,000 and £80,000. Auctioned by a private seller, it was listed alongside several other bloody paintings, as well as Doherty’s bloody guitars, clothes and diaries.

“Amy was on the phone to her dad when she did that,” Doherty told the Independent. “She said, ‘Dad, I’m with Pete and he’s making me draw with my blood!’ He didn’t like me much, her dad.”

Doherty takes great pride in his artworks’ “arterial splatter”, for which he cuts his bloody finger or fills a syringe with his own blood. “It plays the starring role in my work … sweat and tears are often waiting in the wings.”

An undisclosed percentage of the sale price for Ladylike will be donated to the bloody Amy Winehouse Foundation.


1912 No. 1: Oskar Kokoschka writes to Alma Mahler

Posted in 1912, Culture with tags , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2012 by Robin Gosnall

In 1912, the artist Kokoschka embarked on a passionate three-year affair with Alma Mahler, widow of composer Gustav Mahler, and wrote her many letters. The recipient asked for her own letters back and destroyed them; we now see this tragic love affair only through the eyes of the disappointed artist who must have expected and demanded more than she was able to give.

Here’s how it started:

Vienna, 15.iv.1912

My dear friend,

Please believe this resolution, as I believed you.

I know I am lost if I continue in my present unclear way of life, I know it is the way to lose my gifts, which I ought to direct towards a goal outside myself, the goal sacred to you and to me.

If you can respect me, and are willing to be as pure as you were yesterday, when I recognized you as higher and better than all other women, who only made a savage of me, then make a real sacrifice for my sake and become my wife, in secret, for so long as I am poor. When I no longer have to conceal myself, I shall thank you for being my consolation. You shall keep your joyousness and purity for me as a source of strength, so that I do not fall into the savagery that threatens me. You shall preserve me until I can be the man who raises you up instead of dragging you down. Since yesterday, when you asked me to be that man, I have believed in you as I have never believed in anyone except myself.

If you will be the woman who gives me strength, and will thus help me out of my spiritual confusion, the beauty we honour, which is beyond our understanding, will bless us both with happiness. Write and tell me that I may come to you, and I will take it for your consent.

I remain in reverence, yours,

Oskar Kokoschka

Damien Hirst’s Shark Download

Posted in Culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2012 by Robin Gosnall

As Tate Modern prepares for its Damien Hirst retrospective, for one week the Observer is offering the chance to download exhibition posters featuring the artist’s best-known works – including his notorious shark suspended in formaldehyde, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991).

Damien Hirst: ‘I still believe art is more powerful than money’

Damien Hirst is at Tate Modern from 4 April until 9 September 2012

Meeting Tracey Emin

Posted in Culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2012 by Robin Gosnall

I Kiss You Neon Sign by Tracey Emin

Natasha Garnett for the Wall Street Journal talks to Tracey Emin: Reformed Bad-Girl Artist Tracey Emin

“You know, what I thought was love maybe wasn’t,” Emin says. “I understand that now. Maybe it was something else and I got it really wrong or misunderstood it. This is the kind of stuff I’m drawing, this is what I am thinking about when I am making art. What is love? I judged love against how I received it, and what I should have done is judged it on what I gave. Because that’s what I truly know. I’ve never been that successful with relationships. I have with friendships. So that means I have to put a big question mark over myself.”

In person, Emin is slighter and prettier than photographs suggest. She has a gentle manner that at times borders on vulnerability, and she is incredibly soft-spoken, despite her Estuary accent. When I arrived at her house this afternoon, her first priority was to introduce me to her mother, who was sitting by the fire in an upstairs drawing room. As I leave and make my way out into the cold, I struggle to connect Emin’s past with the woman she is now. I can’t help but think that the kind of girl who makes a point of introducing you to her mother is exactly the kind you would want to introduce to your own.

Poetry Corner

Posted in Culture with tags , , , , , , , on January 19, 2012 by Robin Gosnall

I write poems when I can be bothered. This one came to me in a dream. Or something.


Evil insinuates
Itself into our lives.

Its shadow grows longer
In light. Evil survives.

Good folk just do nothing.
Evil triumphs that way.

There are evil people
Throughout the world today.

All of them like Coldplay.

“Mais les ouvrages les plus courts sont toujours les meilleurs.”
(Jean de la Fontaine 1621-1695)

Alberto Burri: Form & Matter

Posted in Culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2012 by Robin Gosnall

Sacking and Red 1954

Alberto Burri (1915-95) was an avid footballer who played for the Umbrian first division, a qualified doctor who worked for the Italian army during the Second World War and for the final 18 months was interned in Texas. His first picture, made with canvas and paints supplied by the YMCA, was a view of the desert he could see from the prison camp.

The great postwar pioneer Alberto Burri blazes a trail of sackcloth and ashes in this long overdue UK retrospective, writes Laura Cumming

Alberto Burri: Form and Matter is at the Estorick Collection, London N1 until 7 April 2012

Photography: Idle Thoughts

Posted in Culture with tags , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2012 by Robin Gosnall

What, precisely, is the role of photography today?

Ten years ago we all thought the answer was pretty self-evident. It was a method of recording an approximation of what the eye saw for various purposes ranging from holiday snaps to high art via advertising, prison mug shots, and camera club material, etc., etc. There was a limited scope for embellishment in the processing and printing but on the whole film was a fairly faithful medium. Then along came digital.

Digitalization of photography was not an isolated phenomenon, it was part of the great IT revolution and cannot be considered outside of that context. Moving from chemical film to electronic sensor had many repercussions from the obvious practical ones like reduced dynamic range and increased sensitivity to the slightest variation in light levels (this meant that cameras had now to be smarter than the operators to ensure a reasonable exposure, a reversal of the former position), but there were also the wider implications such as the viewing process no longer being the fixed and controllable event that looking at a print was.

This electronic tsunami has now, I believe, peaked, and what we see is a new landscape where the process of recording an image has become not only easier but far cheaper. Such empowerment should be welcomed, cautiously, for there is much of value that the waters washed away in the rage. The first and most obvious casualty is that quality (however defined) is now considered a function of camera expense rather than operator skill.

A second and less obvious perversion of the old order is that the multitude of pictures now created has changed the way in which they are viewed. No longer are carefully prepared prints studied at leisure but images are flicked through on the monitor, a device which cannot display the wealth of detail, tonal values, subtlety of shade or colour and effects of light that the old-fashioned wet print can. Not only that but the wet print was an unreproducible article in its own right. Variations in chemical concentration as prints were developed ensured that each picture was unique. Another detrimental effect is that every monitor is different and so the photograph will appear differently on each device that is used to display it. LCD screens for instance will lighten areas of pictures that we may wish to remain black, ruining an effect that was carefully built into the original picture.

I could go on listing the changes that digital has brought but I’d like to make one further point and that is the camera has now become little more than an extension of the home computer and although I have been part of the camera club movement and learnt a great deal from it I fear that it has moved on to the web in such a way that editing and censure of the results is not encouraged, indeed it is considered the height of rudeness to suggest deficiency in another’s work. This leads to the general acceptance of poor quality imagery being used in places where those responsible really should know better.

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