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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.

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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.

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

1911 No. 4: Mervyn Peake

Posted in 1911, Books with tags , , , , , , , , on July 13, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

Mervyn Peake was born in China in 1911, and educated at Tientsin Grammar School, Eltham College, Kent and the Royal Academy Schools. His first book of poems, Shapes and Sounds, was published in 1941. He also wrote Rhymes Without Reason (1944), Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor (1945), The Craft of the Lead Pencil (1946), Letters from a Lost Uncle (1948), Mr Pye (1953), The Wit to Woo, a play (1957) and The Rhyme of the Flying Bomb (1962). He also illustrated several classics, notably The Ancient Mariner, Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island and The Hunting of the Snark. The Titus novels – Titus Groan (1946), Gormenghast (1950) and Titus Alone (1959) – are considered to be one of the 20th century’s most remarkable feats of imaginative writing. For Gormenghast and his poem The Glassblowers Peake was awarded the W.H. Heinemann Foundation Prize by the Royal Society of Literature in 1950. He died in 1968.

The book ends with its titular hero not yet two years old, but there is plenty of time for him: we have finished a mere third of the tripartite epic. And it is as we near the end of Titus Groan that we realize the propriety of applying the term ‘epic’ in an exact sense. The book is closer to ancient pagan romance than to traditional British fiction. The doomed ritual lord, the emergent hero, the castle, the hall of retainers, the mountains, the lake, the twisted trees, the strange creatures, the violent knives, the dark and the foreboding belong (however qualified by tea, muffins, tobacco and sherry wine) to a prehistoric England. And the magnificence of the language denotes an epic concept.

(Anthony Burgess, Introduction to Titus Groan)

Lord Sepulchrave, the seventy-sixth Earl of Groan, arrives for breakfast:

Arriving, as was his consistent habit, at exactly nine o’clock every morning, he would enter the long hall and move with a most melancholy air between rows of long tables, where servants of every grade would be awaiting him, standing at their places, their heads bowed.

Mounting the dais he would move around to the far side of the table where hung a heavy brass bell. He would strike it. The servants sitting down at once, would begin their meal of bread, rice wine and cake.

Lord Groan’s menu was otherwise. As he sat, this morning, in his high-backed chair he saw before him – through a haze of melancholia that filmed his brain and sickened his heart, robbing it of power and his limbs of health – he saw before him a snow-white tablecloth. It was set for two. The silver shone and the napkins were folded into the shapes of peacocks and were perched decoratively on the two plates. There was a delicious scent of bread, sweet and wholesome. There were eggs painted in gay colours, toast piled up pagoda-wise, tier upon tier and each as frail as a dead leaf; and fish with their tails in their mouths lay coiled in sea-blue saucers. There was coffee in an urn shaped like a lion, the spout protruding from that animal’s silver jaws. There were all varieties of coloured fruits that looked strangely tropical in that dark hall. There were honies and jams, jellies, nuts and spices and the ancestral breakfast plate was spread out to the greatest advantage amid the golden cutlery of the Groans. In the centre of the table was a small tin bowl of dandelions and nettles.

Tracey Emin: “Art in Britain has never been better”

Posted in Culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 16, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

The artist opened her first major London retrospective today, and called it the “defining moment of her career”.

(Source: Telegraph)

Renowned for her controversial and often explicit work, she has spent a large part of her artistic career defending herself to the public. Yet today, as she opened her new show at London’s Hayward Gallery, Tracey Emin appeared markedly mellowed and presented her work with subdued confidence:

“This is the biggest defining moment of my art career. I am really proud of the exhibition. I don’t feel I have to defend it, I’m comfortable in it,” she said.

Talking about contemporary British art, she said that she was heartened that she and her fellow YBAs were “now finally getting recognition” – and added that art in Britain has never been better.

The exhibition is said to introduce the public to Emin’s lesser-known works – and self. Spanning the course of her career, the exhibition includes a series of photographs of the artist running naked down an East London street, as well as personal documents: love letters, the ashes from a shop she co-owned in 1993, archived paraphernalia and diary entries from the time of her abortion, and a blown-up photograph of her family at a village wrestling tournament on holiday in Turkey.

Her seminal work, The Tent (also called Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995) in which she famously embroidered the names of all her lovers on the inside walls is not in the show. Today Emin expressed some remorse for the work, saying that she no longer uses names in any work:

“I know the repercussions of these works … I’m still very open but I now keep a little bit to myself.”

Tracey Emin: Love Is What You Want is at the Hayward Gallery until 29 August

Tracey Emin retrospective: in pictures

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