Art: Koons x H&M

17 July, 2014 at 21:29 | Posted in Art, Exhibit Bits | Leave a comment
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A collaboration between my favourite living artist and an accessible international fashion retailer should be right up my alley, but not if this is the result:

KoonsHMThis $49.95 leather purse featuring Koon’s Balloon Dog (Yellow) is theoretically in celebration of the openings of H&M’s new flagship store at 589 5th Avenue and the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Jeff Koons: A Retrospective, both in Manhattan. The purse is available online and at select American H&M locations.

But it just seems so basic and uninspired, with no thought beyond slapping a scanned photo on a basic handbag. How about at least a foil shine finish on the image? Or the whole bag, a la Anya Hindmarch Crisp Packet? Admittedly that would likely up the price, but something that sets it apart from the masses would be a more fitting tribute to a visual artist who’s built a career on thinking big.


Portrait: Lord Snowdon

16 July, 2014 at 22:28 | Posted in Art, Exhibit Bits, Photography, Portrait | Leave a comment
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When I read that portrait photographer Lord Snowdon just donated 130 original prints to London’s National Portrait Gallery, my initial reaction was, ‘Lord Snowdon is still alive?!’

Although that sounds crass, it’s only because so much of his life and career strike me as belonging to an era long past.

Born Anthony Armstrong-Jones in 1930, he attended Eton and coxed at Cambridge before beginning a career in photography, and by 27 he was taking official portraits for Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh’s 1957 tour of Canada. A few years later he became engaged to Princess Margaret, the Queen’s younger sister, and following their glamourous wedding he was titled the Earl of Snowdon.

NPG x35959; Lord Snowdon by Cecil Beaton

Lord Snowdon by Cecil Beaton 

SnowweddingNPG x125132; Lord Snowdon; David Armstong-Jones, Viscount Linley; Lady Sarah Chatto; Princess Margaret by Cecil BeatonDespite his new status he continued to work, primarily as a society photographer and often for the royal family. The couple’s marriage produced two children but quickly deteriorated; they divorced in 1978 following public infidelities by both parties. Snowdon wed and had another child almost immediately, while Margaret never married again.

Incredibly, the divorce did not end his working relationship with the royals; he was behind the lens for Charles and Diana’s official engagement portraits in 1981, and the National Portrait Gallery’s collection includes shots of his former in-laws taken as recently as 1997.
NPG x35372; Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales by Lord Snowdon

 Prince Charles and Lady Diana

NPG x76732; David Hockney by Lord Snowdon

David Hockey

NPG P843; John Ronald Reuel Tolkien by Lord Snowdon

JRR Tolkien

NPG P828; Sam Mendes by Lord Snowdon

Sam Mendes

NPG x27864; Jeremy Irons by Lord Snowdon

Jeremy Irons

NPG P218; Diana, Princess of Wales by Lord Snowdon

The 130 new portraits, which feature David Bowie, Graham Greene and John Hurt among them, will join the over 200 Snowdon works already in the Gallery’s collection, and are conveniently timed to be included in its upcoming exhibition Snowdon: A Life in View, on display from September 26, 2014 to June 21, 2015. I think you’ll agree that many of his best works portray a time that seems long past.
NPG x29573; Queen Elizabeth II; Prince Charles; Princess Anne; Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh by Lord Snowdon

Prince Charles and Princess Anne

NPG x29583; Princess Anne and Prince Charles by Lord Snowdonstephwereley

Art: Pop Tart

15 July, 2014 at 18:22 | Posted in Art, Exhibit Bits, Portrait | Leave a comment
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Presenting Her Royal Highness Katheryn Perry, Queen of the Katycats


American pop star Katy Perry just took her game to the next level, coinciding the North American leg of her live concert tour with a short stint at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Cupcake Katy, a painting by American artist Will Cotton, was on display June 18 through July 6 as part of a rotating display of the Museum’s recently acquired portraits.

The work is just one example of the artists’ close collaboration for Perry’s Teenage Dream album; Cotton was commissioned for two album covers and served as artistic director of the lead single’s music video, California Gurls.




Teenage Dream was a huge success, becoming only the second album in history to have five number-one singles, and the first by a female (MJ did it first with 1987’s Bad). As a result, the portrait’s regal pose, muted tones and classic brushwork (it doesn’t get more traditional than oil on linen) seem appropriate for an artist emerging as an industry powerhouse. Meanwhile, the sugary lollipops, bare skin and cupcake foil dress are consistent with Perry’s cheeky pop star image.

Since then, Perry has released a new album, Prism, and replaced Cotton’s Candy Land imagery with a theme of light-reflecting rainbow hues. And like its predecessor, the record went to number one in multiple countries. Bow down, indeed.


Art: Northern Soul

27 November, 2011 at 23:23 | Posted in Art | Leave a comment
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My month of November has featured the music of Noel Gallagher (new solo record and tour dates!) along with the grey skies of impending winter. The two combined bring to mind the works of artist L.S. Lowry, an English painter who captured life in the industrial districts of Northern England in the early half of the 1900s.





His distinctive scenes of urban towns populated with matchstick men were the inspiration for Oasis’ video for The Masterplan, a song which Gallagher personally considers one of his best. The video depicts the band in their native Manchester, and the animators even captured the swagger of lead singer Liam Gallagher. 

The fact that Lowry’s work has not been forgotten is a testament to the Northern pride he depicted.


Art: George Ault

12 October, 2011 at 22:19 | Posted in Art | 3 Comments
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I made a short but enjoyable tour of America’s North East coast in August. A highlight was visiting Washington, D.C’s National Gallery of Art, and discovering a new artist to fall in love with.

My visit was during the last few days of To Make a World: George Ault and 1940s America. The exhibit featured works by Edward Hopper, Rockwell Kent and Andrew Wyeth (best known for this but I wanted to take this one home).

George Ault’s pieces were by far my favourite. Born to a wealthy American family who sent him to art school, they lost it all in a stock market crash and Ault ended up in Woodstock, NY, living in a small rented cottage with no electricity or indoor plumbing. His rural paintings are stark yet comfortably familar, and I love the lighting in all the examples below. The summer scenes bring Boo Radley to mind.

Thanks, America


Art of the Paperback

6 October, 2011 at 21:31 | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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J.D Salinger is my favourite writer. Not an original choice, I know; but the fact he didn’t publish much makes his work all the more special.

I already own Catcher in the Rye and Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters, both bound in pretty white covers with rainbow stripes. So when I went to add Nine Stories to the collection, I couldn’t bring myself to buy the ugly new version bound in basic red and blue. Instead, ebay helped me find the pretty white rainbow cover to match the others.

They’re covers worthy of their contents. Who says you can’t judge a book by them?


Portrait: Brigitte Lacombe

29 September, 2011 at 20:24 | Posted in Photography, Portrait | 2 Comments
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Photographer Brigitte Lancombe has a way with the genetically blessed.

She got her start at French Elle and often serves as an on-set stills photographer; hence all the actors. My favourites are her portraits, often done in black and white.

Admittedly, she’s not working with difficult subject matter. But it’s no wonder her shots frequently appear in People magazine’s Most Beautiful People issue; when your subject’s gotta make mere mortals weep, accept no substitute.

Love the show, Jimmy!


Get out of Jude Law’s shot, Matt Damon

This face is one of my favourites; she’ll get an entire post one day.

Until then, mortals!


Portrait: Stephen Colbert (again)

8 September, 2011 at 19:48 | Posted in Art, Portrait | Leave a comment
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Spotted: Stephen Colbert, plastered on the walls of a Brooklyn subway station entrance. Among other places.

I guess once you’ve been depicted bedding Lady Liberty, this is the logical next step. The good Reverend Doctor has been immortalized as a combination of the Statue of Liberty and Roman goddess Venus.

Stephen as a symbol of patriotism and beauty? Sounds about right.


Art: Chuck Anderson

6 September, 2011 at 22:21 | Posted in Art | Leave a comment
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Chuck Anderson’s art is the visual equivalent of an Ibiza beach bash; a bright glowing mess of fireworks and club lights that declares ‘I’m here to party.’ At least until day breaks and some poor sod has to clean it all up.

But until then his computer-enhanced nightscapes glow with hues of pink and green, the signature style of his NoPattern brand.  The company’s done work for Google, Nike, and the client that comes calling when you know you’ve really made it, Absolut.



Anderson’s been a freelance artist since 17, and he sticks with what he knows works. How’d he get started so young? This gem of a story gives you a good indication:

“I would spend tons of time in book stores looking at old magazines. I’d look up the art director’s name, then I’d go home and email them and introduce myself. If I couldn’t find an email address I’d just make up 15 different combinations of email address based on their name and hope that I got 14 error messages back. That’s how I got work with ESPN.”


Exhibit Bits: VII

17 June, 2010 at 20:13 | Posted in Art, Exhibit Bits | 3 Comments
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Think the English are hard on their football players? See how the politicians fare in Tate Britain’s Rude Britannia show.

The masters are present and accounted for at the AGO; the Gallery’s Drama and Desire exhibition features artwork inspired by the theatre, and includes pieces by  Degas and Delacroix. It opens this weekend but will be closed during the G20.

TIFF’s Lightbox is debuting in grand style; the venue will open in the middle of the 2010 film festival and play host to the Tim Burton exhibtion.

And although it’s not a contemporary exhibition, I did want to higlight the opening of the Royal Ontario Museum’s The Warrior Emperor and China’s Terracotta Army. I’ll be working the media preview on Friday, June 25.


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