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Art crime is huge business. Estimated to be worth between $1.5 – $6bn (£1- £4bn) annually, it is now the fourth largest international crime, after drug dealing, gun running and money laundering!!

A very famous FBI art-  retrieval expert :  Special Agent Robert “Bob” Wittman has just retired.

For nearly two decades, usually masquerading as a crooked art dealer with links to the Mafia or the Colombian drug cartels, he has run undercover sting operations, luring criminals into selling him stolen works of art.

In one famous operation,one operation he found himself ” in a hotel bathroom in Copenhagen hugging a Rembrandt to his chest as a Danish Swat (Special Weapons and Tactics) team burst into the room to arrest an Iraqi-born hoodlum named Baha Kadhoum” , who was trying to sell to him Rembrandt’s self-portrait from 1630- worth Millions.

Even in retirement, this agent wont allowhis face to be photographed, for risk of reprisals..

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So, to learn about Banksy, perhaps start by having a look at his site. www.banksy.co.uk

It doesnt have much text but it does have most of his work.

His life biography can be seen at wikipedia and its a fascinating yarn.

He started as a graffiti artist in Bristol, and his artworks are often satirical works of art on diverse topics such as politics, culture, and ethics.

Important to note is his anti- commercial stance: Banksy does not sell photos of street graffiti or mount exhibitions of screenprints, in commercial galleries.

check some of them out below!!

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i especially like this one! above..

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Here a Uk newspaper (well its the daily mail so Im not sure if that really counts as a newspaper?) reveals who Banksy is … the Scarlet Pimpernel of modern art!

He is a very clever guy. Here is his statement when one council tried to remove his art, claiming it was an advertisement.

“I was offended when Westminster said my painting was an advertisement. Advertising makes people feel inadequate and worthless. Graffiti doesn’t do that. Graffiti doesn’t emotionally blackmail you, graffiti doesn’t make you feel fat and graffiti doesn’t make you rush out and buy things, except maybe high strength cleaning products.”

His latest work is an installation called “The Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill,” about the human-animal relationship….. that features walking chicken nuggets, swimming fish sticks, .. and hot dogs that slither like snakes.

See here for the link.

art is dead?

If you are feeling all melancholic in the cold weather and the run up to christmas, here is a great series of melancholic photo’s entitled ‘art is dead”. Actually the photographer is exhibiting some of his works in New Mexico , USA, till mid-january 2009.

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Art is dead?

This is a question that many people ask. Some artists even use it as a title, as we saw above.

Here is a painting in mixed media by an artist, with that very title…

you can buy art by this artist at the Richard Goodall Gallery in Manchester, Uk.

ART IS DEAD - by Federico Gonzales

ART IS DEAD - by Federico Gonzales

So, what do people think? or course art is not dead, its just that art/creativity has changed, its become commercial, people of an artistic bent are no longer necessarily pure artists, they perhaps have decided to get a mortgage and so do web design or clothes design or music videos and what is left for pure artists has often needed to become very different and provocative (eg sharks in a tank by damian hirst) to get people’s attention.

See here a post by David Mellender in the Art’s Journal, about ‘is art dead’ where he argues that it is.

Actually, part of me thinks that art may be dead, as art critics wrap it up in such funny language that makes it unaccessible to the general public..

I was drawn into a discussion today about Redbull, where I suggested that it was more of a marketing concepty that actually a product…

so, that started me thinking about Red Bull related ART!

First thing to note, is that red bull is an incredibly innovative company and as part of their brand-building they actually sponsor art projects.

One fun project they are currently running is “red bull art of can”.

Here artists must make a picture or sculpture or piece of modern art, using mainly a red bull can!!! Crazy but exciting, and a fantastic opportunity for promotion by new young cutting edge artists.

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See here for an image of a dragon made from a red bull can!!

Also see here for a you tube video of a drumming sequence using red bull, also done by independent artists, not red bull staff.

And here is a Flikr set of Red bull  ‘art of the can” series…

Have a great day.

Please take time to have a read about PortraitXpress artists…  if you need to order a personalised painting as a gift to arrive with you by Christmas day, you need to order it in the next few days to allow time for the paint to dry and the artwork to be shipped!

My idea of a pig portrait is something like the picture below…

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This is a watercolour by PAT WEAVER, of Dade City, Florida.

Its fairly similar to the kind of work Portrait Xpress Artists do as comissions of pets, from a photo.

This is art, and I like it. What comes below- really, this ain’t art.

I heard today about something very strange…. “pet art” by a Belgian Artist in China.

Belgian conceptual artist Wim Delvoye currently (Nov 08) employs workers to tattoo pigs in an “Art Farm” at the outskirts of Beijing, China. Delvoye has staff consisting of local farmers to raise the pigs.. and professionals to tattoo them with cartoons or symbols. The pigs would then be displayed at art exhibitions and their skins sold to collectors after they were slaughtered.

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Very wierd, and actually I dont like it- putting a tattoo on a live animal has got to hurt, and even if they are sedated, it seems pretty cruel. From a veterinary perspective, this seems very unnecessary and quite sick. Any comments?

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photo by opimentas

photo by opimentas

LIVING ART…

ive found an interesting website which gives details on some interesting art exhibitions about nature. Check out their exhibitions here.

“Living Art’s exhibitions aim to raise awareness of the beauty and wonder of our natural heritage, both in the UK and globally, while at the same time championing the benefits of the natural environment to our wellbeing and the need to protect and conserve that environment.

The exhibitions take an innovative, responsible and, above all, we hope entertaining approach.”

Also, check this, if you want to buy a topiary elephant for your garden?!!

And see this great blog about ART HELPING ANIMALS.

So, I was inspired by the ant art I discussed in a previous post (go check it out, on my site), what other living art is there?

Well, here is some art which is for sale, BY ANIMALS IN A ZOO!!!

The pictures here are just a bit of fun, not related to the links by the way…

plastic-bag-art

If you live in Hong Kong (okay, lots of readers don’t, but hey some of you do!) the have you heard about Digital Light Craft?

This venture is a workshop for budding photographers, ran by some of the most experienced and best photographers living in HK.

A fun one is the Flash/Glamour Workshop.

This will appeal to those of you who are more comfortable with your cameras and want to learn some more specialized skills involved in shooting with flash and other light sources in a studio setting.

Ike will go over the various light sources available and discuss the reasons for choosing one over the others and how to use it to its best advantage.  He will also discuss lenses and related camera equipment as well as filters and gels.  Directing models and how  to get the poses and expressions that best suit the project.

This will be followed by a practise portrait session using different lighting sources, during which Ike will be helping fine tune your approach and technique.

Before wrapping up for the day, Ike will answer questions about the shoot and the upcoming model shoot.

Sunday morning will involve photographing models under different lighting conditions.  The models will have 3 outfits each.

So…. interested?

If so, go along!!

Its run by Keith, he says

“I have decided to put together a workshop based on the lessons I have learned about digital photography over the last 6 years or so.  Combined with the relevant lessons learned while shooting with Film SLRs before that I hope to share some of the joy that Digital Photography has brought me with others looking to capture a slice of their lives in Hong Kong. Let the digital light shine!!”

Amen.

this is a post I have meaning to write for a long time. Its involves art…. and an animal!

Death in the mind of someone living” the shark art-piece by Damien Hirst.

How do we interpret this? One concept is, if you bend down and peer through its sharply jagged teeth, you’ll be looking past the pure white mouth at the large black hole of its throat. It’s a reasonable visual metaphor for the crossing-over from life to death that we think will never happen.

Also, the viewers imagination is focused on the pickled sharks jaws; the jaws of death stopped in motion, suspended in time. So the shark can’t attack you, its been suspended in time… so your death is not coming now, it will come later…

If you have other interpretations, let me know here!!

So is that what art always is, a visual metaphor? Yes, in a way. Although sometimes art is just for art’s sake and there is no need for any metaphorology.

To be honest, my idea of art involves freshness and a concept of something seeming alive, and I see art in nature and animals, so Im not hugely keen on the idea of animals in formaldehyde as some kind of art.

However, Damien Hirst is certainly very innovative so I repect that, and by shocking the public he helps create debate about art and other interesting subjects, which has to be good.

This shark pictured below is given the title:”death in the mind of someone living”.

Apart from the crazy price this fetched, one interesting point is that actually its not the same shark as in the original art. When asked is this is an issue, the artist said:

“”It’s a big dilemma. Artists and conservators have different opinions about what’s important: the original artwork or the original intention. I come from a conceptual art background, so I think it should be the intention. It’s the same piece. But the jury will be out for a long time to come.”

I guess I agree with him, but what are your views?!

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the artist, above, with the artwork titled.

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The Royal Watercolur Society is the oldest watercolour society in the world, established in 1804, and is second only to the Royal Academy of Art in importance as an art society.

It exhibits twice a year at the Bankside Gallery, 48 Hopton Street, London SE1 9JH.

A great new exhibition is coming up- check this out!!:

The Poet and the Painter

13th November – 30th November 2008

“JMW Turner believed that poetry and painting flowed from the same font, and twenty Members of the Royal Watercolour Society, in collaboration with the Poetry Society, explore this common bond. Celebrated poets, including Roger McGough, Polly Clarke, Kathleen Jamies and James Kirkup are working directly with artists to create new and exciting work.”

The exhibition is being curated by David Brayne RWS.
Click here to see a link to some of their upcoming events!

Here is a painting by one of their artists, Francis Bowyer.

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I love watercolour, check this old one out………..

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for those who liked my Obama in Portrait art post which showed some Obama artwork, and I was trying to encourage people to get themselves painted in a pop art style by the cool painters at portrait Xpress, here is something more for you!!

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In fact, there is a whole Flikr group dedicated to “obama street art”!!

An entire blog has sprung up entitled The Obama Art Report!!

The recent months have seen a street movement in support of Obama, which the presidential candidate’s campaign itself has embraced!!  Obama for Artists (the store on the obama website) features art and merchandise donated to the campaign by artists to raise money for the movement.

Its incredible to have a presidential Candidate who has inspired such an outpouring of creativity, the effect on voters is yet to be seen I guess….

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