The statue of Horatio Nelson in London’s Trafalgar Square will soon be getting some new company… a boy on a rocking horse and a giant blue rooster. The next two artworks will fill the square’s empty “fourth plinth,” one of the city’s major showcases for public art.
Mayor Boris Johnson:
“The witty and enigmatic creations underline London’s position as one of the most exciting cities for art and are sure to keep people talking.”
In 2012, the platform will hold a bronze sculpture of a boy astride a rocking horse by Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset. The piece is intended as a thoughtful riposte to the square’s military monuments.
It will be followed in 2013 by German artist Katharina Fritsch’s ultramarine cockerel, designed to symbolize “regeneration, awakening and strength.”
One of London’s main tourist attractions, the square was named for Nelson’s 1805 victory over the French and Spanish fleets. A statue of the one-armed admiral stands atop Nelson’s Column at the center of the plaza, and statues of other 19th-century military leaders are nearby.
The fourth plinth was erected in 1841 for an equestrian statue that was never completed. Since 1999 it has been occupied by artworks erected for about 18 months at a time.
Yale University Press
In shops on 19 January
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Boldini - also known as the most amazing impressionist you’ve never heard of. I often fancy myself to be quite the smarty-pants when it comes to art history considering all the classes I had to take in college. But if Boldini was on the syllabus, then I was at IHOP, I guess. This artist, who would become known as the “Parisian from Italy” can really deliver the goods (you should see the self-portrait he did at age 14). Rather than opting for formal training, Boldini picked up his trust fund and hoofed it over to Florence (ah Florence!) to hang out with the other wannabes before moving to Paris in 1871. This book focuses on the next 15 years of his work – mostly portraits and sketches and moments in the city streets – which are all part of the exhibit at The Clark in Williamstown, Massachusetts (14 February – 25 April 2010). You’ll see the influence of his contemporaries like Degas and Manet in the works of Boldini, but what’s most impressive is the way he brings fine detail into focus in the midst of an otherwise impressionistic swirl (makes me think of the wispy blots of smoke in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” actually). In “Child with a Hoop” this is especially apparent as some cranky ankle-biter is hoisted off the ground by his mother. The kid’s face is as clear and detailed as a porcelain doll, but Momma’s figure loses all sense of physics once you leave her mid-section. If you can’t make it to the Berkshires for this exhibit, then the book is certainly worth a look with informative writing by Sarah Lees, Associate Curator of European Art at the Sterling and Francine Clark Institute.
Martin Kemp, a Professor of History of Art at Oxford University who bought this chalk portrait in 2007 for $19,000 may soon find it worth as much as $100 million after finding what experts believe is Leonardo da Vinci‘s fingerprint in it.
Peter Paul Biro, the Montreal-based forensic art expert, examined the multispectral images and found a fingerprint near the top left of the work, corresponding to the tip of the index or middle-finger, and “highly comparable” to a fingerprint on Leonardo’s St Jerome in the Vatican (which, stresses Biro, is an early work from a time when Leonardo is not known to have employed assistants).
Sony Pictures Classics
Opens in NY on 12 December
Opens in LA on 25 December
The Palme d’Or is the greatest thing a filmmaker can hope for at Cannes. Winning it, however, does not necessarily mean that your film is going to do big business in mainstream America. Since the award was conceived in 1955, many stateside directors have received the honor, including Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, the Cohen brothers, Steven Soderberg, Gus Van Sant and Michael Moore. The last few years though, have gone to Belgium, the UK, Romania and France this year for “The Class.” In other words, not so much cross-over with the American crowd of late. I would like to say that I’m hopeful that “The Class” would be different, but really, anything with subtitles tends to get shoved to the dirty corners of art house cinemas.
Laurent Cantent’s film is a glimpse into a Parisian middle school on the precipice. The student body is beyond unruly. It’s the kind of disrespect for teachers and fellow classmates that makes “Dangerous Minds” look timid by comparison. François Bégaudeau penned the screenplay from his novel, “Entre les Murs” and he also plays the teacher in the film. The kids are a rowdy lot, and watching the way in which anyone can get through to them is rather incredible. 3000 young actors were screened to ultimately bring us the few characters we see in the film, each of whom has a fascinating back story, wholly different from that of his or her peers.
More than anything, “The Class” is a case study of the world’s youth on the brink of disaster. The documentary feel of Cantet’s handheld moves and super-tight close ups only accentuate the reality of the situation. Despite the fact that we are watching actors read a script, it may as well be seeing a reality show that no one would watch, because it is just too demoralizing. The film making, on the other hand, is just exquisite in its minimalism, and something we should all be watching as part of the global dialog on a culture that is changing faster that anyone is able to register.
As usual, this month’s selections come from all over the place. From high-brow books (okay, so they have illustrations) to DVDs wrapped in tiny sweaters, there is rarely an entertainment we don’t find joy in. For the moment though, this is the stuff that is awesome. At least to us.
On to the List..
In shops now
Apparently the Transformers franchise has a bigger cult following than middle-aged hipsters with Optimus Prime trucker hats and bookshelves lined with rare Decepticons. “The Art of IDW’s Transformers” unearths those few brave artists with guts enough to draw block-like two-legged transformed airplanes. Who would have guessed that a Hasbro toy line / children’s cartoon would serve as inspiration for someone’s highly detailed oil painting? While I may not be a diehard enough fan to really appreciate these works, I certainly admire any artist who will distract me from watching ‘Newport Harbor: Home For the Holidays.’ The book compiles the works of transformer fans such as MD Bright, Ed McGuiness, Alex Miline (who did some concept art for the film) as well as many other artists that probably have comic book cult followings that I don’t know of. While most of these works probably wont ever see the soft fluorescent spotlights of any museum in the near future, the rendering quality and composition of most of these works are worthy enough for any dorm room / 1st apartment.