Glen Brown, Come to Dust – Gagosian Mayfair, London

20 February 2018 § Leave a comment

“I am rather like a Dr. Frankenstein, constructing paintings out of the residue or dead parts of other artist’s work. I see their worlds from multiple or schizophrenic perspectives, through all their eyes. Their sources of inspiration suggest things I would never normally see – rocks floating in far-off galaxies, for example, or a bowl of flowers in an 18th-century room, or a child in a fancy-dress costume. The scenes may have been relatively normal to Rembrandt or Fragonard but because of the passage of time and the difference in culture, to me they are fantastical.”    Glenn Brown

Glenn Brown Gagosian Mayfair London

Glenn Brown’s latest show, amazingly his first major UK one since 2009, takes advantage of the large spaces of Gagosian’s recently opened (see here) Mayfair gallery. This is a hugely impressive, state of the art space and Brown’s classical themes and inspirations are well suited to this gallery’s wooden floors and dark walls as opposed to the cliched concrete floored white cubes found in most commercial spaces nearby.

Glenn Brown Gagosian Mayfair London

The lighting is low and each work is spotlight whilst besuited security guards add to the feeling of entering a major London Museum rather than a west end gallery. This seems entirely relevant since Brown appropriates from classical artists that include Rembrandt, Delacroix, Greuze, and Raphael in a variety of genres like landscape, portrait, flower and history painting.

Glenn Brown Gagosian Mayfair London

He usually uses Photoshop to distort, merge and colour the selected sources in sophisticated compositions that fuse diverse histories – Renaissance, Impressionism and Surrealism. The original may in turns be obvious or hardly recognisable. Sometimes he puts them in historic gilt frames to confuse us more.

Glenn Brown Gagosian Mayfair London

In his oils, hybrid figures painted in intricate swirls reveal the sumptuous potential of oil paint. While these paintings give the illusion of thick impasto with volume, closer scrutiny reveals smooth surfaces that glow with a vital force. Up close form also disappears in complex swirls and vortices as if slipping from memory in some drug induced trance or dreamlike haze.

Glenn Brown Gagosian Mayfair London

In graphic works Brown paints using largely black and white lines over a neutral ground. Meticulous, elongated brushstrokes reimagine works from the likes of Raphael and Guido Reni to create depth and animation in portraits that barely seem to exist.

Glenn Brown Gagosian Mayfair London

There are also a significant number of sculptures, which we found slightly less successful. Elaborate masses are built from thick ‘strokes’ of coloured paint – perhaps imagine the likes of a sculptural Kossof. Some partially encase nineteenth-century bronze statues with growths of pulsating, gravity-defying paint.

Glenn Brown Gagosian Mayfair London

This is a stunning exhibition of formidable technical ability and Brown impresses with an artistic language that transcends time and pictorial conventions. In his unique vision the abstract and the visceral, the rational and irrational, the beautiful and grotesque, churn in a dizzying amalgamation of reference and form. Not to be missed.

Glenn Brown Gagosian Mayfair London

Glenn Brown, Come to Dust runs at Gagosian Mayfair until 17 March 2018

For more information visit

Top Ten UK – The Best Art Blogs

25 November 2013 § 2 Comments

When is a blog not a blog? Perhaps when it is an ‘online magazine‘ or ‘digital review’? So where do you start with any sort of ‘Blog’ review list? Who do you exclude? Should ‘true’ blogs just be individual or non-profit making? Perhaps not linked to larger organisations like the TATE gallery for example, where they act as promotional tools. It’s all a bigger issue than I was willing to address here, so my sole limitation was that the blog/mag/review should feature contemporary art at least regularly.

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I try to take a look around and see what my ‘competitors’ are up to in the blogosphere but find it hard to track down many good art blogs. Google ‘Top Art Blogs’, limited to the UK and the last 12 months, and you will find no collective listings. Zero.

Take off the restrictions and you will get a few from 2009/10. At least half are no longer operating or haven’t posted for at least six months. When I checked one of these ‘Top Ten’ lists it included blogs like Amelia’s Magazine. God bless Amelia – and her blog is probably very good at what it does – but I decided that if that’s a top ‘Art (and Design) Blog’ then it was time for a new top ten. So here goes…

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The contemporary art blog of all blogs. Neatly designed, an ever changing up to date compilation of the best from 100 other blogs!

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Not so much a blog, more an online version of the newspaper. But high quality content as you would expect!

Baxter, Chodzko

Baxter, Chodzko


International (although US based) including plenty of UK shows. An impressive selection of reviews  of contemporary art exhibitions updated daily. I like the ‘random exhibition’ button – this time I got IAIN BAXTER&, Adam Chodzko at Raven Row.

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Another blog with significant backing, being tied to the important art & design publication of the same name.

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The only place for street art info. Great design, layout and well written. Categories include for example Street Art, Graffitt & Banksy!

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As you would expect of the leading UK art magazine publisher and top art fair organiser their blog is clear an interesting. Wouldn’t you think they could manage more than a couple of posts a week though with all their resources?

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Not much use unless you’re in Liverpool perhaps, but well designed, informative, wide ranging and well written.

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Written by Mark Sheerin, this is the one of the only two blogs in the list written by an individual (the other is CELLOPHANELAND). I tried hard to find more but few have any longevity and/or quality. Varied content but includes many of his own interviews with top, mostly UK, artists like Jeremy Deller, Gavin Turk and Martin Creed.

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9. 1000 Words Magazine

Is it a blog or is it a magazine? This is really an ‘online’ magazine. It also runs masterclasses with notable photographers, has developed a wide and international following. Includes essays, reviews and interviews.

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Julie Eagleton’s wide ranging arts, lifestyle and culture blog always has something interesting – even if art is not one of the main topics. Expect anything from interviews  (section currently being updated) from the likes of Francis Ford Coppola to the latest exhibition at the V&A.

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Tenth equal with C-LAND just because they both are broad-ranging sites covering art, culture and more. What’s more the Art section here doesn’t always feature contemporary art. Nice blog though!

Agree/disagree? Know any more worthy of inclusion at the top of the pile? Then please let me know.

Exciting Contemporary Art Arrives in the Cotswolds

20 November 2013 § 2 Comments

‘Exciting’ and ‘contemporary art‘ are not words that you would usually associate with the word ‘Cotswolds‘ – Land Rovers, Labradors and Leaders of the Conservative party perhaps come to mind more readily. Other than a mere handful of galleries in Oxford and Bristol the whole region has a desperate dearth of places where one can reasonably claim to be able to enjoy the type of contemporary art which one could genuinely define as being ‘innovative’ or ‘fresh’.

Jonny Briggs

Jonny Briggs

Fortunately this has now changed. The new owners of an historic grade II listed Victorian gothic mansion (apologies for the mouthful, but that’s exactly what it is) have opened a new contemporary art space, High House Gallery. For the last 18 months they have been bringing all that is innovative and interesting from the London art scene out in to the (contemporary) artistic wilderness that is ‘Poshtershire’.

Adeline de Monseignat

Adeline de Monseignat

Located in Clanfield, close to the border between Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire the indoor space has a rotating exhibition programme whilst the formal gardens have hosted garden displays of contemporary works – do not think stone and bronze, instead how about concrete, glass, steel and whalebone (!).



Exhibitions so far have mostly tented towards the pick of recent graduates from top London art colleges such as Chelsea, St Martins, Goldsmiths and RCA. Lindsey Bull, Gabriella Boyd, Tom Howse and  are excellent examples of HHG artists that should go far.

Gabriella Boyd

Gabriella Boyd

In addition there are a sprinkling of talented overseas artists like the Portuguese photographer Virgilio Ferreira and US artist Andrew Leventis.

Andrew Leventis

Andrew Leventis

Furthermore the gallery not only consults on all aspects of contemporary art but holds a stock of top international artists. Quality pieces are currently available to buy from the likes of George Shaw, John Stezaker, Ryan McGinley and Mariah Robertson.

Mariah Robertson

Mariah Robertson

The big news for the start of next year is that the opening exhibition of the 2014 season features a touring version of the highly regarded Griffin Art Prize. Fitting well with the gallery ethos it is limited to recent (5 year limit) graduates. The shortlist for the prize is currently on show at the Griffin Gallery in West London. For those who have not been able to see the show there its excursion out to the Cotswolds is well worth catching.

Griffin Art Prize

Griffin Art Prize

Visit the High House website to register for news of new exhibitions and events by email, Facebook or Twitter.

Griffin Art Prize 2013 touring show is at High House Gallery 16 January – 16 February 2014.

ArtTactic Forecaster – and some art price guides

28 October 2013 § Leave a comment

For anyone who feels that they might be a dab hand at art investment its well worth taking a look at the new ArtTactic Forecaster – an online ‘guess the art price’ website. Yours Truly is of course competing assidously and is sitting comfortably and tactically at 6th overall (as absolutbargain!) – waiting to make a move for the top when the others aren’t looking. I’ll keep you updated!

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 18.17.43Sign up (for free) and every few days the site is updated with works each from a few new auctions. Auctions are worldwide, from the major auction houses and are categorised in to such area as Contemporary Photography, Contemporary Painting, Prints and Sculpture for example. Images, details and estimates are given for the works and using a slider you enter your own prediction for the sales price or estimate as a ‘No Sale’. After the sale you are marked school-style – a point for correct or a half point for close. ArtTactic then draws up league tables in each category as well as overall.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 18.29.59It is of course ‘just for fun’ and is a very appropriate and sobering reminder of just how difficult it is to accurately forecast auction results. Get more than 2 of the 5 right and you’re probably moving up the league table! The difficulty is most clearly brought home by the fact that the auction houses themselves would be well down the tables if their estimates were counted as their entries in the competition. They might say that their estimates are often tactical rather than necessarily accurate – but then again they would wouldn’t they!

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 19.40.19There is a more serious aim to the competition of course as ArtTactic presumably aim to attract investors and collectors to their product. ArtTactic after all is an art market analysis firm that offers research and commentary on the ever-changing art world. As new markets emerge and tastes shift, ArtTactic wants to offer the expertise for your to keep a close eye current and future art investments supported by ‘up to the minute information from all corners of the globe.’

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 19.16.48It has competition of course, all with slightly differing angles and priorities. Here are the main – and pretty much only – contenders: MutualArt (my personal favourite) , ArtPrice (French, and appropriately awkward to use), Blouin Art Sales Index (and online magazine), Artnet (a US company who also run online auctions), Artfacts (includes a very useful and pretty accurate free-to-use  artist ranking guide), Artfact (no ‘s’ – where you can also bid on various online auctions) and Gordons Print & Photography Prices (now part of Blouin, produce annual printed guides).

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Anyone who doesn’t plan to use an advisor or consultant when buying art (in truth by far the wisest way to invest) it would be very foolish indeed not to sign up to one of the premium packages available from one or more of these companies. A full auction record of any artist you are investing in is an absolute must and along with various guides to the performance of individual artists or different sectors allows an insight not otherwise available.

A final word of warning beware the free to use companies – some of whom like Artsy are very professional indeed, who purport to offer a guide to prices, when they are in reality more like a selling platform for art of very varying quality.

innovative contemporary art for the cotswolds?

11 June 2012 § 3 Comments

‘Innovative’ and ‘contemporary art’ are not words that you would usually associate with the word ‘Cotswolds’ – Land Rovers, Labradors and Conservative party gatherings perhaps come to mind more readily. Other than a mere handful of galleries in Oxford and Bristol the whole region has a desperate dearth of places where one can reasonably claim to be able to enjoy the type of contemporary art which one could genuinely define as being ‘new’ or ‘fresh’.

But could this all be about to change? The new owners of an historic grade II listed Victorian gothic mansion (apologies for the mouthful, but that’s exactly what it is) are opening a new contemporary art gallery. They promise to bring all that is innovative and interesting from the London art scene out in to the (contemporary) artistic wilderness that is ‘Poshtershire’.

Julie Cockburn – Bird

Located in Clanfield, close to the border between Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire there will be an indoor space with a rotating exhibition programme whilst the formal gardens will host garden displays of contemporary works – but do not think stone and bronze.

Alex Chinneck Concrete Cross Dresser

I do have to pause at this point and declare a personal interest. Yes, it is our very own gallery – so of course it is wonderful. But I can also promise you that the above statements are also true. There will be no impressionistic landscapes, no meaningless Rothko-style abstracts and above all no horses, cats or dogs – except for Lola, the gallery Labrador who will guard fearlessly and tirelessly against the above abominations.

The two Inaugural exhibitions – one in the garden and one in the gallery – will open with a champagne Private View on the 14 & 15 July 2012. Blog followers will be sent more information and have the opportunity to attend – watch this space.

A few works from the artists that will feature the first shows illustrated by means of  a taster. More soon! Meanwhile be sure to visit the High House website (in construction, part open) to register for news by email.

High House Gallery, Clanfield  OX18 2SH

Inaugural Exhibitions 14 July to 16 September 2012

records tumble at christies and sothebys

30 June 2011 § 1 Comment

Peter Doig - Red Boat

Shrugging off global economic worries this weeks contemporary art sales broke a series of records and confirmed the faith that buyers seem to have in the art market. Christies kicked off on Tuesday evening with an £80m total – their second highest ever. Star of the show was Francis Bacon’s Study for a Portrait which topped £18. A bunch of Warhols sold steadily with Mao, at £7m, the top lot, a nice Peter DoigRed Boat soared over its £1.4 low estimate to fetch £6m and a brilliant Lucien FreudWoman Sitting – made £4.7m.

Lucien Freud - Rabbit on a Chair

Kay Saatchi cleared out her attic and amongst her lots were a group of five very pretty Freud drawings. They all sold at around triple low estimate – perhaps because they were nice, perhaps due to a provenance beginning with Saa….. Losers were Chris Ofili whose two works went unsold (along with two of three in the day sale) – looks like the elephant dung bubble has burst?

Wednesdays Christies day sale was steady at £13m. The surprise of the day was that the two main offerings from Tracey Emin failed to sell – an appliqued blanket Something Really Terrible at £100-150k and a neon When I Go to Sleep  at £40-60k. Clearly the current Hayward show did not seem to inspire anyone (see my recent review). Meanwhile a nice batch of Picasso ceramics (in the contemporary sale?) flew out at £9-44k against estimates of £2-20k.

Sigmar Polke Dschungel

Over at Sothebys yesterdays evening sale cruised through the previous London Contemporary sale record to reach £109m. It was helped through the previous £95m mark from 2008 by the addition of the amazing Duerckheim Collection. A who’s who of German post-war art there were fabulous works from the likes of Sigmar Polke, Blinky Palermo, Georg Baselitz and AR Pencke. Gerhard Richter was particularly well represented with a good wonderful overview of his varied ouevre – colour charts, grey paintings, ‘abstrakte bilde’, photo-paintings and so on – the prices reflecting the high quality as they frequently doubled estimates, 1024 Farben at £4.2m the top lot. Polke’s auction record was broken three times in quick succession with a rare spot painting Dschungel  making £5.7. Palermo, Lupertz and Baselitz records were also set.


Gerhard Richter - Schwestern

In the rest of the sale Bacon (again) was top dog with Crouching Nude, at auction for the first time reaching £8.3m. Back nearer earth Ged Quinn‘s maintained his right to be in such exalted company with sales at £110k and £180k (Christies) against estimates of £60-80k.

Following hard on the heels of the recent impressionist and modern auctions where the total of the  ‘big two’s’ evening sales was the third highest on record the art market seems to have survived the financial meltdown in reasonable health. All eyes are now on Frieze and the October sales!

steady as she goes – analysis of NY sales results

17 November 2010 § Leave a comment

In the wake of the strong sales results in New York contemporary art sales last week the Art Market Monitor has made some very interesting comments.

They looked at the day sale market separately from the evening sales. Not only do the evening sales represent the fantasy-land of the art world but due to low lot numbers they are prone to being skewed by expensive individual works. The day sales have a larger number of lots and represent the core of the market and the majority of the collectors. Having removed the evening sales world inhabited by the super rich and potentially those least affected by the boom and bust cycle we can possibly look at current state of the wider art market.  The AMM noted:

Last week’s strong day sales posted very similar numbers to the Spring’s sales. Total volume in the day sales was $121 million in May and $122.6 million in November. The May sales had 800 lots find buyers and the November sales had 831 lots succeed. The average price for the day sales was slightly higher in May (at $151,318) than in November (at $147,572) but hardly a significant difference.

From 2007 to mid-2008 there was a dramatic rise in the average price of day sale works. The average price last week, however, was 40% below the bubble peak of Spring 2008. There seems to be a consolidation at the this 40% decline from the all-time highs. This should be seen as good news especially within the context of average prices having moved above the median level for the last five years for both sales cycles in 2010.

They also observe that by removing those boom and bust years from 2007 to 2009 we are left with a market that,  from 2006 to 2010 looks remarkably similar.

Coming after reassuring signs over the last six months one feels that we can now confidently say that we have reached the end of any ‘bust cycle’ and can look forward to a stable market with steadily increasing prices and renewed confidence in the market.

There has been some recent nonsensical talk of a move away from contemporary art and towards, for example, ‘modern masters’ but these results confirm further that this analysis was premature. The market for contemporary art is as strong as it has been in recent years, having felt the same stresses as other parts of the art market.

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