Artist: George W. Bush (honestly)

Deary, deary me. I’m usually an advocate for all things arty, but this week I discovered that George W Bush wishes to offend the world one more time. He’s considering exhibiting nude self portraits.

...I’ve sat staring at my computer screen for about five minutes because really, how do you follow up a sentence like that?

This article says his pieces are reminiscent of A Level student work (as an alumni of A Level Fine Art, I’d be inclined to disagree, but each to their own). In my opinion, they seem to have been inspired by the wall doodles in Cafe Rouge. You know the ones I mean. Not exactly ground-breaking stuff.

Along with his politics and grasp of the English language, I think Dubya would be better off admitting defeat with his paintbrush - and let the world’s opinion of contemporary American art be influenced by William Klein or Jasper Johns (see below).

Of course, I could be misunderestimating his talent.

Exhibition: Amongst Heroes: the artist in working Cornwall

When I first decided to write an arts blog, my main concern was that it would speak to people who don’t actively seek out the arts – not due to a lack of interest in creativity, but a lack of interest in a stuffy, dull and greying cliché.

At uni, I spent a year poking around dusty archives, interviewing local experts and trawling, trawling, trawling the web for anything that could shed a little light on the underestimated and supremely talented Henry Scott Tuke. A hundred years on, he’s still an exciting artist (was he gay? Was he straight? Does it matter?*); so I was delighted to hear of his significant presence at Amongst Heroes: The Artist in Working Cornwall at Two Temple Place.

But did the exhibition do Tuke and his Newlyn School cohorts justice? Did it lift Cornish worker art out of obscurity and into the spotlight?

Hell yeah, it did. With paintings on the walls and boats on the floors, not to mention the stun-ing setting, the exhibition was one of my favourite non-blockbusters I've seen since moving to London. Seriously. My only advice to newbies is to read up a little beforehand. Cornwall doesn't flaunt its most interesting and beautiful parts, and nor do its artists. It’s your job to do a little detective work.

I caught up with Hannah Jordan to chat about her experience as Programme Co-ordinator of Amongst Heroes.

*That pretty much compresses my 8,000 word dissertation into 9 words

Which is your favourite piece/who is your favourite artist featured in the exhibition?
My personal favourite is ‘The Pilot’ by William John Wainwright (see above). He has such an expressive face.  I can’t work out if he’s sad or just well-worn, but he has such a kind face and I’d really like him to stay!

Were any of the artworks difficult to come by?
Fortunately for us, many of the lenders were keen to have the works exhibited – that’s why we’ve got over a hundred pieces in the show. We were overwhelmed by everyone’s enthusiasm, and are so pleased to see that reflected in the visitors’ responses. This is clearly an untapped passion of the art world outside of Cornwall.
How does the show speak to those who are just starting to explore art?
We’ve found that many people stumble upon the building in pursuit of the artworks – and vice versa. As it's a free exhibition, we’ve been able to open our doors to a wider range of visitors, which has made for some interesting discussions! Very few of the staff are from a Museums of Heritage background, so we know firsthand the benefits of an exhibition that is free from assumption.

Amongst Heroes: the artist in working Cornwall runs until April 14th, 2013. Catch it for free at Two Temple Place – more information can be seen here.

(Alternative) List: The Times' greatest galleries

On Saturday, The Times published its list of top fifty galleries (scroll down to see it). I was pleased to see some of my favourites in there, such as New York's MoMA and London's National Gallery, as well as some I look forward to visiting in the future (please, someone, take me to The Louvre).

However, some were noticeably absent. The National Gallery was in there; but what about its sister superior (in my mind at least), the National Portrait Gallery? And predictably, the Tates Modern and Britain had their deserved mentions, but the Tates St. Ives and Liverpool were nowhere to be seen. 

Rachel Campbell-Johnston and her cultural cohorts picked their top galleries. Below, I've picked mine. I have cut it down to ten and won't bore you with a lengthy explanation of each one, but instead state a permanent collection gem or an outstanding exhibition I've seen there. 

Do you agree, disagree, or have something to say? Let me know in the comments.
  1. The National Portrait Gallery, London - A gallery that is as dedicated to the subjects of its artworks as it is to the art itself is a rare thing. Pretty much every interesting person ever is alluded to in some shape or form in here.
  2. Tate St Ives, Cornwall - A particular show that stood out in my mind was Dexter Dalwood in 2010. I was lucky enough to be part of the Learning Team that summer, and found his pieces fascinating. Look him up!
  3. Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester - Angels of Anarchy had artworks from Frida Kahlo, Meret Oppenheim and Leornara Carrington, as well as many other women working alongside and opposite the Surrealist movement. Awesome stuff.
  4. Falmouth Art Gallery, Cornwall - Little gallery with some incredible pieces, including John Opie's A Beggar Boy, a constant presence in the back gallery. He's so adorable!
  5. Penlee House, Cornwall - Summer in February currently shows here but, whatever the exhibition, it's always worth a visit for the whole experience of the grounds and the house itself.
  6. Two Temple Place, London - I recently went to chat to the guys who curated the Cornish art exhibition. The setting is stunning, with spiral staircases and decorative woodwork lining the walls. Plus they, like me, have a penchant for Henry Scott Tuke.
  7. The Dali Museum, Florida - Want to see epic pieces of surrealism the stretch metres in the air? This gallery has a bunch, and the sheer scale lets you see Dali in a whole new light.
  8. The National Museum of Art, Osaka - I was lucky enough to stumble across my now-favourite photographer, Daido Moriyama, at this exhibition
  9. Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Dublin - Worth a visit to see Francis Bacon's original studio, around which this gallery stands.
  10. Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Yorkshire - It was here that I first saw the works of Rob Ryan in the flesh, back in 2009. Make sure you bring a coat, and walk the grounds for sublime sculptures from Anthony Gormley, Henry Moore and David Nash.

So those are some of my favourite galleries. As promised, The Times' list is as follows:
  1. Uffizi Gallery, Florence
  2. Prado Museum, Madrid
  3. The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
  4. The Museum of Modern Art, New York
  5. Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland
  6. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
  7. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
  8. The Louvre, Paris
  9. The National Gallery, London
  10. The Frick Collection, New York
  11. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
  12. Borghese Gallery, Rome
  13. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
  14. Musee d'Orsay, Paris
  15. Yale Centre for British Art, Connecticut
  16. Tate Modern, London
  17. Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar
  18. Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin
  19. Vatican Museums, Rome
  20. The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia
  21. Dia: Beacon, New York
  22. Musee National Picasso, Paris.
  23. Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark
  24. Tate Britain, London
  25. Dulwich Picture Gallery, London
  26. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
  27. Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
  28. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid
  29. MoMA P.S.1, New York
  30. Hakone Open-Air Museum, Tokyo
  31. Inhotim Sculpture Park, Brazil
  32. Sotheby's and Christie's auction houses, London
  33. Kettle's Yard, Cambridge
  34. National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
  35. Foundation Beyeler, Switzerland
  36. Wallace Collection, London
  37. National Palace Museum, Taiwan
  38. Japan Folk Crafts Museum, Tokyo
  39. Museum Ludwig, Cologne
  40. The Leopold, Vienna
  41. Tretyakov State Gallery, Moscow
  42. Hepworth Gallery Wakefield, West Yorkshire
  43. Baltic 39 at the Baltic Centre, Gateshead
  44. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh
  45. Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art, Beijing
  46. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
  47. Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain
  48. Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh
  49. Accademia Carrara, Italy
  50. The Museum of Bad Art (MOBA), Boston

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