Friday, 27 June 2008

Berger Prize 2007

The British Art Journal  announces the Short List of six titles for the £5000 Berger Prize for British Art History

The winner will be announced in London at 7.15 pm on 2 July 2008 in a reception at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.

The six books short-listed for the 2007 prize (for an outstanding book published between 1 September 2006 and 31 August 2007) are:

Inigo Jones and The European Classicist Tradition
Giles Worsley
Yale ISBN 978-0-300-11729-5 £40

A New World, England’s First View of America
Kim Sloan
British Museum ISBN 978 0 7141 2650 0 [PB] £19.99

Moving Rooms: The Trade in Architectural Salvage
John Harris
Yale for the Paul Mellon Centre ISBN 9780300124200, £30

War Paint: Art, War, State and Identity
in Britain (1939-1945)
Brian Foss
Yale for the Paul Mellon Centre ISBN 978-0-300-10890-3 £35

Pictures and Popery. Art an Religion in England, 1660-1760
Clare Haynes
Ashgate ISBN 978-0-7546-5506-0 £55

James ‘Athenian’ Stuart. The Rediscovery of Antiquity
Ed Susan Weber Soros
Bard Graduate Center/Yale ISBN 9780300117134, £60

Since its inception in 2001, the Berger Prize has come to be recognized as the most prestigious in the field. It celebrates outstanding achievement in the history of British art and is administered by The British Art Journal, the leading research journal, and awarded jointly with the Berger Collection Educational Trust of Denver. The Denver Art Museum houses the important collection of British art assembled by the late William MB Berger in honour of whose memory the prize was established.

A panel of no fewer than five and no more than seven assessors selects the recipient. The assessors committee includes the editor of The British Art Journal (Robin Simon), and is chaired by Dr. Timothy J. Standring, Gates Foundation Curator of Painting and Sculpture, Denver Art Museum, and Trustee of the Berger Collection Educational Trust.
The other assessors for the 2007 prize are:
Professor Linda Colley, Princeton University
Dr. Ann Bermingham, University of California at Santa Barbara
Olivier Meslay, Musée du Louvre, Paris
Dr. Martin Postle, Assistant Director, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

The Long List can be seen in the current issue of The British Art Journal (IX, 1).

The following titles were deemed Hors Concours

Hogarth France and British Art
The Rise of the Arts in Eighteenth-Century Britain

Robin Simon
Paul Holberton Publishing/Hogarth Arts
ISBN 978-0-9554063-0-0, £45

Inigo Jones’s ‘Roman Sketchbook’
Edward Chaney
ISBN 0901953121 Maggs Bros/Roxburghe Club, £200

Monday, 23 June 2008

Some day my plinth will come

Boris, our new Mayor of London, has inherited the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square… This classic exercise in fake democracy ('vote for the project you want to see on the plinth') had a short list of the usual suspects presented to the public by the usual suspects, who then picked the final two (each gets a year of the plinth). 
The 'winners' are Anthony Gormley and Yinka Shonibare
Gormley proposes getting members of the public to stand on the plinth in a rota so that it is occupied 24 hours a day for a year. Sounds simple enough, doesn't it? 
But listen to Gormley: 
'Through elevation onto the plinth and removal from common ground the subjective living body becomes both representation and representative, encouraging consideration of diversity, vulnerability and the individual in contemporary society.'
Or, of course, not… 
And the same goes for Shonibare's offering of a ship in a bottle. It comes with the customary assertion of profundity without which the object would, as usual, be completely meaningless:
'For me it's a celebration of London's immense ethnic wealth, giving expression to and honouring the many cultures and ethnicities that are still breathing precious wind into the sails of the UK.'
The wind is hot air, we presume. The sails get in to this guff because the model will have sails made out of pretty (vaguely ethnic) fabric bought in Brixton market. (He's used this stuff before. It's a trademark gimmick.)
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Bonnie Prince Charlie earlier suspicions

Portrait painter Sandy Cheyne had come to the conclusion that the Scottish National Portrait Gallery had got the wrong prince in 2002 in an article in The Leopard

Saturday, 21 June 2008

The Courtauld at 75

The Courtauld Institute of Art celebrates 75 years with a festive weekend 4-6 July 2008. Robin Simon will be there as Chairman of the Courtauld Association and he has written about the place on a number of occasions (see the links in Spectator Papers below).

NOT Bonnie Prince Charlie

The new issue of The British Art Journal (Vol IX, No. 1) publishes a revelation about the best-known portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Here's a funny thing: it isn't – a portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie, that is. Instead, as Bendor Grosvenor reveals, it shows his brother Cardinal Henry Stuart, or 'Cardinal York' as he was known, who later preferred to be known by the title of 'King Henry IX'. A story, in fact, of all sorts of pretenders…
Other versions of the story can be found at these links

Thursday, 19 June 2008

The Parthenon and the Elgin Marbles

A new book by James Cuno (reviewed by Robin Simon) offers some powerful arguments in favour of keeping all the marbles just where they are…
The archaeologist Dorothy King agrees.
And so does Jonathan Keates.

Hammershoi at the Royal Academy

Villhelm Hammershoi is at the Royal Academy. Robin Simon went to Copenhagen to have a look and wrote a preview.