The Farce of a Superficial Theft

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“Well there are times when one would like to hang the whole human race and finish the farce.”  Mark Twain (from Goodreads)

Falling under the category of “you can’t make this stuff up,” was the report of the recent theft of two Damien Hirst dot paintings from a gallery in the Notting Hill district of London.  The two paintings were rather simply lifted right off the wall in plain view of a video camera and multiple street windows.  What I can’t get over is why?  Someone just needed to have some dots really, really badly, I guess.  These dots weren’t that valuable compared to other recent art heists.  Maybe we have been light of entertainment lately in the art world?

The video of the theft is hilarious at the very least (see below).  Even a six year old could have done this heist.  Unfortunately, illusionist Derren Brown (story from The Drum) was forced to disavow any knowledge of the heist because of an ill timed Tweet.  Judging by the video, it would be a major stretch to accuse this thief of being anything remotely resembling an illusionist.  Had Brown been part of this theft, his vociferous denial would be from a need to save his reputation from accusations of imitating an illusionist than from the commission of a crime.

Screen shot 2013-12-15 at 8.17.39 PMDigging a little deeper into Hirst’s recent past, unearths a spat between the artist and a teenager over the lifting of a few pencils from a Hirst exhibit at the Tate.  (The Independent has the story.)  This spat also conjures up visions of six year olds.  It seems the teen, who goes by the name Cartraine, had used an image of a Hirst artwork to make collages he then sold over the internet.  That had set off a firestorm from Hirst leading to legal action against the teen.  In retaliation, the teen stole a few pencils from a large Hirst installation (seen in the photo from The Independent) on exhibit at the Tate.  So incensed was Hirst over the pencil theft, he had the teen and the teen’s father arrested and charged with theft of the pencils.  Seems a bit like killing a mosquito with a sledgehammer, to me but it’s been a long time since I was six years old.

Topping off the hilarity is the article on the heist for The Guardian by Jonathan Jones.  To add insult to Hirst’s injury, Jones states, “Will history miss these pieces?’” My guess would be, “No!”  Who’s going to miss a few dots?  But its Jones’ final bit that deals the killing blow to this heist.  “Hirst’s spots are icons of superficiality for a superficial age.  In that sense, they are contemporary classics.  But I wouldn’t cross the road to nick one.”  Neither would I.  Or I doubt you would either, for that matter.  Cue the clowns.  It’s time to end this superficial farce.

Youtube has the full theft video:

More from Sky news: here.

Top photo from The Guardian

Colorful Fridays-The Queen’s Red

“I love red so much, I almost want to paint everything red.”–Alexander Calder (from Color Research)Screen shot 2013-10-18 at 10.59.01 AM

Did Lewis Carroll base the character, the Red Queen, of Through Looking Glass, on the War of the Roses or on Queen Victoria?  There is much speculation but the monarch was apparently an amateur painter with a preference for alizarin crimson.  However, many artists, like the former Queen, love this juicy color.  Botanical artists once frequently used this deep rich red. But artist beware. With alizarin crimson, it pays to read the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Alizarin crimson was introduced in 1868 by German chemists, Graebe and Lieberman.  Handprint.com states alizarin goes on strong and dark but dries to a much lighter maroon.  Both Handprint.com and GurneyJourney.blogspot.com give alizarin crimson very poor ratings for light-fastness.  James Gurney states alizarin will fade out of the painting considerably over time. PR83 is the chemical name of this rapidly fading alizarin crimson.

Gamblin paints has solved the fading problem of alizarin crimson by creating a lightfast substitute, slightly less intense, called Alizarin Permanent.  And another choice for artists from Gamblin is the warmer but equally transparent Perylene Red.  A little experimentation might make either of these reds a successful alternative.

Golden Paints has, also, come up with a solution to the lack of light-fastness in alizarin crimson by blending the quinacridone reds with Phthalo Blue-green shade to come up with Alizarin Crimson Hue.   Golden gives Alizarin Crimson Hue a light-fastness rating of I, the best rating, another good substitute.

Brainpickings and Making a Mark are two blogs with a series of Queen Victoria’s watercolor sketches.  The Independent has a story on the recent unveiling of the exhibit of Queen Victoria’s watercolors, along with other royals artwork, at Windsor Castle this year.   She painted quite a few landscapes of the Scottish Highlands and a number of sketches of her children.  Enjoy the Queen’s paintings but maybe not her color preferences!