The Art Newspaper is reporting live from Venice this week, with daily updates of the biennale preview. Look out for tweets, behind-the-scenes photos (like the above pic of a performer on Allora & Calzadilla's tank treadmill in front of the US Pavilion), and news on our website. And make sure you sign up for our newsletter to get special bulletins.
Art does a (male) body good
Sorry ladies, a recent study found that men, not women, who participate in cultural activities are happier and healthier than men who don't take in the occasional exhibition. Conducted at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the study found that all cultural pastimes, be they musical, theatrical or artistic, are associated with good health in men. Church attendance and sporting event led to increased life satisfaction for women. Gender aside, the more activities a person participated in, the happier he or she tended to be. The study may result in a new class of men – one that ditches Super Bowl Sunday for Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.
Duke's dentures are up for grabs
At an English Heritage press conference held yesterday at Apsley House in London, Lady Douro, the Duke of Wellington’s daughter-in-law, revealed some tip-top plans to raise the famous residence's profile. In an effort to boost the number of visitors to the house, the family are currently discussing the possibility of loaning pieces from their collection which includes paintings by Italian old masters such as Correggio and Giulio Romano. But one rather unusual item up for discussion is the first Duke’s false teeth as well as his hearing aids. Fake choppers are indeed a real commodity—when a set of Churchill’s gnashers went up for auction in July 2010, they made a hefty £15,200.
Bill hits Barcelona in 2012
Barcelona embraces Bill Viola next April when the video art supremo will show Departing Angel, a dramatic piece on the theme of rebirth, accompanied by the Orchestra of Collegium Vocale Gent performing Bach’s Passion According to St Matthew. High-profile Belgian conductor Philippe Herreweghe will lead the rousing rendition which forms part of Palau 100, a classical music festival which next year focuses on the connections with contemporary art.
A show with bite (and a cut out of Tony Blair)
The Victoria & Albert Museum in London gets all satirical this autumn with plans to open an exhibition celebrating 50 years of Private Eye, the bitingly caustic current affairs mag known for its witty cartoons, probing insights into the UK media and political worlds and infamous front covers that lampoon high-profile figures in the news (18 October-8 January 2012). Ian Hislop, Private Eye editor, has chosen 50 of the best covers, one from every year the magazine has been published. Original art work by illustrators such as Gerald Scarfe and Ralph Steadman will go on show alongside a life-sized cut out of Tony Blair, a stuffed dog and a flying Robert Maxwell.
E&D say sorry
You can always count on the mischievous Scandinavian duo Elmgreen & Dragset for some crazy japes. The pair will show a “performance-sculpture” in Rotterdam this summer in front of the former main post office entitled It's Never Too Late to Say Sorry, commissioned by Sculpture International Rotterdam. Every day for a year at noon, a man will approach the sculpture - a megaphone locked in a box on a plinth - open it up and say into the megaphone, (you guessed it) "It's Never too Late to Say Sorry". Talk about public penitence.
Alice Anderson, or rather, her hair-based work, is everywhere this summer. The UK-born artist is known for enveloping buildings in vivid red locks (try to catch her show at the Freud Museum in London, until 5 June). But her work Follow Me for the Latitude festival this July in Southwold, UK, reaches new heights in folically challenged art. “The visitor will start by seeing a female figure in the woods. Her body will be tied up with a thick and immensely long rope made of hair. The visitor will be invited to follow the rope through the wood. During the journey, the rope of doll's hair will change shape and dimension several times…the rope will continue until a male personage is found,” notes the intriguing press blurb.
Colbert's art scholars
Keats was wrong, Beauty is truthiness. Feigned right-wing pundit Stephen Colbert and his wife Evelyn donated a gift to the University of Virginia (UVA) that will finance 15 to 20 fine-arts scholarships per annum. University officials will choose the College Art Scholars based on arts supplement packages submitted during the undergraduate admission process. A sum of up to $3,000 is on offer to students with declared majors or minors in studio art, dance, drama or music. The money will help support an art-related project that begins the summer after the students' third year. Evelyn Colbert graduated from UVa's college of arts and sciences in 1985 with a Bachelor's degree in drama and English. “The Colbert Report” host's gift will fund at least four summer grants — dubbed the Colbert Arts Scholars Awards — each year for the next three years.
Is that a Botticelli in your pocket?
Move over oysters, art is the newest aphrodisiac. A recent study found that viewing art releases the feel-good chemical dopamine into the brain, eliciting the same feelings as being in love. A neurobiologist at the University College London scanned volunteers' brains as they looked at 28 pictures. Works by Botticelli and Monet caused increased blood flow to areas of the brain that are usually associated with romantic love. John Constable, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres and Guido Reni aroused the highest physiological response — a nearly 10% increase of blood flow — of the artists included in the study. Who knew Constable was such a lady killer?
The online quiz Art You Smarter Than a Curator? pits art enthusiasts and web surfers alike against the Smithsonian's curatorial minds in an artistic battle of the wits. Each month contestants spar with a different curator and for every correct answer, 10 cents are donated to a Smithsonian museum. Playonline to see if curators pose more of an intellectual threat than fifth graders. In the interest of full disclosure, we'll admit we only won a paltry 20 cents on our first try.
Fit to print
Writing while incarcerated is nothing new to the arts. Just ask Oscar Wilde or the Marquis de Sade. Art world jailbird Ai Weiwei is not permitted to write from his cell, but MIT Press has just published a selection from the artist's blog, which was shut down on 1 June 2009 by Chinese authorities. “Ai Weiwei's Blog: Writings, Interviews, and Digital Rants, 2006-2009” includes posts on politics, art and autobiography.
Match made in Haiti
The unlikely duo of gallerist David Zwirner and actor Ben Stiller are joining forces to organise Artists for Haiti, a charity auction that will raise funds for children's education and health programs. Several high-profile artists have donated works for the event, including Chuck Close, Jasper Johns, Paul McCarthy and Luc Tuymans. The auction will be held on 22 September 2011 at Christie’s, New York. How the organisers came together in the first place is anyone's guess, but lucky for Haiti they did.
Washington, Lincoln—and Jesus?
Who cares about the separation of church and state? Not Jon McNaughton. The Utah-based artist pulled his prints from Brigham Young University’s bookstore last week, citing administrative liberalism. His painting, "One Nation Under God," caused university feathers to ruffle and led the bookstore to back out of an agreement that had the piece on offer through April. The painting depicts Jesus Christ holding a copy of the US Constitution near the US Capitol. He is surrounded by such historic notables as Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Harriet Tubman, Ronald Reagan and soldiers from various wars. The lower half of the painting is divided between figures who have "pushed our country toward socialism" and others who support McNaughton's brand of patriotism. Chief among those included in the former category are “Mr. Hollywood”, a Supreme Court justice and a professor clutching “The Origin of Species.” His website explains each figure in this pictorial sea of plenty. "It’s only offensive to people who do not believe the Constitution is divinely inspired," says McNaughton.
Stella Vine paints another Princess
It had to happen...Brit artist Stella Vine, who sparked a furore with her headline-hitting 2003 painting of Princess Diana (Hi Paul Can You Come Over?), is now "working on a portrait of Kate Middleton" according to a press statement. The picture of Diana was shown in the 2004 Saatchi collection show "New Blood" so will the UK uber-collector also seek out the planned painting of the newly wed Duchess of Cambridge?