[VIDEO] Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s Bizarre Maoist Spectacle: Final Nail in the Coffin for the Cuckoo Bananas Labour Party?


John McDonnell audaciously brandished a copy of Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell dropped a political bombshell in the House of Commons What was it over? A book. Not just any book, mind. A book conveying a philosophy that is most certainly taboo in British politics. A book that was none other than Mao Zedong’s very own ‘Little Red Book’. The commotion caused by it was far from little, however.


The immediate reactions of everyone in the House of Commons were indeed telling. The Conservatives were overjoyed. It was an early Christmas present for them. Many MPs were chorusing “more! more!” On the Labour side of the hall, some found it amusing; yet it clearly stirred up much discontent. Even Deputy Leader Tom Watson, who could be seen sat beside McDonnell at the time, had a faint look of despair as this historic book was pulled out; which is, to some extent, the scriptures, or holy book, of the far left.

Clearly it was done as a mere jest, and nothing more than a humoured attack at Chancellor George Osborne – who he ironically labelled “Comrade Osborne” – in criticism for his approach to Britain’s relations with China. His direct quote from Chairman Mao was as follows:

Archive/Getty Images

Archive/Getty Images

“We must learn to do economic work from all who know how. No matter who they are, we must esteem them as teachers, learning from them respectfully and conscientiously. But we must not pretend to know what we do not know.”

Yet it is an unsuitable affiliation. Surely you’d expect something like this from the Communist Party of Great Britain themselves; not from a serious opposition party vying to win power in modern-day Britain – where Thatcherism still lingers and private property is still at large.

[Read the full story here, at Ideology. Vision. Discussion]

Most Marxists I have ever associated with would actually distance themselves from Mao Zedong: a dictator of the People’s Republic of China, responsible for the deaths of millions of his own civilians – from famine and executing those against the rule. Even if you are going to cite a Communist figure at all in British politics, better to use a figure such as Lenin or Trotsky; not a brutal mass-murdering despot.

Cameron and Obsourne’s reactions show their delight

Cameron and Obsourne’s reactions show their delight

Many feel content with a more narrow view of politics. Even if it isn’t one that directly mirrors the Conservative party’s ideology, it wouldn’t drift too far from this. Hence by both the Conservative party and the then-austerity-favouring Labour party gained 330 and 232 seats respectively (562 out of 650 overall) in the General Election last May. Many predict the latter figure, which is that of Labour of course, will be trimmed away if trends stay the same. Read the rest of this entry »

Pablo Picasso’s ‘La Gommeuse’ Breaks Record at Sotheby’s: Sold for $67.5 Million

Barney Henderson reports: A double-sided erotic Picasso portrait has sold for a record price in New York, soothing the art world’s nerves after a nervous start to a major sale.

La Gommeuse (The Nightclub Singer), which hides a second hidden portrait of an art dealer on its back, sold for $67.5 million (£45 million) late on Thursday night, setting a new record for a blue period Picasso.

Auctioneer Henry Wyndham shows a Pablo Picasso artwork 'La Gommeuse' as it is auctioned at Sotheby's for $67,450,000, New York

Auctioneer Henry Wyndham shows a Pablo Picasso artwork ‘La Gommeuse’ as it is auctioned at Sotheby’s for $67,450,000, New York Photo: Getty Images

It’s sale, comfortably above its expectation, was one of several at Sotheby’s on Thursday night after a wobble in the market the night before.

The sale had got off to a lacklustre start, with a collection estimated at $500m selling for just $377m, including significant works left unsold and collectors fearing an impending chill in the market.

Unusually, the work by Piccaso has another painting on the rear of the canvas, seen reflected and upside down, in the mirror.

Unusually, the work by Piccaso has another painting on the rear of the canvas, seen reflected and upside down, in the mirror. Photo: JULIAN SIMMONDS

Officials seemed to breathe a sigh of relief on Friday, with Simon Shaw, co-head of Impressionist and modern art worldwide, lauding what he called “a small sale that packed a real punch,” and saw “a very strong result for any various owner sale in the category.”

The auction house noted its $1.67 billion Impressionist and modern total for the year so far was already the highest in its 271-year history…(read more)

Read the rest of this entry »

MacDougall’s to Host the First Soviet and Post-Soviet Art Auction

Aleksandr Deineka’s oil “Behind the Curtain," 1933. Estimate: £2–3 million ($3.1–4.6 million million). (MacDougall's )

Liza Muhfeld writes: On October 12, MacDougall’s Fine Art Auctions will hold its sale of Soviet and Post-Soviet art, the first combined auction of Soviet and Post-Soviet art to hit the market. It will also be the house’s first auction in a series of mid-season sales dedicated to Russian art.

Roughly 177 lots will be offered—spanning paintings and porcelain by Russian artists from the late 1920s to the early 2000s—and the house expects to bring in a total of more than £3.5 million ($5.3 million). The majority of works come from several major Western collections of Russian and Soviet art, and estimates range from £1,500 ($2,300) to £2 million ($3.1 million), with most lots valued at £15,000 ($23,000).

The auction will offer works bridging nearly every major 20th century art movement in Russia and the Soviet Union. Work by artists from the Academy of Fine Arts of the USSR, including Arkady Plastov and Dmitri Nalbandian will be available, along with Soviet Nonconformist artists Vladimir Nemukhin, founder of the Lianozov group, and Vladimir and Georgii Stenberg. Work by members of the Society of Easel-Painters (OST) will also be represented, including by Aleksandr Deineka and Yuri Pimenov. Read the rest of this entry »

‘How I Found the Harper Lee Manuscript’


Much has been said lately about the discovery of ‘Go Set a Watchman’ and when it occurred. Here’s the full story…

Tonja B. Carter writes: Accidents of history sometimes place otherwise unknown people in historic spotlights. Such was my fate when last August curiosity got the best of me and I found a long-lost manuscript written by one of America’s most beloved authors. The manuscript was titled “Go Set a Watchman,” and its author was Harper Lee.


“As Nelle’s estate trustee, lawyer and friend, I would like to tell the full story, fill in any blanks that may be in people’s minds, and provide a historical context for those interested in how this book went from lost to being found.”

In the time since it was announced that “Watchman” was found and Harper Lee—or Nelle, her first name, used by family and friends—decided to have it published, much has been said about how it was found, who found it, who go set a watchman harper leeknew of its existence, and when it was first found. As Nelle’s estate trustee, lawyer and friend, I would like to tell the full story, fill in any blanks that may be in people’s minds, and provide a historical context for those interested in how this book went from lost to being found.

[Order Harper Lee’s long-awaited book “Go Set a Watchman: A Novel” from Amazon.com]

The story begins in June 2011 when Sam Pinkus, who was Nelle’s literary agent at the time, contacted her sister, Alice, and asked that he be allowed to examine and inventory Nelle’s assets. Alice, who has since died, was an attorney and until the last few years of her life handled most business matters for Nelle, who lives in an assisted-living facility. Mr. Pinkus was particularly interested in having the original manuscript for “To Kill a Mockingbird” examined and appraised. He said he needed to open Nelle’s safe-deposit box, where it was assumed the manuscript was held.


[Also see – The To Kill a Mockingbird Sequel’s First Printing Will Be 400 Times Bigger Than the Original]

[More – Agency Ends Probe Into Publication of New Novel ‘Go Set a Watchman’ by ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ Author Harper Lee]

[More – Book Review: In Harper Lee’s ‘Go Set a Watchman’ Atticus Finch Defends Jim Crow]

The box was opened some months later, on Oct. 14, at a bank in Monroeville, Ala., Nelle’s hometown and mine. Present that day: Mr. Pinkus, Justin Caldwell, an appraiser from Sotheby’s, who came to Monroeville at his request, and myself. Nelle’s safe-deposit box contained several items, including an old cardboard box from Lord & Taylor and a heavy, partially opened but tightly wrapped mailing envelope sent from Lippincott, the original publishers of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” to Alice Lee and postmarked Jan. 3, 1961.

Harper Lee in the Monroeville courthouse. Photograph: Donald Uhrbrock/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Harper Lee in the Monroeville courthouse. Photo: Donald Uhrbrock/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

“The story begins in June 2011 when Sam Pinkus, who was Nelle’s literary agent at the time, contacted her sister, Alice, and asked that he be allowed to examine and inventory Nelle’s assets.”

The Lord & Taylor box contained several hundred pages of typed original manuscript. After we all read a couple of pages, someone mentioned that the first page was not the first page of “Mockingbird,” but rather seemed to be a later chapter. I was then asked to retrieve a copy of the “Mockingbird” book so that Mr. Caldwell could compare what actually ended up in the book with the first page of the manuscript. After returning with a copy of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” I then left the meeting and didn’t return. According to recent press reports, Mr. Pinkus and Mr. Caldwell spent about an hour examining the documents.

Harper Lee..Author of To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee, while visting her home town.  (Photo by Donald Uhrbrock/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)  mail_sender Matthew Fearn   mail_subject Harper Lee  mail_date Tue, 3 Feb 2015 17:47:10 +0000  mail_body --  Best Matt ------ *Matthew Fearn* *Picture Editor - The Daily Telegraph* *Landline:** +44 207 931 2660 * *Twitter: @pixed *

Harper Lee, Author of To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee, while visting her home town. (Photo by Donald Uhrbrock/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

The next day I received an email from Mr. Caldwell, the Sotheby’s appraiser, saying “it was so nice to meet you yesterday and to get to see that manuscript.” He made no mention of the existence of a second, unknown book. And the following day, Sam Pinkus wrote to me that “Nelle is under no obligation to Sotheby’s whatsoever, including no obligation for Nelle to sell or auction the items.” Again, no mention of a second book.

Why does any of this matter? Roll things forward to less than two weeks ago, as the publication of “Go Set a Watchman” neared. Read the rest of this entry »

Picasso, Munch, Van Gogh, Giacometti, Oh My: Poised to Set Records at NYC Auctions

Spring Art Auctions Preview

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City’s spring art auctions get underway Tuesday with exceptional pieces by Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Vincent Van Gogh and others whose work continues to fuel a robust market for impressionist, modern and contemporary art.

Picasso’s “Women of Algiers (Version O),” estimated to bring over $140 million, is poised to become the most expensive artwork sold at auction, while Giacometti’s “Pointing Man” could set an auction record for a sculpture if bidding soars to an expected $130 million.

Both are being offered at Christie’s on May 11.

Experts say the once unimaginable prices are fueled by established and wealthy new buyers and the desire by collectors to own the best works.

“I don’t really see an end to it, unless interest rates drop sharply, which I don’t see happening in the near future,” said Manhattan dealer Richard Feigen. “Buyers will flock in from the Far East, the Gulf and Europe.”

In 2012, Edvard Munch‘s “The Scream” fetched nearly $120 million only to be bested a year later when Francis Bacon’s triptych “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” sold for $142.4 million.

Now Picasso’s 1955 “Women of Algiers” could potentially eclipse that stratospheric price tag. The vibrantly colorful work featuring a scantily attired female amid smaller nudes is part of a 15-work series that Picasso created in 1954-1955. It has appeared in several major museum retrospectives of the artist.

Giacometti’s 1947 “Pointing Man,” a life-size bronze of an elongated figure with extended arms, has been in the same private collection for 45 years. Giacometti, who died in 1966, made six casts of the work; four are in museums, the others are in private hands and a foundation collection.

His “Walking Man I” holds the auction record for a sculpture. It sold in 2010 for $104.3 million. Read the rest of this entry »

Art Auction Records Shattered in London


London, United Kingdom – It took a breathtaking span of 26 hours in London for more records to fall in the thriving global art market.

Works by Gerhard Richter, Lucio Fontana, and Cy Twombly were among those that set the pace at the post-war and contemporary art sales hosted by Christie’s and Sotheby’s.

The highest priced lot took place on Tuesday when Richter’s Abstraktes Bild surprised the packed auction room on Bond Street with aggressive phone bids coming in at 2 million British pound increments ($3.1m).

The final sale price of 30.4 million pounds ($46.8m) established a new auction record by a living European artist.

Gallery technicians hanging a picture by Gerhard Richter at Sotheby's

The anonymous bidder, reported to be an American, was represented by Sotheby’s worldwide co-head of contemporary art, Cheyenne Westphal.

“I think I can genuinely say it went to someone who truly wanted this painting, and he was set on buying it tonight,” Westphal said, noting Richter also happened to be her favourite artist.

A sister painting of the large abstract work was sold by

Eric Clapton in 2012 for a then-record of 21 million pounds ($32m).

The artwork, which measures 3 x 2.5 metres draped with jagged lines of reds and greens, was last sold on auction at Sotheby’s in 1999 for $607,500, generating a return of 32.4 percent annually.

“Richter is not hot all of a sudden, he has always been sought after,” said Arianne Levene Piper, founder of the New Art World consultancy

“There are plenty of ultra-high net worth collectors who are willing to pay for top works.

This explains why a great painting by a great artist will sell for high prices at auction.”

Works by another European artist, Francis Bacon, failed to make headlines this auction season, despite drumming up a buzz prior to the sales. Read the rest of this entry »

Claude Monet: Willows in Giverny


MONET, Claude
Willows in Giverny
Oil on canvas, 74 x 93 cm
Konstmuseum, Gothenburg

[VIDEO] The Fluid Dynamics of ‘The Starry Night’: How Van Gogh’s Masterpiece Explains the Scientific Mysteries of Movement and Light


…more than a masterwork of art, Van Gogh’s painting turns out to hold astounding clues to understanding some of the most mysterious workings of science.

This fascinating short animation from TED-Ed and Natalya St. Clair, author of The Art of Mental Calculation, explores how “The Starry Night” sheds light on the concept of turbulent flow in fluid dynamics, one of the most complex ideas to explain mathematically and among the hardest for the human mind to grasp. From why the brain’s perception of light and motion makes us see Impressionist works as flickering, to how a Russian mathematician’s theory explains Jupiter’s bright red spot, to what the Hubble Space Telescope has to do with Van Gogh’s psychotic episodes, this mind-bending tour de force 51I-8MpSgWL._SL250_ties art, science, and mental health together through the astonishing interplay between physical and psychic turbulence.

[Check out Natalya St. Clair’s bookThe Art of Mental Calculation” at Amazon]

Van Gogh and other Impressionists represented light in a different way than their predecessors, seeming to capture its motion, for instance, across sun-dappled waters, or here in star light that twinkles and melts through milky waves of blue night sky.

“The effect is caused by luminance, the intensity of the light in the colors on the canvas. The more primitive part of our visual cortex — which sees light contrast and motion, but not color — will blend two differently colored areas together if they have the same luminance. But our brains primate subdivision will see the contrasting colors without blending. With these two interpretations happening at once, the light in many Impressionist works seems to pulse, flicker and radiate oddly.”

That’s how this and other Impressionist works use quickly executed prominent brushstrokes to capture something strikingly real about how light moves.

Sixty years later, Russian mathematician Andrey Kolmogorov furthered our mathematical understanding of turbulence when he proposed that energy in a turbulent fluid at length R varies in proportion to the five-thirds power of R. Experimental measurements show Kolmogorov was remarkably close to the way turbulent flow works, although a complete description of turbulence remains one of the unsolved problems in physics. Read the rest of this entry »

Manet Painting Sells for $65 Million at New York Auction


A stunning 1881 masterpiece by Edouard Manet sold for $65 million at auction in New York on Wednesday, a record for a work by the French impressionist artist.

Le Printemps,” which the auction house Christie’s had valued at $25-30 million, depicts a famous actress of the day and was exhibited in 1882 to critical acclaim while Manet was one of the most famous living artists.

The canvas has been owned by the same family for more than a century and for the last 20 years been on loan to the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

It was snapped up by a buyer in the front row who calmly fended off furious bidding on the telephone to clinch the picture for $65.13 million. Read the rest of this entry »