Nincompoopolis by Douglas Murphy review – the disaster that is Boris Johnson

By Oliver Wainwright

A searing indictment of the record of the former mayor of London, who emptied the public purse to produce ill-conceived ornaments

London’s former mayor Boris Johnson might now spend most of his time on planes, performing Brexit badinage around the world in his new pantomime role as foreign secretary, but his presence still looms large over the capital.

He is there in the east, in the inescapable form of the ArcelorMittal Orbit, a mangled £20m totem pole intended to make £1.2m a year for the upkeep of the Olympic park, but which has instead cost the taxpayer £10,000 a week to maintain. He trundles along the streets of London in the bulbous shape of the New Routemaster bus, an overheating, overpriced lump of nostalgia, whose famed back doors turned out to be faulty. He dangles across the Thames in the form of the Emirates Air Line, a novelty cable car ride presented as a crucial transport link, which has failed to attract regular commuters and loses an estimated £50,000 a week. And he is to be found all over the skyline, in the tens of tacky towers that sprouted across the capital during his tenure, stacks of empty investment units to fill his “housing” quota, without actually providing any homes.

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Source: Nincompoopolis by Douglas Murphy review – the disaster that is Boris Johnson

    

Artist unveils design of Parliament Square statue of suffragette

By Press Association

Gillian Wearing, first female artist to create statue for iconic square, granted planning approval for tribute to Millicent Fawcett

The first female artist to create a statue for Parliament Square in central London has unveiled the final design.

Related: Millicent Fawcett was a heroine deserving of a statue | Letters

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Street art goes home: museum of graffiti opens in Berlin

By Hannah Ellis-Petersen in Berlin

Urban Nation, which will champion the movement and archive its works, opens with pieces by Banksy and Blek le Rat

For some it is the largest and most democratic art movement the world has ever seen, for others it is unwanted visual pollution. But street art now has a permanent claim on the art world: an entire museum dedicated to the genre.

Urban Nation in Berlin is the world’s first major institution built to champion and archive street art and graffiti, which fully emerged in New York in the 1970s with artists who would tag the subway tunnels. Since then it has grown into a global movement, with artists making works – mostly illegally – on cityscapes around the world.

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Jasper Johns review – why can’t he just keep things simple?

By Adrian Searle

Royal Academy, London
From the richness of his early targets and flags to the crammed canvasses of his later years, this retrospective charts the great American’s six-decade journey from master of nuance to king of conundrum

The idea of painting the American flag came to Jasper Johns in a dream, during the autumn of 1954. Impatient with the slow-drying enamel he was painting with, he turned to encaustic, mixing the colour with melted wax as a way of completing the painting quickly. The hot wax dries as soon as it hits the canvas. There is something terse about these layered, waxy marks, the drips that solidify immediately rather than run down and disturb the layers below. The medium gave Johns’s work a particular timbre and voice, full of immediacy and also reserve, a feeling of deliberateness and of ideas embalmed in the surface. There is also something corpse-like about the wax that may have appealed to him. Both the imagery and the application were a sort of rejoinder to abstract expressionism, though with hindsight Johns’s early art looks less of a break than a stepping aside.

His flags are not paintings of flags, but flags themselves, painted. They are both the thing itself and its depiction. So too with his targets and his painted and drawn words, maps and numbers, his later cross-hatchings and crazy-paving shapes. Early in his career, ideas seemed to come to him in a flurry. Along with commonplace images, beer cans, shoes, brooms and the everyday clutter of his studio crept into his art. His relationships with Robert Rauschenberg, Merce Cunningham and John Cage fed his thinking. They were all in it together. It is a pity that this retrospective – which presents us with over 60 years of paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints – doesn’t make more of this.

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Source: Jasper Johns review – why can’t he just keep things simple?