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Barbara Kruger

News from London: Kruger’s talking chess set, Hirst goes to Hollywood, and Duran Duran show their sweet tooth

Also featuring parenting tips from Emin and Tate's spiritually uplifting cabaret

Doughnut King

There was a definite sugar rush around the unveiling of Stephen Cornell’s glossily rendered paintings of large doughnuts at Hiscox Projects, the exhibition space run by Hiscox fine art insurers. Among the purchasers of Cornell’s large canvases, made using real sugar, was the sweet-toothed interior designer and perpetual Peter Pan party boy Nicky Haslam along with the esteemed collector and Tate patron Janet de Botton. Three members of Duran Duran (left, with the artist) were also on hand, and in these delectable surroundings one wag was heard to mutter: “All we need now is for them to start singing Hungry like the wolf”.

The not so sweet sound of chess

The latest artist’s chess set unveiled this month by RS&A Ltd breaks yet another mould in this time-honoured game genre. The London-based company has already got Rachel Whiteread to replace knights, kings and bishops with dolls house furniture and the Chapmans to fashion chess pieces from mini-penis nosed mannequins. Whether Marcel Duchamp (the Big Daddy of conceptual art played in both the French chess championships and the 1928 and 1933 Olympiads) would have approved of the latest version by Barbara Kruger is debatable since, for the first time ever, she has produced a chess set that talks. Every time a move is made, tiny concealed speakers in each piece utter forth a phrase, sentence, or statement, ranging from “Give me a break!” or, “This is SO over!” to a series of expletives. Sharp-eared art lovers may recognise some of the voices emanating from the pieces as RS&A engaged in an intensive recruitment drive last autumn that resulted in a stream of art world volunteers—both British and US—lending their voices in the name of art. Those recorded include Jetsam herself, who was delighted that her allocated phrases included the forcefully delivered,“I must be obeyed!” For information: Tel: +44 (0)20 7253 7444.

Hirst and Rampling: the latest screen couple?

London’s Gagosian Gallery director Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst and her filmmaker husband Duncan Ward were among the merry throng spending a beachside Christmas in Mexico at the holiday home of Damien Hirst. The entourage was no doubt gearing up for Hirst’s show at Mexico City’s Hilario Galguera gallery which opened last month. Ward, meanwhile, is poised to start directing the film of Boogie Woogie, based on the art world book written by Danny Moynihan. Hirst himself makes at least one appearance on the pages of Moynihan’s satirical romp through the 1990s art scene, but whether he will be taking a cameo role in the movie remains to be seen. However, Jetsam can reveal that, there is a cameo role for Charlotte Rampling and that Gérard Depardieu and Damian Lewis are other names mentioned in connection with the project. Watch this space.

Meerkats are model parents for Emin

The cold heart of late January was considerably thawed by the heart-warming event of the blessing at Christchurch Spitalfields of the magnificently-named Ludwig Max Magnus Leiris, youngest progeny of journalist Sophie and art dealer Frederic Leiris. Among the godparents was family friend Tracey Emin who touched the congregation with a charming speech which revealed a surprisingly detailed knowledge of the child-minding methods of meerkats. According to the well-informed Ms Emin, these charming mongoose relatives achieve an even spread of childcare by ensuring that all their young are looked after by other individuals apart from their mothers, thus guaranteeing that group responsibility is taken by all. Ms Emin sternly urged the gathering to apply the same principles in looking out for the welfare of Master Ludwig.

Love the sin not the sinner at Tate

No one can say that Tate Britain doesn’t embrace its local community. Recently it threw its doors open to Duckie, the now-cult Saturday night cabaret held at nearby gay mecca the Vauxhall Tavern, hosted by the wonderfully named Amy Lamé. Ducky’s Tate fest took the theme of “Keep the faith” and this multi-doctrinal bonanza included, among other things, a full Salvation Army brass band playing on the steps with a playlist ranging from stirring hymns to Glenn Miller, a gospel magician and—most popular—the infiltration of Gallery 9 by a host of 40 vicars, both male and female, from parishes across the capital who dispensed tea, cake and advice to all comers. These religious luminaries even included the Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral. Jetsam wonders if Nicholas Serota was among those seeking spiritual direction in light of Tate’s current woes?

George and Norman raise the tone for Maggi

Such was the roar of party noise at the Marlborough Gallery launch of new paintings by the redoubtable Maggi Hambling that even the considerable vocal powers of her champion, the flamboyant jazz singer George Melly, were drowned in the throng as he attempted to say a few words in support of his pal. Quick to spring to his aid was another Hambling admirer and mature art world bad boy in the form of the Royal Academy’s Norman Rosenthal, who not only acted as Melly’s megaphone by repeating the jazzman’s fond words in heightened decibels, but also added his own oratorical flourishes. However decades of standing in front of blaring sound systems have taken their toll on the auditory abilities of Mr Melly, who was none the wiser as to how his own speech was being amplified and adapted.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Barbara Kruger’s talking chess set'