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The Guardian

Dec 17 2017
Martin Parr: ‘Brexit infects every other story in Britain’

The pioneering photographer has been documenting Britain for 40 years. In a cemetery cafe, he talks about his gallery … and his collection of space dog ephemera

I arrive at Martin Parr’s new gallery in Bristol soaked through having tramped, in sheeting rain, around the former industrial site in which it is housed, trying to find it. Parr, Britain’s foremost documentary photographer, is up a ladder in the large back office of the pristine space, doing one of the things you guess he secretly likes doing best, filing pictures. I stand dripping on his new floor while he comes down and casts his never quite neutral eye over me. He is notably dry, in all senses. It is a small relief that he does not have a camera to hand.

Parr’s photographs have always been about juxtaposition and incongruity. He made his name photographing the tribes and clubs of northern England, Hebden Bridge’s “Ancient Order of Henpecked Husbands” and so on. That obsession continues, 40-odd years on, in the BBC “idents” that he currently choreographs (those punctuation marks between programmes of sea-swimmers and wheelchair rugby players and night kayakers designed to suggest our eccentric “oneness”). Through his viewfinder the way we would like to see ourselves is set against the way that others see us.

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The Guardian

Dec 17 2017
London’s new US embassy: a very diplomatic America on Thames

London’s new US embassy may be just a glass cube with disguised fortifications, but it is also restrained, efficient, green… the antithesis of Donald Trump

“A giant, translucent bladderwrack”, “a high security Travelodge”, “a glass box covered in shite”. Within hours of its unveiling my tweeting colleagues in the architectural press have chosen to be particularly unkind to the new US embassy (which President Trump may or may not inaugurate at the still mysterious date when he comes to Britain) in Nine Elms, south-west London. In this they follow the tepid response its competition-winning designs received when they were unveiled in 2010. Its detractors then were said to include dissenting members of the competition jury, Lord (Richard) Rogers and the property developer Lord Palumbo, who opposed the choice of the young-ish winning practice, KieranTimberlake. They would have preferred the winner to be one of Rogers’s fellow winners of the Pritzker prize – Thom Mayne of the Los Angeles practice Morphosis, or the New York-based Richard Meier or Pei Cobb Freed.

Well, perhaps my expectations have been lowered by exposure to too much dross, but I find it hard to match this level of scorn. There are other buildings that deserve it more, several of them in the embassy’s immediate vicinity. There are even aspects of the building – again this might be a reflection of parched times – for which to be grateful.

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The Guardian

Dec 17 2017
Howard Hodgkin remembered by Alan Hollinghurst
6 August 1932 – 9 March 2017
The novelist recalls how he became great friends with Hodgkin after the artist offered to design his new book jacket

• Peter Hall remembered by David Hare

I first saw paintings by Howard Hodgkin at the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford in 1976, when I was a graduate student. They were vivid, complex and highly individual, shimmering seductively between public and private – you glimpsed intimacies veiled in the very moment of being declared. Howard himself I first saw five or six years later, going just ahead of me into a London cinema for a screening of Frank Ripploh’s unprecedentedly candid gay movie Taxi zum Klo; I have an impression, like the vivid blur of one of his own paintings, of a small figure with greying hair settling in the reddish gloom of the auditorium, and when the lights came up at the end a glance of his grey eyes, which were uncanny in their effect of simultaneous absorption and penetration.

We got to know each other 10 years later, when he amazed me by asking if he could do the jacket for my second novel, The Folding Star. After a week’s silence he rang and invited me to his studio, to see if I thought what he’d done was suitable. I remember blinking, not only at the peculiar pure light of the studio, but at the fact it was there at all, a former dairy concealed in the heart of a block between the British Museum and New Oxford Street. In the square white room, under a pyramidal glass roof, tall canvas screens propped against the walls concealed every painting but one – in this case a small intense horizontal displayed on the far wall and magnetising the eye, the only bit of colour to be seen. He hadn’t read the book (it wasn’t yet finished), and it seemed to me sheer intuition that had led him to create this intensely apt image, a gorgeous sunset above hilltops, the crossing red clouds themselves forming a vast ragged star.

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The Guardian

Dec 16 2017
From Life review – lacking a vital spark
Royal Academy, London
A confused survey of life drawing offers little in the way of fresh observation, or hope for the future of a dying art

You cannot draw, and yet you are an artist. Might this be a contradiction in terms? It would have been, a century ago. Even comparatively recently, art students were required to study anatomy, sketch classical casts in the sculpture court and stand for hours drawing professional models as twilight fell in the studio. To draw was to see, to understand, to learn. Drawing was the vital underpinning of every other art. For the artist, wrote John Berger, drawing was pure discovery.

But this great skill was gradually required less often. Conceptual art, performance art, land art, video, installation, digital and film art: they all made drawing (supposedly) redundant. Photography, what’s more, appeared made to catch the living figure. By the 1990s, the life class was fading out of art schools and Goldsmiths had even banned the practice, lest it objectify the female model. Those of us who wanted to draw or paint the human body were better off in a local evening class.

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The Guardian

Dec 16 2017
Revealed: sketches that show the inspiration for Banksy’s ‘alternativity’ in Bethlehem
Danny Boyle’s BBC Two documentary explores the problems he encountered directing the artist’s contemporary reworking of the Christmas story

The traditional stage is familiar from thousands of primary school Christmas celebrations. Mary kneeling by a manger, angels with haloes on sticks, a diminutive king with an outsized crown.

But behind the actors and audience loom the menacing concrete slabs of a vast barrier wall, and the spotlights of the stage are augmented by searchlights from a watchtower housing snipers and machine guns.

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The Guardian

Dec 16 2017
Out of the fog: ‘missing’ Monet found through the power of the web

Painting of artist’s rural retreat, unseen in exhibition since 1895, will now go on show at National Gallery

Tracking down lost works of art usually involves poring over obscure documents in galleries, archives and libraries, searching for clues. But the curator of a forthcoming National Gallery exhibition on Claude Monet will be featuring a “missing” painting that he found through a startlingly straightforward route – a Google search.

The art historian Richard Thomson knew the painting, Effet de Brouillard, from a postage stamp-sized image in the definitive catalogue of works by the impressionist master. It was listed as being in a private collection.

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The Guardian

Dec 16 2017
Surrealism and the city – in pictures

Brooklyn-based photographer Ben Zank has an eye for the unusual. His urban portraits – many of them self-portraits – present a surreal depiction of the struggles of everyday life, inspired by the area he lives and works in. While he attempts to capture as much of the final effect as possible using the camera, digital manipulation in Photoshop afterwards can take anywhere between one and 15 hours per image. Zank sees each setup as its own self-contained story rather than part of a series. “Each image stands alone in its own way – it’s more of a spontaneous reaction to the environment,” he says. “I don’t want all the images to make sense, but I also want people to be able to digest them with their own opinion.”

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The Guardian

Dec 16 2017
The 20 photographs of the week

A memorial service for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, protests in Ramallah and wildfires in California – the week’s biggest news stories captured by the world’s best photojournalists

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The Guardian

Dec 15 2017
Beyond Batman: how Indigenous superheroes are turning comics inside out

Mainstream comics have kept Indigenous characters on the fringe, but a new exhibition is focused on unlocking their superpowers

In 1988, while Australia was disingenuously promising a treaty to placate the First Peoples protesting against bicentenary celebrations, an Aboriginal character called Gateway appeared in the comic Uncanny Xmen #229. The mutant superhero Wolverine was perplexed, muttering, “Old Abo must be some kind’a teleporter.” Gateway had no reply. In fact, he had no dialogue in that or any subsequent issue. Like most Indigenous characters in superhero comics created by non-Indigenous writers, the voiceless Gateway occupied an uneasy space in the narrative, neither hero nor villain, good nor evil; a troubling part of the flora and fauna of the Marvel universe.

A new exhibition, Marramb-ik, at Melbourne museum’s Bunjilaka Aboriginal cultural centre, provides something of an antidote to this precarious positioning of Indigenous characters in the world of comic superheroes. Featuring the works of Victorian Aboriginal artists Lin Onus, Jade Kennedy, Heidi Brooks and Cienan Muir, this small but powerful show gives voice to Aboriginal superheroes created by and for Aboriginal people. It represents an empowering reversal of the genre – one focused on unlocking Indigenous power and potential.

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artforum.com

Dec 15 2017
NEWS: Lewis Manilow (1927–2017)
Chicago Sun Times/Chicago Tribune
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The New York Times

Dec 15 2017
Surrounded by Violence, and Contemplating Its Toll on Us
Carrie Mae Weems, Theaster Gates, Lynn Nottage and other artists, poets and writers devote a day to exploring power in its various forms at the Park Avenue Armory.
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The New York Times

Dec 15 2017
Mar-a-Lago Has a Feisty New Neighbor
Beth Rudin DeWoody opens a space for her vast collection of provocative contemporary art in West Palm Beach.
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The New York Times

Dec 15 2017
The Best Art Books of 2017
The Times’s art critics select their favorite art books (and books about art) of the year.
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The New York Times

Dec 15 2017
Disused Distillery Becomes the Antwerp Art Scene’s Newest, Biggest Thing
The Kanaal complex designed by the art dealer and interior designer Axel Vervoordt reinforces the Belgian city’s resurgence as a cultural hub.
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The Guardian

Dec 15 2017
'Right, can you just sit at the top of that rock?': on High Tor, Derbyshire

Samantha Lomas recalls a day out with her photographer father, in 1975

My father took this shot when I was nine. It was just before he set up the Photographers’ Place, the UK’s first residential photography workshop, which featured big names such as Fay Godwin and Martin Parr. Photographers were always hanging around our house, but I considered them a bit of a nuisance.

Dad and I used to go walking a lot, and on this occasion we were on High Tor, a rocky outcrop that overlooks Matlock Bath and the river Derwent a few miles from our home in Derbyshire. Dad said, “Right, can you just sit at the top of that rock?”

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artforum.com

Dec 15 2017
SLANT: The Boy in the Band
Jennifer Krasinski on the art of Morgan Bassichis
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The Guardian

Dec 15 2017
Potter power, Banksy for sale, the US embassy and critics' picks of 2017 – the week in art

The British Library makes magic magical, Banksy goes under the hammer, the US unveils its British embassy and our writers choose their 2017 crackers – all in your weekly dispatch

Harry Potter: A History of Magic
This is a perfect festive treat that not only opens (gothic) windows on how Hogwarts was dreamt up but is also a richly illustrated exploration of the supernatural in art and culture, from an ancient Roman text including the word abracadabra to Joseph Wright of Derby’s painting The Alchymist.
British Library, London, until 28 February.

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The Guardian

Dec 15 2017
From Edinburgh's tram to Boston's Big Dig: readers' urban white elephants

Our list of ill-conceived civic expenditure, topped by Toronto’s costly subway stop, spurred Guardian Cities readers to share suggestions for more …

Colin Horgan’s roundup of urban white elephants prompted many Guardian Cities readers to suggest some he might have missed, revealing a veritable herd of the things the world over – including some perhaps prejudged. Call them calves.

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The New York Times

Dec 15 2017
Hito Steyerl Is an Artist With Power. She Uses It for Change.
This German filmmaker, writer and philosopher has been named the most influential person in the art world by a British magazine. But she sees value in even the poorest image.
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The Guardian

Dec 15 2017
How an exhibition of prayer rugs aims to stand up against Trump's travel ban

Artists, including Ai Weiwei, have designed 36 rugs that symbolize the importance of migration, stating that ‘borders themselves are a fiction’

In a sun-dappled chapel perched atop San Francisco’s decommissioned military base Fort Mason, the well-trodden wood floors are lined with prayer rugs. Shoeless visitors can traipse across, kneel or lay on the four-by-six wool rugs, which are kaleidoscopic in color, and neither spartan nor sumptuous in texture.

Related: Ai Weiwei launches controversial public art project focused on immigration

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The Guardian

Dec 15 2017
Jenny Saville’s Entry: humanness reduced to meat

Hailed as an heir to Soutine, Bacon and Freud thanks to her fleshy way with paint, the English artist seeks subjects whose appearances challenge the norm

Jenny Saville’s 1990s breakout work with obese female bodies on supersized canvases – as seen on the Manic Street Preachers’ Holy Bible cover – were discovered by Charles Saatchi, who supported her for 18 months before exhibiting the results as part of Young British Artists III when she was 23. She has since sought other subjects whose appearance challenges the norm, including people fresh from cosmetic surgery.

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The Guardian

Dec 14 2017
Attack the blocks: brutalist treasures under threat – in pictures

As London’s Robin Hood Gardens (pictured) is destroyed despite a high-profile campaign to save it, we look at some cherished examples of modernist architecture from the 50s, 60s and 70s

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The New York Times

Dec 14 2017
Art and Museums in NYC This Week
Our guide to new art shows, and some that will be closing soon.
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The New York Times

Dec 14 2017
Channeling His Youth, Rem Koolhaas Redesigns the Stedelijk’s Collection Display
For the Amsterdam museum, which he visited often as a teenager, the architect oversaw the mounting of 700 artworks by the likes of Jeff Koons and Kazimir Malevich.
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artforum.com

Dec 14 2017
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The New York Times

Dec 14 2017
Show Us Your Wall: The Political Power of Art
From his Robert Mapplethorpe photos to a work celebrating the heritage of immigrants, the collection of Ariel Foxman reflects his commitment to social issues.
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artforum.com

Dec 14 2017
SLANT: On the Ground: Saskatoon
Suzanne Hudson at the Remai Modern
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The New York Times

Dec 14 2017
Art Review: Homage to Mexico: Josef Albers and His Reality-Based Abstraction
A radiant Guggenheim exhibition grounds the proto-Minimalist abstract paintings of Josef Albers in the geometric grandeur of Mesoamerican monuments.
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The New York Times

Dec 14 2017
Storm King Show to Focus on Climate Change in 2018
More than a dozen artists will contribute work to a special exhibition at the Storm King Art Center next year.
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The Guardian

Dec 13 2017
Photographer of the year: we shortlist the best of 2017

Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, bombed-out buildings in Syria and an anti-Trump march in New York are among the images captured by the agency photographers shortlisted by the Guardian picture desk this year. The winner will be announced on 21 December

From photojournalism in conflict zones and refugee camps to reactive news, politics, and feature work, the shortlist for agency photographer of the year 2017 scratches only the surface of the breathtaking work seen by the Guardian’s picture desk over the past 12 months.

More than 10,000 images come into the picture system from agencies on a daily basis. In addition to the daily run of galleries, the weekly From the Agencies series is where we display photo stories by individual news photographers. The winner of the agency photographer of the year 2017 competition will be revealed on 21 December.

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The Guardian

Dec 13 2017
Minor White's vanished America – in pictures

In 1937, this son of a book-keeper and dressmaker moved from Minnesota to Portland, where he chronicled soon-to-be demolished 19th-century buildings – developing a vision that would influence countless photographers to come

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The Guardian

Dec 13 2017
Ethiopia's living churches – in pictures

As one of the first countries to adopt Christianity, Ethiopia has a legacy of churches and monasteries, built on hilltops or hewn out of cliff faces, as well as vibrant traditions of worship. These are celebrated in a lavish book, Ethiopia: The Living Churches of an Ancient Kingdom

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