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The Guardian

Jan 02 2019
'I snap the poodle. The poodle looks confused' – how to get better at street photography

My photos are frequently rushed and taken from peculiar angles. The great Robert Capa would tell me I’m not getting close enough. Can some intensive coaching help me to raise my game?

It’s a Sunday morning and I’m on Rue Mouffetard, a bustling market street in Paris, skulking behind a pyramid of nectarines. My sights are set on a fluffy black poodle nuzzling the ankles of its owner, a stripey-trousered woman of a certain age.

Raising my camera to my eye, I risk a few furtive shots but, irritatingly, the poodle keeps scampering out of the frame. Its mistress is engaged in animated banter with a guy tending a rack of roast chickens. Promising. But, spying the camera, he throws his hands in front of his face.

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The Guardian

Jan 02 2019
Juno Calypso's best photograph: voyeurism in a pink cold-war bunker

‘It was built as a cold war bomb shelter by an Avon director and a hairdresser to the stars. Now it’s owned by a group of people who want to be frozen cryogenically and live for ever’

For the last five years I’ve kept a list of dream locations to photograph and this was one of them. It’s an underground house in Las Vegas that has its own garden with fake trees, fake sunrises and fake scenery. It went on the market in 2014, and when I spotted it it had been sold for $1m to a “mystery group”. I managed to track down the owners to ask if they’d let me shoot there. Luckily, they were up for it.

The house was built as a bomb shelter in 1978 by Girard Henderson, a director of Avon cosmetics, and his wife, Mary, who was a hairdresser to the stars. They were both in their 70s at the time. It was the age of nuclear terror and the cold war. Maybe they wanted to go out in style?

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The Guardian

Jan 02 2019
Architect is named most influential person in British theatre

Steve Tompkins tops list for projects such as Battersea Arts Centre and Bristol Old Vic

An architect described as a 21st-century Frank Matcham – the legendary designer of the London Palladium and Coliseum – has been named the most influential person in British theatre.

Steve Tompkins has been responsible for a string of transformative theatre building projects including at the Royal Court, Young Vic, Bush, National Theatre and Bridge Theatre in London and the Liverpool Everyman, his first theatre built from scratch for which he won the Stirling Prize in 2014.

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The New York Times

Jan 02 2019
Apollo Theater Is Celebrated in a New Graphic Novel
The book, “Showtime at the Apollo” by Ted Fox, is a tribute to the Harlem cultural institution, which celebrates its 85th anniversary this month.
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The New York Times

Jan 02 2019
Critic’s Notebook: Pittsburgh Report: Five Places for Healing Through Art
A vibrant visual arts community offers museums and alternative spaces in which to commune and ponder how to move forward.
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The Guardian

Jan 02 2019
Sir Jack Zunz obituary
Civil engineer who oversaw the completion of the Sydney Opera House and went on to become chair of Ove Arup in London

No roof is more dramatic – or symbolic of a country, as well as a major city – than that of the Sydney Opera House in Australia. Yet it nearly did not happen and it is thanks to Jack Zunz, who has died aged 94, that it did.

The young Danish architect Jørn Utzon had won a competition in 1957 with a scheme resembling a Mayan temple topped by petal-like shell roofs, which could be enjoyed from any angle, since the opera house’s exposed promontory site has no back and is overlooked from the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Rocks. He desperately needed an engineer to realise such a unique vision.

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The Guardian

Jan 02 2019
Masters and machines: the best art and architecture of 2019

Van Gogh comes to London, Keith Haring scribbles over Liverpool, Jean Nouvel gets weird in Qatar, and the V&A hits top gear

More unsettling than they first appear, Pierre Bonnard’s paintings are often thought of as celebrations of domestic tranquility. With trembling and sometimes overloaded colour, and a touch that always seems nervous, there’s anxiety and disquiet in his interiors and portraits of his wife, Marthe de Méligny, taking her endless baths. Sometimes he catches himself in the bathroom mirror. Tate recommends slowing down to appreciate Bonnard, but you may feel a panic coming on.
Tate Modern, London, 23 January-6 May

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The Guardian

Jan 01 2019
Mod squad: the world's most beautiful art deco buildings – in pictures

Graphic designer and film-maker Arnold Schwartzman has shot the biggest, boldest and brightest art deco buildings around the world, from a New Zealand fire station to a Paris butcher shop

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The Guardian

Jan 01 2019
Janet Summerton obituary

My friend Janet Summerton, who has died aged 79, spent much of her working life devoted to primary and then higher education as part of her career in the world of arts and culture.

Born in Solihull, West Midlands, to Edwin Summerton, who worked in insurance, and his wife, Maggie (nee Jones), Janet emigrated with her family to Canada after the end of the second world war when she was seven, settling in Vancouver.

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The Guardian

Dec 31 2018
Pierre Bonnard, the painter with the golden touch – archive, 1 January 1966

1 January 1966 The new exhibition of Bonnard’s works will be the biggest and most costly tribute ever accorded in London to a foreign artist

Whenever I am in Cannes I pay a visit to Bonnard’s Villa du Bosquet at Le Cannet, high in the hills with a distant view of the sea. Usually I lose myself in a maze of residential streets around the Avenue Victoria, or I stray among the hawthorn bushes on the Mougins side of the hill, or I walk too far along the little irrigation canal that supplies water to the lush gardens of retired business men on the upper slopes.

Bonnard’s house is not in the luxury class – though, he could have made himself one of the richest men in the world – it is ludicrously small and modest, apricot pink with a broken balcony and zig-zag barge-boarding emphasising the angle of the gable. It has stood empty for years.

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The New York Times

Dec 30 2018
Moscow Dispatch: Stalin’s Soaring Moscow Towers Sorely Need Body Work
The massive “Stalin high-rises,” built to embody the victorious spirit of postwar Russia, still offer some of the best apartments in Moscow, but are now badly decayed.
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The Guardian

Dec 30 2018
Laura Cumming’s best art of 2018

From Picasso and Lotto to Anni Albers and Tacita Dean, it’s been an unforgettable year. See our top 10 list below

Read the Observer critics’ review of 2018 in full here

It was the most momentous of years. I have never seen anything like it. Not just for the magnificent quality of the shows, public and private, nor their millennial sweep, from Mantegna and Bellini at the National Gallery to the very latest brushstroke by Tomma Abts at the Serpentine Gallery. But because of an epochal change in attitudes.

For the first time, artists who happen to be women were given the museum surveys they deserve without any implication that this was special, unusual, some kind of positive discrimination or curatorial bias. A whole shadow cast, in the wings for half a century and more in some cases, is coming to the front of the stage. Anni Albers’s stupendous retrospective at Tate Modern, making modernist art out of the old craft of weaving; Dorothea Lange’s pioneering photography at the Barbican; Alison Wilding at the Whitworth, Lee Bul at the Hayward, Ilse d’Hollander and two dozen revelatory abstract painters at Victoria Miro: an annus mirabilis crowned by Tacita Dean’s unique triumph in not one but three simultaneous exhibitions at our national museums.

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The Guardian

Dec 30 2018
Rowan Moore’s best architecture of 2018

New council housing excelled, while brutalism’s popularity underlined the timidity of much current architecture. See our top five list below

Read the Observer critics’ review of 2018 in full here

Let’s start with the good news. New council housing, as now being built by certain London boroughs, is as good as it’s ever been. That is not to say it’s as architecturally inspiring as some of the postwar work of the pioneer modernists Tecton, or the 70s low-rise housing of the late Neave Brown and the London borough of Camden. But if you add modern building regulations to the efforts of committed architects, you get places that are warm, dry, well-dimensioned, well lit and thoughtfully designed, inside and out.

To continue with some fairly good news, all the main political parties at least recognise that the only way to meet the serious shortage of homes in at least some parts of the country is to build more. They recognise that the private sector has never – and will never – do this alone, and that local and national government therefore has to take the lead. There is also a realisation that it would help if the design of new homes is of a high quality and sensitive to its location. Which brings us to the much less good news that Roger Scruton, a philosopher who appears to think that only classical-looking architecture can achieve these aims, is to chair the government’s new Building Better, Building Beautiful commission.

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The Guardian

Dec 30 2018
Rembrandt and Saskia: a love story for the ages
In 2019, exhibitions across the Netherlands will mark the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death. And at their heart lie the portraits of his wife, charting their short, doomed marriage

Rembrandt drew Saskia van Uylenburgh for the first time three days after their engagement, in the summer of 1633. His future wife is a picture of spirited allure. She smiles back at him from beneath the brim of a wide straw hat, lips shining, hair tousled, eyes glowing with intelligence and humour. In her hand is a flower; round her hat are several more, perhaps gifts from her lover. Soon she will marry this prodigy, who is sitting so close to her on the other side of the table – the most famous artist in Amsterdam.

Saskia is posing on this June day in the gallery of Hendrick van Uylenburgh, her much older cousin and Rembrandt’s principal dealer. The painter is actually living and working on the premises. Several of his early masterpieces have already been painted in this grand four-storey building on the Amstel canal, including the shattering The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Tulp, with its gathering of medics in white ruffs leaning carelessly over the poor dead body, only half aware of their own mortality. This first huge commission had already brought its maker wealth and renown; and once married, Rembrandt and Saskia will not stay with cousin Hendrick for too much longer. As soon as he has mustered the colossal sums required, Rembrandt will buy the ruinously extravagant house next door, in what is now Jodenbreestraat 4. There he will draw and paint Saskia over and over again, in the agonisingly brief span of their marriage.

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The New York Times

Dec 29 2018
Ralph Koltai, Innovative Stage Designer, Is Dead at 94
His work in opera, theater and ballet cast aside traditional ideas of what sets should be — realistic and utilitarian — in favor of abstract designs that made a statement.
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The Guardian

Dec 29 2018
Back with a bang: Japanese fireworks from the 1800s – in pictures

The Japanese word for fireworks, hanabi, means “fire flowers”, which seems particularly fitting when you look at these illustrations from the late 1800s of Japanese fireworks bursting into life. Taken from catalogues published by the British company CR Brock and Co (now Brocks Fireworks), they advertised the wares of Hirayama Fireworks and Yokoi Fireworks and have recently been digitised and put online by the Yokohama city library. The founder of Hirayama, Jinta Hirayama, was among the first to incorporate brighter colours into Japanese pyrotechnics (previously they emitted only subdued oranges), boosting their beauty and appeal. In Japanese culture, fireworks are highly valued partly because they are so transient, like real flowers.

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The Guardian

Dec 29 2018
Buy your own Observer classic photograph

You can now own an archival-quality, fine-art print from the Observer picture archive series. This is a selection of the photographs available from our partner, theprintspace, which you can buy here.

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The Guardian

Dec 29 2018
Original Observer photography

Mine clearance in the West Bank, Nicole Kidman, Feargal Sharkey, Nadiya Hussain and the cloud forest of Costa Rica – all feature in this showcase of the best commissioned photography by the Observer in December 2018

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The Guardian

Dec 29 2018
The 20 photographs of the week

The aftermath of the tsunami in Indonesia, Father Christmas in Mosul, migrants climbing the border fence in Tijuana and the Christmas Day swim at Hyde Park – the week captured by the world’s best photojournalists

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The Guardian

Dec 28 2018
A year of joyful escape: my top 10 moments of 2018 | Ian Jack

How stained glass, swimming and strawberry tarts provided much-needed respite from a tumultuous 12 months

Nearly a year ago, on the last day of 2017, my wife and I had walked only a few miles across the South Downs when the rain began to sweep relentlessly across the bare upland, forcing us steeply downhill towards a little settlement called Firle. The pub there was crammed with walkers as soaked as ourselves, who boasted they had never been so wet in all their lives. The rain made us comrades, turning the pub into an idealisation of English decency, so that when we walked onwards to the station at Glynde – the rain now subsiding – we felt in good spirits, which lasted until we reached home through the suburban dusk and learned that Gavin Stamp, a good friend, had died the day before.

Gavin would like Firle, so I’d thought on the train, guessing that he probably knew it already. He knew something about most places, and it was always worth getting in touch with him before travelling anywhere to see what he could tell you. Mainly it was buildings – he was the country’s pre-eminent architectural historian – though his knowledge and opinions never stopped at stone and brick. Many years of writing the Nooks and Corners column in Private Eye gave him a sound knowledge of local politics, and of local corruption, through his campaigns to save good architecture from the wrecker’s ball. He believed that Britain’s postwar destruction of its Victorian heritage amounted to a form of national self-hatred.

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The Guardian

Dec 28 2018
Drought, flood and fire wreak destruction in 2018 – in pictures

Guardian Australia talks to Getty Images’ head of editorial for the Asia Pacific, Cassie Trotter, about some of the most impactful images of 2018 natural disasters

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The Guardian

Dec 28 2018
The commodification of Frida Kahlo: are we losing the artist under all that kitsch?

As a new exhibition of Kahlo’s photographs opens, Jenny Valentish looks at the merchandise bearing the artist’s image and wonders if we’ve missed the point

Dangling from my ute’s rearview mirror is a Frida Kahlo air freshener, its scent long since depleted. I suppose I thought hanging Kahlo’s colourful visage in a utility vehicle seemed like a nice visual juxtaposition, or maybe even a gendered territorial pissing.

Since I bought it a couple of years ago, Kahlo’s face has run rampant through the retail world, licensed to clothing brands such as Mango and Princesse Tam-Tam, stationery makers Grupo Erik, porcelain company Lladró, Flamingo Candles, giftware line Temerity Jones, and electronic accessories manufacturer Ecell. There’s also a Barbie doll, from Mattel.

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The New York Times

Dec 28 2018
My Space: A Tour of Rock Climber Tommy Caldwell’s Garage
The star of “The Dawn Wall” turned his garage into a practice gym.
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The New York Times

Dec 28 2018
The Arts: Photos We Loved in 2018
Kanye West. Philip Roth. Opera. Jazz. Salsa. King Kong. Tonya Harding. We can go on, but why don’t you see for yourself.
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The New York Times

Dec 28 2018
This Week in Arts: ‘Stan & Ollie,’ Winter Jazzfest, Marie Kondo on Netflix
Yes, that’s John C. Reilly as Oliver Hardy. And Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel. Catch them in a new film about the duo’s enduring collaboration.
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The Guardian

Dec 28 2018
Elisabeth Frink’s Riace Warriors: masculine vulnerability

The British sculptor draws from the ancient, representing a new form of heroism that’s multifaceted and thought-provoking

Elisabeth Frink created her four bronze Riace Warriors in 1986 after seeing two fifth-century BC Greek statues. The ancient figures are unquestioningly heroic: naked, body beautiful, dignified and wise. Frink offers a different take on the prizefighter.

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The Guardian

Dec 27 2018
The street art of El Paso, Texas – in pictures

More than 100 murals are painted in the Lincoln Park and El Segundo districts of El Paso, Texas, depicting the city’s Latino and Native American culture and community pride

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The Guardian

Dec 27 2018
Brett Whiteley and the lyricism of the drawn line – in pictures

The Australian artist is often celebrated for his painting but all his works had drawing at their core. Expressive, lively and playful, Brett Whiteley’s sketches and drawings not only provided the foundations for his paintings, sculptures and prints, they also demonstrate the joy of capturing a moment on paper, indulging in an idea or creative concept. The Art Gallery of New South Wales has brought together 116 of Whiteley’s works, from detailed landscapes to nude studies, that demonstrate the critical role of drawing – something Whiteley called ‘a completely un-rehearsable and unrepeatable visual truth’ – in the artist’s creative practice

Brett Whiteley: Drawing Is Everything is showing at the Art Gallery of New South Wales until 31 March 2019

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The New York Times

Dec 27 2018
31 Art Exhibitions to View in N.Y.C. This Weekend
Our guide to new art shows and some that will be closing soon.
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The New York Times

Dec 27 2018
critic’s Pick: With a Centerpiece Like This, Who Needed Cake?
At the Frick, an exhibition devoted to Luigi Valadier, the Roman silversmith to popes, sovereigns and aristocrats.
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The New York Times

Dec 27 2018
Decoding Robert Rauschenberg
His quarter-mile-long mural is a self-portrait of a man who reshaped 20th-century art. Now, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, curators decipher the work’s meaning.
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The New York Times

Dec 26 2018
Let the Fountain Pens Flow!
In this coldly pixelated age, old-fashioned writing implements make a small but meaningful comeback.
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The New York Times

Dec 26 2018
How a Businesswoman Became a Voice for Art’s Black Models
Denise Murrell’s interest in art, and its treatment of black people, led her to change careers and organize the exhibition “Posing Modernity.”
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The Guardian

Dec 26 2018
Sister Wendy Beckett obituary
Nun and art critic who found fame in the 1990s with her popular TV programmes

Sister Wendy Beckett, who has died aged 88, could be dismissive of the high-profile television work that made this hermit nun with owl-like glasses into an unlikely household name during the 1990s. “If I had known how much time it would take, I would never have started it.”

But those who made series such as Sister Wendy’s Odyssey (1992) and Sister Wendy’s Story of Painting (1996) recall that, at the time, she seemed to be enjoying herself on and off camera. There was always something contradictory about a nun, who had devoted her life to solitude and contemplation (since 1970 in a caravan in the grounds of the enclosed Carmelite monastery at Quidenham in Norfolk), but who also managed to slip away from the cloister to make large-scale TV series on (in the eyes of the world, if not Sister Wendy herself) non-religious subjects.

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The New York Times

Dec 26 2018
A Pioneering Photographer, Bare in the Back Country
Walking on the wild side in California, Anne Brigman became one with nature through her body and spunk. A century later, she is being recognized.
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The New York Times

Dec 26 2018
Show Us Your Wall: A Collector Who Grew Up With Art Now Fosters Its Makers
Sarah Arison was a pre-med student whose aspirations turned to the care of emerging creators in the visual, literary and performing arts.
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The Guardian

Dec 25 2018
Wildfires, border chaos, protests: the photos that captured America in 2018

From record-breaking natural disasters to the powerful testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, these images sum up a tumultuous year

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The Guardian

Dec 25 2018
Harriet and Helena Scott: the sisters painting butterflies in colonial Sydney – in pictures

The siblings brought art to the scientific world when they began to meticulously document the butterflies and moths in 19th century Sydney. Distinguishing themselves despite both fields being male-dominated, Harriet and Helena Scott were passionate about nature and natural history, voracious learners, keen biologists and exceptional artists. Their father, Alexander Walter Scott, who became famous as an entomologist, supported their endeavours, and they worked together on the book, Australian Lepidoptera and their Transformations. That book – and the sisters’ art – was extremely well received, and is now the subject of a new book by Vanessa Finney called Transformations: Harriet and Helena Scott, Colonial Sydney’s Finest Natural History Painters

All captions by AW Scott, extracted from Transformations: Harriet and Helena Scott, Colonial Sydney’s Finest Natural History Painters by Vanessa Finney, published by NewSouth. All images courtesy of NewSouth Books and the Australian Museum

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The New York Times

Dec 25 2018
Artists We Lost in 2018, in Their Words
Quotes from notable actors, musicians, writers and dancers who made us laugh and cry and look at the world in new, myriad ways.
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The New York Times

Dec 24 2018
‘Here It Is’: Two Artists on Their Mind-Stretching Art Book
The Conceptualist pioneer Lawrence Weiner and the London designer Jonathan Ellery met by chance in a Berlin bar. They wound up with a new book. But it was not a soft landing.
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The New York Times

Dec 24 2018
Jerusalem Criticizes Berlin’s Jewish Museum for ‘Anti-Israel Activity’
The museum and other cultural organizations were singled out in a paper demanding that the German government cut funding to groups hostile to Israel.
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The New York Times

Dec 23 2018
Pablo Escobar’s Wife Says This Painting May Have Saved Her Life
In a new book, the former wife of the Colombian drug kingpin talks about the pivotal role Salvador Dalí’s “The Dance” played in her life.
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The Guardian

Dec 23 2018
Port Talbot’s Banksy cordoned off from fans
Traffic wardens drafted in to protect the steel town’s new artwork

Residents of Port Talbot have for months been complaining about a thick layer of black dust they believe is coming from the town’s steelworks.

It covers pets, children, cars, homes, carpets and furniture, locals say. But it had seemed that no one outside was paying attention – until last week.

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The Guardian

Dec 22 2018
The big picture: Santa at Witley station, 1962, by Jane Bown

The Observer photographer’s picture of an off-duty Father Christmas is typical of her keen social eye

The Observer New Review’s picture editor recently discovered this previously unseen photograph by Jane Bown in the paper’s archives. It was taken in December 1962 at Witley station not far from Godalming in Surrey. Another photo from the same roll of film appeared on the front page of the paper on the first Sunday of that month. In that one, the Santa Claus was climbing into the first-class carriage of the London-bound train. The picture caption suggested that he was making an early start to the festive season in order to “avoid Dr Beeching’s railway closures” – the infamous plan to cull branch lines and local stations that transformed the network the following year.

When she took these pictures, Jane Bown was only a decade into what became a 65-year career with this paper that only ended when she died aged 89 in 2014. Among those who paid tribute to her was Lord Snowdon, who described her as a “kind of English Cartier-Bresson”. This picture might be exhibit A in supporting Snowdon’s judgment.

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The Guardian

Dec 22 2018
Back to the crib: north-west England's nativities – in pictures

Stephen McCoy has been photographing the urban environments and landscapes of the north-west of England for 40 years. He began taking pictures of local Christmas mangers in 1985, but for this series, he photographed new nativity scenes and returned to others he’d shot before. “The passage of time is important to my work,” he says. “I rephotographed cribs in the exact same position, almost unchanged in 30 years, but the terrain had altered.” He incorporates quirky humour in his photography: “I like things people don’t notice. I find the difference between the corporate-looking cribs in town centres and the handmade ones made by schoolchildren outside churches so interesting. People walk past them though, and they get ignored.”

Stephen McCoy’s book Christmas Cribs (Café Royal Books, £6.99) is out now. More of his work can be seen at mccoywynne.co.uk

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The Guardian

Dec 22 2018
Full metal jacket: a striking home in Bruton

A steel-clad home in Somerset blends beauty and contemporary architecture in a pretty Georgian town

At their first glimpse of Ferrum House, most people have the same question: “How did you get permission to build it?” Owners Andrew Pennock and Dana Anderson have been asked it countless times – often in admiration, sometimes in horror. “It’s definitely a Marmite house,” says Anderson. “We even overheard one little boy asking his mum if we were building a police station.”

Their contemporary home in Bruton, Somerset, is sandwiched between a handsome Georgian building and a former 19th-century silk mill, turned into a bacon factory in the 1900s and now divided into flats. Then, set back from the road, is Ferrum House: a mottled brutalist cube panelled in raw Corten steel that almost seems to hover above its more restrained timber-clad base.

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The Guardian

Dec 22 2018
Earthrise: the story behind our planet's most famous photo

When Bill Anders took this photograph from the Apollo spacecraft on Christmas Eve in 1968, our relationship with the world changed forever

This photograph is now half a century old. It was taken by the astronaut Bill Anders on Christmas Eve 1968 as the Apollo 8 spacecraft rounded the dark side of the moon for a fourth time. When Earth came up over the horizon, Anders scrabbled for his Hasselblad camera and started clicking.

In that pre-digital age, five days passed. The astronauts returned to Earth; the film was retrieved and developed. In its new year edition, Life magazine printed the photo on a double-page spread alongside a poem by US poet laureate James Dickey: “And behold / The blue planet steeped in its dream / Of reality, its calculated vision shaking with the only love.”

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The Guardian

Dec 21 2018
The 20 photographs of the week

From Central American migrants stalled at the US border to the Queen arriving at King’s Lynn train station – the week captured by the world’s best photojournalists

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The Guardian

Dec 21 2018
Buy your own Guardian classic photograph: Cumbrian Shepherd, 1990

This week in our regular series of exclusive Guardian print sales is a shepherd with his flock in Cumbria, by Guardian photographer Denis Thorpe

Guardian photographer Denis Thorpe was on a whirlwind
tour of Cumbria in November 1990, documenting the activities
of rural communities with the then Countryside Commission,
when he chanced upon a pair of shepherds bringing their sheep
down from the hills – a ritual known as “the gather”, says Thorpe.
“I was lucky to be there at the moment they came through the
gate – I felt I’d captured the animals’ breath in the cold air.”
It was a beautiful composition, he says: the shepherd with
his stick, the dry stone wall, the sheep. “It couldn’t be anywhere
but the north of England.” Hannah Booth

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The New York Times

Dec 21 2018
Art in New York City: Navigating Museums During the Holidays
We’ll not only help you figure out what exhibitions to see, but also offer some tips before you head out.
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