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August 19 2012

Martine Franck obituary

Photographer whose work ranged from portraits of the famous to pictures of the poor

Martine Franck, who has died aged 74, was a photographer of great contrasts. She started out by taking pictures in Asia, a continent she revisited for weeks at a time, but she also devoted herself to documenting daily life close to her homes in Paris and the Luberon, Provence. Her work is characterised by a fascination with the little intimacies and interactions in the lives of anonymous poor, marginalised and elderly people, yet she also assembled a matchless portfolio of portraits of famous authors and artists, including Seamus Heaney, Marc Chagall and Diego Giacometti.

Franck never adhered to the opinion professed by her fellow Magnum agency photographer Eve Arnold that all photographers are obliged to be intrusive. Ever modest, she said: "I think I was shy as a young woman and realised that photography was an ideal way of expressing myself, of telling people what was going on without having to talk." In 1970, she married the celebrated French photographer and co-founder of the Magnum agency, Henri Cartier-Bresson. The couple collaborated on a series of portraits of the artist Balthus, as retiring by temperament as Franck herself.

She was born to a Belgian banker, Louis Franck, and his British wife, Evelyn, in Antwerp. With the outbreak of hostilities in 1939, her father, who made his career in London, joined the British army. The rest of the family was evacuated to the US and spent the war on Long Island and in Arizona. She was educated in Europe, and studied history of art at Madrid University and the Ecole du Louvre in Paris.

Writing her thesis (on Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and the influence of cubism on sculpture) convinced Franck that she did not wish to be an academic or a curator, but a photographer. Her father had moved in artistic circles and one of her first portraits was of the sculptor Etienne Martin emerging from a cave smeared with clay. In 1963, she went to China, taking her cousin's Leica camera with her, and discovered the joys of documenting other cultures. Returning home via Hong Kong, Cambodia, India, Afghanistan and Turkey, she paused to visit the theatre director Ariane Mnouchkine and bought her first camera in Japan. She kept to a Leica, and predominantly used black-and-white film, throughout her career.

Returning to France, she worked as a photographic assistant at Time-Life while developing her own technique. Her early mentors were Eliot Elisofon and Gjon Mili, yet she also cited dramatically different female photographers as influences: Julia Margaret Cameron, for her portraits, and Dorothea Lange and Margaret Bourke-White. Lange's social conscience was reflected in Franck's project on old people's homes for the Petits Frères des Pauvres association. Bourke-White's love for play of light and geometric shapes is embedded in arguably Franck's single most perfect image, that of the bathers at the poolside at Le Brusc (Provence), taken in 1976. She described her experience of capturing it: "I remember running to get the image while changing the film, quickly closing down the lens as the sunlight was so intense. That's what makes photography so exciting." A moment later the positions of all five figures and their shadows on the white tiles would have irrevocably altered. The image has stood the test of time and was used as the cover shot for her book in the series I Grandi Fotografi in 2003.

Franck's work was used in Life, Fortune and Vogue, for which she shot portraits of women in public life, including her fellow photographer Sarah Moon and Mnouchkine, who made Franck the official photographer to her Théâtre du Soleil. Franck's fascination with masks and disguises found an outlet in Mnouchkine's ambitious deployment of kathakali, kabuki and commedia dell'arte. Their collaboration led to Franck experimenting with colour photography, which she used to capture theatrical productions such as Robert Wilson's ethereal version of Fables de la Fontaine at the Comédie Française in 2004. Franck's love of the theatrical could transform her quiet unobtrusiveness.

In 1966, Franck met Cartier-Bresson, who epitomised Magnum's tradition of humanitarian photography. Franck was adamant that she would neither bask in his reflection nor disappear in his shadow and she joined the Vu agency in 1970. Her first solo exhibition was planned for the ICA in London that year; when she saw that the invitations were embossed with the information that her husband would be present at the launch, she cancelled the show.

With Vu's demise, Franck co-founded the Viva agency in 1972. It also collapsed and it was not until 1980 that Franck joined Magnum, becoming a full member in 1983. She was one of the few women to be accepted into the agency and served as vice-president from 1998 to 2000. Eschewing the war/human tragedy reportage that characterised Magnum's reputation, Franck continued her projects on marginal or isolated lives. When I first met her, in the 1990s, she had just completed her book on Tory Island, a "small rock" off the northern Irish coast with a population of around 130 Gaelic-speakers, where she lived in order to document their way of life.

Always a feminist, Franck was not above picking a grandiose book title – such as Des Femmes et la Création. It is typical that one of her final projects involved three weeks spent visiting small villages in Gujerat, western India, documenting young girls embroidering their own dowries.

As well as their homage to Balthus, Franck and Cartier-Bresson undertook a joint project in the Soviet Union. Franck also created a small book of portraits of her husband. Among the most memorable of this similarly shy and elusive character is that taken from behind, showing the back of his head. His reflection in the square mirror before him is repeated in the self-portrait he is sketching: a reflection on a reflection. Franck never used him as mentor or protector but warmly concluded: "Henri was both critical and inspirational as well as warmly supportive of me as a photographer". They had one daughter, Melanie, another reason for Franck to operate close to home when possible.

Franck's brother, the photographic curator and collector Eric Franck, affirms: "Henri was always very generous in encouraging her work, something she respected greatly." Franck's sister-in-law, Louise Baring, adds: "What was so extraordinary about Martine was that with subtlety and grace she could both be a great photographer herself and at the same time honour her husband's tradition."

She worked hard to launch the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in 2002. In 2005, she was made a chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur. After her diagnosis with bone marrow cancer in 2010, she continued showing her work, and had exhibitions earlier this year at the Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York and at the Claude Bernard Gallery in Paris.

She is survived by Melanie, three grandchildren and her brother, Eric.

• Martine Franck, photographer, born 3 April 1928; died 16 August 2012


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August 18 2012

Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde at Tate Britain – in pictures

A selection of images from Tate Britain's historic pre-Raphaelite show, featuring work from Ford Madox Brown, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones and others, along with shots of the exhibition coming together





The pre-Raphaelites: behind the scenes at a modern blockbuster

Tate Britain has spent five years bringing together some of the greatest pre-Raphaelite works for a show that repositions the artists as the radicals of their day. We witness the culmination of a huge project, as everything, from the largest Burne-Jones to the smallest fridge magnet, finds its place…

In a huge house in a mysterious part of London, a tall, energetic man called Rupert Maas is showing me a drawing: The Lady of Shalott by Elizabeth Siddal. "It's absolutely lovely, isn't it?" he asks, though I have the strong impression that he doesn't give two figs whether or not I agree with him. "There are no more ethereal drawings produced by any of the pre-Raphaelites than those by Lizzie, and this is a very, very good one." His voice runs on: not dreamily, exactly, but clotted with a certain kind of passion. "It has this febrile intensity. It's deeply sexy, for some reason. Look at the tightness of her dress, the yearning quality of it." Somewhat trepidatiously, I tell him that, to me, this particular Lady of ShalottLord Tennyson's Arthurian maiden, condemned forever to see Camelot only in the reflection of a mirror, was a favourite subject of the pre-Raphaelites – looks a little like a doll. "Yes, well... I think that might be part of it," he says, with a smile.

Elizabeth Siddal, the redhead who is perhaps best known as the model for John Everett Millais's Ophelia, was married to Dante Gabriel Rossetti, one of the seven founders of the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, from 1860 until her death from an overdose of laudanum in 1862 – though their relationship began in about 1851, when she first started sitting for him. "The relationship between Rossetti and Lizzie is absolutely central to the pre-Raphaelite spirit," says Maas, still peering over my right shoulder. "She is Beatrice to his Dante." But Siddal, who had humble roots and had previously worked as a milliner, also longed to be an artist in her own right; in 1855, John Ruskin agreed to subsidise her career, paying her £150 a year in exchange for every drawing she produced. "It's well-documented," says Maas. "He [Rossetti] taught her. He stood over her while she drew, and he did bits that she couldn't manage. It was a thing they did together: a journey of love into another world; a medieval paradise for them both." Did Rossetti work on The Lady of Shalott, which is dated 1853? "I think he might have had something to do with the sprite carved on the chair. I think they did that together."

In the next few days, The Lady of Shalott will depart this house for Tate Britain, where she is to appear in the gallery's autumn blockbuster, Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde. There, it will join works owned by, among others, Jimmy Page and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Is it thrilling to lend to such an august institution? Not for Maas. This is the second time Siddal's drawing has holidayed at the Tate (the first was during the gallery's last pre-Raphaelite show in 1984), and there are other, equally wonderful works in his collection. "I do it all the time, quite honestly," he says. "I think it's a public duty. When it's there, I won't even look at it; I'll go and look at something I'm not familiar with instead." He grins. "But, of course, when it comes home, I'll have a jolly good gloat."

Maas inherited some of his collection from his father, Jeremy, an art dealer who in 1969 wrote a celebrated book about 19th-century British art, Victorian Painters, and who began buying 19th-century British paintings when they were still amazingly affordable. (Rupert now runs his father's Mayfair gallery.) The rest, he bought: "I'm not one of those dealers who feels he shouldn't collect." So what is it about Victorian art in general, and the pre-Raphaelites in particular, that speaks to him? They haven't always, it's fair to say, been terribly fashionable.

"Yes. But when people say they hate Victorian art, you have to ask: what is it they're hating? They're hating themselves, because they're hating the stuff of which we're made. Most middle-class people in Britain still live in Victorian houses. They gave us all sorts of things we take for granted. And Victorian genre paintings deal with such serious social issues. Look at Ford Madox Brown's The Last of England [a painting about emigration and poverty that will also be in the Tate's exhibition]. He's asking big questions in pictures."

As for the pre-Raphaelites proper, with their penchant for swooning damozels and complicated allegories, he hopes that the Tate's vast new show will persuade visitors to reconsider them. The pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, formed in 1848, was determined to rebel against dreary Royal Academy conventions; for this reason its members have sometimes been compared, in spirit, to the Young British Artists of the 1990s. Maas, though, likens them to punks; every young artist wanted to be one. "Millais was the greatest draughtsman. Rossetti was the romantic, the natural heir to Blake. Holman Hunt is more difficult: the priggishness, the religiosity, the density: these are some seriously wacky paintings. But they're all so big, so brightly-coloured, so powerful. You can just imagine how they must have seemed once, when everyone was used to seeing Sir Sloshua Reynolds and his school." His eyes widen. "They must have seemed seriously psychedelic."

It has taken Alison Smith, a Tate curator, more than five years to put Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde together. The idea for it came to her after the Tate's Millais exhibition in 2007. It encouraged visitors who thought of the artist as a painter of fancy chocolate-box pictures to see him in a different, more audacious light, and Smith found herself wondering if she couldn't do the same for his colleagues in the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. "I wanted to show them as modern artists rather than as soft romantics," she says. "That was my agenda."

Her case successfully argued (the Tate's programme is driven not by potential visitor numbers but by intellectual inquiry, with the result that every show must have a thesis), and the exhibition safely in the schedule, she began work. The Tate has a peerless collection of pre-Raphaelite paintings, among them Ophelia by Millais, The Golden Stairs by Burne-Jones, The Beloved by Rossetti, and The Triumph of the Innocents by Holman Hunt. But she also had a list of must-haves to be borrowed from elsewhere: Millais's Isabella, which hangs in the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool; Holman Hunt's Rienzi Vowing to Obtain Justice for the Death of His Young Brother, which is in a private collection and had not been seen in public since 1984; Ford Madox Brown's Work from Manchester City Galleries; Holman Hunt's The Light of the World, from Keble College, Oxford; and, most fabulous of all, Holman Hunt's The Lady of Shalott, from the collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut. This massive painting, overpowering and, some would say, overwrought, has not been seen in Britain since 1951.

So how did she do? Lizzie Siddal's drawing, just across the river, must have been relatively easy to clinch. But what about the others? "Oh, we secured them all," she says, almost nonchalantly. "Everything we wanted, we got. The Lady of Shalott was in doubt for a while; there were conservation issues, and we had concerns about travel and costs. But, in the end, all the problems were resolved, and this astonishing late painting [it was completed in 1905 after the artist's death by an assistant, by which time its subject was already long out of fashion] will be the final work in the exhibition." And once the names on her list were ticked off, did she dance a little jig? "No. But you feel good for the show. You feel it's finally coming together."

Its major paintings bagged, the exhibition began to spread its tentacles outwards. All hands on deck. Backstage in London, Kiko Noda, the show's registrar, embarked on the complex logistical task of arranging the transportation of every loan. "Most lenders insist on a representative being present when a painting is hung," says Smith. "And once a work has been hung it cannot be moved. You can't go back and say, 'Oh, that would look nicer there.' A big lender might have five or six works in different rooms, so drawing up an installation schedule is perhaps the trickiest thing of all. That's where Kiko comes in."

In America, Smith's co-curators, Tim Barringer and Jason Rosenfeld (the exhibition will travel to Washington), started working on their scholarly essays for the catalogue. At Tate Enterprises, the team began thinking about merchandise: scarves inspired by the gown Rossetti's model wears in The Beloved; bags and cushions made from fabric designed by the pre-Raphaelites' friend and supporter, William Morris; and, of course, fridge magnets and postcards, which sell in their thousands. (Tate Enterprises earns between £2m and £3m a year for the galleries, so ordering the right merchandise is a serious business.) And the marketing department considered how best to attract younger visitors. Among their ideas: pre-Raphaelite-inspired fashion shoots; a pre-Raphaelite Pinterest page; a roll call of "modern day muses" with pre-Raphaelite sensibilities (Paloma Faith; Florence Welch, from Florence and the Machine).

The months, and the years, ticked by. It's now August and the paintings are finally arriving; Kiko Noda receives every one personally. They will be hung by a team led by Geoff Hoskins, a senior art handling technician of 20 years' experience, in the fortnight before the show opens on 12 September (the wall texts were completed only in the past few days – Smith's American colleagues slaved through the night to finish them on time). What will it be like to see the work in the galleries at last? Smith smiles. "For me, the most wonderful moment is installation. It's the culmination of everything. That's when you feel you are deep in the heart of a project." And when it opens to the public? "The personal attachment loosens a bit, but you're still concerned. It's a like a child going out into the world: you want it to do well."

The Tate's pre-Raphaelite paintings are among its most popular (Ophelia by Millais, so lush and yet so plangent, has long been the gallery's bestselling postcard). "They're always on display," says Natasha Walker, a paintings conservator. "And when they're not, they're often on loan to another gallery. So it's quite rare that we get the opportunity to look at them. That's why we like these big shows. It gives us the chance to get our hands on things."

Some time ago, Walker and the other conservators examined all of the Tate paintings that will appear in the exhibition. "We have priorities," she says. "Obviously, if something is stucturally unsound, that's the first priority. This one [she reaches for some images] was displayable, but we wanted it to look its best. So I spent five months cleaning it."

The painting in question is Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Beata Beatrix (1864-70), a portrait of the poet Dante's wife, Beatrice, that was also a memorial to Rossetti's wife, Elizabeth Siddall (the painter used sketches of his late wife to complete it). It's an exquisite piece, smaller and more intimate in scale than many pre-Raphaelite works, and softer, too, being more dimly lit. Beatrice/Siddal has her eyes closed, though whether she is in a state of religious or sexual ecstasy is unclear. Meanwhile, a bird, a messenger of death whose feathers are the colour of dried blood, drops a poppy into her open palms (this must, surely, be a reference to Siddal's death from an overdose of laudanum shortly after she gave birth to a stillborn child). In the background is Dante, looking towards the haloed figure of Love, in whose hands the burning heart of his wife flickers and wanes.

"The painting had a natural resin varnish over it," says Walker. "It would have been added to improve its colour rendition, the gloss of it. But it had become quite discoloured." After doing some tests to find which mixture of solvents would best remove this layer, she set to work with a cotton wool swab. "It's very painstaking. You have to be careful with the paint layer." She shows me some before and after pictures. "Look at the colour shift. Before, it was warmer and quite yellow in tone. Varnish tends to make things look quite unified. The contrast between highlights and shadows is so much greater now, and her flesh is cooler, not quite so glowing."

During the conservation, Walker x-rayed the picture; she also photographed it while casting light at an acute angle over it. "I found out quite a lot. The story goes that Rossetti had made and abandoned an oil sketch of his wife, and that it lay in his studio for many years, until his dealer took it to be adhered to another canvas, and brought it back for Rossetti to finish. The x-ray showed that there were indeed canvas additions at the top, sides and bottom, all of which would have allowed Rossetti more scope for background." She shows me the x-ray. "I could also see these losses in the lead white preparation under the paint. Rossetti left these losses. A more meticulous artist would have filled them before recommencing. When I cast light over the picture, I could also see brush hairs, studio dust and debris in the paint, which tells you something about the state of his tools."

It took Rossetti six years to complete Beata Beatrix, a long time for a painting of this size. "When I looked at the green of her cloak I could see that it had aged and cracked over a period of time; his red monogram had been added over the cracks. I could even see some of the red pigment caught up in the varnish, which tells me that he signed it and then quickly sent it away."

How do these discoveries make her feel? Shivery, is the answer – though in a good way. "You've seen it in books, or on walls. But this brings you so much closer." It's a visceral thing, a connection with the artist himself. What do her discoveries tell us about Rossetti's state of mind? Walker is reluctant to say: "I'm not an art historian," she laughs (her degree is in zoology, the chemistry she learnt then a great help). But to me it seems obvious. Rossetti took his wife's death hard, burying the bulk of his unpublished poems with her in Highgate cemetery. Afterwards, he grew increasingly depressed. Beata Beatrix was a painful piece to paint; it took him an age. But when he finally felt able to let it go, he couldn't wait to get it out of his sight.

It's not only paintings that must be conserved. When Walker and I have finished talking, she takes me to the studio of Alastair Johnson, a frame conservator. For the past year, Johnson has been working on the frame of Burne-Jones's enormous oil, King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid – a project that will be completed any day now, when picture and frame are once again reunited.

King Cophetua was completed in 1884. It was inspired by a Tennyson poem, The Beggar Maid, and tells the legend of an African king who disdained women until he met Penelophon, "a beggar maid all in grey", with whom he fell in love at first sight. In the painting, the king gazes at Penelophon devotedly (the theme of male enthralment to female beauty was a favourite of Burne-Jones's), having put aside his crown and shield in deference to her beauty. A deeply sensual work – with her gently rounded belly and her curled toes, there is something so straightforwardly sexy about Penelophon – Burne-Jones's friends bought it for the Tate after the artist's death in 1898.

The painting's frame was made for it, in the Renaissance style, by the Vacani family. But a few years after it joined the collection it was altered to accommodate a glazing door (in other words, an ugly sub frame was fitted inside the original one). "The alterations were substantial," says Johnson. "They had to insert four inches of material in the bottom of the frame, removing one putto's head, and replacing it with two. They also built up the columns at the side and removed altogether the frame's lovely moulded [internal] edge."

How did Johnson know what the original frame looked like? Luckily, there existed a photograph by Emery Walker of the painting in its original frame; Johnson found it at the National Portrait Gallery, where Walker's archive is kept. Using this as a guide, he set to work. First he removed the additions. "They were quite brutal," he says. "You could see the saw marks where they'd cut the bottom of the frame in two." Then he made moulds of a putto's head elsewhere on the frame. "I used a silicon rubber mould; prop-makers use them; they're incredibly detailed. The heads themselves are made from composition, a doughy mixture of plaster or chalk." Then he set about copying the moulded edge. "Usually we find another frame which has something similar as a guide. But I couldn't find one anywhere. In the end, I just modelled a section up in Plasticine."

Finally he guilded his repairs. Johnson leads me to the frame itself, in the centre of the room. Wow. What a wonderful thing it is. But will he age his own additions? They're a bit bling at the moment. "Yes. I'll probably use watercolour: something I can easily remove, or add to. And perhaps a bit of household dirt." It will, he says, be an anxious moment when the painting is put into the frame. "A very expensive piece of Perspex – it's called Optium – will replace the glass. It has an innovative coating which makes it look like low-reflective glass. It also has an inherent flexibility, which is important with a painting of this size. Unlike glass, it won't crack." How will he feel when he sees it in the gallery? "Oh, it'll be wonderful," he says, with great feeling. "But I'll also be praying I measured the painting correctly."

As both Walker and Johnson point out, thanks to their efforts, when visitors to the exhibition come to gaze on Beata Beatrix and King Cophetua in a few weeks' time, they'll be seeing them pretty much as Rossetti, Burne-Jones and their contemporaries saw them. Will this make a difference to their understanding of these artists? Perhaps not. Only experts and passionate fans will notice such subtle changes. On the other hand, as the late, great Robert Hughes put it, for the pre-Raphaelites, "God was in the details: in the petals of a cornflower or the vein of an elecampane leaf, in the grain of stone or the purling of a brook."

Rossetti and his friends would, I think, have adored the care the Tate has put into this show. Such attention, loving and precise, reflects the extreme trouble they went to in their own pursuit of accuracy. Though what they would have made of fridge magnets is anyone's guess.

Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde is at Tate Britain, London SW1 from 12 Sept to 13 Jan 2013; tate.org.uk


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How the Olympics will shape the future of east London

With plans to build 8,000 new homes at the Olympic Park over the next two decades, Stratford's future depends on a sympathetic approach to regeneration…

Long, long ago, I sat in a nondescript room with an official leading what was then a grand government project to regenerate a huge area called the Thames Gateway. Her organisation, she said, was supporting London's Olympic bid because it was almost impossible to make anything happen in the Thames Gateway, which extended from east London through south Essex and north Kent to the sea, and only the Games could change this.

She was in this position because even longer ago, in the John Major era, the relevant minister, Michael Heseltine, had made a speech christening the Thames Gateway and announcing that Something Must Be Done. So the vast effort of the Olympics had to be enlisted to make some sense of a politician's figure of speech. It was and is a seriously arse-about-face way of doing a bit of regeneration.

Over the next 20 years it is hoped to build 8,000 homes around the Olympic Park, in addition to the 2,800 already created by the athletes' village, and to create 8,000 jobs – that is, to make something like a middle-sized market town. In fairness, one should add the less tangible but real benefit of a feelgood factor to a wider area of east London. To achieve all this will have required not only the Olympic billions, but also investment in public transport in Stratford unmatched anywhere else in the country, an additional grant of £290m to be spent on legacy, and more hundreds of millions of public money spent acquiring land. Some of the public expenditure will be paid back as this land is developed, but there are no obligations as to how much or when.

But never mind. Not many people now care that Olympic claims for boosting business, tourism and regeneration are tenuous. Opinion polls show that most people in Britain think that £9bn or so is not too much to pay just for the national buzz and joy that came with the Games. So the question is: how can this place so extraordinarily blessed with aspiration and funding be as great as, in theory, it should be?

The new homes and neighbourhoods could be beautiful and desirable places that would create new models and set new standards for British house building. The park and venues, such as the Aquatics Centre and the Velodrome, could be genuinely public assets, of easy access to all.

Most critically all this has to be done in such a way that the new wonderland doesn't turn its back on its surroundings but genuinely connects with them. Early in the Olympic project, the neighbouring areas were seen as destitute wastelands  be erased or shut out, and the main weakness of what has already been built is its lumpiness – the tendency of elements such as the Westfield shopping centre and the athletes' village to turn their back. It would be relatively easy, but a complete failure, to make an exclusive residential idyll here.

At the moment, hopeful signs are emitting from the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), the body in charge. Its new chairman, Daniel Moylan, declares that he wants the Olympic Park and its surroundings to be "a very desirable area and we would like as many people as possible to live there". He wants alternatives to "the limited range of standardised products" that large house-building companies tend to produce. He wants property to rent as well as buy, and homes built by their owners. He challenges the common journalistic denigration of Stratford: "This place is not a dump. There are lots of people who are entrepreneurial and enthusiastic."

Sensible-sounding management arrangements have been set up for the park and for venues such as the Velodrome, and the Legacy Corporation swears blind that these will not be over-exploited in order to turn a profit. The park, it says, will be open to absolutely everyone, which presumably includes those who might be a bit annoying or unsightly and not good for property values. The LLDC is rightly proud that, compared with previous Olympic cities, London's planning for the future of the site is far advanced, and it has set up an impressive quality review panel to oversee the design of whatever is built.

The LLDC has produced a masterplan for the new neighbourhoods that suggests a large proportion of family houses arranged around pleasing open spaces, and with an overall coherence that is rare in regeneration projects. It is planning 29 playgrounds and has made impressive declarations of principle in relation to sustainability, accessibility and design.

In the scruffy fringes of the park there has been a change in attitude. Where earlier plans saw them as places to be obliterated by blocks of flats, the idea now is to make the most of what is already there, such as the artists' studios and small businesses and unexpected bits of canal and workshop. Muf architecture/art, a design practice that has helped lead this change of attitude, is now involved in the first of the new residential neighbourhoods, which is a good sign. "Obliteration is not in our lexicon," declares Moylan.

They still have some headaches, most notably the future of the stadium. But the real question is whether the current high ambitions can survive the pressures that will come to bear. How inclusive can the new developments be, for example, when changes to housing benefit are likely to push people out of places like this? How kindly will the big house-building companies take to alternative models to their preferred way of doing things? What if progress is seen to be going too slowly and pressure grows for quick results? It's too early to say. For now we can only observe that the masters of Olympic legacy are saying the right things, and wish them good luck.


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Cat Power in Miami – in pictures

The Observer New Review commissioned New York-based photographer Annie Collinge to travel to Miami for a shoot with Chan Marshall aka Cat Power. The results were so beautiful we thought we'd treat you to a gallery





David Bowie: the mannequin who fell to earth

The V&A plans to use David Bowie's exotic costumes to chart his life and times in an exhibition next year

David Bowie is to part-curate an exhibition of his life and work told primarily through his extravagant costumes at the Victoria and Albert museum next year.

The show will chart his rise to cult rock star status from his early years in Brixton, south London, using his collection of outfits to illustrate his constantly changing identity.

Details about the clothes are being kept under wraps until next month's official announcement of the show, but the V&A's director confirmed to the Observer that Bowie is involved in selecting exhibits. Many of the flamboyant outfits worn by Bowie in his years as a pioneer of rock style will come from his own collection.

The exhibition is expected to draw large numbers of visitors. However, some critics lament what they see as a further descent of a serious museum into the cult of celebrity.

Bowie's look was inseparable from his sound. The 65-year-old singer and actor, who merged rock and theatre with his androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust, is synonymous with futuristic costumes and outlandish makeup, from space-samurai outfits to white satin kimonos, flame-red hair to eye-liner.

He achieved wide popularity with his psychedelic rock single Space Oddity, coinciding with the first moon landing, and became an international star with albums such as The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. His films include The Man Who Fell to Earth.

Speaking to the Observer, Bowie's biographer Paul Trynka said that Bowie was at the forefront of fashion, recreating his own image with the aid of cutting-edge designers.

Seeing the costumes close-up would be amazing, he said. "Although he's an artist who… doesn't tend to revisit his own past, there's a kind of contradiction in that he's collected his pieces for over two decades, lots of them historic and iconic, not just for Bowie fans but for popular fashion… He's always had a public presentation in mind." Costumes that Trynka expects to be included in the exhibition at the V&A include the "bunny leotard" created by Kansai Yamamoto, one of the avant-garde designers whose potential was spotted by Bowie.

"That was quite groundbreaking because Yamamoto wasn't known in the UK," Trynka said. "Although other pop stars had flirted with high fashion, [Bowie] was the first one to use it as an integral part of his look. He then went on to even more outrageous Yamamoto designs. There's a fantastic one with hugely-inflated legs … and I suspect that will be there … [It] is engagingly ludicrous. Nobody had that effrontery to wear those kinds of outfits before."

Among other likely highlights, he said, are homemade catsuits created by the late Freddi Buretti, a designer who described himself as a "seamstress".

Martin Roth, the V&A's director, said: "Bowie is incomparable. No one has inspired the whole world not only in terms of music but also arts, fashion and style. He created a vision of individualism for an entire generation."

Others are less impressed, particularly following the V&A's 2007 exhibition dedicated to Kylie Minogue, which included her dungarees from the Australian soap Neighbours. Critics felt that it was unworthy of a museum dedicated to showcasing the finest arts and crafts.

The Bowie show has been condemned by Michael Daley, director of ArtWatch UK, the museums watchdog: "The museum world is losing the plot. They're just crazed about numbers at any cost… Obviously you could fill the V&A every day of the week if you had a pop concert or a bunch of celebs."

Noting that the V&A also covers fashion, he added: "Fashion is a bigger thing… than the cult of one man. If Bowie, why not Liberace? It's about the cult of celebrity, particularly youth." Bowie, he added, did not fit the museum's remit for recording significant fashion.

The V&A is of course tapping into a demand, but whether a cultural museum should be meeting it is another matter. The Kylie Minogue exhibition attracted 271,000 visitors and was one of the museum's most popular shows.

Trynka, who wrote the Bowie biography Starman, said: "Bowie epitomises Britain's influence on fashion and textiles. He represents the best of it. Kylie is a wonderful pop icon, but she hasn't had a lasting effect on popular culture outside of her fanbase."

Today Bowie himself remains elusive. He has not toured since 2006, and turns down requests to appear in public – most recently, the Olympic Games closing ceremony, although his song Fashion was used.

There have been reports of ill-health. Roth said: "[People] try to build a story around him. There's a lot of gossip."

Bowie's spokesman declined to comment.


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August 17 2012

Family life

Readers' favourite photographs, songs and recipes

Snapshot: My dad's last step on Burmese land

My father, Wilfred Carroll, left his homeland of Burma twice. First in 1942, when the Japanese army forced a retreat of allied troops into India, and then in 1951 when, having retained his British nationality after independence, he made the momentous decision to emigrate to England.

This picture captures his very last step on Burmese land, as he boarded the SS Salween in Rangoon on 21 March, holding my brother Michael's hand and carrying me. Also with us were my mother, Norma, and two-month-old sister, Denise, ready to sail to Bristol and a new life.

I can only imagine the first culture shock, departing in tropical heat and disembarking, four weeks later, into the cold and damp of Avonmouth. My father was never to return, or to see his parents again, but he always believed he made the right choice for his family, despite the hardships endured in establishing a home and a career in postwar London. He worked at the head offices of the Co-operative Wholesale Society for 30 years, and helped to raise seven children, spending eight years of his retirement in Western Australia. He died in Sidcup, Kent in 2004.

I was two and a half when this picture was taken, so I have no memories of that day on the dockside.

As we grew up, my parents made us aware of our diverse ethnic background, which was half-Irish mixed with Burmese and southern European, frequently recounting stories of strict Catholic schooling and a hectic social life in prewar Rangoon, and keeping their Asian culinary skills very much alive in the kitchen of our council house in Essex.

The one thing my father did not speak of was his experiences as a Chindit in the jungles of Burma.

So it was with much excitement and fascination that in February 2012, 61 years after this photograph was taken that I returned for the first time to the street in which I was born in October 1948. We managed to deviate from our package holiday tour long enough to track down my parents' house, their schools, the church where they were married and the hospital where my older brother and sister were born.

Places had been renamed and there we saw some crumbling facades, but these were still the unmistakable edifices of my family's colonial past that I had seen in many a photograph album. At the docks in Rangoon, I conjured up a vivid image of my father taking that nervous step into the unknown, against the best advice of friends and relations.

When the aircraft wheels lifted off the Rangoon Tarmac, I had that sense of abandoning something that was dear to me, forever lost in the past. I knew then how my father had felt in 1951, and I cried. Patricia Perrin

Playlist: My grandad's financial dealings

Pop! goes the Weasel (nursery rhyme)

"Half a pound of tuppenny rice / Half a pound of treacle / That's the way the money goes / Pop! goes the weasel"

As a small child, whenever we visited (or were visited by) my nana and grandad, I could expect to be lifted up on to a knee and sung to. I am sure there were lots of songs, but the one that is clearest in my memory was a favourite of Grandad's.

I am unsure now, as I was then, what the song is all about, and a Google search hasn't enlightened me. Of one thing we can be sure though, "that's the way the money goes".

My grandad's financial dealings are something I wasn't aware of until later in life. As a nipper, when I was told he was popping out to the Salvation Army, I believed that was where he was headed. It would be many years until I found out that this was code for the bookies. One such trip, long before my time, resulted in a winning accumulator bet that eventually (after much debate with the company involved) came through and pretty much paid for their family home.

There is a photograph in my home of me as a toddler on Grandad's lap, and this song always drifts through my head when I see it – complete with index finger in cheek "pop" sound effect. I hope my little niece, Alice, will also treasure memories of having this sung to her by Great-Grandad.

My grandad would have been 100 this year, but sadly missed this landmark by a few years. To mark the occasion, the extended family is meeting on his birthday this month for a reunion. There will be lots of tales of Tom (or Thomas on Sundays) to be told and I suspect this tune will be sung. Ruth Goodwin

We love to eat: Fairy sandwiches

Ingredients

Sugar sprinkles/hundreds and thousands

Sliced white bread (sliced pan, preferably)

Soft butter

 

Butter the bread, cover with the sprinkles and cut into tiny, dainty triangles, fit for a fairy. Be sure to take the crusts off – neither fairies nor children like them!

I used to love fairies, especially the flower fairy books of Cicely Mary Barker. I would dress as a fairy and hide at the bottom of my grandparents' woodland garden in the hope of catching a glimpse of these magical creatures.

After one such adventure I asked my mother: What do fairies eat? Why, fairy sandwiches and flower tea, was her swift response, which she probably lived to regret. Soon I was demanding fairy sandwiches for birthday parties and afternoon teas on the lawn.

I have no idea if she got the recipe from somewhere or created them from her own imagination. The bread (sliced pan as we called it, according to Irish custom) was thickly buttered and sprinkled with multi-coloured hundreds and thousands. The soft, savoury bread, rich butter and crunchy sweetness of the sprinkles was magic itself.

I still get to enjoy fairies through my three young children. My seven-year-old son doesn't believe in fairies – but still requests these. And I am only too happy to sprinkle a little magic on them. Lucy Pearce

We'd love to hear your stories

We will pay £25 for every Letter to, Playlist, Snapshot or We love to eat we publish. Write to Family Life, The Guardian, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU or email family@guardian.co.uk. Please include your address and phone number


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Exhibitionist: The week's art shows in pictures

From Oscar Godfrey in Glasgow to Superhuman in London, find out what's happening in art around the country





Flight of fancy: how aviation changed art for ever

What balloonists and then pilots saw from the air – the mountainous cloudscapes and the grand designs on the ground – still strike us as sublime. And as a current exhibition makes clear, flight changed art for ever. By Gillian Darley

In 1836, a hot air balloon flight broke all the records, covering almost 500 miles from London to central Germany in less than 20 hours. News of that journey into the unknown fired JMW Turner's imagination and he wrote to one of the pilots, Robert Hollond: "Your excursion so occupied my mind that I dreamt of it, and I do hope you will hold to your intention of making the drawing, with all the forms and colours of your recollection."

Turner's fascination with the extraordinary, evanescent architecture overhead, of the "parapets and turrets, batteries and bastions" that the balloonists saw, strikes a chord with us all. That view out of the plane window into a mountainous cloudscape or, coming in to land on a clear day, a glimpse of lovely yet inexplicable patterns, be they the sewage treatment beds of Slough or relentless Soviet era apartment blocks, can momentarily lift air travel from the humdrum to the near sublime. Not even Google Earth has yet sated our appetites.

In the current exhibition at Compton Verney in Warwickshire, Flight and the Artistic Imagination, many versions of reality contest with impressions and myths, with human aspirations and physical limitations. There's just one certainty: as a species, we are physiologically unable to fly. Goya's grim airborne figures leave viewers to draw their own conclusions. Were they soaring away into enlightenment or descending, irrevocably disillusioned, from some muddied utopia? Icarus, Mephistopheles and the Valkyries fall, saints and angels ascend either on wings or up Jacob's ladder to the certainty of heaven or cosmic oblivion.

In 1783 the first successful flight of a hot air balloon introduced the real, as opposed to imagined, overhead view. It suggested military potential, and by 1794 the French revolutionary Aerostatic Corps was ready for action. Later, it was from a balloon basket that Felix Nadar took the first known aerial photograph, a view of Paris in 1858. The aeroplane delivered a deliberate overhead perspective – which were to prove invaluable to many areas of study, from cartography and defence to archaeology and aesthetics.

That most lyrical pioneer pilot and writer on aviation Antoine de Saint-Exupéry saw that the aeroplane itself would quickly become "a tool, like a plough". And so, in the early 20th century, it did. As powered flight exploded the range and tempo of our physical reach and intensified our gaze, it simultaneously gave new angles on the familiar, and offered glimpses of the entirely unfamiliar.

In the first world war, Richard Carline of the Royal Flying Corps sketched the pock-marked, cratered scene at Albert from the air and then painted it. To quite different effect, the Russian supremacist Kasimir Malevich saw the potential of the aerial view, its elements abstracted. In 1926 the teachers at the Bauhaus proudly commissioned a night view of Gropius's new complex, sparkling with electricity; the Junkers factory was there, in Dessau. The company also loaned a plane from which the Bauhauslers – as the students were known – could shower presents down on Paul Klee's pristine Master's House in the woods to mark his 50th birthday. Unfortunately, several sheered through the flat roof. Flying, and the lens it provided to the world, was the ultimate response to the modernist (and futurist) dream, providing "a new standard of measurement, a new basis of sensation" as Le Corbusier wrote.

Corb immediately grasped the potential of flight and the splendour of the aeroplane itself, as an object, but it was not until he flew over Moscow in 1929 and the next year over Rio de Janeiro, sketchbook to hand, that he saw the revelatory potential of "a vast programme of organic town-planning". In the coming years he warmed to the theme, "the airplane eye … now looks with alarm at the places where we live, the cities where it is our lot to be." That scene was an indictment, and the festering old capitals must be "extricated from their misery, come what may. Whole quarters of them must be destroyed and new cities made."

But it was the Italian futurists who inaugurated an artistic movement dedicated to the dynamism of the air. Aeropittura, an expression of Futurism's second generation, required "a profound contempt for detail and a need to synthesise and transfigure everything", and was epitomised by the painter-pilot Tullio Cralis's troubling image Nose-diving on the City (1939).

The posturing and rhetoric, as well as the destructive energy, was essentially fascist. The contrived words and synthetic images of these artists would come to haunt the postwar world once the terrifying aerial views of Coventry, Dresden and Hiroshima emerged, a reality far beyond even the wildest polemic of Le Corbusier or the futurists.

In the 1930s, preservationists fighting the remorseless spread of arterial roads and inchoate development often took to the air. John Moore, a contributor to Clough Williams-Ellis's campaigning Britain and the Beast (1937), took off in a hired Tiger Moth to describe how towns and even villages were "nibbling their way outwards … as haphazard and casually as caterpillars nibbling at a leaf … the mess creeping along the sides of all the roads that radiated from the towns".

Stationed with the RAF near Norwich just after the war, the maverick 19-year-old flying officer Ian Nairn put his Meteor to unusual use, flying over Norfolk, seeking out unsuspected or lost buildings by the architect John Soane. When he found an exquisite overlooked garden building lurking in shrubbery, he immediately wrote to tell the bemused inspectress of the Soane Museum, Dorothy Stroud. In 1950, as now, architectural historians were usually on the ground, if not deskbound.

Turning to architectural journalism, Nairn was the author of the famous polemic Outrage (an outspoken report on unhindered urban sprawl from Southampton to Carlisle, published in 1955) and continued to use his pilot's licence for some years, frequently setting off with the in-house photographer, embarking on research from the air. Many architects trained in the postwar years had done their national service in the RAF, which had stoked a professional passion for the aerial view. It took Nairn to sound a warning: "Everything looks fine from the pilot's seat. The most sterile of formal schemes looks superb from a thousand feet on a sunny morning … alas, we are not birds, and neither is architecture just an exercise in solid geometry."

Of his generation of architects, Norman Foster has remained the most passionate about flying. The creator of Stansted airport, for me his finest work, chose the Boeing 747, the Jumbo jet, as his "building" when he took part in the BBC2 series Building Sites in 1991. Describing the plane, already more than 20 years old, as "awe inspiring", he extolled its style and beauty, noting that this had never compromised its functionality. More recently, on his 75th birthday Foster realised he had, by then, piloted 75 different types of aircraft and was hatching a plan to display them, as models, in his chateau in Switzerland.

Foster's latest and most ambitious hymn to the aerial view is his design and promotion of an airport island, floating in the Thames estuary. So far it has been blessed by Boris Johnson, but few others.

In Hiraki Sawa's video Dwelling, showing at Compton Verney, the empty rooms of an unexceptional west London suburban house fill with diminutive planes: they lift off, circle and land on kitchen surfaces and mattresses, and use the passage as a flight path. The relentless rituals and conventions of the daily traffic through Heathrow have been subverted to other ends.

The aerial view tends to offer a glimpse of the unknown, or at least an unfamiliar version of reality. The land artist James Turrell, also a pilot, captures a portion of sky, and frames it within a custom-made structure or an aperture such as a volcanic crater. At the other extreme is the almost unimaginable, such as the glorious image of Orion's Nebulae, photographed from Nasa's Hubble Space Telescope, as distant from us as the immersion of an adventuring balloon in a lyrical cloudscape was for Turner. The aeroplane may have been a tool, but the sky is still the limit.

Flight and the Artistic Imagination is at Compton Verney, Warwickshire, until 30 September


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At the age of 37, you needn't start dressing like J*r*my Cl*rks*n | Charlie Porter

Men may lose interest in fashion in their late 30s, but a sense of personal style is another matter

Pity poor men. It has long been a curiosity why, after a certain age, men appear to lose interest in fashion. It is a conversation which turns menswear into a forum for mockery: those that have gone to seed are scorned for the inadequacies of their appearance, while those that still make an effort are goaded for vanity or self-importance. A recent survey has made this mockery specific: it has found that the age at which men lose an interest in fashion is 37. I am 38. Poor me.

Fashion is about identity. For many men, identity is something that matters most in their years of prolonged adolescence, from their teenage years into their 20s, even early 30s. It's especially true for men whose adolescence occurred pre-internet, before social media overtook fashion as a means to express character. In the late 20th century, clothing played a primal role in youthful identity, especially with the obstinacy of punk, the baggy of acid house or even the sharpness of mod that is still so important to 32-year-old Bradley Wiggins.

In their late 30s, the need for identity in men seems to wane, overridden by the individual male's growing responsibilities or life-changes: parenthood, employment or unemployment, changes in body-shape and health. The identity of adolescence goes. Fashion goes with it.

When fashion goes, what seems to remain for men are those unprintable words: "J*r*my" and "Cl*rks*n". Of course what no one realises in this is that Cl*rks*n uses his non-identity as an identity in itself. He makes great profit from dressing badly. It is his uniform for hammy belligerence. Cl*rks*n symbolises the male menopause as a return to adolescence. Sadly, it is an adolescence stripped of its need for style and difference. The Cl*rks*n look allows men to shift from identity to non-identity as they head towards the grave.

But this is not always the case. Most of my contemporaries not working in fashion still seem alert about their appearance. As the identity of adolescence has waned for me, what has become important is how I appear to myself. I do not mean by this self-image. As I'm typing this, I can see in my lower field of vision the white shirt I'm wearing with its blue and orange polka dots. I love it being part of my visual experience. I don't care if I look daft. As long as I like it, I'm happy.

There are obvious male celebrities over the age of 37 who could be listed now as examples of middle-aged male style, but these are red herrings, usually actors involved in profiting from image to further their career. Celebrity fashion is something separate from real-life fashion, and citing male celebrities as examples of how to dress is a futile, empty exercise.

Much more interesting to cite examples of men who retain personal style for whatever reason of their own:

Chris Dercon, the new director of Tate Modern, is an extraordinarily dapper man, now in his 50s. He has a particular way with wearing jackets and coats with an upturned collar.

Seventy-five-year-old David Hockney has long dressed his body in the colour that is placed on his canvases, or more recently selected on his iPad.

The 40-year-old Savile Row tailor Patrick Grant came to his profession from his love of clothing and his continuing interest in how garments are made. And it is clear from the severity of 53-year-old Steven Patrick Morrissey's obsessions that he would have dressed in his chosen manner even if he'd not become globally known by his surname.

Examples of such personal style go deep into the past. The recent male fondness for Breton striped sweaters always makes me think of Pablo Picasso. The multidiscipline of Jean Cocteau extended to the drama of his clothing. And examples of male style beyond the age of 37 will only increase in the future. Today's post-internet male adolescents take looking good for granted, their appearance ever Instagram-ready. Cl*rks*n already feels antiquated. When post-internet adolescents reach maturity, he will have been an aberration.


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Guardian Camera Club: Kym Beeston on summer events

Kym Beeston participates in the summer events assignment





Featured photojournalist: Pilar Olivares

Reuters photographer Pilar Olivares documents students at the Ballet Santa Teresa in Rio de Janeiro. The school is a non-governmental organisation that gives children who live in areas with social risk, some suffering domestic violence, free ballet classes and other activities as a part of sociocultural integration project





Weekend readers' pictures: Square

From houses to windows: your best pictures on this week's theme, Square





Return of lost Matisse revives questioning of Caracas museum

Auditor found 14 works unaccounted for in checks following discovery that Odalisque in Red Trousers had been stolen

For the curators of Venezuela's most prestigious modern art museum, the recent reappearance of a Matisse that was stolen from their collection more than a decade ago ought to have been cause for joy and relief.

But the FBI sting operation that recovered the French painter's 1925 work Odalisque in Red Trousers in Miami last month has also resurrected awkward questions about more than a dozen other valuable pieces said to be "unaccounted for" at the Caracas Museum of Contemporary Art (MACCSI), including works by Jasper Johns, Henry Moore, Lucian Freud and Jesús Soto.

A former director and an investigative journalist have raised concerns about the works that may be missing, some of which are estimated to be worth as much as $3m (£2m). They claim these are signs of deeper problems, including a lack of transparency, inadequate supervision and personal animosities at an institution that was once deemed among the leading contemporary art centres in Latin America, but has struggled since its founder, Sofía Imber, was sacked by the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, live on public television.

The theft of the Odalisque was the biggest indication of problems at the museum, which was founded in 1973 and became a symbol of the country's oil wealth. Matisse's depiction of a semi-nude, dark-haired woman, which hung in a place of honour, was stolen at some point and replaced by a fake that was discovered in 2002.

It remained missing until last month, when the FBI arrested two suspects – Cuban Pedro Antonio Marcuello Guzman and Mexican María Martha Elisa Ornelas Lazo– who had allegedly been trying to sell the picture to undercover FBI agents for $740,000.

For the former director of the museum, Rita Salvestrini, the investigation in Miami has brought back doubts she raised in 2002 about the running of the museum that she took over after Imber was fired.

After discovering the Matisse hanging on the walls was a fake, Salvestrini ordered a series of full inventory checks. When she realised several pieces were missing, she called in an external auditor, who reported that 14 works – including Jasper Johns's Brooms and a piece by Soto that once hung behind her predecessor's desk – were unaccounted for. In addition, close to 200 other works were uncatalogued. "Both instances were equally alarming because they reflect that none of the controls were being followed," Salvestrini said.

"To me the findings [of the auditor] should have been used to correct a situation but the museum became a place where people's answers were designed to confuse and not to clarify," she said.

It was unclear whether the 14 pieces were temporarily misplaced or stolen, but efforts to track them down came to little.

One work, an etching by Freud, was purchased from the Timothy Taylor gallery in London, but appears not to have arrived at the museum. The London gallery said it had sold 55 Freud etchings to the Caracas museum between 1998 and 2001, "all of which were invoiced to the museum and shipped directly as per instruction".

Marinela Balbi, author of The Kidnap of the Odalisque, said there were 365 discrepancies in the number of works catalogued and accounted for at the museum. "These were institutions that were managed as if they were private, even though they are public. There was no accountability, or controls," said Balbi, who added that the tumult caused by the sacking of the founder also created a period of confusion that thieves may have exploited. After the sacking of Imber "there was a lot of institutional uncertainty coupled with a certain carelessness in inventory practices and a permissiveness in moving works to and from the museum", she said.

The museum denies any of its works are missing.

"Works of art get stolen all the time … Until the FBI reports its findings it would be irresponsible to speculate," said Adriana Meneses Imber, former director of the Jacobo Borges Museum and the daughter of the MACCSI founder. She said: "With the change in administration from my mother to the other person, an inventory was conducted and they said several pieces were missing. That is completely untrue."

The museum did not respond to repeated requests by the Guardian to be shown the works said to be "unaccounted for". On a recent visit there were very few pieces from its permanent collection on display – although Picasso's Suite Vollard etchings were among them.


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Picasso's Child with a Dove barred from export

Government fixes restriction until December but chances of purchase look slim after recent string of similar campaigns

The government has barred the export of a tender early painting by Picasso, his 1901 Child with a Dove, in the hope that a museum or gallery may manage to raise the £50m price and keep it in the country. The painting has been in British collections since 1924 and on loan to public collections in Britain for decades.

However it will take a miracle, or an exceptionally benevolent millionaire donor, to keep it here: the pockets of major museums and grant-givers are almost empty after a string of recent high-profile campaigns for other artworks.

The charming painting, made when the artist was just 19 and owned by the aristocratic Aberconway family in north Wales since the 1940s, is a significant transition piece from Picasso's earliest work to his later blue period. I has also been an infallible crowdpleaser whenever it has been exhibited in UK galleries over recent decades. There are only five early Picasso oil paintings in UK permanent collections.

Its UK significance is underlined in its current exhibition, part of the Picasso and Modern British Art show at the National Gallery of Scotland, which traces the artist's influence on generations of British artists. It would fit happily in either the Tate or the Courtauld collections, which have both displayed it in the last 30 years. It was once owned by Samuel Courtauld, co-founder of the art school and the gallery with its superb impressionist and early 20th-century collection. However, the Tate still has some heroic fundraising to do to build its major extension at Tate Modern, and the Courtauld has no purchase fund, relying instead on gifts and bequests.

The National Gallery, where it was on long loan from 1974 to 2010, almost exhausted its reserves (and the generosity of the Heritage Lottery Fund and other grant sources) when it bought the Duke of Sutherland's great Titians with the National Gallery of Scotland, in 2009 and this year, for £50m and £45m respectively.

Last week, the charity Art Fund, which has bridged the funding gap for many acquisitions, gave just £100,000 to the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge towards buying a famous painting by Poussin, because its reserves are still low after the Titian campaign and the £850,000 it gave to the Ashmolean in Oxford to buy a Manet work.

The National Museum of Art of Wales, which also has an outstanding late 19th- and early 20th-century collection mainly purchased directly from the artists by the remarkable sisters Gwendoline and Margaret Davies, would love the painting but have little hope of raising the price.

Significantly, no UK museum was able to make a bid for the painting before it was sold at a Christie's auction earlier this year to an undisclosed overseas buyer.

The painting came to London in 1924 with Mrs RA Workman who was, along with her husband, a major collector of impressionist and post-impressionist art. She sold it a few years later to Samuel Courtauld, and on his death in 1947 he left it to his friend Lady Aberconway, and it had been in her family ever since.

The export has been barred by the government until December, but could be extended for another six months if there is a chance of any gallery finding the money.

Aidan Weston-Lewis, a member of the reviewing committee which advises the government on such export bars, said: "Child with a Dove is a much-loved painting, whose iconic status, together with its long history in British collections – latterly on loan to public galleries – make it of outstanding importance to our national heritage."


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The image of chivalry: the Black Prince's effigy reveals the medieval military ideal

This 14th-century sculpture in Canterbury cathedral befits a great warrior who embodied medieval England's idea of the perfect knight





Leonardo's womb, gold postboxes and crazy golf – the week in art

Da Vinci's anatomy drawings make the must-see show of the year. Plus, guerrilla gold postbox painters and battling Hitler at crazy golf in Blackpool – all in your weekly art dispatch

Exhibition of the week: Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomist

These are the greatest drawings in the world and this is the most important exhibition of the year, so try to see it. They include Leonardo da Vinci's moving depiction of a foetus in the womb, among many awe-inspiring studies of the human interior. Leonardo's apparently scientifically rigorous study of the womb contains a bizarre mistake: it is modelled on a cow's womb. This is not just because at the time he made this drawing Leonardo had no access to human dissection; it is also because he believed so strongly that human anatomy must be similar to that of other animals. He recognised, like a true scientist, that we too are animals – an outrageous notion in the early 1500s. Leonardo did get to do a series of brilliant dissections of people who had died at a hospital in Florence. Today, that hospital – Santa Maria Nuova – is still a busy city infirmary. You can go and watch ambulances arriving and ponder the mystery of human life, so fragile and beautiful, that Leonardo captures in these drawings.
The Queen's Gallery, London SW1A 1AA until 7 October

Other exhibitions this week

Picasso's Vollard Suite
These sensuous prints burst with life and imagination and are among Picasso's greatest works.
British Museum, London WC1 until 2 September

Adventureland Golf
Jake and Dinos Chapman, David Shrigley and others reinvent the seaside pastime of crazy golf.
Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool until 6 October

Olympic and Paralympic Posters
There are some fine posters here by , Chris Ofili and others.
Tate Britain, London SW1 until 23 September

Simon Patterson
Last chance for a memorable exploration of the strangeness of statues.
Haunch of Venison, London W1 until 31 August

Masterpiece of the week

Unknown artist, A Dead Soldier
This eerie painting of a man dead, his body lit by an oil lamp, has the realism of a Caravaggio but is not by him. No one knows who painted this disconcertingly modern work of art. In the 19th century, it fascinated Edouard Manet, who was inspired by it to paint a picture of a dead toreador. As Manet recognised, this is a raw, blunt and unredemptive portrayal of the cold fact of death. Not only is the artist anonymous: so is the unknown soldier whose passing is remembered here forever.
National Gallery, London WC2

Image of the week

What we learned this week

How John Minihan celebrated snapping Samuel Beckett

That psychics have taken over the live art space at London's Tate Tanks

What your timeline of top artworks looks like

That gold postboxes were the surprise illegal street art of the Olympics

What upcoming photography shows you should put straight in the diary

And finally...

There's still time to share your art about sport now. Reflect on the Olympics, or look forward to the Paralympics

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August 16 2012

Picasso piece rediscovered after 50 years in Indiana museum storage

Glasswork has been hidden from view after cataloguing error mistaking artist's name for the medium in which it was made

It had sat unnoticed in storage for almost half a century after being mistaken for a work by the little-known, and non-existent, artist Gemmaux.

But a closer inspection of the glasswork at Indiana's Evansville Museum revealed the telltale signs of a 20th century European master. The bold lines, the nod to an earlier cubist aesthetic, the simultaneous use of full face and profile – the clues were all there.

As was the signature, scrawled quite clearly in the top right corner and missed for 49 years following a cataloguing error.

Now correctly identified, museum chiefs look set to cash in on their find, with Picasso's Seated Woman with Red Hat set to go under the hammer in New York, it was announced this week.

Its hoped-for sale price has not been revealed. But it is expected to raise more excitement in the art world than it would have done under the less recognisable name of Gemmaux.

The fictitious artist was the result of a cataloguing error after the work was gifted to Evansville Museum in 1963 by industrial designer Raymond Loewy.

Described in documents as a "Gemmaux", the word refers not to any name, but to the plural of "gemmail" – a medium used to assemble pieces of glass, which when illuminated from behind show their true colours.

Picasso is thought to have been introduced to the form by his friend Jean Cocteau in the early 1950s. He produced around 50 gemmaux pieces during a two year period while studying in France, it is thought.

Unaware of the its true creator, museum staff placed the "Gemmaux" in storage.

And it stayed hidden to the public until New York auctioneer Guernsey's contacted the Evansville centre earlier this year as part of its research into Picasso's gemmaux works.

It was then that museum staff finally became aware of the gem they had in the midst.

"It sparkles like a jewel," said John Streetman, executive director of the Evansville Museum.

He added: "It was undoubtedly a unique set of circumstances that uncovered this treasure within our museum."

But due to the expense of having to display, preserve and protect the piece from thieves, the museum's trustees have opted to hand over Seated Woman with Red Hat to Guernsey's to sell on the open market.

"Now that we have a full understanding of the requirements and additional expenses to display, secure, preserve and insure the piece, it is clear those additional costs would place a prohibitive financial burden on the museum," said Steve Krohn, president of the museum's board of trustees.


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Unilever ends £4.4m sponsorship of Tate Modern's turbine hall

Search on for new sponsor while hall closes during construction of £250m extension at Bankside gallery

Unilever has ended its sponsorship of Tate Modern's Turbine Hall annual commission that has produced some of the London gallery's most memorable exhibitions.

Tino Sehgal's These Associations, the first live performance piece in the former Bankside power station, will be the final work in the Unilever-sponsored series, which has attracted almost 30 million visitors over the past dozen years.

The £4.4m sponsorship deal with Unilever, has led to 13 commissions, including Bruce Nauman's soundscapes, Olafur Eliasson's huge, yellow, artificial indoor sun The Weather Project in 2003-04, which saw visitors stretch out on the floor of the vast space to bask in its glow, and Doris Salcedo's Shibboleth in 2007, which featured a crack running the length of the hall. Some commissions have been aquired for the gallery's permanent collection, including the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds, although it bought only a tenth of the 100m porcelain seeds, all individually sculpted and painted by Chinese craft workers, shown in the 2010 exhibition.

The current show, in which participants stop and engage visitors with intimate, personal stories, closes on 28 October.

The Turbine Hall is due to temporarily close next year to enable construction of the gallery's Herzog & de Meuron-designed extension. The project, which is planned to cost £215m in total, is due for completion by 2016 – delayed from its previously projected opening of this year.

The first phase of the extension, the £90m performance art and video installation space called the Tanks, opened in July.

A spokeswoman for Tate said: "Due to the building works at Tate Modern, there will not be a Turbine Hall commission in 2013. We will start discussions with other companies about the sponsorship of the Turbine Hall commission from 2014 onwards.

Unilever, whose brands include Pot Noodle and PG Tips, will continue as a corporate member of Tate. But the company said it is planning a change of direction in its sponsorship programme, which is more focused on sustainability and the environment.

Other prominent Tate sponsors include Bloomberg, the business and financial news organisation, and, more controversially, the oil company BP. The Tate received £45.1m in public funding last year, and raised an additional £67.9m. Its 100,000 members contribute arbout £3m per year.


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Michael Snow obituary

Particle physics, geology, astronomy and music were among the essential elements that fed into the art of Michael Snow, who has died aged 82. He was a highly cerebral painter and a perfectionist who would agonise over whether a painting was finished or not, in some cases for many years. This reticence meant that some excellent work was never allowed a public airing. Some of his finest paintings resembled the dance of subatomic particles, while his metal constructions explored the interplay of form and space.

Born in Manchester, Michael was educated at Lawrence Sheriff school, Rugby. He worked for a period as a librarian before moving to the Land's End peninsula in 1951. Cornwall at this time was living through a golden era of innovative British art and Michael quickly discovered his vocation as a non-figurative painter, becoming good friends with most of the important artists working there, including Ben Nicholson, Terry Frost, John Wells, and Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, as well as the poet WS (Sydney) Graham and his wife Nessie.

Michael was a co-founder in 1957 of the Peterloo Group with his friend the poet and literary critic Robin Skelton. Soon afterwards Michael's first wife, Sylvia, married Robin; and Robin's wife, Margaret, became Michael's second wife. They all continued on good terms for the rest of their lives. Michael was also highly active as secretary to the Penwith Society of Arts, and taught at Exeter School of Art and Design for 20 years.

Michael kept in touch with Nicholson long after he moved to Switzerland and he remained a significant mentor to the younger artist. On one occasion the Snows drove across Europe to his home in their camper van with a large ovoid granite boulder from a local Cornish beach weighing them down.

The Snows were devoted to promoting the life and work of Graham, and in 1999 they brought out The Nightfisherman: Selected Letters of WS Graham. Publication was met with enthusiastic critical acclaim; Harold Pinter called it "a brilliant collection". It is, arguably, this book that will stand as Michael's major legacy rather than his own artwork.

Michael and Margaret were tireless in assisting and encouraging the tide of researchers who made their way to Stonemark, their home on the edge of Dartmoor. It gave them immense satisfaction to see that, largely thanks to their efforts, Graham is now widely considered one of the great masters of 20th-century poetry. My researches into postwar St Ives artists led me to Michael and Margaret 12 years ago, and they generously shared their wealth of knowledge with me.

Margaret died in 2009. He is survived by their son, Justin.


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