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August 18 2012

Backstage at Antony's Meltdown 2012: in pictures

Antony's mantra for this year's Meltdown was 'female voices and a few queens.'
Observer portrait photographer Katherine Rose went behind-the-scenes





The future of the Olympic Park - in pictures

The London Legacy Development Corporation plans to build 8,000 new homes at the Olympic Park in Stratford. Here's how it might look in 20 years





August 17 2012

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





London 2012: Olympic highlights

Award winning Guardian and Observer sport photographer Tom Jenkins at the London 2012 Olympic Games



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





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

Post your personal images of London on the Guardian Art and Design Flickr

Check out our Tumblr

And our Twitter


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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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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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Snap happy: photography to look forward to

From an ambitious survey of 1960s-70s photography in London to Kohei Yoshiyuki's controversial work in Liverpool and Amsterdam's Unseen Photo Fair, there's a lot to see

August is a quiet month for photography shows, so here's a preview of some of the exhibition highlights for the next few months.

The most anticipated London show is surely Tate Modern's ambitious double header William Klein/Daido Moriyama, which opens on 10 October. Taking the cities of New York and Tokyo as its starting point, the show contrasts the approaches of two pioneers of impressionistic urban photography. It considers the influence of Klein's seminal 1956 book, Life Is Good and Good for You in New York, on Japanese photography, and Moriyama in particular. The prodigiously productive Moriyama was a founder of the radical Provoke movement in Japan and, alongside previously unseen vintage prints, the exhibition explores photography's role in the representation of protest movements and civil unrest. This is an ambitious show that will be a chance for many of us to see lots of Moriyama's images outside of book form for the first time. I, for one, cannot wait.

The other big London exhibition is the Barbican's group show, Everything Was Moving: Photography from the 60s and 70s, which opens on 13 September. This survey show reflects on the radical cultural shifts that took place around the world during the two decades. It shows work by well-known names such as William Eggleston, David Goldblatt, Boris Mikhalov and Bruce Davidson alongside the likes of Graciela Iturbide, Shomei Thomatsu and Raghubir Singh. Iturbide's work was one of the highlights of last year's Rencontres d'Arles and Thomatsu is arguably Japan's most influential postwar photographer, so this show promises to be intriguing, if only for the range of styles on display from a seemingly disparate bunch of innovators.

In November, the Victoria and Albert Museum hosts Light from the Middle East, the first major show of contemporary photography from the region. This intriguing exhibition brings together 30 artists from 13 different countries, including Abbas, Yousssef Nabil and Shadi Ghadirian. I am most looking forward to Newsha Takavolian's provocative series Mothers of Martyrs, which may divide opinion, but is undeniably powerful in its evocation of belonging, belief and mourning.

Elsewhere, Amsterdam hosts the first international Unseen Photo Fair from 19 to 23 September, which will feature previously unexhibited work by emerging photographers. The aim is to give "new photography the platform in deserves" and, to this end, more than 50 galleries from around the globe will be showing work from their most promising new talents. Forty lucky visitors have already been given €1,000 each to spend on photography courtesy of the Dutch cultural lottery. There will be work for sale by the likes of Alex Prager, Pieter Hugo, Alessandra Sanguinetti and Richard Mosse. A place for the curious as well as the committed collector to look at – and buy – photography. Plus, it will be interesting to see just how far the galleries go in interpreting the definition of Unseen.

Also in September, as part of Liverpool Biennial, the Open Eye gallery presents two controversial series by the Japanese photographer Kohei Yoshiyuki: The Park and Love Hotel. Both investigate the seedier side of sex – and both precipitated furious debates in Japan about the blurred line between reportage and voyeurism.

The Park, already a cult photobook, is the end result of Yoshiyuki's participation in the nocturnal goings-on in Shinjuku's Chuo Park in the early 1970s, when he photographed voyeurs who lurked in the bushes to spy on couples having furtive sex on the grass. The images in Love Hotel were taken in 1978 from sex tapes made by clients of one of Tokyo's infamous book-by-the-hour hotels. Both series are grainy and indistinct, but undeniably evocative. And provocative.

In London on 12 October, the Photographers' Gallery presents a long-overdue retrospective of the Irish-born photographer Tom Wood, who has been working for the last 25 years in and around Merseyside and Liverpool. He also shot the unforgettable Looking for Love series in a "disco-pub" in Chelsea Reach in London in the 1980s. His book Photie Man – the name given to him by the kids he photographed on Merseyside – is the best introduction to his work, which skirts street photography, portraiture and reportage, but cannot really be classed as any of them. Great to see the work of a singular photographer who doesn't fit in neatly to any tradition being celebrated by the Photographers' Gallery.

The fifth edition of the Brighton Biennial takes place from 6 October to 4 November in venues across the city. It's titled Agents of Change: Photography and the Politics of Space, and will feature artists including Omer Fast, Julian Germain, Trevor Paglen, Jason Larkin, Corinne Silva and Edmund Clark, whose project, Guantánamo: If the Light Goes Out, is shortlisted for this year's Prix Pictet Prize. The winner is announced at London's Saatchi Gallery on October 9, and a show of the shortlisted artists runs there from 10-28 October.

Finally, and staying in London, the Taylor Wessing Photographic Prize Exhibition is at the National Portrait Gallery from 8 November to 17 February 2013. As one of this year's judges, I can't say much more about it at present, but will be commenting on it from the inside when the shortlist is announced in September. Watch this space.

Now see this

From 18 August, Third Floor Gallery in Cardiff is showing Encuentro by Irish photographer Maurice Gunning. It focuses on the Argentine-Irish community in Buenos Aries, descendants of the original immigrants that arrived there in the 1800s. Gunning's poetic, fragmentary style is perfectly suited to the kind of visual storytelling that draws on memory, text and longing to at once evoke the past and the present.


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Charting the history of flight – in pictures

Doris Freigofas and Daniel Dolz take us through from Icarus to the jumbo jet as they chart the making of their fold-out history of aviation, High Times





Tate Modern's waste of space: why won't interactive art leave me alone?

Being interrogated by a psychic in Tate Modern's new underground art space, The Tanks, was not my idea of fun. Shouldn't art be a contemplative, personal experience?

I've just been interrogated by the Stasi in a concrete bunker somewhere beneath Berlin. I discovered that privacy means nothing. I recognised the pathetic, delusory nature of bourgeois freedom.

Then I went for a cup of coffee, assiduously avoiding being accosted by any lurking art enactors on my way through the Turbine Hall.

Oh look, I am just not the right audience for the live art programme in Tate Modern's new space The Tanks. When someone asks me questions as part of an interactive artwork, I feel as reluctant to engage as I do when a computer cold calls my home phone. Leave me alone! – was my barely restrained reaction as I sat being interviewed by a psychic in an austere subterranean concrete space as a participant in an artwork by Jon Fawcett.

Six psychics sit at plain wooden booths as part of Fawcett's contribution to the new Undercurrent series of live events at The Tanks. Psychics! It sounds on paper like an underground circus with smoke, crystal balls and tarot readings. But although my interviewer assured me she is a trained psychic, what she did was ask me a series of questions about my job and interests, how honest I am, my views on politics, economics and the nature of power. It was a questionnaire that started in the banal and tried to touch on larger themes. Then I was invited to give contact details to continue the "screening process".

It's probably a work that gets richer the more you put into it. If you get in the spirit, it might be fun. But why should I?

Sitting in a cubicle being interrogated, albeit politely, in the name of art confirmed my worst fears about The Tanks. What a fantastic art space! What a great gallery this would make for the Tate's Rothkos. But instead it is dedicated to live art, performance, installation and film works, with lots of interaction thrown in.

Art should be a contemplative, personal experience. It should leave us free to engage on our own terms. The idea that interaction is good for us is patronising and treats us as lazy-minded idiots who must be prodded like cattle in order to respond. Somehow, if I sit answering inane questions about politics from a psychic, that is supposed to be more active and real and meaningful than if I sat for an hour looking at a Rothko.

Can I go and see the abstract paintings now, please sir? I've done my interactions.

Undercurrent continues until 27 August, with artists or entities, including Orange Dot, W Project and Isys Archive, who have worked with Tate Young People's Programmes.


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Gerry Vaughan obituary

My husband Gerry Vaughan, who has died of prostate cancer aged 77, was an 11-plus failure who went on to work as painter, teacher, lecturer and education adviser for Derbyshire county council.

Born in Gravesend, Kent, he went to the town's Gordon school for boys, where his artistic talent was nurtured initially, and then from the age of 14 to Gravesend School of Art. After national service, he was accepted into the painting school at the Royal College of Art. He left in 1959, having been awarded the RCA life-painting prize.

His idealism and belief in education initially inspired him to teach, and he joined the staff at Gordano school in Portishead, Somerset. Two years later, in 1961, he went to Chesterfield College of Art as lecturer in fine art. He was appointed as teacher adviser for art by Derbyshire county council in 1969 and remained in the post until 1985. During those years he was responsible for much of the art education in Derbyshire. He was an early member of the Art Advisers Association and worked closely with colleagues from other counties and areas.

We moved to Wirksworth, Derbyshire, in 1963, where local concern for a very run-down, neglected small town caused Gerry to become a founder-member of Wirksworth Civic Society in 1969. When the Wirksworth Project to regenerate the town was established in the late 70s, Gerry's interest in the built environment came into its own. He was charged with liaison with the local schools and encouraged them to be fully involved with the project. He ran courses for teachers and children, organised a study of art in the built environment and staged major exhibitions of the young people's work. The project was widely reported in the national press and had a worldwide influence on regeneration.

His early retirement, as a result of illness, enabled Gerry to take up his own painting once more. His sense of colour, able draughtsmanship and love of water – especially the Thames estuary and the Greek islands – resulted in a body of work that earned considerable respect. He exhibited in various venues in the UK and Greece. He supported the Wirksworth festival from its inception, both exhibiting and participating in the selection panel from time to time.

Gerry was painting until the end, through sleepless nights and long days, his work still full of vibrancy and colour.

He is survived by me, our children Simon, Jane and David, and seven grandchildren.


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Scent of a kitten: the 20 irrefutable theories of book cover design

Do you judge a book by its cover? Designers Jon Gray and Jamie Keenan shared their theories on attracting readers – from cute cats to alluring perfume – at the Edinburgh book festival

1. Face theory

Research suggests that human beings spend 48.6% of their lives decoding facial communication, so a big draw for a potential book buyer will be the familiarity of a face. The cover of Nick Hornby's Otherwise Pandemonium, for example, uses a cassette tape to create the image of a face.

2. Association theory

Human beings make a connection with a given stimulus that leads to how they respond to something they see. The image on the cover of Luca Turin's The Secret of Scent uses the familiar image of the Chanel No 5 perfume label to help the reader respond to the idea that the book is about scent.

3. Zen theory

This theory presents a challenge to the human mind that some will accept and some won't. A zen theory cover mainly involves text with few images, telling the reader little about the book other than the name of the author. This is often used for books from well-known authors, such as Philip Pullman's The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, who will attract readers with their name alone.

4. Type as image theory

This theory uses original or customised typefaces to create images and ideas. The type often becomes the image, such as on the cover for Steven Levy's The Perfect Thing.

5. Textual plasticity theory

The human mind reads words as a whole not individual letters. If a letter is missing, the brain will still understand the word. The design for James Gleick's Faster has all the vowels missing from the author's name and title on the cover, but is still readable.

6. Overdetermination theory

The image on a cover using Overdetermination theory suggests the beginning or snapshot of a narrative rather than an overall end result.

7. Ringfence theory

The difference between positive and negative space can determine what the reader sees. The Rubin vase is a good example, where some people see two faces and others see a vase. In this cover, the iPod headphones shape a womb and two lovers' faces.

8. Zoom theory

Zooming in can give a taster of a narrative without giving too much away, while zooming out creates a bigger picture, depending on what is required. The pen nib on the cover of Miguel Syjuco's Ilustrado is an example of close zoom.


9. Encapsulation theory

Typeface and image combine to create one unified image for the reader. Unity is more attractive to humans, as making connections doesn't require as much effort. The cover of Marina Lewycka's A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian has a picture of a tractor and the word "tractor".

10. Molecular theory

Layers of symbols that make up a whole, understandable theme define molecular theory. The cover of Karen Maitland's The Company of Liars uses skull symbols inside a silhouette of a dog to symbolise that this is "a novel of the plague".

11. Unheimlich theory

This theory takes a familiar image or symbol and makes it strange or unsettling. One cover of Lolita uses the image of a girl's bedroom wall to represent a girl's legs and underwear.


12. Absent presence theory

A gap is left on the cover, a missing image or text, that implies something. By having this space, the reader is forced to fill the gap with their imagination in order to understand the meaning.

13. Ju Jitsu theory

The opponent, the cover, forces a view or conception upon the defender, the reader, such as the bloody, violent implications on the cover of Anthony McGowan's love story Stag Hunt.

14. Toy theory

A fixed image allows the reader to remain passive and distance themselves from a cover. A fluid image, like the one on William Boyd's Fascination requires the reader to actively explore the cover and become curious about the content.

15. Obfuscation theory

If something is hidden it suddenly becomes more interesting to the curious nature of the human mind. The cover of an edition of Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day obscures the image that depicts the content with white lines and text.

16. Combination theory

Because a book is static, two ideas can be presented at once to create a doubly effective but meaningful image to the reader. Moses Isegawa's novel Abyssinian Chronicles is about modern Africa, and the cover uses old books to create the shape of the continent.

17. Navigation

The eye is deliberately led via an understandable pattern; left to right, bottom to top, to create an easily recognisable overall image. Hannah Holmes's Quirk depicts the brain through a mind map.

18. Turd theory

A single, unsightly object can be seen as repulsive. Multiply the image and use bright colours, and it can become attractive. Usually used in series design, the effects can be seen in a sequence of Georges Simenon books designed by Keenan.

19. Maximisation

Everything is huge and thrown on to the cover. Bigger images and text can catch a reader's eye in a sea of detailed designs. The cover for Zadie Smith's new book, NW, is a good example of maximisation.

20. Fluffy kitten theory

Nothing draws a reader to a book like a picture of a fluffy kitten.


guardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds




Eye saw this: the top 10 most popular Guardian Eyewitness images

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Artist of the week 203: Sung Hwan Kim

This Korean-born, New York-based artist spins beguiling tales that mesh elements from sci-fi, folk tales, personal memories and history

Sung Hwan Kim has a gift for getting under the skin. The stories he and his friends spin in his beguiling videos and performances are delivered in the hushed tones you might use to soothe a child or an invalid. His restrained bedside manner is pitch-perfect, casually launching into parables with an ominous psychosexual charge and mysterious symbolism, which builds to fever point on unsuspecting ears.

In one of the Korean-born, New York-based artist's most haunting film works, From the Commanding Heights, a woman finds a family of snakes set up home in her throat. She manages to bite off their heads but their bodies remain lodged in her slender neck.

Kim brings the tale to life with a green marker pen, sketching phallic snakes on to a transparency, placed over a camera lens that he talks into, so that the felt-tip snakes seem to grow in his own gullet.

This flair for quick-thinking low-fi effects, coupled with the gang of chums who act in Kim's videos, might call to mind current Turner-nominee Spartacus Chetwynd's dishevelled performance troupe and their DIY wardrobes. Typical costumes for Kim's works include hand-drawn paper masks which call to mind both children's fancy dress and S&M gear, or bedsheets used to conceal crouching bodies so they become volcanoes with human heads. Simple camera tricks make everyday things hallucinogenic: see Manahatas Dance, where footage of a woman dancing in a Native American top is projected upside down in slow motion, so that her leather tassels and hair start to look more and more like the tendrils of a jellyfish.

Kim's approach always flits between reality and fiction and draws on different mediums and cultures. A single work might mesh elements from sci-fi, folk tales, personal memories and human history, as in the unsettling Summer Days in Keijo. The Dutch traveller who narrates this story of Keijo, the formerly Japanese-ruled city that is now Korea's capital Seoul, starts out like a dull tour guide. Soon enough, though, things take a sinister turn.

We're told that the little kids innocently dancing and playing have been wheeled out creepily for her amusement, having been rescued from sewers to become industrial workers. Nothing is to be believed, it seems, in a city whose name is always changing. Even the architecture in the film is subject to reinvention, with buildings pushed around, their landmark status revoked. It seems that in both life and art, you cannot trust what you see or hear.

Why we like him: For the delirious soundtracks Kim creates with New York-based musician David Michael DiGregorio AKA dogr: intense orchestrations of experimental acoustics, found sounds and eerie vocals.

One plus one: Kim originally studied maths and engineering. He was on the way to becoming an architect before he attended a class taught by performance and video art legend Joan Jonas.

Where can I see him? At Tate Modern to 28 October.


guardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds




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