Guardian Unlimited Arts

Guardian Unlimited Arts

Latest art and design news, comment and analysis from the Guardian
  1. Tate Liverpool
    Thought Liza Minnelli in Cabaret was the peak of Weimar decadence? Think again. A pungent new exhibition reveals a world of chaos, corsets and bloodstained crosses that the Nazis were about to sweep away

    When Hana Koch died in 2006, she left her family a modern German treasure hidden in an old altarpiece in her Bavaria home. Koch had survived the extremes and the violence of Germany in the previous century and through it all kept with her an extraordinary artistic document of innocence and love. For Koch was the stepdaughter of the great artist Otto Dix and, in 1925, when she was five years old, he made her a beautiful, handpainted picture book full of his joyously original visions of German folktales, biblical stories and comical monsters.

    The Bremen Town Musicians – from the Brothers Grimm – and Saint Christopher carrying Christ are among the traditional German childhood images Dix reinvents in his Bilderbuch für Hana (Picture Book for Hana). It went on public view in Germany for the first time last year and is now at Tate Liverpool.

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  2. Sculptor’s life-sized iron men in Crosby have been brightly decorated with a polka-dot bikini and other embellishments

    Antony Gormley has asked for paint to be removed from his iron men sculptures on Crosby beach after they were embellished with colourful outfits by an unknown artist.

    Related:Why Antony Gormley’s iron men are broadening our horizons

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  3. On a midsummer night, after the hottest June day since 1976, photographer Sarah Lee travelled across London with writer Laura Barton to capture the capital’s mood

    Midsummer, heavy heat, and London is beside itself: couples kiss by tube station steps, accordion players linger on street corners, the city is alive with the coatless, bare-legged and bewildered. Across the air comes the sound of last orders, police sirens, blurry conversation, while the backstreets stand quiet, lost in the scent of jasmine and dust.

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  4. Part Greek temple, part jet engine, and now officially ‘one of the most exciting buildings of the 80s’, John Outram’s pumping station put the fun back into architecture. It is just one of his many works that deserve listing

    Standing on the banks of the Isle of Dogs like a toy temple washed up from some colourful cartoon, John Outram’s strikingly postmodern storm water pumping station has been grade II* listed, as part of a new wave of listings that recognise an era of wit and fun in architecture.

    Built between 1986 and 1988, the pumping station is a playful collage of references: classical Greek temples, riverine mythology and even jet engines, all fused in a uniquely colourful vision. “It’s one of the most exciting buildings of the 1980s,” says Roger Bowdler, Historic England’s director of listing. “Outram exulted in the panache and exuberance of classicism – and gave this utterly functional structure an exterior that is unforgettable.”

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  5. From Diane Arbus’s man in curlers to the little running boy by Willy Ronis, Catherine Balet makes delightful re-creations of the world’s most recognisable shots

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  6. ‘After two hours of drinking vodka, General Boris suggested we just do the shoot at his house’

    Star City is a self-contained city for cosmonauts about an hour from Moscow. Astronauts still come from all over the world to get trained there. It might look dated but, underneath, the important stuff is all working. As well as a training centre, it has a launch site, a technical department, a school, and a hospital – everything really. During the cold war, when there was a lot of money going into the space race, it was an important place. That’s not so much the case now.

    We are all awed by space – and, although there is something old-fashioned, even funny, about this image, it is still noble. The subject’s name is General Boris V and I took his portrait back in 2007. Originally, the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre had agreed to let me shoot on their premises, but when I got there they asked for money.

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  7. Over three decades, he transformed a nation’s attitude to art. But is his revolution now in danger of being reversed? By Charlotte Higgins

    In 1970, if you had said that London would one day become the centre of the international art world, the successor to Paris before the first world war and New York after the second, most people would have thought you mad. The gleaming commercial galleries, the art fairs, the record-breaking sales at Christie’s and Sotheby’s, the arrival of the super-rich from every corner of the globe – all of this was decades away. Large parts of the city were still pitted and scarred from the bombs of the blitz. The port and docks on the Thames in east London were so completely derelict that people assumed they would be like that for ever. Most people didn’t even notice the power station that crouched opposite St Paul’s Cathedral – for there was no Southwark tube station, no elegantly engineered footbridge across the river, no glassy apartments, no Shakespeare’s Globe, no scenic path along the water’s edge to Tower Bridge. No one imagined that this behemoth, then still a decade away from being decommissioned, would one day become the world’s most popular museum of modern and contemporary art.

    Tate, now an empire of four museums, and a global brand, was then a single entity: the Tate Gallery, which occupied the building now known as Tate Britain, in Pimlico. It played second fiddle to the grander National Gallery, from which it had recently become independent, and had a rambling and uneven collection divided into “British art” and “modern foreign paintings”, as if contemporary art were a vice conducted mainly overseas. It had some great pictures, and hosted some memorable exhibitions: among them was 1964’s Painting and Sculpture of a Decade, a survey of the previous 10 years of contemporary art that, for an 18-year-old Hampstead schoolboy named Nicholas Serota, had fanned the flames of an interest in art; five decades later, he recalled its “bright colours and American art and a sense that things were changing”. But for most British artists, particularly those of the rising generation, the Tate Gallery was marginal. “The best you could hope for there was a one-man show the year before you kicked over,” recalls sculptor Richard Deacon, who was a student in 1970.

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  8. Each year, a community legal centre in the NT auctions off donated art to keep its doors open – and the proceeds now provide a third of its funds

    “It’s some sort of a hole they’ve got to dig in and get the oil and the gas, you know – but there’s spirits of Yolngu people in the ground,” says artist Nawurupu Wunungmurra.

    Wunungmurra, a senior Yirritja man from north east Arnhem Land, is describing long held Yolngu beliefs of the endless spiritual cycle of their people through the land’s water sources, and how the prospect of mining – especially fracking – impacts them.

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  9. Street artist Sabo shot to fame during the 2016 US election with his politically incorrect approach. Now he’s plastering LA with controversial works

    The guerrilla art movement is usually associated with leftwing politics. Banksy targets capitalism, consumerism and inequality. Blek le Rat, the father of stencil graffiti, depicts oppression and resistance.

    Shepard Fairey gilded Barack Obama’s rise with the iconic “Hope” poster and now highlights the scapegoating of Muslims and the corporatisation of US politics.

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  10. Intrigued by a place described to her simply as ‘wilder’, French photographer Claudia Imbert took up residency in Petite-Vallée, on the tip of Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula, to create theatrical portraits of everyday people

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