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The week in art news – world’s oldest animal painting found in Indonesia

15 January 2021

Archaeologists believe they have discovered the oldest known painting of an animal, in a cave on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. The painting, which depicts a species known as the Sulawesi warty pig, measures 136cm wide and was made using a dark red ochre pigment. It was first located in a previously unknown rock art site in 2017 and has since been dated to at least 45,500 years ago – making it more than 1,000 years older than the previously known oldest animal painting, also of a Sulawesi warty pig.

The Smithsonian is scaling back plans to redevelop the southern end of its campus in Washington, D.C. A $2bn masterplan designed by the Danish architect Bjarke Ingels was unveiled in 2014 and received approval from the National Capital Planning Commission in 2018, with constructed scheduled to begin this year. The revised plan, which was presented on Wednesday, has scrapped elements including new entrances facing the National Mall for the National Museum of Asian Art and the National Museum of African Art, and underground expansions of its buildings. Lonnie G. Bunch III, who took over as secretary of the Smithsonian in 2019, described the changes as an ‘evolutionary process’ that resulted from Bunch ‘coming in and asking certain questions’.

Naomi Beckwith, senior curator at the MCA Chicago, has been appointed as deputy director and chief curator of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation. Beckwith will take up the role in June, filling a position that has been vacant since the resignation of Nancy Spector last October.

Plans for a €250 million transformation of the Champs-Élysées in Paris have been approved by the city’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo. The scheme will halve the amount of the famous wide avenues given over to vehicles; the remainder will be pedestrianised and planted with trees, creating what Hidalgo has called ‘an extraordinary garden’. Designs have been drawn up by the architects PCA-Stream, with the first stage of the project – the redesign of the Place de la Concorde – expected to be completed in time for the Paris Olympics in 2024.