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The week in art news – Deborah Swallow to retire as director of the Courtauld Institute

29 April 2022

On Tuesday, it was announced that Deborah Swallow is stepping down as director of the Courtauld Institute in London, after 18 years. In recent years, Swallow has overseen the institute’s ambitious Courtauld Connects project, a £57m plan to make the institute’s research, teaching and collections more accessible to the wider public. At the centre of this has been a comprehensive, three-year refurbishment of the Courtauld Gallery at Somerset House, which was completed in 2021. Swallow’s tenure has also seen the creation of a masters programme in curating and the opening of its Centre for American Art in 2016. In January, the institute announced a ten-year ‘strategic partnership’ with neighbouring King’s College, to offer a series of joint post-graduate degrees.

A monument in central Kyiv symbolising friendship between Russia and Ukraine has been dismantled this week. Erected in 1982 in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the creation of the Soviet Union, the bronze sculpture stood beneath a giant titanium archway, entitled the People’s Friendship Arch, which remains in place although it has been renamed Arch of Freedom of the Ukrainian People. Prior to the removal of the statue, Vitaly Klitschko, mayor of Kyiv, told Reuters that ‘such a monument has an entirely different meaning now.’

A team comprised of Allies and Morrison and Asif Khan Studio will oversee a major renewal of the Barbican Centre, after winning the international competition organised by the City of London Corporation. The refurbishment is expected to cost in the region of £50m–£150m, and will aim to improve the ‘accessibility and environmental performance’ of the Grade II-listed Brutalist arts centre; it takes places in lieu of the corporation’s previous plans to build a new, £288m Centre for Music, which were scrapped in February last year.

A painting by Diego Rivera is among the assets seized from the residence of the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska by the FBI last autumn, it was reported by Bloomberg on Monday. Deripaska was placed under sanctions in 2018 for ties to Vladimir Putin’s administration. According to Bloomberg, federal authorities suspect Deripaska of evading these sanctions.