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The week in art news – Glasgow School of Art to be faithfully rebuilt after all

Plus: Pompidou renovations postponed until after Paris Olympics | Festival of Brexit art projects announced | and Ahmanson Foundation partners with the Huntington

22 October 2021

The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) has concluded a review looking at the future of the Mackintosh building which was devastated by a fire in 2018, which broke out while it was being restored after a previous fire of 2014. Architects’ Journal reports that after considering the options, which included looking at a new-build replacement, the GSA has said that its preference is for ‘a faithful reinstatement’ of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s masterpiece of 1909 – as faithful as modern building regulations will allow. Work on the site is expected to begin in 2022, but it is not likely that the building will be back in use until at least 6 years from now. The report into the cause of the 2018 fire remains to be published.

The Centre Pompidou in Paris is to postpone its planned renovations until after the Paris Olympics in 2024. Laurent Le Bon, newly appointed president of the Centre Pompidou, announced the change of plan this week. The gallery was due to close at the end of 2023 for essential maintenance work, allowing it to reopen before its 50th anniversary in 2027. The marking of that milestone now seems doubtful, with Le Bon encouraging critics to look to the long term: ‘ We have to be sure,’ he told Le Figaro, that when we reopen the doors, we will have a new Centre Pompidou. An anniversary is an anniversary. On the other hand, we work for our children and our grandchildren.’

Unboxed: Creativity in the UK – formerly Festival 2022, or more commonly dubbed ‘The Festival of Brexit’has announced the ten projects that will be at the heart of what its chief creative officer describes as a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ event. The winning projects are set to take place all over the UK. They include, Tour de Moon a ‘cosmic night-time adventure … an after-party of immersive experiences’ and Our Place, a scale model of the solar system combining sculpture trails in Northern Ireland and Cambridge with an augmented reality app. Dame Vikki Heywood, chair of the Unboxed board, said: ‘The programme will support economic recovery in the UK by reanimating towns and cities and expanding our connectivity through new online communities.’

On Monday, the Ahmanson Foundation and the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens announced that they have formed a partnership for major acquisitions of European or American art. To launch the partnership Portage Falls on the Genesee (1839) by Thomas Cole has entered the Huntington’s collection. The monumental painting was previously displayed in the Seward House Museum in Auburn, in the state of New York. The announcement follows the foundation ended its longstanding relationship with LACMA in early 2020 over its unhappiness over the museum’s redevelopment. In an email to ARTnews, William Ahmanson, the foundation’s president, said: ‘The Huntington is a museum that continues to be good stewards of its permanent collection, but also has the capacity and desire to strengthen their collection.’