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Garden Bridge faces last-ditch challenge

Plus: British Museum tops list of UK visitor destinations | Public figures petition to keep Royal Photographic Society archive in Bradford | Hepworth Wakefield receives major bequest | Mugrabi settles Basquiat dispute with Christie’s | and the weekend’s best comment & reviews rounded up

7 March 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

MP launches ‘last ditch’ challenge to Garden Bridge | Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey and five other local politicians have launched a last minute challenge to Thomas Heatherwick’s proposed ‘Garden Bridge’, urging the housing trust that owns the land on the south bank of the Thames on which the structure would be developed to refuse permission for the project. In a letter sent to the Coin Street Community Builders today, the six Labour party politicians state that they are ‘wholly unconvinced’ by plans for the bridge, citing its ‘huge cost to the public purse’ as cause for concern. According to The Guardian, Coin Street’s ‘permission is seen as the final major step before work on the bridge can start’. CSCB, which is owned by local residents, has yet to comment on the letter.

British Museum tops list of UK visitor destinations – again | Annual figures published today show that for the ninth year running, the British Museum was the most popular visitor attraction in the UK. According to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, the BM welcomed around 6.82 million people last year, a mild increase on 2014, when it attracted some 6.7 million. Looking down the rankings, the National Gallery is still in second place with 5.9 million visits despite the strike that saw much many of its galleries closed for a period last year, while the Natural History Museum was at number three with 5.3 million. In general, it seems the figures for museum visits are on the up – the Royal Academy of Arts saw a 33 per cent increase while the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art One saw numbers boosted by an impressive 47 per cent. However, Tate Modern and the Southbank Centre both recorded a disappointing year, with respective drops of 19 and 18 per cent. What, we wonder, is keeping tourists from crossing south of the river?

Public figures petition to keep Royal Photographic Society archive in Bradford | Figures including David Hockney, Don McCullin and film director Mike Leigh have put their names to a letter in today’s Guardian, protesting the decision to move part of the Royal Photographic Society’s collection to London’s V&A from the National Media Museum in Bradford. ‘A number of us who have deposited our photographs in the museum did so specifically because we wanted our work to be preserved in the north,’ they write, criticising the decision as ‘sudden and largely secret’.

Hepworth Wakefield receives major bequest | Retired BBC news writer Tim Sayer is to donate more than 400 works he has collected over the past half century to the Hepworth Wakefield, representing one of the most significant private bequests to a UK regional museum. According to the Daily Telegraph, the collection takes in works by artists including David Hockney, Paul Nash and Bridget Riley, yet Sayer claims there is ‘no rhyme or reason’ to it. Works from the collection will go on show at the Hepworth at the end of next month.

Mugrabi settles Basquiat dispute with Christie’s | Four days after Christie’s filed a lawsuit against dealer Jose Mugrabi over missed payments on Jean-Michel Basquiat’s The Field Next to the Other Road, the Wall Street Journal reports that the two parties have reached a settlement. According to the paper, Mr Mugrabi has now agreed to pay the auction house in full for the work. Mugrabi bought the painting in question for $37 million at auction in 2015. He made an initial payment of $5 million, but missed two remaining instalments earlier this year. Christie’s has issued a statement affirming that it ‘values and respects Jose Mugrabi and is very glad to have resolved our differences with the Mugrabi family’.

The weekend’s best comment & reviews | In the Independent on Sunday, Boyd Tonkin condemned the V&A’s ambitious ‘Botticelli Reimagined’ exhibition as ‘curatorial garbage’, but The Observer’s Laura Cumming disagreed, describing it as ‘enthralling’. Meanwhile, the Serpentine’s Hilma af Klint show has been rapturously received. In yesterday’s Sunday Times, Waldemar Januszczak described the Swedish painter’s work as ‘art from another planet’; the Telegraph’s Mark Hudson settled for ‘extraordinary’.

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