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National Portrait Gallery appoints Jamie Fobert for £35.5m refurbishment

Plus: Manchester Art Gallery takes down Waterhouse painting | Art world figures sign open letter in support of Laura Raicovich | and Iran court sentences art dealer to 27 years in prison

1 February 2018

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

National Portrait Gallery appoints Jamie Fobert for £35.5m refurbishment | The National Portrait Gallery today announced the appointment of Jamie Fobert Architects to manage the museum’s forthcoming £35.5m redevelopment project, for which it is currently fundraising and which is scheduled to begin in 2020. The practice will work together with heritage architects Purcell to realise the project, which will include the creation of a new learning centre as well as around 20 per cent more public and exhibition space for the NPG. Recent projects completed by Jamie Fobert Architects include the extension at Tate St Ives and the redevelopment at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge.

Manchester Art Gallery takes down Waterhouse painting | Manchester Art Gallery has taken down from its walls the John William Waterhouse painting Hylas and the Nymphs (1896). The pre-Raphaelite painting, which depicts a scene from Greek mythology in which the Argonaut Hylas is abducted by water nymphs, was removed from display during an event on Friday, which was filmed for a new Sonia Boyce work to be shown in the artist’s forthcoming exhibition at the gallery. The decision is intended not as an act of censorship but in order ‘to prompt conversation’, the museum has said. It is currently unclear when the painting will return to public display.

Art world figures sign open letter in support of Laura Raicovich | A group of 38 curators, art directors and art historians yesterday signed an open letter expressing their support for Laura Raicovich, who has stepped down from her role as director of the Queens Museum in New York. Signatories of the letter, which was started by Carin Kuoni, director and chief curator of the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at the New School, include writer and curator Lucy Lippard; Charles Esche, director of the Van Abbemuseum; and SculptureCenter director Mary Ceruti. The letter praises Raicovich’s social and political involvement and ‘call[s] on the boards of our cultural institutions to embrace the civic role of our institutions by supporting and empowering courageous and caring leaders such as Laura Raicovich, regardless of their gender.’

Iran court sentences art dealer to 27 years in prison | Iranian-American art dealer Karan Vafadari has been sentenced to 27 years in prison by an Iranian court over a conviction for espionage and other charges, according to the US-based Center for Human Rights in Iran. Vafaradi’s wife Afarin Neyssari, an Iranian architect with permanent residency in the US, has also been convicted on similar charges and faces a 16-year sentence. In 2009, the couple founded Aun Gallery, a contemporary art space in Tehran.

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