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The week in art news – UK government rejects ‘Tulip’ skyscraper

Plus: Sylvère Lotringer (1938–2021) | Tudor wall paintings discovered in Yorkshire manor | and National Gallery publishes research on slavery links

12 November 2021

Plans to build a 305m-high tower, nicknamed the ‘Tulip’, in the City of London have been rejected by the Department for Levelling up, Housing and Communities. Among the reasons given for the decision was the scheme’s ‘muddle of architectural ideas’. If built, the tower – designed by Foster + Partners – would have been the tallest in the financial district and the second tallest in London, after the Shard. The scheme was initially approved by the City of London Corporation in spring 2019, but rejected by the Mayor of London. A subsequent appeal by the developers resulted in a public inquiry and referral to the Secretary of State. Historic England has welcomed the decision, with its chief executive Duncan Wilson saying: ‘We have long been of the opinion that the ‘Tulip’ would be visually intrusive and highly incongruous from key viewpoints of the Tower, detracting from the experience of visiting the site for millions of tourists and Londoners.’

The theorist and publisher Sylvère Lotringer (1938–2021) has died at the age of 83. Lotringer began publishing the journal Semiotext(e) in the 1970s and expanded into publishing key work by French philosophers such as Jean Baudrillard, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, and Michel Foucault, in English for the first time. He taught French literature and philosophy at Columbia University for 35 years.

Restorers at Calverley Old Hall in Yorkshire have discovered a number of 16th-century wall paintings in what is being described as ‘the discovery of a lifetime’. Painted on three walls of a single bedroom room, the scenes depict birds, griffins, and the figures of men sitting on vases, thought to be based on scenes at the Domus Aurea in Rome. The Landmark Trust, which owns the property, has launched a £94,000 to preserve the works in situ.

The National Gallery in London has this week published research into its historical links with slavery. The results are available on the museum’s website, which states: ‘our project has started to find out what links to slave-ownership can be traced within the gallery, and to what extent profits from plantation slavery impacted our early history’. The National Gallery also stresses that links can be indirect as well as direct – such as three portraits Gainsborough painted of sitters with links to the slave trade, which are in the collection. The research so far has concentrated on the 19th century, reports The Art Newspaper, with more work to follow on collectors from 1640 and trustees and donors from 1880 to 1920.

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