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Royal Academy Marks 250th With £56m David Chipperfield-Designed Expansion

In further news: open letter protests all-male shortlist for BelgianArtPrize; Arts Council of Ireland issues impartiality warning ahead of abortion referendum

Weston Bridge, Royal Academy, London, 2018. Courtesy: Royal Academy of Arts; photograph: Simon Menges

Weston Bridge, Royal Academy, London, 2018. Courtesy: Royal Academy of Arts; photograph: Simon Menges

Weston Bridge, Royal Academy, London, 2018. Courtesy: Royal Academy of Arts; photograph: Simon Menges

The new GBP£56 million makeover of London’s Royal Academy, designed by architect (and Royal Academician himself) Sir David Chipperfield has been unveiled. The Piccadilly institution is celebrating its 250th anniversary with a transformation that carves out 70% more public space, creating new gallery spaces (including new dedicated exhibition room for the RA’s permanent collection) and a 250-seat auditorium. Ten years in the making, the design links the RA’s quarters in Burlington House with neighbouring 6 Burlington Gardens, uniting the campus at last. It opens to the public on 19 May. The new gallery is inaugurated with an exhibition by Tacita Dean, ‘LANDSCAPE’, which runs until 12 August 2018. Don’t miss Ben Eastham writing on Dean’s new work and ‘the magic of film’ in the March issue of frieze.

The Arts Council of Ireland has contacted arts organizations ahead of the referendum on the 8th amendment of the Irish Constitution, which bans abortion, to warn about impartiality rules. The council says it was motivated by calls from people ‘expressing concerns that public money might be used as part of the referendum campaign’. The Arts Council says that it is satisfied that no rules were violated. It follows the removal of a ‘repeal’ mural from Dublin’s Project Arts Centre after the charities regulators said the centre would lose its charitable tax status if it was found to be involved in campaigning.

British architect Will Alsop has passed away at the age of 70. He was well known for his colourful, playful designs, especially London’s L-shaped Peckham Library, clad in pre-patinated copper, and topped with an orange cap; the building took the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2000. Will Hunter, founder of the London School of Architecture, paid tribute to Alsop’s ‘subversive spirit and energy’, while the architect Charles Holland said: ‘His buildings were formally bold, thoroughly audacious and huge fun.’

The all-male shortlist for the BelgianArtPrize has come under fire in an open letter signed by hundreds of Belgian art professionals, protesting its ‘flagrant exclusivity’. 554 people have signed the letter after the award announced its 2019 nominees – Sven Augustijnen, Koenraad Dedobbeleer, Gabriel Kuri, and Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys. The letter calls for ‘an inclusive artistic community that finds its strength in diversity’. They conclude: ‘In 2018, the art world and society at large are finally acknowledging inherited failures, and we insist on not sustaining them by assenting to the kind of agenda advanced by the BelgianArtPrize’.

In further awards news: London’s Design Museum has been named European Museum of the Year – the seventh UK winner in the award’s 41-year history. Co-director Alice Black said that news of the honour was a celebration of the museum’s ‘common European future’; and Yvette Coppersmith has won Australia’s Archibald portrait prize which comes with a USD$100,000 award.

A French government report has sharp criticisms of the country’s restitution of Nazi loot. Citing a ‘lack of communication and transparency’ and ‘weak responses and inaction’ the report calls for ‘urgent measures’, including a central taskforce associated with the prime minister’s office, to resolve the failures in returning the artworks. According to The Art Newspaper, the government is still deciding whether to make the report public.

Finally, Shanghai artist Cui Jie is now represented by Metro Pictures in New York, Pilar Corrias in London and Antenna Space. Cui was previously on the roster of Leo Xu Projects in Shanghai, before Xu moved to become director of David Zwirner’s Hong Kong operations. Don’t miss Ying Zhou’s recent feature for frieze on architecture, idealism and anachronism in Cui Jie’s work: ‘Cui’s technically exquisite renderings of built forms not only capture a specific typology of urban China’s modernist artefacts; together with her more recent sculptures, they scrutinize the veracity of modernism as an ideology claiming the future.’

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