A first look round the Whitechapel revamp

Artists in the east end of London - a rumoured 10,000 of them - have been without their mother ship for over two years while the Whitechapel Gallery has undergone its costly extension into the former library next door.

It re-opens on Sunday (5 April) but we had a sneak preview this week and are glad to report it looks like it'll be worth the wait. The architects, Belgian practice Robbrecht en Daem with London's Witherford Watson Mann, have treated the Victorian building with sympathy but still created a smart, sleek new space with reading and study rooms as well as additional gallery spaces. 

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The opening show will be by the German sculptor Isa Genzken but we're also interested in Goshka Macuga's majestic Bloomberg commission based around a tapestry of Picasso's Guernica (the real one posed for its one-and-only UK close-up at the Whitechapel in 1939), commissioned by Nelson Rockerfeller, which has been hanging outside the United Nations Security Council. Also look out for Jeurgen Teller's portraits, starting with a wonderfully louche-looking David Hockney "smokin' a fag", and soon to include Fergus Henderson of the St John restaurants, artist Richard Hamilton and others (a new one will be added every two weeks). Read Esquire art critic Colm Toibin's preview in the May issue

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Our favourite touches though, are the small ones from artists - Liam Gillick's rainbow seating scheme in the auditorium, Franz West's confession-inducing "Diwan" sofa and Rodney Graham's weathervane of himself dressed as Erasmus riding backwards on a horse. As you do. www.whitechapelgallery.org

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