Scotland

Glasgow School of Art: The history of a Mackintosh masterpiece

Glasgow School of Art Image copyright Chris Downer
Image caption The Glasgow School of Art building opened in 1909

Charles Rennie Mackintosh was a 28-year-old junior draughtsman at a Glasgow architecture firm when he drew up the designs for the building that many consider his masterpiece.

The first half of the Glasgow School of Art building was completed in 1899.

But the dramatic art nouveau design of the building in the Garnethill area of the city centre took another 10 years to be completed, finally opening in 1909.

It heralded the birth of a new style in 20th Century European architecture.

It is now considered one of Scotland's most admired and influential buildings and Mackintosh, under-appreciated in his own time, is lauded as one of the country's finest designers.

Image copyright Alan McAteer
Image caption The new Reid Building has been constructed across the road from the Mackintosh building

The thick sandstone building is as renowned as the intricate detail and ornament of the interior.

Famous Glasgow School of Art graduates includes Dr Who actor Peter Capaldi and Harry Potter actor Robbie Coltrane, as well as novelist and muralist Alasdair Gray.

Broadcaster and former student Muirel Gray is now chair of the board of governors.

Artist Peter Howson and Scotland's national poet Liz Lochhead attended the school, as well as Fran Healy, Dougie Payne and Andy Dunlop from Glasgow band Travis and Robert Hardy from Franz Ferdinand.

Artist and playwright John Byrne, former partner of actress Tilda Swinton, also studied at GSA, as did poet and playwright Liz Lochhead and Labour politician Cathy Jamieson MSP.

Newest building

In recent years, Glasgow School of Art has produced many of the UK's leading contemporary artists such as Douglas Gordon and David Shrigley and three recent Turner Prize winners: Simon Starling in 2005, Richard Wright in 2009 and Martin Boyce in 2011.

Jenny Saville, who exhibited in the Royal Academy's Sensation exhibition in London in 1997, is a past student, as is Alison Watt, the first woman to have a solo exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery.

The newest Glasgow School of Art building was officially opened across the road from Charles Rennie Mackintosh's masterpiece earlier this year.

The Reid Building - named in honour of the art school's former director, Seona Reid - sits facing Rennie Mackintosh's famous landmark.

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