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The week in art news – UK galleries and auction houses to reopen from 1 June

15 May 2020

The UK government has agreed to classify galleries and auction houses as ‘non-essential retail businesses’, thus allowing them to reopen in the second phase of the lifting of lockdown restrictions, currently planned after 1 June. The Art Newspaper reports that art trade associations including LAPADA and the British Art Market Federation (BAMF) have been lobbying the government for guidelines regarding a safe return to work.

Thomas Sokolowski, the director of the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University, has died at the age of 70. In the course of a distinguished career Sokolowski was chief curator of the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Virginia, and director of the Grey Art Gallery at NYU, where he curated groundbreaking shows responding to the AIDS crisis. He was also a co-founder of the Visual AIDS organisation, which supported HIV-positive artists and their work. From 1996–2010, he was the director of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.

The chairman of Sotheby’s global fine arts division, Allan Schwartzman, is leaving the auction house. Arts Agency, the art advisory firm he founded with Amy Cappellazzo, was acquired by Sotheby’s for $50million in 2016. Schwartzman will keep a consulting role while working on his own projects.

On Thursday Photo London, which was due to open this week, announced new dates and a new venue. The annual photography fair will take place on 7–11 October at Gray’s Inn Gardens, but hopes to return to Somerset House in 2021. Shirin Neshat remains this year’s Master of Photography and a solo show of her work will be on display during and for three weeks after the event.

After only four months in the post the Austrian culture minister, Ulrike Lunacek, has resigned after being widely criticised for the government’s lack of support for the arts sector since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis. In a televised broadcast, Lunacek said that she was ‘making way for someone who can hopefully achieve more than I have in this crisis situation’.