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The week in art news – UK museums and galleries announce plans for reopening

30 June 2020

Our regularly updated digest of the week’s top art news

Details have been released about museum and gallery reopenings across the UK, following the announcement last week that cultural institutions will be able to open from 4 July providing they follow ‘Covid-19 secure’ guideline. The National Gallery will be the first major London museum to open its doors on 8 July, followed by the Royal Academy of Arts which will open to members of its Friends scheme on 9 July and then the wider public on 16 July. All four Tate galleries will reopen on 27 July. The Barbican will reopen on 13 July and the Whitechapel Gallery and Photographers’ Gallery on 14 July – but other venues across the capital, such as the British Museum and Natural History Museum, are yet to confirm a date. Elsewhere in the UK, Turner Contemporary in Margate will open on 22 July, with the Hepworth Wakefield and Nottingham Contemporary scheduled to welcome visitors in early August. The Whitworth in Manchester is among those venues planning to reopen in September. Visitors to all venues will need to book timed tickets in advance, with social distancing enforced throughout exhibitions.

Milton Glaser, the celebrated American graphic designer, has died at the age of 91. Glaser is most well known for his bold ‘I ♥ NY’ logo and the poster he designed for Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, in which he depicts the singer with psychedelic hair – his work is often cited as capturing the spirit of the 1960s. Glaser was born in the Bronx in 1929. He studied at Cooper Union and then in Bologna, where he trained with the painter Giorgio Morandi. He founded Push Pin studios in 1954 with Seymour Chwast and others, before setting up his own design firm 20 years later. Alongside Clay Felker, he was part of the team that founded New York magazine in the late ’60s. Read Will Martin’s tribute to Glaser for Apollo here.

The French dealer who sold a golden sarcophagus from ancient Egypt to the Metropolitan Museum of Art has been charged with gang fraud and money laundering. Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports that Christophe Kunicki was charged last Friday in Paris, along with his associate Richard Semper. The coffin of the priest Nedjemankh, dating from the first century BC, was returned by the Met to Egypt last year, after the museum learnt of its forged provenance. Kunicki has confirmed that he sold the sarcophagus for €3.5m, but at the time of its return said that it came from ‘sound legit origins’. The Met has said that it intends to ‘pursue claims against all parties that may have been involved in deceiving the museum’.

The German ministry of culture has confirmed that the government is in negotiations to buy the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, to avoid the museum’s owner, an Austrian property company, demolishing an extension to the building and creating new offices on the site. The planned demolition of the Rieckhallen has already caused Friedrich Christian Flick to withdraw the loan of his collection to the Berlin State Museums Authority (SMB). The Art Newspaper reports that if the federal real estate agency is successful in buying the lease, it will let the whole building back to the museum.

The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK), seeking to dismiss the suit of the heirs of Jewish art dealers claiming ownership of the Guelph Treasure. Lower courts have already rejected the SPK’s argument that US courts cannot hear lawsuits against foreign governments and their agencies. The heirs argue that the original sale of the medieval reliquaries in 1935 – conducted under pressure and for a fraction of the objects’ value – was a domestic matter and thus not covered by the US Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. Arguments are likely to be heard at the end of the year at the earliest.

The collector Bruce Toll will sue France in the European Court of Human Rights for compensation for the restitution of a looted painting by Camille Pissarro to the heirs of the Parisian collector Simon Bauer. The American real estate developer will comply with the judgement of the French court that ruled that Pea Harvest should be returned, but says that he had purchased the work in good faith in 1995.

Tate Britain has named ten artists who will each receive a bursary of £10,000, in lieu of the 2020 Turner Prize. The list was chosen by the jury for this year’s cancelled edition of the award, and includes artists working in Britain across a range of mediums; among them are the video artist Imran Perratta, the Ghanaian-Russian photographer Liz Johnson Artur, and Arika, an Edinburgh-based political art collective.