Art Industry News: David Hockney Speaks Out on NFTs, Calling Them ‘Silly Little Things’ for ‘Crooks and Swindlers’ + Other Stories

Plus, the Pompidou will send its collection across France during its closure and Nike gets a restraining order against an art collective.

David Hockney in front of his painting The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 at Centre Pompidou in 2017. Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images.

Art Industry News is a daily digest of the most consequential developments coming out of the art world and art market. Here’s what you need to know on this Monday, April 5.


The Centre Pompidou Will Send Its Collection Across France – Paris’s Centre Pompidou is planning to stay busy during its three-year closure, which begins in 2023. The museum’s president says he has received “numerous proposals” for partnerships across the country since it was announced that the institution would shutter for renovations. The Pompidou’s curatorial team will remain fully staffed for the duration and refocus on organizing exhibitions off-site. (The Art Newspaper)

Nike Blocks Sales of Art Collective’s Satan Shoes – A U.S. District Court granted the sports apparel company’s request for a restraining order blocking the sale of so-called “Satan Shoes,” a line of modified Nike sneakers created by art collective MSCHF in collaboration with rapper Lil Nas X. (The modifications included adding a drop of human blood.) There’s just one problem: most of the limited-edition 600 pairs have already been sold and shipped to buyers. (CBS)

David Hockney Says NFTs Are for Crooks – David Hockney, one of only two humans on Earth whose work has sold for more money at auction than Beeple, is not interested in NFTs. “I think it’s I.C.S.,” he said when asked about the phenomenon on the art podcast Waldy and Bendy’s Adventures in Art. “International crooks and swindlers.” As for Beeple’s $69 million work that sold at Christie’s last month, Hockney said, “I saw the pictures, but I mean it just looked like silly little things. I couldn’t make out what it was, actually.” (Decrypt)

Protest Artist Arrested in Paris – Belarusian protest artist Alexei Kuzmich was taken into police custody last Thursday for attempting to scale the gate of the Elysee Palace, home to French President Emmanuel Macron, with a bottle resembling a Molotov cocktail. In a statement, the artist equated Macron with the Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, and said he sought to “carry out a revolution.” (TAN)


SNL’s NFT Sketch Is Now… an NFT – After Saturday Night Live aired a skit last week attempting to explain NFTs (featuring Kate McKinnon as U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen), the show has decided to… turn the sketch into an NFT and offer it for sale. (Does your head hurt yet?) It’s being auctioned off on the OpenSea marketplace; last we checked, the price stood at just under $20,000. The proceeds go to charity. (Coindesk)

Art Dubai Offers a Glimpse of Art Market Future – Last week saw the return of Art Dubai, the first major fair to resume in-person operations after the pandemic year. Buyers were eager to spend, with sales including six-figure works by Ian Davenport and Iván Navarro. To assuage exhibitors’ fears, organizers offered them the chance to pay nothing up front and instead put a portion of their sales proceeds toward the cost of the booth after the event. (Artnet News)


Shanghai Biennale Announces Artist List – The 13th edition of the Shanghai Biennale, which opens its central exhibition on April 17, will present work by artists including Ana Mendieta, Cheng Xinyi, Torkwase Dyson, Joan Jonas, and Guo Fengyi. The theme of the show is “Bodies of Water,” inspired by the relationship between humans and the endangered climate. (ARTnews)

Oakland Museum of California Announces Staff Cuts – The museum, which has been much lauded for its pandemic response, will cut its staff by 15 percent as part of a major restructuring due to $2.5 million in lost revenue. The institution, which has been closed since March 2020, had enforced reduced hours for all staff to avoid layoffs, but determined in January that current staffing levels were no longer sustainable. (San Francisco Chronicle)


The Real History of NFTs – The tech entrepreneur Anil Dash recounts the origins of NFTs, which began in 2014 when he was paired with artist Kevin McCoy at Seven on Seven, the Rhizome-sponsored conference that pairs artists with technologists. “By devising the technology specifically for artistic use, McCoy and I hoped we might prevent it from becoming yet another method of exploiting creative professionals,” Dash writes. “But nothing went the way it was supposed to.” (The Atlantic)

Alice Neel’s Subject Sees Himself at the Met – In the mid-1960s, a young boy named Jeff Neal visited the apartment of painter Alice Neel with his brother and a mutual friend around a dozen times. Plied with snacks, they sat for a portrait—but never saw the final result until now. Neal, now 64, had the chance to see the painting for the first time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s current Neel exhibition. “I would say she was looking at two ghetto children from uptown and bringing out the beauty in us,” he said. (New York Times)


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