Art Industry News: Damien Hirst Declares ‘I Love the Crypto World’ and Offers to Sell His Artworks for Robo-Money + Other Stories

Plus, Swiss museums can reopen on March 1 and 66 French art-world figures sign a letter in support of artist Claude Lévêque.

Damien Hirst attends the The Empathy Suite designed by Damien Hirst unveiling at Palms Casino Resort. (Photo by David Becker/WireImage)

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 Friday, February 26.

NEED-TO-READ

Staff Cuts Loom at the V&A Museum – The Victoria & Albert Museum may cut 20 percent of its curators and conservators, according to insiders. The reductions would come after a wave of restructuring and voluntary redundancies. “It’s hollowing out the expertise of the museum,” one source said. Some wonder whether the cutbacks may be tied to the expense of the V&A’s ambitious new East London outpost, but the museum has insisted they are due only to pandemic losses. (Guardian)

Ethiopian Heritage at Risk as Massacre Rages – The historic town of Axum, Ethiopia is one of the backdrops of what is emerging as a massacre that has been occurring since Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent forces to attack the region of Tigray’s People’s Liberation Front in November. The Church of St. Mary of Zion, also in Axum and where some believe the Ark of the Covenant is held, is now under threat, and there are reports of looting of other Tigrayan churches and monasteries. (The Art Newspaper)

Swiss Museums Can Reopen on March 1 – While UK museums must remain under lock and key until late spring, Swiss museums have gotten the green light to reopen this Monday. Institutions have been closed since mid-January; bars and restaurants remain closed and indoor gatherings are limited to five people. The Fondation Beyeler in Basel is celebrating its reopening by offering free admission on the first two days of March. (TAN)

66 French Art-World Figures Sign a Letter in Support of Claude Lévêque – A group of French writers, artists, and other cultural figures have signed an open letter insisting that the French artist Claude Lévêque be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The famous artist was dropped by his dealer, Kamel Mennour, after he came under media scrutiny for allegedly abusing minors under 15. “Artists are not immune from the law, but they are not, either, doomed to be destroyed without proven proof,” they write. Signatories include former gallerist Yvon Lambert and art historian Philippe Piguet. (Art Press)

ART MARKET

Damien Hirst Will Accept Cryptocurrency for New Print Run – The artist is offering a new series of prints that collectors can buy for $3,000 apiece or with cryptocurrency—roughly .058 BTC or 1.8 ETH. “I love the crypto world and I am happy and proud to put my belief into Bitcoin and ether and accept them for this drop,” Hirst said. Each piece, from his cherry blossoms series, is signed by the artist; the sale continues through March 3. (Cointelegraph, Twitter)

Skarstedt to Open Temporary Location in Palm Beach – As first reported in Artnet News’s Wet Paint column, the tony gallery will be cozying up to other dealers in the wealthy enclave of Palm Beach from March 6 through June 15, taking up an 800-square-foot space near Pace, Lévy Gorvy, and Acquavella. (Press release)

COMINGS & GOINGS

Liverpool Biennial Gets an Opening Date – The Liverpool Biennial will be the first major show to open in the UK this year. “The Stomach and the Port” is set to launch its first chapter, which encompasses outdoor sculptures and an online portal, on March 20. It will be on view through June 6. The “indoor” chapter will open later this spring. (Press release)

Virgil Abloh Will Be a Visiting Professor at the RCA – The artist, fashion designer, and polymath has taken on a new gig: visiting professor at the Royal College of Art in London. He will be teaching masters classes throughout the year and offering “unique employment opportunities” to students and alumni. (WWD)

FOR ART’S SAKE

Seattle Art Museum, Yale Receive Transformative Gifts – The Friday Foundation, led by the heirs of the late Seattle collectors Jane Lang Davis and Richard Lang, has donated major gifts to Yale and the Seattle Art Museum. Nineteen artworks, including examples by Mark Rothko, Helen Frank Frankenthaler, and Francis Bacon, will go to the Seattle Art Museum along with $10.5 million in funds. Six works by Franz Kline and Rothko are headed to the Yale University Art Gallery.  (ARTnews)

MASS MoCA Installs Turrell Skyspace in Water Tower – A concrete water tower on the campus of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art will host James Turrell’s largest, freestanding circular skyspace to date. The installation will be able to host 50 viewers at a time (presumably, post-social distancing) and is set to be unveiled on May 29. (Designboom)


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