Art Industry News: Damien Hirst Reveals He Mainly Made His Polarizing New Painting Series to Please His Mom + Other Stories

Plus, the ICA Miami acquires a Crypto Punk and police track down a stolen Sigmar Polke at a German apartment.

British artist Damien Hirst poses during the press preview of
British artist Damien Hirst poses during the press preview of "Cherry Blossoms" on July 2, 2021 at the Fondation Cartier in Paris. Photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP via 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 Wednesday, July 7.


ICA Miami Acquires a CryptoPunk – The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami has acquired CryptoPunk 5293, making it the first major museum to acquire an NFT. The Punk, donated by local executive and trustee Eduardo Burillo, is one of the 10,000 unique pixelated icons designed to represent “misfits and non-conformists.” This one, a rare female Punk, sports purple lipstick, a mole, and “frumpy hair.” (Press release

National Museum of African Art Names Director – Ngaire Blankenberg has been named the next head of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C. Previously a consultant for museums and cultural destinations with clients including the National Gallery of Canada and Superblue, Blankenberg fills a position vacated by Gus Casely-Hayford, who was named the inaugural director of the V&A East in 2019. (Press release)

Damien Hirst Is Still Trying to Please His Mom – The hard-partying YBA has unveiled his latest body of work—paintings of cherry blossoms—at the Fondation Cartier in Paris, marking his first show at a French museum. While some may suggest he’s lost his edge, he knows the new series has at least one fan. “When I was making the animals in formaldehyde, she said, ‘Oh, there’s enough horror in the world, can’t you do paintings of flowers?'” Hirst said. “And I think, my God, it’s taken me until I’m 55 before I can please her.” (Guardian)

Belgium Forges Ahead With Restitution Plans – Belgium has unveiled more detailed plans to make good on its promise to return artworks plundered during the colonial era. After overhauling its Africa Museum to take a more clear-eyed view of Belgium’s past, the government is preparing to transfer legal ownership of its artifacts to the Democratic Republic of Congo. It will consider paying a fee to keep the objects on view at the museum, but will return those that are specifically requested by the DRC government. (Reuters)


Glenn Kaino Joins Pace – Pace has snapped up exclusive worldwide representation of the Los Angeles-based artist Glenn Kaino, who is known for multimedia works that engage urgent topics of social justice. (Press release)

Painting Recovered by Monuments Men Will Make Auction Debut – Sotheby’s Old Masters evening sale in London will include a 17th-century family portrait by Anthony Van Dyck that was seized by Hermann Goring in 1941 and recovered by the Monuments Men on July 25, 1945. Its original heirs sold to Zurich-based collector Emil Georg Buehrle, who is now selling it at auction with an estimate of $1.4 million to $2 million. (Barrons)


Nancy Holt Archive Heads to Smithsonian – The Smithsonian has acquired the archives of land artist Nancy Holt. The bequeathed trove, which will be co-owned by the Holt-Smithson Foundation, contains more than 50,000 files including documentation of unrealized works that the institution hopes to bring to life in the future. (The Art Newspaper)

Aga Khan Museum Names New Director – Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum, which is dedicated to Islamic art and Muslim culture, will be led by Ulrike Al-Khamis. She has served as the museum’s director of collections since 2017 and previously as the co-director of the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization. (Press release)


Cork Street Exhibition Spotlights Disabled Artists – Flowers Gallery on London’s Cork Street is opening an exhibition of six international self-taught and disabled artists on July 21. The show, called ”Prismatic Minds,” has been curated by actor Russell Tovey and curator Jennifer Gilbert. (Press release)

Stolen Sigmar Polke Found in German Apartment – German police have uncovered a Sigmar Polke painting, stolen from a Cologne gallery less than a year ago, in a private apartment in Mainz, Germany. The floral painting is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars; police were tipped off to its whereabouts after someone tried to sell it shortly after it was stolen last November. (ARTnews, Monopol)

Sigmar Polke, Vasen Linsenbild. Courtesy of Rheinland-Pfalz police.

Sigmar Polke, Vasen Linsenbild. Courtesy of Rheinland-Pfalz police.

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