Art Industry News: The British Museum Wants to Hire a Curator to Fix Its Biggest Problems (Without Having to Pay Too Much) + Other Stories

Plus, art workers launch unionization efforts up and down the east coast and actress Cynthia Erivo curates a Sotheby's sale.

British Museum. Photo by Jean-Francois Cardella/Construction Photography/Avalon/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, March 10.


Meet the Early Investors in NFTs – Who on earth is actually spending tens of thousands of dollars (or more!) on NFT art? ARTnews offers an introduction to some of the cryptocurrency-rich players, including 28-year-old Tim Kang, founder of Cue Music and an Ethereum backer, who fell for digital art in 2016 after buying a work by crypto-artist Pak for $42,720. Alvaro Luken, an ex crypto-miner, was another early adopter. He bought one of artist Beeple’s early drops when editions cost $1 each and later resold it for $700. Now, similar works are going for exponentially more than that. (ARTnews)

EU High Court Says Embedded Images Can Violate Copyright – The European Court of Justice has found that embedding content from copyright holders on third-party websites without permission could be a violation. (Similar cases are underway, but currently undecided, in the United States.) The ruling came as part of a legal battle between the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and a copyright protection organization, VG Bild-Kunst. The upshot: If images are embedded on a website without permission, it could be seen as a violation of copyright, provided that the copyright holder took steps to prevent the reuse by, for example, specifying that they did not want their images to be embedded elsewhere. (Courthouse News, Monopol)

British Museum Seeks Curator for Big Job (and Not Much Money) – The British Museum is hiring an experienced curator to oversee “a comprehensive redisplay of the galleries” as part of the museum’s new master plan. The redisplay intends to “make it easier to understand the connections between different cultures, both ancient and modern,” after the institution came under fire in recent years for misrepresenting the Americas (lumping North and South America together in the same space) and marginalizing its Africa displays (which are located in the basement). The lead curator’s salary is £48,169 (around $66,000) for a 24-month contract. As art critic Jason Farago pointed out on Twitter, “The enduring problem with the British Museum and other London institutions: a curator experienced enough to take on a job as difficult and important as this does not work for £48k.” (The Art Newspaper)

The Rise of the Artist Talent Agency – Artists are increasingly eschewing the traditional gallery model in favor of entertainment-style talent agencies. Hollywood’s Endeavor, Creative Artists Agency, and United Talent Agency have sections for the visual arts—and there is also a growing number of start-ups focused specifically on brand-building for individual artists. These include Southern & Partners, founded by former Blain Southern partner Graham Southern, which has started working with Bill Viola and Elias Sime. (TAN)


Winston Churchill’s Slippers Fetch More Than $40,000 – The market appetite for all things Winston Churchill shows no sign of abating after a pair of the wartime prime minister’s slippers sold for nearly £40,000 ($55,000) at a UK auction yesterday. The monogrammed slippers from the 1950s hit the block alongside a brandy glass used by Churchill, which raked in £18,300 ($25,000). (Evening Standard)

Cynthia Erivo Will Curate Sotheby’s Sale – The actor and singer, best known for her Tony Award-winning role as Celie Harris in The Color Purple on Broadway (and here at Artnet News HQ, for her fantastic turn in the HBO series The Outsider), will organize Sotheby’s New York’s contemporary curated auction on March 12. Erivo has selected 16 pieces, including a work by Ruth Asawa and Andy Warhol’s portrait of Aretha Franklin. (Barron’s)


Artists Shortlisted for the Preis der Nationalgalerie – Artists Lamin Fofana, Sandra Mujinga, Sung Tieu, and artist duo Calla Henkel and Max Pitegoff have been shortlisted for the prestigious award for artists under 40 in Germany. A selection of their works will go on view at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin from September 16 through February 27, 2022. The winner will be announced on October 7. (Monopol)

Workers at MASS MoCA and Studio in a School Launch Unionization Efforts – The number of art workers launching union efforts just keeps on growing. Staff at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art will vote on joining UAW Local 2110, citing “job insecurity, inequitable conditions, low salaries, and pandemic layoffs.” Meanwhile, artists and staff at New York’s Studio in a School are taking a vote of their own, saying they want more predictability in assignments and transparency in scheduling decisions. (Berkshire Eagle, New York Times)


Top Artists Donate Work to Benefit Food Banks – Blue-chip artists including Lorna Simpson, Louise Lawler, and Rirkrit Tiravanija have donated work to the Artists Support project in New York, which aims to raise funds for local organizations and food banks. Prints are available in exchange for donations of between $3,000 and $35,000 made directly to the artist’s selected charity. (TAN)

Noldor Artist Residency Expands in Ghana – Ghana’s Noldor artist residency has announced a major expansion. Set in a 700-square-meter former pharmaceutical warehouse in Accra, the residency plans to incorporate and repurpose additional industrial spaces. The annual four-week program for contemporary African artists will also add a year-long fellowship aimed at emerging and mid-career artists from Africa and its diaspora. (Press release)

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