Art Industry News: Damien Hirst Has Teamed Up With Snapchat to Allow Bored People to Make Spin Paintings With Their iPhones + Other Stories

Plus, Germany chooses a curator for its Venice Biennale pavilion and Christie's is selling a rare Apple computer.

Damien Hirst x Snapchat.

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 Tuesday, May 5.


Why It’s Easier to Be an Art Historian Now Than Ever – The prominent art historian Bendor Grosvenor says that while he and his colleagues are far from essential workers, they have been able to continue their research in the lockdown era largely uninterrupted, thanks in large part to the extension of online access by libraries and art collections. “I am already looking forward to all the new research, articles, and books that will emerge by the end of the year,” he writes. Grosvenor does not mention the fairly significant prospect of hiring freezes and budget squeezes at institutions that employ art historians—but, to be fair, he doesn’t say it’s a good time to become an art historian, just that it’s a good time to be one already. (The Art Newspaper)

Checking in With Maurizio Cattelan – The Italian artist has been art-world famous for a long time, but it took him taping a banana to a wall at Art Basel Miami Beach to make him real-world famous. In an email interview, Cattelan explains that he had been toying around with banana-like sculptures for months before realizing he did not need to re-create one, but simply use a real one in the work. He also reflects on his golden toilet, America, which remains missing after it was stolen from Blenheim Palace last year. “I only hope that whoever took it is enjoying it!” he said. “Seriously, I have been feeling like being a movie character all the time since it happened.” (Robb Report)

Damien Hirst Has Teamed Up With Snapchat – Are you just longing to make a spin painting, but sorely lacking any kind of spinning table? Well, your prayers are answered. Snapchat has announced the release of a new augmented reality experience made in collaboration with Damien Hirst that enables users to recreate the artist’s vivid and iconic “spin paintings” using their own camera in the app. The project is in support of the global charity Partners in Health, a non-profit that works to provide healthcare and support vulnerable communities in developing countries during the pandemic. “It’s amazing to be working with Snapchat on this totally mega spin art lens and making it possible for millions of people to make their own spin paintings right from their phones,” Hirst said in a statement. (New York Observer)

More Artists Speak Out Against N’Namdi Contemporary – After news broke that Howardena Pindell was suing her former dealer, seeking the return of 20 works and punitive damages of $500,000, other artists have come forward to claim mismanagement on the part of N’Namdi Contemporary, a gallery that has shown work by many now-prominent black artists before they became internationally sought-after. Richard Mayhew, 96, also alleges the gallery sold works without his knowledge and James Little claims he was uncomfortable with the gallery’s bookkeeping. “Howardena would say it’s particularly depressing because George N’Namdi was taking advantage of his own people, already in precarious positions,” says her current dealer, Garth Greenan. “Justice would make her feel like she wasn’t taken for a ride for 20 years.” (New York Times)


Christie’s Is Selling a Rare Apple Computer – One of the few remaining iterations of Apple Inc’s first run of computers, the Apple-1 from 1976, is for sale at Christie’s. The naked motherboard, which sold at the time for between $450 and $700, is on offer via private sale for an estimated $300,000 to $400,000. (Art Market Monitor)

Murakami and Supreme Raise $1 Million for COVID Relief – Is it possible that making Supreme x Murakami t-shirts is more effective than printing money? In just a few weeks, Supreme’s collaborative shirt made with artist Takashi Murakami raised just over $1 million for Help USA, which provides services for homeless families and others in need. (That figure doesn’t even count the money generated by the shirts on resale.) (Complex)

UK Collector Charged With Money Laundering – Art collector and gold tycoon James Stunt has been charged by the West Yorkshire Police of money laundering and forgery. Stunt denies the allegations, calling it the “biggest miscarriage of justice.” (TAN)


Ludwig Museum Director Will Curate the German Pavilion – Art historian Yilmaz Dziewior will organize the German Pavilion at next year’s Venice Biennale. Dziewior, who has an interest in the social power of cultural production, has been director at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne since 2015. (Monopol)

Anonymous Donor Pledges to Match NADA Relief Grants – An anonymous donor has pledged to match new funds raised for NADA’s COVID-19 relief grants up to $25,000 through June 30. The relief fund supports commercial, nonprofit, and alternative exhibition spaces impacted by the crisis. (Press release)

amfAR Partners With Christie’s for COVID-19 Research – The foundation for AIDS research has partnered with Christie’s to raise funds for COVID-19 research at a special auction in June after the spread of coronavirus forced amfAR to cancel its annual Cannes fundraising gala this spring. The charity auction, titled “From the Studio,” will offer contemporary works donated by collectors and artists, sourced with help from Michael Nevin of The Journal Gallery. (Press release)


Artists Campaign Against Studio Eviction in Bristol – Artists are protesting the eviction of 73-year-old artist Howard Silverman from his studio at Spike Island in Bristol, one of Europe’s largest studio complexes, which he helped found in the 1970s. Silverman’s studio lease was not renewed after 46 years; some residents suggest his ouster is part of a broader effort to squeeze out older, established tenants in favor of younger ones. (Guardian)

Kickstarter Allows Institutions to Fundraise Operating Costs – For the first time, the crowdfunding platform is allowing museums to raise money to fund standard operating costs, like rent and utilities, amid financial pressure from COVID-19. The new project, called Lights On, marks a change in policy; previously, Kickstarter only permitted museums to raise money for new projects or commissions. (Artforum

Akron Art Museum Addresses Controversy – The president of the board at Akron Art Museum, Drew Engles, has responded to allegations of mismanagement and discrimination against employees who signed a letter last year calling out the institution for race and gender bias. (According to an investigation in ARTnews, only one of the 27 employees who signed the letter remained employed by the museum after recent cutbacks.) Engles now says the museum’s CARES Act package will allow it to call back affected full-time employees within a few weeks. (Crain’s Cleveland)

See Peter Liversidge’s Signs Supporting the NHS – The British artist Peter Liversidge’s Sign Paintings for the NHS have become a symbol of the UK’s solidarity with its health workers amid the coronavirus crisis. The colorful signs with positive messaging, which the artist has been putting up at an intersection between Roman Road and Grove Road in London, have been picked up by Getty Images and used to illustrate news articles about the UK’s response to the crisis. (Roman Road)


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