Art Industry News: ConstitutionDAO Is More Like ConstitutionD’OH as the Group Erupts Into Chaos After Failed Bid + Other Stories

Plus, a new lockdown in Germany shutters a landmark Vermeer exhibition and critics accuse Tate of trying to cancel Hogarth.

The First Printing of the Final Text of the United States Constitution is on display during a press preview at Sotheby's on September 17, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)
The First Printing of the Final Text of the United States Constitution is on display during a press preview at Sotheby's on September 17, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/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, November 24. 

NEED-TO-READ

Art Institute Workers Say Museum Is Blocking Union – Workers at the Art Institute of Chicago have accused the museum of trying to prevent them from unionizing. Management has denied the claims made during a rally earlier this week that it is using misinformation (“wrongly telling workers” they are ineligible for the union) and intimidation (“implicitly threatening workers” about losing benefits) to hamper organizers’ efforts. (Chicago Sun Times)

U.K. Culture Secretary Attacks Left-Wing Critics – The U.K.’s new culture secretary Nadine Dorries has accused left-wing critics opposing her appointment of a “political attack.” In her first official appearance in the House of Commons, she said, “The arts sector is a pretty huge sector, I don’t think they all opposed my position, but there were certainly a vocal number, mostly, possibly wholly male, who quite used to and quite frequently comment and continue to do so.” (Evening Standard)

ConstitutionDAO Is Not Ending Well – Contributors to ConstitutionDAO, the utopian crypto-crowdfunding effort that raised $47 million in a matter of days and then tried (and failed) to buy a rare copy of the U.S. Constitution at Sotheby’s, are finding that getting their money back is a lot harder than putting their money in. The high transaction fees for Ethereum have wiped out many low-level investments, while the $PEOPLE governance token offered in exchange for donations is now effectively valueless because the developers never set up a voting infrastructure. Donors now can either leave their money in while organizers determine the future of the project, or claim a refund and lose most of their money on transaction fees. (Vice)

Did Tate Try to Cancel Hogarth? – U.K. art critics are up on arms over Tate Britain’s “Hogarth and Europe” exhibition, which invited contemporary commentators to contribute to wall labels. Some were particularly outraged by a text from artist Sonia Barrett that invites viewers to consider Hogarth’s self-portrait in a wooden chair in the context of slavery. “They treat the work like bombs that are about to detonate,” Rachel Cooke wrote in the Observer. The museum’s director, Alex Farquharson, defended the move: “Tate Britain has both the confidence to provide a public platform for those conversations and the expertise to contribute to them directly,” he said. (The Art Newspaper)

MOVERS & SHAKERS

Christie’s Teams Up With OpenSea – Christie’s has partnered with the NFT marketplace OpenSea to produce the auction house’s first on-chain auction. Curated by Christie’s in-house crypto exert Noah Davis, the sale on OpenSea.io will offer work by artists including Mad Dog Jones and Tom Sachs. It’s open for bidding from December 4 through 7. (Press release)

Eric N. Mack Joins Paula Cooper – Artist Eric N. Mack, known for his monumental fabric installations, is now represented by Paula Cooper Gallery in New York. The artist, who is still repped by Morán Morán in Los Angeles, will have work on view at Paula Cooper’s Art Basel Miami Beach booth next week. (ARTnews)

Galleria Continua Opens a Pop-Up Gallery in Dubai – Galleria Continua has opened a pop-up exhibition space inside Dubai’s Burj Al Arab hotel to coincide with the Abu Dhabi Art fair. Its inaugural show features work by Anish Kapoor. (Artnet)

Blockbuster Vermeer Show Closes Amid New Lockdown – A blockbuster Vermeer exhibition at Dresden’s Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister has been shut down until at least December 12 after the German state of Saxony ordered museums to close amid a forth wave of coronavirus infections in Europe. (TAN)

FOR ART’S SAKE

Edward Burtynsky Honored for Outstanding Contribution to Photography – Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky has been awarded this year’s Outstanding Contribution to Photography from the Sony World Photography Awards 2022, by the World Photography Organisation, for images that explore “the collective impact we as a species are having on the surface of the planet.” His work will go on view at the 2022 Sony World Photography Awards exhibition at Somerset House in London beginning April 15. (Press release)


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