Art Industry News: Amsterdam’s Hermitage Museum Cuts Ties With Its Russian Counterpart After 30 Years + Other Stories
Plus, Donatello bronzes are on the move for the first time since the Renaissance, and have NFTs actually changed art?
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 this Friday, March 4.
A Lawsuit Accuses Chicago’s Mayor of Scuppering Columbus Statue Plan – Another day, another statue debate. Lawyer George Smyrniotis is suing the city of Chicago and its mayor Lori Lightfoot for allegedly blocking an Italian American group from presenting a Christopher Columbus statue during its annual Columbus Day parade. The suit accuses the mayor of threatening to cancel the permit for the parade and using obscene language during a meeting. (Chicago Tribune)
Why NFTs Have Not Changed Art – One year after the $69 million sale of Beeple’s Everydays kicked off the NFT gold rush, critic Blake Gopnik asks whether the phenomenon has changed art. His answer: no. NFTs, Gopnik writes, are simply the certificate attached to regular old digital art. “Sales, rather than aesthetics, were the reason NFTs were created,” he says. Plus, just like the regular art market, profits are characterized by a winner-takes-all dynamic that largely benefits only a few at the top. (New York Times)
Amsterdam’s Hermitage Separates From Its Russian Counterpart – Amsterdam’s Hermitage Museum has officially severed ties with its Russian parent museum in Saint Petersburg, from which it regularly borrowed artworks. On Thursday, a museum spokesperson said “a line was crossed” when Russian forces invaded Ukraine. While the museum had been able to distance itself from Russian politics in recent years, it now feels that is no longer possible, and has shuttered its exhibition of the Russian avant-garde until further notice. The institutions had been linked for 30 years. (Monopol)
How the “Festival of Brexit” Unravelled – Nearly four years on from then-prime minister Theresa May’s jaunty announcement of a “year-long festival of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” to celebrate the best of U.K. culture in the wake of the Brexit vote, the nicknamed “Festival of Brexit” has become something rather different. As it turns out, most of Britain’s creatives didn’t want to celebrate Brexit. The £120 million event has since been renamed “Unboxed” and looks more like a Festival of “Un-Brexit,” with 10 projects by left-wing artists including a 21st century harvest festival and a group whose mantras include “decolonize.” (Financial Times)
MOVERS & SHAKERS
Donatello Bronzes Are on the Move – Bronze sculptures by Donatello have been removed from Siena Cathedral and San Lorenzo Baptistery in Florence for the first time since he installed them during the Renaissance. They will be restored before going on view at a major exhibition at the Palazzo Strozzi and Bargello Museum, which opens March 19. (Guardian)
Nigeria Opens a Waste Museum – The Waste Museum in the Nigerian city of Ibadan is part of a growing trend in the country to creatively repurpose cast-off materials to highlight waste’s impact on the environment. The museum showcases the work of artists and designers who recycle materials like plastic, fabric, and even ceiling panels. (Reuters)
Michael Caine Sells His Art at Bonhams – The Batman actor sold off art, memorabilia, and other collectables in a 183-lot sale at Bonhams London that fetched £847,000 ($1.1 million) on Wednesday. Highlights included a 1977 painting of Caine by the artist John Bratby that upended its £3,000 ($3,988) upper estimate to sell for £31,500 ($41,200) (Evening Standard)
FOR ART’S SAKE
Wax Museum Removes Statue of Putin – The Grévin Museum in Paris has removed its wax figure of Russian president Vladimir Putin in protest of the war on Ukraine. Director Yves Delhommeau said it was the first time in the museum’s history it had withdrawn a work in response to current events. Since the onset of the Russian invasion, the sculpture had become a target of protesters and the director said staff “do not want to have to fix his hair and appearance every day.” He is considering replacing it with a statue of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy. (Reuters)
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