Art Industry News: Damien Hirst, the World’s Richest Artist, Claimed Almost $2 Million From a Government Relief Fund + Other Stories

Plus, the Venice Biennale names this year's jury, and our art critic has a new book.

Damien Hirst in front of a photograph of For the Love of God, which he apparently still owns. (Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs 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 this Thursday, March 24.


Baltimore Museum Guards Are Pushing for a New Contract – A dozen museum workers staged a protest on the steps of the Baltimore Museum of Art earlier this week carrying placards that read, “Guarding the Guards.” The phrase was a reworking of the title of the current exhibition “Guarding the Art,” which opens this week and is guest curated by the museum’s security officers. Workers hoped to use the moment as an opportunity to press the museum’s director Christopher Bedford to sign the city’s union election agreement, without which workers cannot vote to officially certify their union. (Hyperallergic)

Pioneering Net Artist Tom Moody Has Died – A net artist, musician, blogger, and art critic, Moody was known for creating art with old software and was involved in early net art groups that went on to steer the trajectory of the movement. His gallery, And/Or in Pasadena, California, confirmed that he died on Saturday from Covid complications. He was in his 60s. (ARTnews)

Damien Hirst Claimed Millions in Furlough Payments – The world’s richest artist has reportedly claimed £1.3 million ($1.7 million) in taxpayer money from the U.K.’s Covid job retention scheme, despite reporting an £18.2 million ($24 million) turnover in 2021, up from £11.2 ($14.8 million) million in 2020. Last year, Hirst’s company Science came under fire for laying off 63 people while receiving a £15 million ($21 million) business interruption loan from the government. (Daily Mail)

Our Critic Has a New Book! – Artnet News’s own art critic Ben Davis has just published a new book from Haymarket Books, Art in the After-Culture. With essays on topics ranging from Instagram traps to conspiracy theories, cultural appropriation to eco-art, its eight chapters look at how art and culture have shifted radically in recent years. “Here’s to art criticism with an axe to grind,” Boots Riley wrote of the book. An official online launch is set for March 29, with Davis in conversation with Julieta Aranda and Naeem Mohaiemen—but the book is out now. (Haymarket Books)


Venice Biennale Jury Named – Cecilia Alemani, the artistic director for the upcoming Venice Biennale, has appointed five experts to the jury that will determine the winners of the show’s Golden and Silver Lions. They are Whitney curator Adrienne Edwards, GAMeC Bergamo director Lorenzo Giusti, Inhotim artistic director Julieta González, independent curator Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, and Museum für Moderne Kunst director Susanne Pfeffer. (Press release)

Gianni Jetzer to Lead Swiss Museum – The former curator of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. (and of Art Basel Unlimited) has been named the new director of Kunstmuseum St. Gallen in Switzerland. He succeeds Roland Wäspe, who is retiring in November after more than three decades at the museum. (Artreview)

Slave Trader Statue Heads to Museum of London – The statue of Robert Milligan, a merchant and slave trader, was taken down in June 2020 after 4,000 people petitioned for its removal from east London. Now, instead of being tossed away, it will be exhibited in the Museum of London Docklands so that it can be “fully contextualized.” (Evening Standard)

South Asian Art Soars at Christie’s Asian Art Week – A sale of South Asian modern and contemporary art, including works from the collection of Mahinder and Sharad Tak, fetched a total of $20.2 million on Wednesday, the highest total for any auction in the category, according to Christie’s. (Press release)


The Phillips Collection Highlights Ukrainian Artists – To express solidarity with Ukraine, the Washington, D.C. institution is mounting a mini exhibition of works in its collection by artists with Ukrainian ancestry. They include Mother and Child with Bird by David Burliuk, Jr., whose father, David Burliuk, fled Russia and settled in the U.S. in the 1920s. (Press release)

David Burliuk, Jr., Mother and Child with Bird, Not dated, Carved wood, 14 1/4 x 15 1/4 x 2 1/8 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired c. 1938

David Burliuk, Jr., Mother and Child with Bird (not dated). Acquired c. 1938. Courtesy of the Phillips Collection.

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