Designer Virgil Abloh Dies at 41, Damien Hirst Gives Away NFTs, and More: Morning Links for November 29, 2021

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The Headlines

THE TRAILBLAZING, DEEPLY INFLUENTIAL DESIGNER VIRGIL ABLOH, who brought together high fashion and streetwear, and worked in countless cultural spheres, has died at 41. The cause was a rare type of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma, that few knew he had been diagnosed with two years ago. The founder of the label Off-White, Abloh was artistic director of Louis Vuitton men’s wear and was promoted this year to a role at its parent company, LVMH, that made him “the most powerful Black executive in the most powerful luxury group in the world,” New York Times chief fashion critic Vanessa Friedman wrote. Seemingly indefatigable, Abloh created furniture, DJed, and made iconic album covers, among other activities. Artist Takashi Murakami produced collaborative work with him that was shown at Gagosian, and once wrote that, through their joint work, “I came to know the nobility of his character. Every­thing from the way he works to how he uses his time to how he makes his judgments is principled.” In 2019, Abloh’s career was the subject of a traveling survey that originated at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; it is now on view at the Fire Station in Doha, Qatar.

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ARCHAEOLOGY UPDATES: A mud mosque dating to the 7th century has been found in southern Iraq by a team from the British MuseumAl Jazeera reports. A roughly 800-year-old mummy was discovered near the edge of Lima, Peru, the Guardian reports. And more than 100 children buried in urns some two millennia ago have been unearthed in the Inner Mongolia region of China, the South China Morning Post reports.

The Digest

The Nagel Draxler gallery is devoting one of its Berlin locations to NFTs and other artworks involving the blockchain. Its working name: Crypto Cabinet. First up, in January, is a show from dealer, writer, and artist Kenny Schachter, who said that “not a single day in my life has been the same since I discovered the three magical letters N-F-T.” [The Art Newspaper]

Three scholars believe that a painting known as Standing Male Nude is the work of artist Lucian Freud, though he denied painting it. The owner of the piece claims that Freud tried to buy it from him and said he would disavow it when the collector refused. [The Guardian]

Journalist Ted Loos looked at the practice of pre-selling art to favored clients before it goes on view at art fairs. “Managing expectations is an art,” dealer David Zwirner said. “You’ll be successful in this industry if you master that. If you don’t, you won’t.” [The New York Times]

Collector Valeria Napoleone offered a glimpse of her seven-story London townhouse, which includes commissions from designers Nathalie du Pasquier and Nanda Vigo, and selections from her collection, which is devoted to women artists, including Haegue YangMichaela EichwaldJudith Bernstein, and many more. [Financial Times]

Billionaire Oracle founder Larry Ellison owns no fewer than four paintings by Vincent van Gogh, one of which hung in the suite in Fort Worth, Texas, that President John F. Kennedy stayed in the night before he was assassinated. Two are now on view in a show at the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio. [The Art Newspaper]

Two new museums will open in March in the Benesse Art Site on Japan’s museum–filled Naoshima Island: a venue called Valley Gallery, designed by Tadao Ando (his ninth building on the island) and Hiroshi Sugimoto Gallery: Time Corridors, presenting recent pieces by the artist. [ArtAsiaPacific]

The Kicker

A NOVEMBER SURPRISE. Damien Hirst announced that he has given a free NFT to everyone who bought into his “Currency” NFT project, Decrypt reports. (Very thoughtful!) These freebies take the form of 10,000 different versions of his much-debated cover for Drake’s latest album, which consists of 12 emojis of pregnant women. “Everything done well is art,” Hirst intoned on Twitter. “With Drake’s support and blessing, I’ve created this free Thanksgiving gift.” Some of these new pieces have already been listed for sale for handsome sums. Hirst said that his “hope is that with this free gift you can all share and feel the excitement I feel about NFTs and the digital world, and here it is and I fucking love it!” We can feel the excitement.


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