The NFT heiress and evangelist supports a new acquisition fund at the museum, which has a history of supporting artists working with cutting-edge technology
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacma) has launched a new acquisition fund for digital art by women artists, created by heiress and celebrity Paris Hilton.
The museum declined to disclose the amount it has received from Hilton, but said the donation is the institution’s first of its kind for digital art. It is also the first acquisition fund that the former reality star of The Simple Life has earmarked for an art museum.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacma)
Lacma has a strong collection of digital art, with artists such as Tony Oursler, Petra Cortright and Ryan Trecartin represented. The new collection represents the museum’s recognition of the current levels of innovation around art and technology, according to Dhyandra Lawson, assistant curator of Lacma’s photography department.
“This is an extremely fertile period for digital art,” Lawson says. “We’re seeing tons of innovation by artists in a variety of mediums. The fund will really help us grow and expand our collection in a major way.”
Lacma’s investment in art and technology dates back at least to 1967, when it established its Art and Technology program that generated collaborations between artists and technology companies.
Although that initiative ended in 1971, it was reborn in 2013 as the Art + Technology Lab. The museum has also been collecting digital art for decades, with a large portion of these works dating back to the 1990s.
“We can certainly go earlier, especially with women artists, but we also want to respond to what artists are doing now with a variety of new media,” Lawson says. “As our lives are increasingly digitized, it’s important to pay attention to what digital artists are saying, and particularly digital artists who have historically been on the margins.”
The museum has already commissioned and acquired one video work with the new collection. The Question (2022), by British artist Shantell Martin, “uses digital technologies to engage drawing,” according to a news release.
Lacma has also announced the acquisition of Continuum: Los Angeles (2022), a 40-minute video received as a gift by its artist, Krista Kim, who is Korean from Canada, both works were given as NFTs (non-fungible tokens).
Paris Hilton and the NFTs
The acquisition fund is an unsurprising move for Hilton, who has become one of the most prominent advocates of NFTs.
The proto-influencer, entrepreneur and DJ has been investing in cryptocurrencies since 2016 and has proclaimed herself “Queen of the Metaverse.”
An NFT buyer from Bored Ape Yacht Club, Hilton has also invested in Mad Realities, a company that aspires to be the “Web3 version of Netflix,” and the NFT platform Origin Protocol, where she dropped her second NFT collection in February.
Last year, on National Pet Day, she introduced her new dogs, christened Crypto Hilton and Ether Reum, the latter a double entendre for NFT’s coin of choice for the market, Ethereum, and her husband Carter Reum.
Reum, a venture capitalist, has served on Lacma’s board since 2017.
The acquisition fund came about organically through that relationship, according to Lawson. “We just realized we had a mutual interest,” he says. While the fund’s patronage has been mostly expressed for NFTs, Lawson stresses that the money will be used to purchase a wide range of artwork. “The acquisition fund is for digital art,” he says. “It’s not a fund for NFTs.”
“As an activist and entrepreneur who likes to push boundaries in many male-dominated fields, I immediately identified the need to support women in Web3. There are so many incredibly bright and creative female innovators in this space,” says Paris Hilton
The fund’s focus on women artists reflects an ongoing trend in the museum world to address gender inequality in institutional collections.
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