Paris Hilton is LACMA’s newest patron for digital acquisitions by women artists
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has a new patron: Paris Hilton. The Hilton hotel heiress, media personality, DJ and businesswoman has gifted the museum an acquisition fund for acquiring digital works by women artists, the museum announced on Thursday.
In conjunction with the gift, the museum has also acquired two new digital works for its permanent collection by Canadian-Korean artist Krista Kim and British artist Shantell Martin. Kim’s work is a gift to the museum while Martin’s was commissioned through Hilton’s acquisition fund.
The museum would not say how much Hilton’s gift was for, but “it’s an acquisition effort that will significantly impact our collection and expand our scholarship and ideas around digital art,” Dhyandra Lawson, an assistant curator in LACMA’s photography department, tells The Times. “And it will allow us to survey a diverse array of art practices within the broad scope of digital art.”
Funds will go toward growing the museum’s digital art holdings across artificial intelligence, augmented reality, animation, graphics, multimedia installation, photography, NFTs, performance, software, sound and video art — and whatever future areas emerge as technology develops.
“We can see artists moving from one platform to the next,” Lawson says. “There’s been a surge of experimentation over the last couple of years and continued exploration. And digital art is offering artists new ways to engage with what we’d call traditional media, like drawing and painting.”
Though Hilton has attended LACMA’s fundraising gala in the past, the acquisition initiative is the first major donation she’s made to an art museum. Hilton said in an email interview that she both makes and collects digital art, “including my first NFT in 2020 to raise funds for victims of the Australian wildfires. I’ve always loved LACMA, and now with my husband [Carter Reum] being on the board of the museum, I’m very excited to be part of LACMA’s journey into the future.”
Dedicating the funds to acquiring works by women artists was key, Hilton says.
“With my media company 11:11 and this current chapter of my career,” she says, “uplifting and empowering females is a focus of mine along with my social advocacy. LACMA has always been at the forefront of supporting both female artists and digital artists so partnering with LACMA to launch this initiative made perfect sense, and I was so excited to be a part of it.”
The two new digital acquisitions are video works delivered as NFTs. Kim’s “Continuum: Los Angeles” (2022) takes its inspiration from the ever-changing skies above L.A., with a color gradation that changes over 40 minutes. The electronic music duo Ligovskoï created the work’s original sound elements.
Martin’s “The Question” (2022) “uses digital technologies to engage drawing,” the museum said in its announcement. Both works “explore digital technology’s effects on human perception and interaction.” They’ll be featured in an upcoming exhibition exploring digital innovation by women artists represented in LACMA’s collection. The exhibition is a co-presentation with Arizona State University, where it will go on view this fall.
LACMA has a long history with technology-driven art. Its Art and Technology program, which awarded artists grants, was founded in 1967 by the museum’s first full-time curator of modern art, Maurice Tuchman. That initiative ended in 1971 but LACMA resurrected it in 2013, with the new Art + Technology Lab. “And since, we’ve been supporting artists annually,” Lawson says.
The museum’s digital art collection is now substantial, she says. “Since the advent of the internet in the late ‘90s LACMA has been collecting digital art. And some of the best examples are by women.”
That includes “major works” by Mariko Mori and Diana Thater, as well as recent work, acquired between 2000-2010, by Petra Cortright and Cao Fei.
The new acquisitions initiative intends to further that momentum for women artists while responding to a wider art historical bias that has favored innovation by male artists and within the tech world.
“I think our perceptions and associations of technology tend to be gendered,” Lawson says. “But women artists have been innovating as early as men. It’s just that they haven’t had the same sort of attention and notoriety. So that’s also why this initiative is so important.”
LACMA director Michael Govan said in the announcement that the museum has “always been interested in experimentation and risk-taking in art.”
The initiative, he added, “will help the museum — and Los Angeles — continue to evolve into an important center for digital art.”
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