Christie’s is at the forefront when the art market changes direction. The auction house is currently announcing the sale of an NFT artwork by artist Beeple and is stiring up the art market with it.
In fact, this phenomenon isn’t really new. Platforms like Nifty Gateway were founded in 2018 and the site has been online since March 2020. Since then, Beeple has already sold more than 30 works for several US $ at Nifty Gateway..
What are NFTs and why the hype?
Many innovations in art today are inspired by the game industry. NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are cryptographic tokens that work like unique items or, as the name suggests, “non-fungible”. They are used wherever virtual goods are traded as one-off objects. CryptoKitties in one of the world’s first blockchain games that allows players to acquire, collect, grow or trade virtual cats with the Ethereum blockchain since 2017.
To cut a long story short: artists who produce NFTs create unique digital files.
To this day, the art world has benefited mainly from the scarcity of art, because unique items increase the value of art. Even in photography or in the field of video art, an unnatural scarcity in the form of limited editions was introduced by the art market in order to increase the attractiveness for art collectors and to raise the value – diametrically to the possibilities of the medium, which is actually about reproducibility .
Artists of the 21st century who produce technology-based art have also been confronted with the topic of uniqueness. The solution for digital art is the blockchain – it ensures provenance, authentication and data integrity. The world of NFTs has now professionalized the blockchain and, coupled with new sales platforms, made it possible to monetize digital art en masse.
The phenomenon is still new. The traditional art world is skeptical, but it has always been that way. We remember: “Impressionistic” was initially a dirty word for art that broke out from academic constraints and offered new perspectives on reality before it opened the habitual patterns of the general public and found its way into museums.
Technology-based art has been around since the 1960s. Decades passed before it was collected. Mediating digital art is still pioneering work. Net.art, AR art, VR art or AI art are primarily acquired by private entrepreneurs with intention to preserve the zeitgeist.
The acquisition of NFTs, on the other hand, was initially made by the producers themselves: artists who produce NFTs consciously want to reinvest in the community by buying NFTs from other artists. Sharing becomes caring. For some artists, the sale of NFTs secures the livelihood.
In terms of content, I advise to make sure that there is a concept behind technology. The source of inspiration for the current NFT artists are video games, anime and tech idols like Elon Musk. Another aesthetic that is often found in NFT works is what Cock Foster – co-founder of the platform Nifty Gateway – calls “digital grotesque”. Several works by Beeple fit this description, like the illustrations of giant Jabba figures.
Other artists like PAK – the BANKSY among the NFT scene – are exploring the boundaries of NFT and crypto by offering the same image with different titles and at different prices. This is close to conceptual art.
Collecting crypto art is new. Typical NFT collectors are Millennials and Gen Zs, whose attention is focused on lifestyle, future issues and growth. In the secondary market, NFTs are meanwhile being sold for astronomical sums.
Trading NFTs is a revolution that technology-savvy artists, collectors, and curators have been waiting for. NFTs break all boundaries of time and space, size and imagination. There is no right or wrong, but the opportunity to invest in your own taste.
NFT artists no longer need the classic ways to increase awareness through galleries or auctions. The formation of the market value is transparent and absolutely fair: its value increases with scarcity and demand. The presentation does not have to go through the classic white cube route, but takes place globally in the net of unlimited possibilities. NFT art is the revolution of the 21st century that reacts to the changed reception, perception and marketing of art.
True to the Beuys maxim, “every human being is an artist”!