Can an art history framework help expand the NFT market?

When digital artwork sold for millions of dollars last year, the shock of pixelated punks and computer graphics turned some traditional collectors into crypto skeptics.

The argument that NFT, or indispensable tokens, represent the future of the art market, was unattractive to most of these buyers, leaving gallery owners and auctioneers to focus on a new class of millennial connoisseurs of the world of technology.

The agreement left the auction houses to give priority to Pak Cubes and Bored Apes – collectibles that are closest to brands in the crypto world – in sales, which further alienate skeptics.

But a year later, Sotheby’s began using the more exquisite language of art history to lure traditional collectors to blockchain-based collectibles for sale, Natively Digital NFT. It takes place from April 18 to 25 and is designed to unite the first pioneers of computer art with their crypto counterparts.

Traditional collectors are often drawn to origins and pedigrees, so sales focused on the pedigree of computer art can help convince them that NFT artists have a stronger historical foundation of art beyond the sound of online forums.

The event includes some of the earliest examples of generative art, a genre in which control of the creative process is determined by algorithms or a predetermined image-making process. Examples include artists working in the 1960s and 1970s such as Vera Molnar, Chuck Chury and Roman Verostko, along with more recent proposals from digital artists Dmitry Chernyak, Tyler Hobbes and Anna. Riedler.

A press release from Sotheby’s said that the “insightful and pioneering work” of Molnar, Churi and Verostko “provided the basis for digital artists at the forefront of the digital art and the NFT movement.”

“Generative art is a movement that has sparked interest,” said Michael Buana, 30, a contemporary art specialist who organized the sale of Sotheby’s. Having more than half a century of history behind generative art helps calm skeptics, he said, adding: “Discussions with traditional collectors have been easier.

NFT’s art and collectibles generated more than $ 23 billion in sales, according to some industry reports, a figure that some experts say could indicate a bubble preparing to burst.

Art adviser Todd Levin said vendors are producing more historically informed exhibitions to increase market attractiveness and create a sustainable business model.

“These are the godfathers and godfathers of digital art you need to know,” Levin said of the older artists involved in the auction. “You can’t just keep selling NFT without this cultural context.”

In February, an anonymous collector who sent 104 CryptoPunk NFTs for sale at Sotheby’s withdrew them at 11 p.m. The auction house has estimated that CryptoPunks, popular works that are among the earliest cut in the Ethereum blockchain, could bring in up to $ 30 million – and the sale is seen by some collectors as a measure of the NFT market. But early bidding was weak, and after the shipper withdrew his digital collectibles from sale, he published a meme on Twitter he mocks the auction house that he believes he actually wants to sell his NFT with them.

He later used the collection as collateral for a $ 8.3 million loan, which was registered in the blockchain by a company called NFTfi. Levin said the exchange demonstrates that the CryptoPunks collection still has a market, but perhaps not as predatory as the auction house had hoped.

“He can take his cake and eat it,” Levin said. “He gets $ 8 million to play with and didn’t have to sell his CryptoPunks to raise money.”

There are indications that the new historical approach is working. Earlier this month, Sotheby’s sold a receipt from French artist Yves Klein for $ 1.2 million, almost double its estimate. The small piece of paper was part of the artist’s 1959 project, called The Empty Space Zone, a project touted as the first symbolization of art decades before the NFT became popular. The art process usually involves Klein giving buyers receipts in exchange for gold. In some cases – obviously not all – buyers burn their receipts while Klein throws half of his payments into the Seine.

Although her name is not yet as recognizable as Klein, Molnar’s star is rising as collectors search for a history of the origins of digital art from the analog era of the 1960s. The 98-year-old Hungarian artist currently has solo exhibitions at the University of California, Irvine and the Venice Biennale. And she embraced the digital movement, creating a new NFT for the auction, with a high valuation of $ 150,000 – almost 10 times the high estimate for the early work “1% de désordre” she put up for auction.

“I’m so used to not being famous, working in my corner,” Molnar said in an email interview about his newfound recognition. “It feels good!”

(Molnar created his first computer drawings in 1968 with an IBM machine and punch cards.) “I hate everything that is natural and I love the artificial,” she added, referring to NFT. “I’m so happy to do this because this is the world today.”

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