Category Archives: Art

Why NFT’s Aren’t BS

On November 15, 2017, the painting Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci sold for a $450,312,500, the highest price ever paid for a painting. It is currently believed to be aboard a yacht in the Red Sea owned by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

We are used to sky high prices for physical pieces of art. But until recently, digital art had almost no value. It could be reproduced infinitely, so how could anyone sell or own it?

Enter Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT’s). These tokens are pieces of art, videos, etc. that have a unique digital key. Their one and only owner is recorded on the blockchain, just like the ownership of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

The NFT market is exploding (see the March 8th post here):

The 10 largest NFTs have leapt by between 60% and 900% so far this year, according to crypto data provider Messari. In turn, sales of the tokens footed to more than $60 million in February per Bloomberg, up from $250,000 a year ago.

Beeple, a major digital artist, has done very well in the NFT market:

Beeple, who made his first foray into NFT’s in October, generated $3.5 million in proceeds from a 20-work digital art collection two months later.

NPR just put out an interesting, brief interview with Beeple here.

Monetizing digital art is no less legitimate than monetizing physical art, in my view. Why should art made of pixels be worth nothing while art made of paint and canvas be worth hundreds of millions? The medium doesn’t make something art or not art.

The global art market clocks in at $67 billion in sales, while the NFT market is only worth about $250 million. I expect to see that figure expand exponentially in the future, especially with the entry of blue chip art names like Christie’s.

Does that mean there is no NFT bubble? No. Some tokens may be overvalued and some people are probably speculating on quick price increases. But my view is that this market is legitimate and here to stay.

For more on the blockchain and cryptocurrencies, check out these posts:

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Photo: “Mike Winkelmann – Beeple at Expanded Animation – OUT OF THE BOX, POSTCITY” by Ars Electronica is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Painting I Love the Most

I’ve always found Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon particularly beautiful. When you walk into the room where it lives in the Museum of Modern Art, it’s impossible not to be drawn to it. The bright, rose color, the striking jagged shapes, and the eyes of the women staring back at you always hold me rapt.

I particularly liked to go to MoMA during the wonderful Free Fridays, but last March the pandemic shut MoMA along with everything else. I remember being home at night, looking at the darkness outside, and thinking that inside that gallery was dark now too.

For perhaps the first time since it was made in 1907, no one was looking at my favorite painting. Perhaps a caretaker came by from time to time to check on it, and cleaning crews to sweep up, but aside from that it was alone. I missed it like a friend. And I wondered if it was lonely.

In the fall, I finally got the opportunity to see my old friend again. I relished looking at the warm colors and the beautiful figures. I was happy to be together with it again, happy to reclaim something of the life I’d had. And maybe the painting was happy too, to be admired once more.

My point: what we’ve lost, we will regain. Even more. Let’s be patient and look forward to that day. Everything we’ve loved before, we’ll appreciate more than ever.

The Art Piece I’m Loving Lately

I came across this beautiful art piece recently. It’s a mixed media piece made of acrylic paint, paper, and safety pins. It is in the silhouette of a girl seen through a fence. It appears to be meant to evoke the many people coming to the southern border for asylum in recent years.

I spoke with the artist, Amy Putman, and she said she got the idea from an article in the New York Times about people using safety pins on their clothing as a statement about people being linked, whether they be fortunate or disadvantaged.

Ms. Putman plans to make a series of prints from this image. I hope to get my hands on one when they’re ready!

What interesting pieces of art have you seen this year? Leave it in the comments!