Would The Mona Lisa still be The Mona Lisa if it was underground in a vault? Would The Starry Night still be The Starry Night if it only ever flickered digitally? Would Beethoven’s 9th symphony still be Beethoven’s 9th symphony if only one person in the world ever heard it?
The rise of NFT’s – non fungible tokens – has set tongues wagging in recent weeks. Though they’ve been around for years they have mostly been sneered at – until they recently started getting mainstream recognition. From Beeple to Steve Aoki all sorts of artists have been getting in on the craze.
For a crash course on what an NFT is, click here. Otherwise, read on.
Digital artist Beeple sold an NFT at Christie’s for an unprecedented US $69 million. This NFT was a JPEG entitled Everydays: The First 5000 Days, and was purchased by MetaKovan using just over 42,000 Ether (Ethereum crypto-assets).
Models like Kara Del Toro have also been profiting from the sudden interest in NFTs.
Kara recently dropped her own NFT on the OpenSea platform, a 1 of 1 token that grants the owners access to a folder of 10 never-before-seen content.
She says her decision to go down the NFT route came “after taking a deep dive into the rabbit hole and crypto for the past few weeks.”
“It’s super addicting and fascinating to me, and I put so much energy, love and effort into my job as a model. Modelling, creative directing and digital content creation really is an art form to me, and I thought it would be cool to give the buyer the opportunity to own a piece for themselves.”
Speaking to what makes NFTs unique, Kara adds, “I think the coolest thing about an NFT is that the buyer doesn’t just get to view the token, they actually own it. It’s one of a kind and can never be duplicated, think of it like a unique signature.”
“That makes it super exclusive and much more valuable.”
“The image itself could be replicated, but the token cannot. It’s an investment they can sell later if they want to.”
As for whether Kara thinks NFTs really have a future, Kara reckons, “It’s a bit of a mystery right now. It’s fun and I hope to be using NFTs in the future. It could easily be a bubble that could pop any time. Some may think it really is the future, maybe we will be NFTing everything from houses to textbooks, there are lots of possibilities.”
Speaking of possibilities, DMARGE recently spoke to artist Jay Ahr about what will constitute a breakthrough piece of art in the future – and how new trends like NFTs may impact this.
Ahr, who designed One & Only’s heritage collection – a limited edition of custom-designed Louis Vuitton Keepalls – told DMARGE: “Art obviously reflects society at the time, highlighting specific issues or common experiences.”
“For example, it is interesting to see throughout history, and during the last century, the periodic appearance of the skull. From Caravaggio to Haring, Basquiat and Richter, reflecting Cholera and AIDS epidemics. We are of course in the middle of such a time, so it will be interesting to see what current works will depict.”
As for whether traditional art will die as our attention spans shorten, and whether the top artists of today will be as famous in a few hundred years as Monet and Picasso are now, Ahr said: “I think leading artists will always be icons of their moment in time and will therefore be famous in their turn in the future.”
“Anyone whose name has stood the real test of time, regardless of their field, will come to be part of the collective cultural consciousness. It is important to remember that from each period only a handful of names are remembered.”
“The average person may be able to easily recall dozens of famous artists from the past but those few names are spread out over centuries from all over the world. Today, anyone who has a passion for art and is well informed will know the names of current artists, but of course those who do not spend the time to learn will not know. This is the same for any discipline.”
Ahr then told us that in his opinion, the key to making a ‘cultural splash’ in art is the same now as it was thousands of years ago: “A measure of art is always the impact you have on society and this has been the same from the ancient Greeks until today.”
“In the same way, the medium of art has never simply been paint on canvas. Sculpture is an art form that started with the ancients and is still just as relevant today. More recently we have seen the development of photography, especially since the 1940s and video from the 1960s.”
So… is Kim Kardashian the new Picasso?
“Of course photography and video is much more common today, but as art reflects society, so the mediums of art will inevitably evolve with technology. Any influencer with an artistic approach has the ability to be an important artist, but it is the approach that matters as the term ‘artist’ is very over-used, and in contrast to Joseph Beuys every human is not an artist.”
“One medium is more of an art than another. As mentioned earlier, art reflects society and therefore is constantly evolving, but if you look at the expanse of time, you see the evolutions also revolve back again and again. What matters is your approach and the impact you have on society.”
Australian art dealer Michael Reid, for his part, told DMARGE, “The contemporary art world has witnessed an implosion of high & low culture over the last decade and thoroughly embraced and commodified this change.”
“More than handful of the artists of NOW will carry over visually to future generations. When historians, and the public look back to us they will do so through the eyes of individuals who told their own story and when that single visual voice is added to a chorus of visual voices, the future will understand the whole.”
“So even as a document of who we were, some artists and their practice will survive into the future – original or not. The question is maybe not whether the artists of NOW are unoriginal, but whether our time is, and they are reflecting us.”
Put that on your canvas and paint it.