The parameters of art are constantly being renewed. Sometimes surprising. For many it is inexplicable. The truth is, it’s hard to immediately understand that something digital can be sold at that price. $ 69 million for a digital work of art? Something that doesn’t really exist? Yes.
It started on May 1, 2007. Mike Winkelmann, known as Beeple, is one of the world’s leading digital artists. He has put a new work of art online. He did the same the next day and so on every day for 13.5 years. He brought them all together in a unique work in the history of digital art. A monumental collage entitled “Every Day: The First 5,000 Days” – 21,069 x 21,069 pixels (319,168,313 bytes) -. It is the first purely digital artwork with an NFT (non-fungible token) to be auctioned by Christie’s. It reached a price of $ 69,346,250. It is the third highest price for a living artist at auction. And a world record for a digital work of art and the highest price ever for an online auction.
The monumental digital collage was offered as a single batch. As a pioneering project, there was no previous estimate. Christie’s is the first major auction house to offer a purely digital NFT (Non-Fungible Token) work. This offers a guarantee of its authenticity.
The individual pieces that make up this collage are arranged in an imprecise chronological order. They reveal abstract, fantastic, grotesque or absurd images. Recurring themes include society’s obsession with and fear of technology, the desire and aversion to wealth, and the recent turbulent events in US politics.
Art that transforms
The remarkable differences between the first and the last pictures show the enormous development of Beeple as an artist. At the beginning of the project there were basic drawings “every day”. Then he started working in 3D. He took on abstract themes, color, shape, and repetition. Over the past five years they have become increasingly tied to the present.
He took the first picture on May 1st, 2007. «This was my first day of all days. It’s a photo of my uncle Jim, whom I named Uber Jay. “The latest is from Jan 7, 2021:“ It includes many of the characters and themes I’ve dealt with over the years. ”Mickey Mouse, Pikachu, Buzz Lightyear, Yoda, Michael Jackson, Kim Jong-un, and Donald Trump appear.
The digital art dates from the 1960s. However, the recent introduction of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and blockchain technology allows their authenticity to be verified. The work is accompanied by a unique NFT, which is encrypted with the unaltered signature of the artist.
The collector Pablo Rodríguez-Fraile has amassed a huge fortune thanks to this digital artist. He bought one of his works for $ 67,000. It’s a 10-second video clip in which Donald Trump’s naked body appeared with a tattoo: ‘Loser’. The piece was resold for $ 6.6 million.
And now $ 69 million has been paid for a digital work of art. What does Beeple, who regularly writes for brands like Louis Vuitton and Nike, say?
“I think we are about to see the beginning of the next chapter in art history, digital art.”