NFTs and the Future History of Art

NFTS the future of Art

NFTS the future of Art

I am an art historian who has carried out extensive research on the evolution of the market for “recent art.” And I can tell you that something generational is now happening with NFTs.

As a historian, this is quite exciting — almost the equivalent of an astronomer getting to watch the birth of a new galaxy. The multimillion-dollar results achieved by Cryptopunks, Bored Ape and Beeple have shattered long precedents in the history of art auctions and suggest that we may be nearing some tectonic tipping point around digital culture and virtual currency.

That tipping point may be inevitable in the century to come, but the fate of today’s most visible figures is remarkably uncertain. Having studied several of these cycles up close, I can say with some confidence that the factors that have determined whether art trends become art history are receiving scant attention amid the NFT writing of today.

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Namely, the movements that have held their long-term critical esteem (as well as market value) are those who have managed to attach themselves to the institutions, such as museums and universities, that both distill prestige and create knowledge.

Said differently, how will the world of NFT.NYC, taking place now in Times Square, relate not only to Sotheby’s downtown, but uptown — to MoMA? Or to Columbia University’s Department of Art History and Archaeology, widely considered the preeminent modern and contemporary program in the world?

The NFT world may collectively decide to sidestep these questions. No one would think of looking to the Golden Globes or the NYU film school to arbitrate the value of TikTok virality.

However, I’m skeptical that no serious attempt will be made to cultivate NFT worth for the long haul. There’s just too much at stake for the multibillion-dollar ecosystem of today not to attempt to organize and sort itself out. Gatekeepers and tastemakers arise organically, and powerful ones already exist in the $60 billion art market that predates the NFT universe by hundreds of years.

Indeed, the relationships between artists, collectors, curators and academics have formed the fault lines around which art history has broken over the last centuries — sorting winners from losers, visionaries from imitators, priceless heritage from passing fancy. And I am certain that, for the NFT world, this intersection of intellectual and


NFTS the future of Art

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