From Brâncuși and Jeff Koons to <NFT Art as donation to Ukraine>
I'm using a quote from Brâncuși as my tagline on my Facebook profile for more than 12 years now. It is still very relevant to me: “Create like a god. Command like a king. Work like a slave."
I love this quote as I love Brâncuși for, like Jeff Koons once said, "Brâncuși's work is extremely metaphysical, you can go back to prehistory, looking at his works, and at the same time you are amazed by the innovation with which he defines contemporaneity."
But what does this have to do with Jeff Koons and NFTs?
Koons, one of the most controversial contemporary artists, created the Rabbit in 1986, as a shiny stainless steel sculpture. It sold for $91 Million at Christie's in 2019. Rabbit was also named "Brâncuși Bunny" because of its perfect forms. And while Koons is named the "king of kitch", he changed sculpture, bringing together Pop, Minimalism and Duchamp in a new way. Like Brâncuși, Koons makes mundane objects irresistible. They both love the surface, the reflection and the minimalism. They are thinking their works very deeply and there is a strong connection to nature and also to all that is repetitive, all that continues to progress with time. They are truly metaphysical.
Now, if we allow ourselves to draw unexpected parallels, the art works of Brâncuși and Koons remind me of the new phenomenon called NFTs (Non Fungible Tokens). NFT Art has been called the art of the future. It works pretty much like traditional art but it is digital and the NFT system replaces conventional certificates of authenticity. Bored Ape #232 has golden fur, making it one of the rarest NFTs in the collection. It sold for $2,8 million in January 2022 and the high sale price is being attributed to the token's scarcity. Bored Ape #2260 is listed on OpenSea for 99.99 ETH (or US$313,175.68), making it one of the cheapest NFTs! In February 2022, Justin Biber bought his latest Bored Ape for 166 ETH, roughly $470,000.
According to CoinDesk, CryptoPunk NFT #5364 is the latest donation created for Ukraine and has estimated value of $200,000. It is a sought-after asset to a donation campaign that’s already amassed over $33 million in cryptocurrencies. And it has already been spent on military hardware and supplies for civilians, including food and gas.
Novelty, surprise, complexity, ambiguity, and eccentricity tend to be the most powerful stimuli in works of art - be it in the analog or the digital world. In the case of AI Art (like the NFTs), the machine chooses the style, the subject, the composition, the colors, and the texture. This is how these bored apes were created mostly autonomously... The human though sets the framework, and then the algorithm autonomously chooses the elements and the principles of the art it generates.
Of course, just because machines can almost autonomously produce art, it doesn’t mean they will replace artists. It simply means that artists will have an additional creative tool at their disposal, one they could even collaborate with in very innovative ways.
I am watching the NFT world and hoping the current global events will bring some decency and realism to it. Apparently, Ukraine's vice prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov said that the country decided to raise more money through the sale of nonfungible tokens (NFTs), but they have no plans to issue own NFTs.