Home Art sale Art Trends 2022: A non-fungible future – NFTs will continue to permeate the art market

Art Trends 2022: A non-fungible future – NFTs will continue to permeate the art market


In September 2020, Banksy graffiti known as ‘Gorilla in a Pink Mask’ was removed from a wall in Bristol, England.

After extracting the entire mural – including the piece of exterior wall it was spattered on – Exposed Walls, the company behind the move, is now ready to ‘sell’ the artwork. ‘art. Rather than offering one person the option of taking possession of the physical piece, however, “Gorilla in a Pink Mask” will be split into 10,000 pieces, each sold as an NFT for around € 661.

With the NFT edition open for purchase from January 12, 2022, Exposed Walls hopes buyers will be more drawn to the chance to win another Banksy mural; “Refugees” will be gifted to one lucky person once the edition is sold out.

Interestingly, the winner will have the choice between the “Refugees” prize in the form of a single NFT or the physical artwork itself.

While the fractional sale of “Gorilla in a Pink Mask” is an indication of how the current NFT craze is starting to expand beyond purely digital works to encompass physical and real objects as well, the choice which will be presented to the eventual winner of ‘Refugees’ is a useful reminder of how TVNs have the power to undermine traditional assumptions of the art world.

NFT year

2021 saw the non-fungible token (NFT) make a major breakthrough in both popular culture and the art establishment. Christie’s hit the headlines in March with its New York sale of NFT’s “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” by digital artist Beeple for $ 69 million (€ 608 million). The first purely digital piece of art Christie’s ever sold, the NFT had a starting bid of just $ 100 (€ 88) but soared to become the most expensive piece of art ever sold online.

Meanwhile, in October, competing auction giant Sotheby’s launched its dedicated NFT marketplace, Metaverse, achieving more than € 88 million in sales by the end of the year. Such achievements, along with the wider adoption of TVN in celebrity and brand culture, have led to the UK Collins Dictionary by selecting the abbreviation as the word of the year.

Many art market commentators expect the NFT movement to gain momentum again in 2022. The top level selling of “Everydays” can be hard to beat, but that selling coupled with buying of other individual NFTs for several million, means that all bets are off in regards to what those digital certificates stored in the blockchain will achieve next.

Existential threat or savior from above?

Along with the staggering sales figures, the rapid rise of NFTs has raised questions about the value of art, the nature of ownership, the desire to own unique assets, and the correlation between the digital and physical realms.

Speaking to Euronews on how the relative value of Banksy’s’ Refugees’ mural might compare to an NFT version, a spokesperson for Exposed Walls said: ‘The value of a single NFT might well have more value than the physical object, but it is up to the owner. If they choose to market it and sell it all at once at auction on a platform like Opensea, it could exceed its value as a physical object within the blockchain community. However, these [physical] street murals seem about to rise in value. At the moment they are trading below their market value, but increasingly they are making a lot of money. The answer is, it’s hard to say.

Around the same time that Exposed Walls opens its sale of the NFT edition “Gorilla in a Pink Mask”, US company Particle will launch a similar sale of 10,000 NFT from another fractional artwork by Banksy. . In this case, a 90 x 90 cm, 2005 canvas version of ‘Love is in the air’. Particle purchased the physical piece at Sotheby’s in 2021 for almost € 12 million and will now sell each of the 10,000 NFT pieces for just over € 1,300.

Transform art into a limited company?

The idea behind the initiatives of Particle and Exposed Walls is that buyers of NFTs will own some of the physical works of art, for which the companies will be responsible and intend to display them publicly. The two companies will keep 1% of their respective NFT editions, so that no buyer takes overall control of the works of art concerned.

With other companies, like Masterworks, already providing investors with the ability to buy and sell shares registered on the blockchain in individual pieces by leading artists, these new models of ownership are likely to become increasingly common. more widespread. The positive aspect of these vehicles is that they will bring more liquidity to the art market, providing artists with innovative ways to monetize their creative output, while more people will have the opportunity to invest. .

Surfing NFT, an initiative launched in 2021 by the Turin-based art fair Artissima, is an example of a project working with artists at an individual level. Supported by the Fondazione per l’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea CRT, an Italian art foundation and collection, the project selected five artists via a committee of international curators. All five artists were awarded € 8,000 to fund the production of an NFT recorded digital artwork, with an overall winner to be chosen at an event in February.

In Berlin, gallery owner Johann König, who founded the famous KÖNIG GALERIE in 2022, recently launched misa.art, an online marketplace that sells both primary (new or unsold) and secondary ( used), including digital art and NFT. The new initiative is also working on its own fractional ownership model, with investors being able to buy and sell “fractions” of “prime works” through the platform.

Noting that the art market was previously “a conservative industry with progressive content,” König says that “over the past two years” it has experienced “an increase like never before”. The recovery, König suggests, is “due to many reasons,” including the move to online activity, the increase in inflation during the pandemic and the fact that collectors, like everyone else, are spending more. time at home, raising awareness. of “how essential” the arts are.

Explaining that people are only beginning to “understand the utilitarian power of NFTs” when it comes to digital art, as well as “fractional ownership and community building,” König believes “that we are only seeing the beginning of the NFT trend. I think it will accelerate … “

Copyright and climate: the pitfalls of NFTs

As the train picks up speed, a closer look will also be placed on the potential pitfalls and detrimental effects of NFTs. Among these is the environmental impact of the technology. Most NFTs are currently registered on the Ethereum blockchain, an energy-intensive proof-of-work platform that has been criticized for its sizable carbon footprint. Already, those who employ NFTs in the art world are seeking to do so in a way that they can claim to be less damaging to the environment. Particle and misa.art, for example, both use alternative proof-of-stake blockchain platforms that consume considerably less power per transaction.

The ability of NFTs to remonetize old or previously sold works of art also raises complex questions about copyright, uniqueness and trust. The substantial rewards someone can now hope to get by, say, creating a digital image of an existing real-world work of art and marketing it as NFT has arguably created a bigger box of worms.

Nonetheless, with more and more art insiders exploring the possibilities offered by NFTs and the money they attract, many share Johann König’s optimism that the reach of the technology will continue to grow. .

“It’s a fantastic time for art because it will make art more democratic and bring more people into the art world,” says the German gallery owner.

“This will ultimately mean that more people will be able to make a living from art. “