If the evocation of NFTs raises eyes in the contemporary art world, it is almost always for a particular reason: substance. Even if it is a generalization or a stereotype, crypto-art has a reputation for lacking rigor and depth.
Chat connection is Artwrld, a new NFT platform that aims to bridge the gap between these two fields by bringing established contemporary artists into the digital space. Among its founders are Nato Thompson, former artistic director of Philadelphia Contemporary and chief curator of Creative Time, and Josh Goldblum, CEO of design agency Bluecadet.
Rather than a quick way to cash in on a fad, Goldblum presents Artwrld as a place where visionary contemporary artists can explore the creative possibilities of NFTs. “We think some of the most interesting visionary artists — the artists who have the most to contribute to this space, who are doing incredibly relevant work for this space — don’t have an easy way to fit in beyond the symbolic of pre-existing work,” he said in an interview with Artnet News.
So far the pitch seems to be working. The initial list of artists who have also signed on to create their very first NFT artworks on the platform is impressive, including Yael Bartana, Mel Chin, Jill Magid, Shirin Neshat, and Ahmet Öğüt.
“These are artists you have to have a lot of conversations with,” said Thompson, who is also creative director of Artwrld. “They don’t just say ‘yes’. They go deep.
First up is a project of the third co-founder of Artwrld, the artist Walid Rad. Called Gratitude Daythe project includes a series of computer-generated birthday cakes for world dictators, sheikhs, presidents and other 20th century leaders. It is slated for release in May, coinciding with Frieze New York, with a a portion of the proceeds from the sale will go to ArteEsta New York-based non-profit organization that supports artists and arts organizations in the Middle East.
Goldblum said Raad’s participation “helped us to solve the question of how to do [the platform] avant-garde artist.
Artwrld will commission established artists to create unique new digital artworks for its platform. They will be released in “drops”, some containing thousands of unique NFTs, others – the most exclusive examples – just a few. Pricing will also vary from project to project, but the founders said that in almost all cases, NFTs will cost less than what a physical work by the same artist would cost on the market.
Fifty percent of the profits will go to the creator of the NFT, 40 percent to Artwrld. The remaining 10% will be donated to a charity of the artist’s choice. In the case of secondary sales, seven percent will go to the artist, five to the business, and three percent to the nonprofit.
To draw thematic similarities between the bounty of prestigious artists who have signed up so far would be difficult, except to say that they share a pension for the conceptual, the political and the intellectual. In other words, their work never lacks substance.
Thompson specifically pointed to Magid, a heady conceptualist whose own artwork often takes years to make and can be difficult to define. “Jill has always been interested in economic exchanges, power exchanges, surveillance – these are the fundamental issues that relate to space,” Thompson said.
Details on what Magid or other artists have planned were not shared. The promise, however, is to be more than a place to sell jpgs.
“We really have no interest in just taking people’s artwork and throwing it into a market without any context, or monetizing something that was created for a different format,” Goldblum added. “We want to create work that really takes advantage of what Web3 can do.”
Despite Artwrld’s rigorous approach, the NFT market remains crowded. Asked about the increasingly crowded realm of NFT platforms, especially those, like Particle, Rhythm Backand ArtOfficial, who are trying to tap into the contemporary art market—Thompson said, “We’re excited to have more people in the space! The more people get used to a MetaMask wallet, the more people understand that NFTs are great opportunities for respectable artists, that’s no problem for us.
“We believe that directing truly amazing, intelligent and thoughtful projects not only helps our artists and the art world,” he added. “It also helps the emerging field that is the digital art landscape.”
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