Featuring Nam June Paik, Jenny Holzer, Urs Fisher and Gerald Laing alongside legacy and emerging new media artists
NEW YORK – Christie’s is pleased to announce a collaboration with Lady PheOnix—one of the most respected voices in the new media landscape today—to present an expertly curated sale of both unique legacy and newly created artwork sold with NFTs. The online auction, PROOF OF SOVEREIGNTY, not only brings together 19 new media artists utilizing blockchain technology, but also employs metadata, storage and legal standards that have been virtually absent from millions of artworks associated with non-fungible tokens until now. PROOF OF SOVEREIGNTY is live online from May 25-June 3.
Leading the auction is a historic NFT from the Estate of Nam June Paik—considered the grandfather of video art—that both memorializes and revitalizes the artist’s seminal work, Global Groove, originally aired on WNET-Channel 13 in 1974. Paik’s famous piece heralds the age of global connectivity through a hypnotic visual and sonic rhythm—creating an endless loop of ecstatically groovy energy.
The subsequent works, introduced by Lady PheOnix, highlight a broad selection of new media artists, whose collective practice spans more than 30 years. Marguerite deCourcelle, also known as “Coin Artist”, creates visually compelling puzzles coded directly into the Polygon blockchain. Joshua Davis, known as ‘Praystation’, has created colorful, generative, audio reactive artwork. Claudia Hart implements the still life motif, inverting Matisse and Picasso references into a simulated, uncanny composition. Lethabo Huma of Pretoria, South Africa, captures the warmth of human connection through soft color and vulnerability. Internationally renowned artist KESH creates an intimate dialogue between experimental music, photography, film, fashion and sculpture. Pioneering new media artist Tamiko Thiel will be minting her work on a proof-of-stake blockchain to retain the very values of her environmentally conscious art practice.
While most of these names may be new to the traditional Blue-Chip collectors, Jenny Holzer, Urs Fisher and Gerald Laing Estate will hold lots, recognizing the importance of the emergent NFT market. Ultimately, PROOF OF SOVEREIGNTY is at once a celebration of both 20th and 21st century digital works and new media artists, providing a tantalizing glimpse of the future of art itself.
Included in the sale is also Gucci’s first NFT, inspired by Gucci Aria, the iconic fashion house’s latest collection presentation, a fashion film co-directed by Alessandro Michele and award-winning photographer and director Floria Sigismondi. With its dream-like landscape and effervescent energy, the NFT marks a historic moment for the storied brand, as it bridges into the new media landscape. The artwork underlying the NFT speaks to Aria’s overarching message—that of a universal desire for renewal; a yearning to bloom and flourish after the shadow of winter has passed. Doors open as darkness yields to light and that long-awaited feast of air. Gucci will donate all its proceeds to UNICEF USA to support UNICEF’s role in COVAX - an initiative aimed at ensuring global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
In addition to Gucci, Jenny Holzer will donate proceeds from the auction to charity, supporting NiaTero, an organization that works in solidarity with Indigenous peoples and movements worldwide and Save the Children, a charity that is giving all children the best chance for the future they deserve.
The complete list of artists includes: Nam June Paik, Jenny Holzer, Ash Thorp, Auriea Harvey, Urs Fischer, Gucci, Jeron Braxton, Kesh, Lans King, Raf Grasserti, GMUNK, Joshua Davis, Gerald Laing, Tamiko Thiel, Claudia Hart, LIA, Marguerite deCourcelle, Josie Bellini, Lethabo Huma, and more artists to be announced in the coming days.
Noah Davis, Christie’s 21st Century Art Specialist, said, “Working with Lady PheOnix has been an incredible privilege. I feel honored to have been welcomed into this insanely creative community, humbled by their virtuosic talents, and inspired by their utopian visions. I see so much potential for blockchain technologies—from Smart Contracts to DAOs—to revolutionize (some might say “disrupt”) our way of doing business. And by “doing business,” I really mean that as generally as possible. Blockchain isn’t just going to shake up the art world and decentralize the financial industry, it’s going to change the way artists make art, and the way every creative industry operates, by democratizing access to information, diminishing opacity in favor of transparency, and empowering creative people everywhere.”
Curator Lady PheOnix said, “PROOF OF SOVEREIGNTY places the sovereignty and legacy of the artist at the center of the conversation—and has established a new standard for artists, collectors, and institutions with the help of Time-Based Media Specialist, Regina Harsanyi and smart contract partner, Monegraph. These practices rarely get implemented outside of museums and academia, but are essential for the long-term preservation and storage of digital art. With Christies as the leader in NFTs, they are helping to secure the future for all new media artists.”
The premier provider of rights management technology for NFTs and other crypto assets, Monegraph has partnered with Christie’s to support the artists and associated galleries in registering their copyrights and managing their rights on the blockchain for PROOF OF SOVEREIGNTY. The company’s smart contracts enable owners of intellectual property to secure their rights on the blockchain. Based on global patents for media copyrighting and licensing, the company provides infrastructure to support the seamless sales and transfer of media rights on the Ethereum, Bitcoin and various other blockchains.
On March 11, 2021, Christie’s sold the first NFT based purely on a digital work of art ever offered by a major auction house—Beeple’s Everydays—The First 5000 Days for USD $69,346,250. The Beeple sale achieved the third-highest price for a work at auction made by a living artist, closely competing with top lots sold in Christie’s marquee live auctions. Prior to this time, Christie’s 21st Century team of specialists had been tracking the upswing of the NFT market throughout 2020 and noted the significant increase in what NFT artworks were selling for late in the year. As a result, Christie’s believed it this was the right time to enter into this market with the sale of Beeple’s work.
On May 19, Christie’s also announced Andy Warhol: Machine Made, a ground-breaking online auction of five unique NFTs (non-fungible tokens) of digital works created by Andy Warhol in the mid-1980s and recovered from obsolete floppy disks in 2014. In a first for the nascent market for digital art and NFTs, five Warhol drawings, which previously existed only as digital files unreadable by modern computers, are brought to life again in the form of unique NFTs minted exclusively by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. As no other NFTs will be minted from these five digital drawings restored from Warhol’s originals, this sale marks a rare opportunity for collectors.
The sale runs to May 27 on Christie’s website.
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