New York – Beeple is back at Christie’s, materializing in the form of the unprecedented HUMAN ONE, the artist’s first ever physical work of art. Groundbreaking, life-size, and spellbindingly illuminated in three dimensions, Beeple’s first video sculpture, perpetually updated remotely by the artist, accompanied by an NFT representing the underlying digital assets, invites collectors to join the artist on a life-long journey never-before launched in digital art. HUMAN ONE will make its debut at Christie’s Rockefeller Center galleries the morning of October 30, one week prior to heading to Christie’s highly anticipated 21st Century Art Evening Sale, taking place in New York Tuesday, November 9.
Beeple’s instantly iconic sculpture is a hybrid physical and digital object, propelled by the theme of continuous exploration. Both the object and its NFT display dynamically changing imagery drawn at random from a data pool of the artist’s visual creations. The NFT video files are stored on Beeple’s private server and the sculpture’s digital assets are stored directly in the embedded media servers within the sculpture. Over the course of his lifetime, Beeple intends to seamlessly add to and evolve this pool of imagery in response to current events—creating an eternally contemporary work of art.
Featuring more than 24 hours of dynamic visual information programmed to adapt to the viewer’s current experience of day or night, Beeple’s monolithic LED sculpture evokes the form of a magician’s transparent cell. Four interconnected video screens serve as walls. Powered by computers built into the base of the more than 7-foot-high artist-designed structure, the screens display a constantly shifting dystopian landscape through which an anonymous astronaut-like hero— the helmeted HUMAN ONE— rhythmically strides. Oblivious to his Sisyphean fate, the explorer appears to walk forever in place as the digital landscape around him continues to turn on its axis within the physical confines of the box.
The smart contract for Beeple’s HUMAN ONE NFT has been written by Manifold. Comprised of an ongoing series of one-minute video clips, the master video will endlessly evolve as it is programmed to update continually according to the artist’s inspiration. During the sale, Christie’s will accept cryptocurrency (Ethereum or Bitcoin) as payment for this work in addition to US dollars. Priced as estimate on request, bidding for HUMAN ONE is expected to achieve in excess of $15 million USD.
Beeple commented: “I am excited to explore concepts through this artwork that tap into the full potential of the medium of digital art, in a way that has never been done before, exploring the unique potential of digital works to dynamically change over time. The message and meaning of this piece will continue to evolve over the course of my life. While a traditional work of art is more akin to a finite statement, frozen in time at the moment it was completed, this artwork’s unique ability to be updated makes it more akin to an ongoing conversation.”
Noah Davis, Specialist, Head of Digital Art & Online Sales, Christie’s commented: “The pressure on artists of all stripes to outdo themselves in the wake of a massive success can be daunting. In Mike’s case, he practically knocked the entire art world off its axis earlier this year, so I can’t imagine what that weight—the weight of the expectations of this enormous, global audience—must feel like. But I do know that with HUMAN ONE, and against the odds, Mike has achieved something historic (again). I’m honestly euphoric to present such a heroic follow-up in our prestigious 21C Evening Sale. The exhibition will no doubt be a pilgrimage for believers in the bright future for NFTs.”
Marcus Fox, Global Managing Director, 20th / 21st Century Art, Christie’s, commented: “In March, the potent combination of Beeple and Christie’s made history. I couldn’t be more thrilled for Christie’s to introduce the next phase of Beeple’s artistic evolution to the world with HUMAN ONE. Presenting this physical object, and the associated NFT, as a highlight of the 21st Century Evening sale, alongside the best artists in recent decades, provides context for the best of physical and digital works. Christie’s is proud to continue to be in the center of the NFT conversation and to show this groundbreaking work on our biggest stage.”
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Beeple is Mike Winkelmann (b. 1981). He holds the record of the third highest price achieved for a living artist at auction. From Charleston, South Carolina, USA, Beeple is known for using various mediums to create comical phantasmagoric works that make political and social commentary, often featuring notable pop culture figures. He creates a variety of digital artwork including short films, Creative Commons VJ loops, Everydays and VR / AR work. After he began releasing a set of widely used Creative Commons VJ loops he went on to produce concert visuals for Justin Bieber, One Direction, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, Eminem, Zedd, deadmau5 and many others. One of the originators of the current "Everyday" movement in 3D graphics, Beeple has been creating a picture every day from start to finish and posting it online for more than ten years without missing a single day.
CHRISTIE’S AND NFTs
Christie’s introduced NFTs to the global auction market. Beginning with the first blockchain recording of a sale in 2018 (for The Barney A. Ebsworth Collection), in October 2020, Christie’s sold Robert Alice’s “Block 21” from Portraits of a Mind, an
NFT which also included a physical painting. The watershed moment for NFTs came in March 2021, when Christie’s $69 million sale of Beeple’s monumental Everydays: The First 5,000 Days made headlines worldwide, setting the record for the most expensive work sold online and the third highest price for a living artist at auction.
After becoming the first international auction house to sell an NFT of a purely digital work of art, Christie’s continued to forge new ground in this revolutionary collecting category through iconic sales of Larva Labs’ Cryptopunks, digital artwork by FEWOCiOUS, curated sales, NFTs by Bored Ape Yacht Club, and partnerships with The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, established artists like Jenny Holzer and the estate of Nam June Paik, as well as NFTs in the field of luxury and design with Misha Kahn and fashion brands such as Gucci and collectibles giants Superplastic. Recently Christie’s became the first international auction house to hold an NFT auction in Asia; sell in New York a full set of Curio Cards, some of the oldest artworks on the Ethereum blockchain; and in London to offer the first NFT in Europe by a contemporary African artist.
Founded in 1766, Christie’s is a world-leading art and luxury business. Renowned and trusted for its expert live and online auctions, as well as its bespoke private sales, Christie’s offers a full portfolio of global services to its clients, including art appraisal, art financing, international real estate and education. Christie’s has a physical presence in 46 countries, throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with flagship international sales hubs in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva. It also is the only international auction house authorized to hold sales in mainland China (Shanghai).
Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, at price points ranging from $200 to over $100 million. In recent years, Christie’s has achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction (Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, 2017), for a 20th century artwork (Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, 2022) and for a work by a living artist (Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, 2019). Christie's is also recognised as a reference for prestigious single owner collections, having auctioned 8 of the 10 most important collections in history.
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Recent innovations at Christie’s include the groundbreaking sale of the first NFT for a digital work of art ever offered at a major auction house (Beeple’s Everydays, March 2021), with the unprecedented acceptance of cryptocurrency as a means of payment. As an industry leader in digital innovation, Christie’s also continues to pioneer new technologies that are redefining the business of art, including use of hologram technology to tour life-size 3D objects around the world, and the creation of viewing and bidding experiences that integrate augmented reality, global livestreaming, buy-now channels, and hybrid sales formats.
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