The art world embraces digital art  (Part 1)

The art world is taking a turn: it’s going digital. The movement can be seen in traditional art institutions, in emerging artists and in new digital art businesses growing and succeeding. Blockchain technology, and Codex specifically, plays an important role as the technology allows, for the first time, provable scarcity for digital art. With the recent update release of our featured collections platform, we are increasingly focused on how we can be a productive part of the digital art movement. 

In order to build the most meaningful product for the digital art community, it’s important to understand the digital art community. In part 1 of a 2 part series, we look at the evolution of the traditional art world and its acceptance of digital art. Part 2 will explore art institutions and businesses that have been created around digital art. 

Traditional art institutions embracing digital art 

A large part of the recent boom in art institutions embracing digital art and digital practices is the general interest and comfortability the public now has with consuming art in an online form. The 2019 Hiscox Online Art Market report shared that a growing number of people actually prefer to buy art online than offline, nearly 30% of millennials would prefer to buy art online, up from 14% the previous year. With the online art market growing nearly 10% in 2018 to a staggering $4.64 billion, it’s no wonder auction houses, museums and galleries are all running to become a part of the digital world; it’s where the interest has moved. The following are examples of the migration to adopt digital art and digital art practices.

Auction houses

 In 2013 Phillips and Tumblr worked with Paddle 8 auctions as some of the earliest leaders in digital art. The exhibition and auction, Paddles ON!, was a show curated by Lindsay Howard that showed all digital artists and the effect of digital art on contemporary art. 

image of Paddles ON! from https://paddleson.tumblr.com/

In 2017 Sotheby’s showed their interest in digital art when they partnered with Sundance Institute and Peter Burr, a digital and new media artist. They brought Burr’s work to Sundance Festival to showcase his work, using video game technology to make an animation artwork. Watch Sotheby’s video, Art in the Digital Age with Peter Burr to learn more about the project. 

In 2018 Christie’s became the first auction house to sell a work that was created completely by artificial intelligence when it sold an A.I. work by the art group, Obvious, for 45 times its estimated cost at nearly half a million dollars. This blowout sale solidified to the world the legitimacy and high value of digitally created art. 

Portrait of Edmond Belamy, photo courtesy of Chrisitie’s

 

Museums

This article, 18 Museums Boosting the Scene of Digital Art, runs through a long list of museums making meaningful moves in the digital art space. A few seminal exhibitions worth noting are the following:

Open_Source_Art_Hack, New Museum —  The New Museum is a leading museum in new ideas and new art. This contemporary art only museum has its finger on the pulse of what is the latest in contemporary art, so it’s no surprise it boasted a seminal exhibition in 2002 of digital and generative art. 

Open_Source_Art_Hack 

Thinking Machines Art and Design in the Computer Age, 1959–1989, MoMA — MoMA has been collecting time-based art and new media works for decades. In 2018, this art and technology show displayed all works from MoMA’s own collection that pushed the boundaries of contemporary technology in art. MoMA’s affiliated institution PS1, also lends to MoMA’s authority in digital art as it collects digital works and co-curates digital art exhibition’s, like .com/.cn, which examined the role of the internet in global information and trade.

An interdisciplinary group of artists and scientists called teamLab have been exhibiting their works in temporary exhibitions for years. In 2018 the group made a permanent change and opened Mori Building Digital Art Museum: teamLab Borderless, the world’s first digital art museum in Tokyo. While most main stream museums have hosted or created digital art exhibitions, this museum’s founding purpose is to display and foster digital art. Following the opening, Pace Gallery, one of the biggest art galleries in the world, partnered with teamLab to bring the immersive, tech experience to NYC.

Mori Building Digital Art Museum experience

 

Conferences

One of the best ways to gauge the temperature of main stream adoption of digital art is by looking at conferences and panels at traditional art events. You would be hard pressed to find an art conference or fair that didn’t include a panel on technology and digital art. 

In the last year, Christie’s kicked off a slew of conferences that had talks and panels on digital art and technology when they launched their first annual Art + Tech Summit. Last year’s subject was blockchain technology and this year’s subject is artificial intelligence. Tickets are on sale now. 

In the last year, notable conferences or fairs that included panels, talks or presentations are Frieze Art Fair, Observer’s Business of Art Conference, Art Basel (upcoming), among many more. 

Galleries

Gagosian is one of the world’s leading art galleries and tastemakers, and in the last year they have taken a progressive and digital approach to exhibiting art at fairs. Coinciding with art fairs such as Frieze London and Art Basel Hong Kong, Gagosian opens virtual, online viewing rooms of the art they are selling. Open for the duration of the fair, viewers and patrons can go online to view the artwork for sell in a virtual space. In its first iteration in Art Basel last June, Gagosian sold 5 paintings in the digital gallery for $2 million; an indication of the success and interest the main stream art market has in digital mediums. 

Photo by Billetto Editorial

Bitforms Gallery is one of the leading brick and mortar galleries in the digital art space. Founded almost two decades ago, Bitforms has always focused on emerging artists that work and experiment with the latest in technology. Their program includes digital, time-based, internet and new media work with artists who have shown in some of the most reputable museums in the world, including the Tate Modern, MoMA and Guggenheim. 

Transfer Gallery is another Brooklyn based, digital art gallery. It was founded in 2013 to support artists making computer-based artworks by installing solo exhibitions of experimental, media art. 

LACDA, or the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art was created to support the efforts of the burgeoning scene revolving around art and technology on the West Coast. LACDA believes that digital art defines the contemporary, and they are dedicated to selling works and supporting artists in new media and digital art. 

Photo by John Schnobrich

Not surprisingly, some of the world’s largest online galleries are also supporting and expanding their digital art sectors. Artsy, one of the world’s largest online art resource and marketplace, now has a “digital art” section on their site. Users can browse and buy works from leading and emerging digital artists.


The proliferation of traditional art institutions that have embraced and explored digital art mediums is not only exciting, but speaks to the legitimacy that the medium holds in the art historical cannon. In part 2 of this series, we will see how far the progress has come by examining the many institutions, businesses and artists that have risen solely focused on digital art. 

Written by Corinne Moshy


About Codex

Codex is the leading decentralized asset registry for the $2 trillion arts & collectibles (“A&C”) ecosystem, which includes art, fine wine, collectible cars, antiques, decorative arts, coins, watches, jewelry, and more. Powered by the CodexCoin native token, the Codex Protocol is open source, allowing third-party players in the A&C ecosystem to build applications and utilize the title system. Codex’s landmark application, Biddable, is a title-escrow system built on the Codex Protocol, which solves long-standing challenges in auctions: non-performing bidders, lack of privacy and bidder access. The Codex Protocol and CodexCoin will be adopted as the only cryptocurrency by The Codex Consortium, a group of major stakeholders in the A&C space who facilitate over $6 Billion in sales to millions of bidders across tens of thousands of auctions from 5,000 auction houses in over 50 countries.

To learn more about Codex initiatives, visit our white paper. To inquire about partnerships and developing dApps using the Codex Protocol, please contact us via Telegram or Twitter