the new historical turning point of the art market

Modern art and then contemporary art introduced more freedom in the form of inspirations and techniques and gradually expanded the art to music, fashion and applied art. Warhol, Johns or even Liechtenstein initiated a profound movement to integrate popular culture, make art more accessible, connect it with epochs and their aspirations, to our emotions and our senses.

But in our relationship to art, the concerns persist. He remains elitist. Going into a museum or a gallery is scary. Collecting a work is reserved for a handful of initiates, whether they are well-born or wealthy. The significance of a work is difficult to access, even incomprehensible; its price is sometimes outrageous, often opaque. Intermediaries change the relationship between creators and buyers.

The Gordian knot in our relationship to art lies in its accessibility, whether physical, intellectual or economic. But this accessibility to the work as much as for the artist has undergone profound changes since the advent of new technologies. The Internet, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, Blockchain and NFT are the markers for a major transformation of the art market.

Digitization is getting closer to art and bringing us closer to the artist

Digital has actively participated in improving access to works of art and their experiments by introducing immersion and interactivity in exhibition spaces. The digital platform Google Art & Culture now brings together 151 museums and cultural sites around the world (40 countries) and makes more than 32,000 works digitally accessible. Closer to home, so to speak, the Europeana platform provides access to millions of European cultural heritage resources. Has the number of visitors to the Musée d’Orsay or MoMA fallen for all that? No, these digital devices are part of the expansion of cultural sites.

Art and digital are intertwined in artistic production processes. For example, the project “New Rembrandt” entrusted a computer the advanced analysis of the master’s style and characteristics to create a new painting. In 2016, a work was born that combines Deep learning, algorithms, scanners and 3D printers. Is it still art? Who is the artist? What is the meaning of the artistic process? How does it affect our own senses and emotions?

These questions have been asked since art has existed. To understand a work is not to go beyond perception, aesthetics, to understand its essence and its creator’s intentions: his approach, his context, his state of mind and his view of society?

The connection to the artist and his artistic approach is therefore essential. Work is not enough, nor does it possess it. This is exactly what is revealed by the art paradigm’s new paradigm driven by its dematerialisation, the emergence of a new generation of collectors and new ways of collecting.

NFT or the turning point of the global art market

With its digitalisation, the art market opens up to a wider, younger public of buyers whose applications have evolved. New collectors want transparency about the price of works. They like to create a direct link to the artist, get to know him better and follow his work on a daily basis. They are happy with private sales, exclusive prices, personal works. They legitimize digital works.

Christie’s says 31% of its new customers come through digital and are interested in digital art. In the latest ArtPrice 2021 report published by Artmarket.com, the global art market has increased by 28% compared to 2019 and represents an exchange volume of $ 17 billion. NFTs are entering it for the first time and already represent a total sales amount of € 232 million, or 1.6% of the regulated auction market.

But the NFT revolution is outside the traditional market. According to Chainalaysis, their trading volume in 2021 represented more than $ 40 billion. The first exchange platform, Opensea, recorded $ 14 billion in transactions in 2021 and a turnover of more than $ 350 million achieved at 94% between August and December 2021!

Thierry Ehrmann, founder of Artmarket.com, highlights its historical impact:
“The NFT ‘revolution’ is of a systemic nature, as it involves new ways of creating works, remunerating artists, collecting and exchanging on platforms where supply and demand meet in a totally dematerialized way.”

NFT confirms the authenticity of the work … and of the creator-buyer relationship

NFT is an innovation derived from blockchain. “Non Fungible Token” is both a digital work, a certificate of authenticity and a title of non-reproducibility registered directly in a public blockchain (Ethereum, Solana, Tezos for the most famous). The blockchain and its properties of immutability and transparency, guarantee the work’s uniqueness and traceability, thus opening up new possibilities for buyers and creators.

By purchasing an NFT, the buyer enters into a transparent, direct and privileged relationship with the artist, but also with a community that shares the same interest and optimism for the artistic process.

For artists, it is a new field of expression whose codes are evolving. In addition to the ownership of the asset, the author can create infinite fractions of a work and invite his audience to acquire a part of it. Thanks to smart contracts, another unique property of blockchain, the creator can also collect a resale right when reselling his work.

But NFTs are not all about digital art. Many hybrid initiatives are now linking physical works to an enriching digital version.

The euphoria and speculation surrounding record sales like CryptoKitties, CryptoPunks, Beeple and others should not hide a reality: NFTs are shaking up the codes of the traditional art market and in particular the monopoly of auction houses. They engage new generations of buyers in a world where art and the artist are otherwise better accessible, understood and valued.

What blockchain technology is causing in art is ultimately the reflection of the transformation it is initiating more globally in many sectors. It challenges our organizational models, shakes up cumbersome communication and strengths, technologically and philosophically, confidence in our exchanges.

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