Growing Art Blocks’ Reputation in the Art World
If you could perfectly explain anything about your Art Blocks collection to someone new, what misunderstanding would you clear up? You could explain the on-chain-ness of Art Blocks projects so newcomers understood the resilience of immutable art. You could explain how generative artists can automate the exploration of what’s interesting in a particular concept. You can even dig into the tech behind NFTs, cut through the noise, and show how provable digital ownership is something totally new and will be a standard in an increasingly digital world.
All of these would be nice. But from my vantage point at Art Blocks, the one misunderstanding that’s most important to address are the qualifiers given to the Art created on Art Blocks. Our community is still small. Like, really small compared to the broader Art community. It’s easy to take for granted what we know within the community, but as an outsider looking in, this has to look a little crazy and easily dismissed as a fad on the internet.
Art Blocks is advocating the evolution of art to the broader art world, saying that on-chain generative art isn’t just crypto-art or nft-art, but Art proper. We work with world-class artists that just happen to use code as their creative tool of choice.
To that end, Art Blocks has been going to bat for on-chain generative art in some of the most important art events in the world (and stealing the show). It’s easy to overlook the important work the team is doing outside of Twitter and Discord (which is why Snowfro wrote last week’s update), but it’s worth pointing out Art Blocks’ footprint at these events.
I feel like this is easy to take this for granted because the NFT/crypto space moves so fast, but Art Blocks established a permanent gallery for generative art in Marfa, Texas before our first anniversary.
For those that aren’t familiar with Marfa, it’s a small town in the West Texas desert that’s attracted and inspired artists from across the country. One of the best-known residents was Donald Judd, whose work is still championed by the Chinati Foundation. But the artistic roots are deep and there are plenty of artists in the town finding inspiration in the Chihuahuan Desert.
When Art Blocks had the first official event at the Marfa house during Chinati Weekend, our community showed a ton of support and made waves through the town. Admittedly, residents are skeptical about Art Blocks, and that’s ok. We are the new kid on the block, but it’s our job to respect the spirit of Marfa and its residence by being open, inclusive, and showing that we are there for the Art itself. The buzz around NFTs and crypto is unavoidable, but ultimately, we are concerned with putting Art into the world — without qualifications.
Pace Gallery: Frieze LA
Pace Gallery has been around since the 1960s and boasts permanent galleries in nine countries around the world. They’ve also had decades-long relationships with artists like Alexander Calder, Jean Dubuffet, Barbara Hepworth, Agnes Martin, Louise Nevelson, and Mark Rothko.
Recently, Leo Villareal released Cosmic Reef in Series 6 of Art Blocks’ Curated Collection. For an artist with a history of innovating, Leo continued that tradition by jumping headfirst into our crazy world and championing the art form at Frieze LA.
In February 2022, Cosmic Reef was on display at Pace’s booth during Frieze LA. Not only that, but nearly every piece was sold before the event started. Being an excellent steward of art, Pace helped educate collectors on the artform and how to display it. Even offering display technology with the purchase of a Cosmic Reef. And that’s a big deal.
Art Blocks was used by a ‘trad art’ artist to launch their project, shown in a ‘trad art’ show, championed by a ‘trad art’ gallery in their booth, and nearly sold out before the event started!
Venus Over Manhattan
Venus is the brainchild of Adam Lindemann. Founded in 2012, it serves as a gallery for historic and contemporary curated exhibitions. The list of artists includes names as iconic as Andy Warhol. And recently Adam put on a show for Chromie Squiggles by Erick Calderon (Snowfro).
The event ran for 2-weeks in February and saw an audience ranging from crypto degens excited to see Art Blocks in a swanky Manhatten gallery to traditional art collectors wondering what the hell was going on with these colorful squiggly lines.
To put it mildly, the event was a huge success. Adam, another ‘trad art’ heavy hitter, championed generative art throughout the event. He even did an episode of Kevin Rose’s Proof podcast where it was immediately obvious that this long-time collector and curator hasn’t lost a step, and is constantly looking for the next interesting evolution in Art.
The event led to Chromie Squiggles entering some of the world’s most impressive private collections. I know, I know, it’s awesome to see these sales blast through #block-talk for us to cheer on, but the traditional art world isn’t Discord/Twitter native and they operate differently. This is what mainstream adoption looks like — it isn’t as sensational as an over-worked @artbot, but it’s important nonetheless.
Art Basel Miami
The Digital by Sofia Garcia attracted a ton of attention on Twitter from our ecosystem and still didn’t get nearly the attention it deserves. From all accounts, The Digital stole the show during Art Basel: Miami.
If you don’t know already, Sofia is a rockstar and easily one of the most important people making the case for generative art in the traditional art world. Not only is her eye for talent and high-quality work second-to-none, but she respects the art and displays it in a way that conveys the beauty and depth of generative art.
This event took months of planning, building, and curating to come together. The Digital team was able to take an empty space, envision what a killer event would look like, and executed on building a custom expeirnce for Basel Miami.
Again, this is an event that took a ton of resources and brain power to come together, but the scale of accomplishment doesn’t fit in 280 characters.
It takes time to create something new and interesting with long-term staying power. Art Blocks recognizes the opportunity make a lasting impact on generative art, and the art world broadly. Whether we like it or not, NFTs and crypto come with a ton of baggage to the outside world and Art Blocks is working tirelessly to change the narrative, show that something interesting is happening here, and great artists are working to create something special. Our future is code-based, it’s on-chain, and it’ll be in the MoMA. So we have some work to do.