Pixelated paintings

Iona Lowe discusses the impact NFTs is having on the art world

Iona Lowe
12th May 2021
Art collectors are curating galleries full of Picasso’s paintings and Matisse’s drawings, all in the space of their back pocket. It is happening, art has gone digital, and paintings are now pixelated - cramped into the mystical world of 'The Cloud'.

The news is often a dark place, seething with the latest coronavirus figures, deaths and economic depressions. Highlighting the government’s failings and political controversy we could all do without. Especially now. 

As a result, many people find an abode in the safety of bygone brushstrokes. Reminiscing within Renoir’s Bal du Moulin de la Galette, transporting us to the streets of Paris, and the smell of coffee and a time when touch was not repulsive, and conversation was physical. Or some may escape to Monet’s garden and ponder over his water lilies.  

Art is meant to be visual and engage the brain through the senses. But it seems even the world of the visual can be infected with bad news. 

Pixels, blue light and screens are conquering the world almost as fast as amazon, and now it appears the walls around us are being commodified, packed up and sent to be sold. People’s desire for money continues to rise, almost as quickly as it is being printed and their appetite for physical art has diminished. 

What is the problem with NFTs you might ask, or even, what is an NFT? 

Let’s get to grips with the basics first. An NFT is a small digital replica of a piece of art, music or media, as a form of CryptoCurrency (bitcoin) to be brought, sold and used as an object to store money. Similar to investing in properties. Art holds its value in being original. Copies and prints might be sold at high prices, but the original is where the millions lie. NFTs allow the original artwork to be stored digitally – meaning the value is not decreased. Sounds like something positive right?

 Art holds its value in being original. Copies and prints might be sold at high prices, but the original is where the millions lie. NFTs allow the original artwork to be stored digitally

In actuality these NFTs only create problems. What are these problems you might ask? Surely, they simply allow the piece longevity. Not when the original, visual piece is at risk of being destroyed, making art a pure form of currency as well as one hundred per cent digital. 

These issues are already beginning to rear their pixelated heads. A Basquiat painting was nearly destroyed in order to make the NFT the only form of his art piece, but this defeats the whole point of the painting as a physical. 

As Salvador Dali says; ‘a true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others.’ It would be hard to inspire us while trapped in the walls of a glorified memory stick. Which is essentially what we are looking at if the original originals are destroyed. 

There is no question – NFTs make the art world far more tradable, where storage becomes easier and trade more stable, but will they still remain a piece of art? Or will they simply be reduced to assets sat in someone’s cloud?

Of course, as has always been the issue within the walls of the art market – there is the issue of viability. NFTs (as you can imagine) are easily copied into fakes by tech whizzes, which they then sell – only these fakes are significantly harder to weed out of the market.

NFT’s, non-fungible tokens, the cryptocurrency of the art world. Whatever you have heard about these little digital divas, they should be NFI to the world of art. Or else, before long architecturally artistic buildings, the Duomo, or the Vatican are going to be digitalised – then who knows what kind of buildings we will be surrounded by.  

Featured Image: Slave Auction Basquiat // Yann Caradec flickr

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