The Centre Pompidou in Paris on February 10 announced that it had purchased eighteen NFTs by thirteen artists renowned for their work in the genre. The acquisition, which encompasses crypto art, plastic arts, net art, and generative art, is the first of its kind by a major French art institution, and expands on the Pompidou’s history of acquiring work in new media. “Web3 is an innovative territory that artists have now seized upon to create original and daring work,” said Pompidou director Xavier Rey in a statement, “and this collection reaffirms our support for artists in their conquest of new means of expression, which is the foundation of modern art.”
On the other side of the globe, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on February 13 revealed that it had received a gift of twenty-two blockchain artworks from a donor using the handle Cozomo de’Medicii. LACMA characterized the gift as the “largest collection of its kind” to enter a US museum. Among the artists represented in the donation are Dmitri Cherniak, Cai Guo-Quiang, Matt DesLauriers, Monica Rizzoli, and Claire Silver. AI works, photos, the first decentralized book ever to be minted to the Ethereum blockchain, and NFTs are included in the trove, which is believed to have been donated pseudonymously by Snoop Dogg. Known to be an advocate of Web3 and crypto, the iconic rapper in 2021 seemingly drew back the veil on his identity in a tweet.
“With this gift, my goal was to help bridge the worlds of on-chain art and contemporary art, which until now have existed separately,” Cozomo de’Medici said in a statement. “I’m thrilled to have these historically significant on-chain works contextualized beside many iconic works of art in LACMA’s collection.”
Regardless of whether they were donated or purchased, the entry of such works into the collections of respected public art institutions signals a seismic shift in the art world and points to the accelerated time frame attending a cultural phenomenon’s startling discovery and its institutionalization.
Greg Solano, a cofounder of Yuga Labs, whose CryptoPunks were included in both musuems’ accessions, acknowledged the elevation of blockchain works embodied by the acquisitions. “Seeing CryptoPunk #110 displayed in the Centre Pompidou, arguably the world’s most prestigious contemporary art museum, is a great moment for the web3 and NFT ecosystem,” he said, “and we’re honored to help drive this cultural conversation.”