Centre Pompidou in Paris acquires 18 NFT works for its collection

Major acquisition of works in NFT by the Centre Pompidou in Paris: as many as 18, by 13 artists, arrive. It is the first such acquisition in a French public museum, and the first of such magnitude by an institution dedicated to modern and contemporary art.

First NFT acquisitions for one of the world’s most important contemporary art museums, the Centre Pompidou in Paris. This is the first acquisition of a series of NFTs by a French public institution, and the first of such importance by an institution dedicated to modern and contemporary art. These acquisitions are part of the Musée National d’Art Moderne’s strategy to support, the museum points out, artists in conquering new means of creation. It is the result of joint work with the scientific and administrative teams of the Ministry of Culture. The acquisitions involve 18 projects by 13 French and international artists, selected by a special committee of the Centre Pompidou, and enter the collection by donation or purchase. These works relate to various practices and cultures: crypto art, visual arts, net art, and generative art. They reflect the surprising richness of forms of artistic creation related to blockchain and the variety of positions taken by artists in the face of this phenomenon.

These are the artists entering the collection with, in parentheses, the related works: Aaajiao(NTFs_aaajiao), Emilie Brout et Maxime Marion(Nakamoto - The Proof), Claude Closky(NFT), Fred Forest(NFT-Archeology), John Gerrard(Petro National - Nigeria), Smoke Hands(dark), Agnieszka Kurant(Sentimentite-Mt. Gox. Hack), Jonas Lund(Smart Burn Contract - Hoarder), Larva Labs(CryptoPunk #110, Autoglyph #25), Jill Magid(Hand-hacked Bouquet 1), Sarah Meyohas(Bitchcoin, Cloud of Petals), Robness(Bitcoin, Dorian Generatives), Rafael Rozendaal(Horizon 31, Horizon 59, Horizon 73), John F. Simon Jr(Every Icon #419).

“Blockchain,” the museum says in a note, “has significantly marked the digital art ecosystem, both in terms of production and circulation of works. The research carried out by the Musée National d’Art Moderne on this phenomenon has made it possible to build an ambitious project to acquire the new media collection, dedicated since the creation of the Centre Pompidou in 1977 to observing the artistic uses of emerging technologies. The aim is not so much to be interested in the cultural phenomenon of ’collectibles,’ collections of images sold by NFT, but to explore the more daring creative uses of this technology, engaging in a singular reflection on the crypto ecosystem. the definitions and contours of the artwork, the author, the collection, and the receiving audience. This project thus aims first and foremost at a selective approach, in line with the strong gestures of art history that, since the 20th century, have taken on a conceptual dimension to approach the contemporary world and be part of it by deflecting the commercial use of both technological and artistic resources. One of the missions of the Centre Pompidou is constant attention to emerging creation and artistic experimentation. The Musée National d’Art Moderne, with its historical perspective, requires a scientific approach, both exploratory and selective. It is a matter of inscribing in the state’s collections artistic achievements that, because of their originality, complexity and critical quality, are capable of dialoguing with present and future art history, beyond the mediated effects of the market.”

Indeed, the Musée National d’Art Moderne’s collection has historically always welcomed art forms that, because of their profoundly innovative character, challenge an institution’s habits in terms of acquiring, preserving, and disseminating artistic creation. The New Media Collection, in particular, has a mission to focus on art forms related to emerging technologies. This mission has brought together since the 1970s a group of works with few equals in the world, ranging from the pioneers of electronic sound and video (Peter Campus, Joan Jonas, Bruce Nauman, Nam June Paik, Julia Scher, Steina and Woody Vasulka, Bill Viola), to interactive digital works or those using generative technologies. Several generations of artists with a preference for computer tools are thus already represented in this collection-Zoe Beloff, Claude Closky, Rainer Ganahl, Chris Marker, Mika Tajima, Juha Van Ingen, Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries, etc.-are already represented in this collection.

At the same time, the Musée National d’Art Moderne’s collection testifies to a tradition of “immaterial” works, based on certificates or other experimental forms of transaction: from Yves Klein’s Checkbook (1959) to Tino Sehgal’s performance piece, This Situation, a 2007 work acquired in 2010 without the artist having left any material trace of the transaction, according to the specific protocol of his living practice, excluding any form of archive. So many works that reflect a genealogy of the dematerialization and reproducibility of the artwork, which is essential for understanding the NFT phenomenon.

The acronym NFT (non-fungible token) designates a “non-fungible token.” It is concretely a digital token, stored on a blockchain, that is, a networked information storage technology similar to a shared, decentralized, encrypted ledger. Unlike other digital tokens, such as those used in cryptocurrencies, NFTs are not interchangeable, hence their designation as “non-fungible” tokens. This uniqueness explains the favored use of NFTs as certificates or titles to digital assets, including works of art. When circulated in the marketplace, NFTs also enable the automation of certain aspects of copyright management (including resale rights, provided that the artist receives a percentage of the transaction for each sale of the work). NFTs are also a way for creators to maintain a more direct relationship with a community of fans and collectors, freeing themselves from traditional art market players. While these tokens can attest to the ownership of a work, they are rarely its medium, referring in most cases to an externally stored file: they are then referred to as “off-chain” works. More rarely do they contain all the constituent information of the work for which they truly constitute a medium: we then speak of “on-chain” works.

Next Saturday, April 8, a panel discussion entirely devoted to NFTs will be held at the Centre Pompidou. The floor is given as a priority to artists, who will explain the effects that the development of blockchain has had on their practice, and on the art world in general. In addition, all newly acquired works will be the subject of a presentation within the Museum’s collection during 2023.

Image: Agnieszka Kurant, Sentimentite-Mt. Gox. Hack

Centre Pompidou in Paris acquires 18 NFT works for its collection
Centre Pompidou in Paris acquires 18 NFT works for its collection

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