Who do you say?! Beeple? Never heard of… This will have been the reaction of most who are not too invested in internet art upon learing of the record-breaking auction for a non-fungible token (NFT) earlier this month. In the process, the market for the most expensive living artist was rearranged. Beeple (pseudonym of the American graphic designer Mike Winklemann) nestled firmly between Hockney and Koons.
Beeple's success can partly be traced back to the blockchain technology behind the NFTs. This technology makes it possible for the first time to guarantee the uniqueness of digital files, allowing one to demonstrably become the owner of a digital object. As a result, everything is suddenly collectible: from a digital pair of sneakers to a car, to baseball cards and also art. Wealthy Millennials and GenXers form an avant-garde that pushed the price of Beeple’s JPEG Everydays: the First 5000 Days to record highs.
Uniqueness and affordability are all too often opposites. If something is relatively affordable, chances are it is an edition or a work of someone at the start of his or her career and vice versa. But there is a sweet spot, a place where you can buy a unique work of a well-known name without falling into the abyss financially. We are talking about drawings. Strangely enough, the oldest medium around is still relatively affordable.
“Drawing has been called the mother of the arts because ideas and forms are first developed in drawing, it is a kind of breeding ground for art,” says The Hague gallery owner and enthusiast Maurits van de Laar. He points to the intimacy of this art form: “Drawing is very direct and casual, you look over the shoulder of the artist, as it were, and see things emerge”.
In this collection, therefore, 7 artists, three of whom work figuratively, two produce abstract works, and two work in multiple media.