written by : Maurice Cardinal
Some artists and fine art institutions are doing what …during the pandemic?
International Artist Day is celebrated on October 25th each year as an homage to Pablo Picasso on his birthday – a radical thinker who dramatically changed how people considered modern art in the early part of the 20th century.
Picasso, after the liberation of France in 1944, an event similarly as traumatic as our pandemic, said, “I didn’t paint the war, but there’s no doubt the war was in my pictures.”
The same will be said of art and the Coronavirus.
Mid-pandemic, digital art is now taking us into another cubic dimension, and introducing collectors to a new experience that artists only dreamt of a few years ago, but can now deliver.
Analog solutions still abound of course, and always will. No one would be foolish enough to argue otherwise, however, after being closed for almost six months, The Metropolitan Museum of Art re-opened at the end of August to small and exuberant crowds, and also to a potential revenue-loss of $150 million. Denizens of the art world are a creative bunch, so it didn’t take long to figure out that if they had to, museums could sell a small quantity of their overabundance of art to stay solvent. Analog art is entrenched in our psyches and won’t go away, especially when you consider that it’s an exclusive platform for the wealthy to buy and sell trading cards that have been very cleverly boosted to stratospheric prices. Fine art pieces can command multimillions more than their intrinsic worth. Contemporary art though, is much different, and relatable to people who actually love the art part, more than the investment.
Selling select pieces from a museum’s collection is a practical solution, especially considering that many museums and galleries have closed shop – permanently. Laura Lott, President and CEO of the American Alliance of Museums, said that “about one third of the museums in the U.S. were operating at a loss before the pandemic, three-quarters have now closed, and one third will never re-open”.
To stay in the game, the Brooklyn Museum is planning to sell a dozen pieces through Christie’s Auction House with a hope to raise $3.5 million for the upkeep of their remaining collection. The pandemic makes sales like this possible, in a world where it is usually frowned upon because it can put a curator in a compromising position trying to balance salaries with the success of the museum.
The Contemporary Art world on your street is also suffering similar chaos and closures, but again, creativity knows no bounds. Some sectors of the contemporary art world are seeing record sales that encompass VR, 3D video, GIFs, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain. The digital art world is rolling along nicely for some artists, especially those who were already in the house and have a handle on the technology. If you’re a laggard or a Luddite, don’t worry though because there’s still lots of time to catch up … it’s not as if art looks back – collectors do of course, thankfully, but rarely contemporary artists! Digital is now a very welcomed and viable option that most artists and galleries refused to even consider a year ago, and it’s primarily because so many galleries will never re-open. Times have very radically changed in a few short months. Last year, galleries were, unfortunately, already struggling with most not sure what to do. The pandemic pushed closures into the abyss, and survivors towards digital strategies.
Art today is experiencing a real time paradigm shift, that already, is starting to divide old school flat plane constructionists, from digital’s technology-driven contemporary artists.
Traditional painters for example will happily stay in their analog lane and serve a very dedicated buyer, who, unfortunately, statistically has already purchased the bulk of their lifetime collection. When Boomers slip into the great hereafter, so too go the collectors. Traditional two-dimensional collections will either be dropped into the market by disinterested surviving relatives, or languish in closets and attics for possibly decades until way-back collectors discover new value in much the way an old vinyl jazz collection attracts attention. As homes get smaller, wall space shrinks. Every now and then a rare and scarce treasure will escape from a dank, dusty basement.
Digital art will become the commerce core for a new breed of art lover and collector who wants a multilayered experience that can be viewed any place there is a screen, large or otherwise. Today, you can literally carry a million-dollar art collection around on your phone, view it easily in high resolution on a friend’s large screen TV, and still keep it protected securely in an immutable blockchain network on the distributed web that cannot be hacked.
If you’re not already viewing fine art on your large screen at home or work, what are you waiting for :) another pandemic? Life is short. Enjoy art!
Scarce, original, large format, digital files are the new Warhol retro soup can, and they’re selling for thousands per file and sometimes even millions for shares on the immutable blockchain.
The Holy Grail in the digital art world today is scarcity on a digital continuum. No copies – originals only.
“As the physical art world shuts down, even the most extroverted of us must turn inward – and go online” wrote Alina Cohen in an article about Jerry Saltz’s new book, How to Be an Artist. Saltz said, “Viruses come, viruses go. Art will be here on the other side. It won’t disappear until all the problems it was invented to address, have been addressed.”
Here are a few places to start you down the digital blockchain rabbit hole.
* Known Origin is also a hip digital art community
* Artory delivers a novel digital blockchain idea for artists and collectors
* My digital art marketing strategy explained … Scarcity Obscura
Pandemic art inspiration today is different. This muse is stealthy and slower, but considerably more deadly. So far in 2020, in America alone over 210,000 have died of Covid-19 – a world record drenched in morbid irony.
The last world pandemic, 102 years ago, wasn’t as isolating as today’s trauma in 2020.
Today, we have social media – a personal mainline into everyone’s fears and myths, and if that doesn’t scare and inspire you as an artist, you’re soul is probably already dead.
In 1918 – the last pandemic, 500 million people were infected and 35 million died worldwide. It started in the spring, tapered off in the summer, and raged back with a vengeance in the fall taking a heavy toll in just a couple of months – in America, 195,000 died in October alone. Radio was the emergency health network with newspapers delivering details the next day. No internet, but amazingly, they also panicked and rioted over masks just like today, and for exactly the same reasons.
Our 2020 pandemic will leave a scar and provide inspiration for a generation who NOW have a reason to look for the answer to life and push past millennial angst. Metaphors and allegorical archetypes will be spun digitally into art pieces that exude dynamic life, and are no longer static. Jesus will blink and anoint you from an immutable 3D GIF for a steal at 0.100 ether, or, you can blow your roll at SuperRare … one of my favorites, Tide Routine at $10 grand / 25 Either
Professor Elizabeth Lee wrote a book about the links between artistic production, and health and illness and has an interesting perspective on how pandemics affect artists.
In my locale, universities like @UVIC in Victoria BC are preparing fine art students to be adaptive in an art world turned inside out.
In the face of massive shutdowns of art events and galleries, many artists are feeling an existential threat that causes some to freeze, while others spontaneously combust with new art directions and vision.
At the end of the day, what does the public want from art mid-pandemic? They want fun apparently, and to return to normal. Who doesn’t, but that train left the station four months ago and is a one way ride to somewhere new and exciting.
Check out these insights to help you personally decide what the public wants from art today.