Julia Friedman and David Hawkes in Quillette:
We are approaching the first anniversary of a landmark event in the art world. Although it seemed shockingly new last year, it represents the culmination of a trajectory described by Wolfe half a century ago: the de-materialization of art. On March 11th, 2021, a momentous auction was held by Christie’s. It was a dramatic departure from precedent, partly because its realized price was a record-breaking $69,346,250, but mostly because the lot that commanded this fortune was not a painting by Vincent Van Gogh, or even a sculpture by Jeff Koons, but a purely digital artwork by an artist with no prior auction record. Everydays: The First 5000 Days exemplified a brand-new aesthetic genre: it was a Non-Fungible Token (NFT), created by Mike Winkelmann, who works under the pseudonym “Beeple.” Neither of these names meant a thing to the fine art world a year ago. They do now.