In London, Damien Hirst exposes NFT and burns his paintings

In his London gallery, the artist presents “The coin“. A project made up of 10,000 ephemeral paintings that all correspond to an NFT.

What is more valuable, physical or digital artwork? Damien Hirst presents his first exhibition with NFT, these digital reproductions that are revolutionizing the art market, starting on Friday September 22 in London, during which the Briton will burn his own paintings.

At Damien Hirst’s gallery in south London, panels display 10,000 paintings over 5 meters high by the 57-year-old artist on A4 sheets. Multicolored dots as far as the eye can see. And on the back of the pages, the title of the work: handwritten phrases taken from the artist’s favorite songs. “dead bird(dead bird),i can see it now(I can see it now),”spend like a millionaire(Spend like a millionaire), etc. Upstairs, in the gallery, six fireplaces are waiting to be used.

The works date from 2016, but it was two years after the project “The coin(the currency) began to take its present form. Damien Hirst, one of the world’s most highly rated artists, then conceived his first NFT project. English acronym “Non-expendable token», the NFT is a «non-fungible token», that is, non-substitutable and therefore unique. Specifically, it is a theoretically unforgeable digital certificate of authenticity, registered in a “block chain(a chain of blocks), just like cryptocurrencies. NFTs have been storming the art world for several years.

Damien Hirst, a deliberately provocative artist, revealed “The coinin July 2021. All 10,000 works went on sale, at $2,000 each. Each of the 10,000 paintings, all similar with multicolored dots, signed by Damien Hirst and with a handwritten phrase by the artist on the back inspired by the lyrics of his favorite songs, corresponds to an NFT. Prices quickly skyrocketed on the market, with the price of one of 10,000 works rising to $172,239.

diamond skull

Buyers had a year, until July 27, to choose: they opted for the paint or the NFT. More than half (5149) decided to continue painting, the rest preferred NFT. Therefore, your physical artwork will be burned. “it is an experience (…) We force people to choose“Sums up the artist in a video. Damien Hirst himself will light the fire in the gallery’s fireplaces on October 11, during Frieze Week, one of the world’s largest contemporary art fairs. He will burn only part of the 4,851 paintings, the rest will be burned gradually until the end of the exhibition on October 30.

Concept artists of the 60s and 70s used to say that art doesn’t exist in the art object, it exists in the mind of the viewer, and this project really is no different.explains Damien Hirst. “Art doesn’t need to exist in the physical world, it can also exist in the digital world and now, thanks to blockchain, so does the ownership of that art.»

Since he created the diamond skull in 2007 (“For the love of God), one of his most famous works, the artist explains that he reflects on the notions of wealth and value. “This project explores the limits between art and currency: when art changes and becomes currency and when currency becomes art.“, he continues.

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