Opinion: How the digital art renaissance is helping NFTs go mainstream

Written by Mel Gelderman

Posted on July 5th, 2023

Following a landmark sale for Dmitri Cherniak’s “The Goose” NFT at Sotheby’s, Mel Gelderman suggests that we need to think about digital art separately from NFTs.

You don’t often see the token community looking outside of its own bubble. But Sotheby’s had the NFT space’s attention this month when it auctioned off a collection of generative art “grails” previously owned by Three Arrows Capital. The undisputed headliner was Dmitri Cherniak’s Ringer #879, known as “The Goose” owing to its striking resemblance to a goose. With the art world and NFT community watching, the one-of-a-kind piece sold for $5.4 million to esteemed NFT collector punk6529. I think this marks an interesting development for the space. Let me explain. 

Digital art vs. NFTs 🖼

Since they exploded in 2021, NFTs have proven divisive. Most people associate the space with cartoon animal pictures such as Bored Ape Yacht Club. But I daresay digital art is a different thing. Though digital art now gets sold with NFTs, it’s emerging as its own buzzy corner of the art world. 

Ringer #879 by Dmitri Cherniak, otherwise known as “The Goose.” The one-of-a-kind piece recently sold for $5.4 million at Sotheby’s (Source: Sotheby’s)

Perhaps the most exciting niche within this space is generative art. When someone mints a generative art NFT, they have an idea of the aesthetic, but they don’t know what they’re getting until the mint has been processed. Many art experts believe that we are witnessing a “renaissance”—they describe it as the key art movement of our time. Events like the recent Sotheby’s auction give credence to that view. 

The NFT bear market 🐻

Of course, “The Goose” won’t save the NFT market alone. Trading volumes are at lows, and the floor prices for many collections are down. But the love for landmark grails shows that digital art is becoming its own trend. 

“Sunset” by Alpha Centauri Kid, part of his piano-themed collection titled The Broken Keys. Alpha Centauri Kid has emerged as one of digital art’s brightest stars in recent years (Source: Alpha Centauri Kid)

So what does this mean for NFTs? I think digital art is pushing NFTs forward, but it’s important to distinguish between “art” and “NFTs.” In 20 years, will we look back on animal pictures or generative art pieces like “The Goose” as the most important NFTs in existence? I know where I stand. While it’s hard to say what will happen next, it’s going to be fun to see what happens. 

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