Damien Hirst is a famous British artist and sculptor who has created eclectic works of art that range from a human skull recast in platinum and covered in diamonds to dissected animals preserved in glass tanks filled with formaldehyde.
Besides these landmark pieces, his portfolio also includes colorful paintings and mosaics that have attracted art patrons for decades. Now, he plans on releasing a new art collection using both NFTs and physical work.
Hirst first rose to fame as one of the Young British Artists (YBAs) of the 1980s — a group of artists that had graduated from art colleges around the same time and exhibited together. They earned notoriety for both their striking, conceptual works and irreverent shock tactics.
Hirst’s fame has made him one of the richest artists the U.K. has ever known, with an estimated net worth of $384 million. His works are shown in museums across the world.
2021: The Year of NFTs
Damien Hirst is the latest artist to release NFT artwork in a year that has already seen an explosion of interest in NFTs and digital collectibles.
Celebrities, sports stars and musicians have all tried their hand at auctioning unique NFTs to their fans. NFTs seem to have captured the imagination of collectors and retail investors seem to be drawn to the novelty of being able to own a meme or video. Many speculate that NFTs will become a new model of ownership for real estate, video games, music and more.
Sotheby’s and Christie’s Auction Houses
Some of the largest art auction houses in the world have begun selling NFT art, most notably Christie’s sale of Beeple’s “Everdays” in 2021 (the largest NFT sale to date, at $69 million). In June, Christie’s sold NFT artworks, including crypto punks that drew $17 million for a single piece.
Having such titanic traditional art auction houses embrace digital forms of artwork and ownership is huge for the NFT marketplace as a whole. They make it possible for already renowned artists like Hirst to continue their work in new mediums.
Damien Hirst’s New NFT Project
Hirst is releasing an entire collection based entirely around the concept of NFTs and currency. Applications for the collection will open on July 14 via Heni, the marketplace Hirst will be using for the sales.
10,000 Artworks in “The Currency” Collection
Damien Hirst has created 10,000 colorful polka dot or “spot” paintings, each the same modest size (an A4-sized piece of paper) and each costing $2,000. He created the pieces back in 2016 and each work has been created using a machine learning process based on a collection of Hirst’s favorite song lyrics. Each piece is also numbered, signed and stamped by Hirst and includes a watermark, microdot and hologram featuring a portrait of Hirst.
Hirst has dubbed the physical works “Tender” and each comes with a digital version, in the form of a unique NFT. According to the Heni website that will sell the collection:
“The Currency NFTs are minted on the Palm blockchain. Palm is a new token-powered ecosystem for NFTs, which is connected to Ethereum, and features low gas costs, fast transaction finality, and 99% more energy efficiency than proof of work systems.”
What Is Unique About The Currency?
Hirst’s collection differs from many other existing NFT projects. Other artists have created NFTs to accompany physical works, whereas Hirst has created this collection specifically so users could have an NFT experience. Here’s the rub, though: those who purchase one of Hirst’s “The Currency” artworks will have a year to decide which version of the art they want to keep. They must choose either the physical paper or the digital NFT, reserving the other to be destroyed.
This experiment is in classic Hirst style and invites the viewer to participate in constructing the work’s conceptual meaning. We will see in a year which version of the works most people will want to keep.