Blockchain has made it to Artsy, the popular art collection platform backed by investors like Google’s Eric Schmidt, Chris Dixon, and Peter Thiel.
Snark.art, a “laboratory” that works with artists exploring decentralized technology, announced yesterday that it’s become Artsy’s first blockchain-based gallery partner.
Artsy boasts over 3,000 gallery partners across 95 countries on its website, including big names like Gagosian and Simon Lee. That makes being “first” in any specific art-related category mean something (perhaps that there aren’t a lot of blockchain-based galleries). Perks of being a partner include having a “dedicated liaison” to help with digital marketing strategies and the ability to connect with collectors from an established, global network.
Snark.art cofounders, Andrey Alekhin and Misha Libman, have been in touch with Artsy CTO Daniel Doubrovkine over the past year, getting advice from Doubrovkine on “how to position ourselves as the new guys on the block in the art world,” says Libman. Getting approval to sell their work on Artsy required a formal application complete with a series of interviews.
Artsy reports 2.2 million unique monthly visitors and the top ranking for an art marketplace on Google. It features work from more than 80,000 artists and hosts regular digital showcases for partners.
Because people tend to be “unaccustomed” to blockchain-based art, Libman believes Snark.art’s partnership with Artsy will bring wider exposure to what they do. “For an audience that is interested in collecting art, we can be that gateway for them to explore [blockchain] technology as a medium,” Libman says.
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Perhaps the best known marketplace dedicated to blockchain-based art is DADA, a platform where artists collaborate on digital pieces that collectors can buy and sell on the Ethereum blockchain. Being relatively new and buzzed about mainly in exclusive blockchain art circles, DADA paid out roughly 15 ether (then about $10,000) across 26 artists in the first six months of 2018, paling in comparison to Artsy’s $20 million worth of purchases a month.
The idea of “blockchain art” is young, and Snark.art is even younger. So far, it only showcases its work with one artist, Eve Sussman, whose work has been featured in esteemed institutions like The National Gallery in London. Five pieces from her blockchain-based video project, “89 Seconds Atomized,” are the only ones available on Snark.art’s Artsy store so far.
Each piece—an “atom,” or rather a small, square portion of a ten-minute video Sussman created 15 years ago in homage to Velázquez’s “Las Meninas”—is selling for $120 on the platform. (You can’t purchase art with cryptocurrency on Artsy, but Snark.art has created an automated process for atom buyers where they receive an email that helps seamlessly set up crypto wallets with their new atom tokens in them.) Ownership of atoms is recorded on a blockchain, and through a smart contract, owners can choose to share their atom with other owners, so as to let them view the full video without any missing squares.
Snark.art is about to add a second artist to its repertoire, Tommy Hartung. Like Sussman, he is a New York-based artist who often uses video as a medium. Instead of breaking up his video art into squares, pieces of his video will be broken up chronologically, so buyers can own two-minute segments of the hour-long piece.
Alekhin doesn’t just want to sell Snark.art’s work on Artsy. “We’re now talking to some projects we think are the best of blockchain-based art,” he says, “and we want to bring them to Artsy, as well.”