MoMA's Latest Acquisition Reshapes the AI Art Narrative

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If you have been paying attention to digital art (generative, AI, or other forms), you probably have seen Refik Anadol’s Unsupervised – Machine Hallucinations piece.

The Turkish-American artist captivated everyone’s attention with his AI-based animation, which is still on display at the MoMA main entrance until October 29 (it has been extended multiple times due to the fantastic reception).

Unsupervised — Machine Hallucinations — MoMA, 2022. Installation view, Refik Anadol: Unsupervised, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, November 19, 2022 – October 29, 2023. Photo: Refik Anadol Studio.

Last week, the MoMA announced it had acquired this piece, and it is now part of its permanent collection. The piece was originally exhibited at FeralFile, and it was donated by Ryan Zurrer, the collector who acquired Beeple’s Human One for $29M, along with the RFC Collection, led by Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile and Desiree Casoni.

Sounds exciting, right? Here are a few reasons why this is particularly special for AI, generative, and digital art in general.

We will get back to Refik’s and the MoMA story, but first, a few updates…

🎙Kaloh’s Podcast: Micol and Valerie Whiteacre

Last week, I had a great conversation with Micol, co-founder of Vertical. We discussed Proof of People, a multi-day festival for art, music, and fashion, VC Residency, and her experience working with artists and collectors…

Today, Valerie Whitacre, Head of Arts at Trillitech - Tezos, will join me to chat about Tezos art initiatives, institutions trying to break into blockchain art, exciting partnerships, and more!

Tune in today at 7 PM UTC on X for the livestream.

Most best-selling blockchain artists are men (85% male, 15% female)

Last week, I shared an article to investigate the influence of artists’ names on their sales. I reviewed data from best-selling artists on Art Blocks, fxhash, Foundation, verse, and Super Rare. I found some interesting patterns…

Coming back to Anadol’s acquisition, here are a few reasons why this is particularly exciting:

  1. With traffic of ±4M physical and ±55M online visitors per year (!), they have an amazing reach, representing higher magnitudes than any digital gallery or marketplace.

  2. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has a collection of digital works by artists like Pindar Van Arman, Claire Silver, Justin Aversano, Cai Guo-Qiang, Neil Strauss, and Monica Rizzolli—most of which were donated by the mysterious Cozomo de’ Medici. These moves could be the norm instead of the exception.

  3. “The Museum of Modern Art announces an innovative slate of Fall 2023–Winter 2024 acquisitions,” read the official announcement. “that encourages new thinking about human and machine intelligence, creativity, and the potential of art and technology to reshape our physical and digital worlds.” This sounds like part of a long-term vision and not an isolated event.

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In case you missed it, here is a roundup of news, hot collections and upcoming releases:

🗓[Upcoming Collections] Unit London and GrailersDAO, a renowned community of generative art collectors and artists, join forces to present Uncomputer.

🗓[Upcoming Collections] Recollection by Robert Hodgin via Art Blocks.

Oct 26, 2023

Recollection is released as part of reGEN, a special charitable auction of generative art to raise funds for Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, curated by Alex Estorick and Foteini Valeonti in collaboration with The Giving Block.

🔥[Hot Collection] Cory Haber is creating a collection of 100 generative oil paintings, over the course of a year using his custom-built plotter, released via Bright Moments.

📖 [Interesting Read] Walkman, Time, and the future of NFTs by Sergito.

The current state of NFTs feels like the era right between the times of the Walkman and the Discman, somewhere around the early 1980s. For those of you who remember, as innovative as it was back then to be able to carry your music with you, the experience was quite clunky and expensive compared to our current days of unlimited streaming on our mobile phones…

Until next time,

- Kaloh

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