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The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) announced the launch this week of an interactive, NFT-backed digital initiative designed to encourage users to experiment with creating art on the blockchain.
The program, “MoMA Postcard,” will debut later this month. It will allow participants to send digital chain letters featuring 15 blank “stamps” across the blockchain to collaborators of their choosing. Together, the 15 participants in a single postcard will, one by one, build out a collaborative art piece where all “stamps” are tailored to a particular theme.
“This is a chance to experiment with NFTs and blockchain technology in an approachable and creative way that we hope will inspire connections and conversations within the world of digital art,” the museum said in a statement. The NFTs are minted on Tezos.
— MoMA The Museum of Modern Art (@MuseumModernArt) October 3, 2023
To kick off the program, the MoMA invited 15 digital artists to collaborate on a series, titled “First 15,” of the first postcards to be minted on-chain as part of the project. Each of these 15 cards, which were digitally passed around to all artists, was tailored to a unique prompt; participating artists included Dmitri Cherniak, Casey Reas, Grant Yun, Anna Lucia, and Kim Asendorf, among others.
For example, the Madrid-based art duo Operator, which also participated in “First 15,” asked each artist to design a stamp signifying the “Number of hearts you’ve broken (romantic love or not),” using “Black pixels, white background, numeric characters only.”
Dmitri Cherniak, whose generative digital artwork “The Goose” sold for a whopping $6.2 million at a Sotheby’s auction in June, asked the same group to, simply, “Create a pixel goose.”
“Watching these first 15 cards fly around the world in real time has driven home the fact that this is a global art movement, a decentralized residency or gallery where imagination is unbounded and ignited in some truly unprecedented ways,” Sasha Stiles, another participating artist, said in a statement.
The MoMA, which is the second-most visited contemporary art museum in the world, previously sold NFTs in 2021 with digital artist Refik Anadol, who created on-chain artworks inspired by the museum’s archives. MoMA has also offered a free NFT claim for attendees who visit the museum, where Anadol’s AI-driven digital artwork “Unsupervised” is currently on display.
But Tuesday’s announcement indicates an appetite for a longer-term relationship with blockchain technology and the digital art ecosystem, one shared by a growing number of major art institutions.
Last week, the Musée d’Orsay announced a year-long partnership with the Tezos Foundation to bring blockchain-backed artworks and on-chain digital artists into conversation with the museum’s collections and exhibitions. As a part of that partnership, digital artists will soon be invited into the Orsay to create NFTs inspired by the museum’s Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces; a similar program is currently running at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).
Earlier this year, the Centre Pompidou, France’s highest-profile modern art museum, debuted an exhibition dedicated to exploring art created on the blockchain.