n 1 May 2007, Mike Winkelmann, aka the digital artist Beeple, posted a new work of art online. He did the same thing the next day and the next, and the next one after that, creating and posting a brand-new digital picture, or ‘everyday’ as he called it, every single day for 13-and-a-half years. Now those individual pieces have been brought together in EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS, a unique work in the history of digital art.
Minted exclusively for Christie’s, the monumental digital collage was offered as a single lot sale concurrently with First Open, and realised $69,346,250. Marking two industry firsts, Christie’s is the first major auction house to offer a purely digital work with a unique NFT (Non-fungible token) — effectively a guarantee of its authenticity — and to accept cryptocurrency, in this case Ether, in addition to standard forms of payment for the singular lot.
‘Christie’s had never offered a new media artwork of this scale or importance before,’ says Noah Davis, specialist in Post-War & Contemporary Art at Christie’s in New York. ‘Acquiring Beeple’s work is a unique opportunity to own an entry in the blockchain itself created by one of the world’s leading digital artists.’
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Consumers of internet culture will already be familiar with the South Carolina-based graphic designer and motion artist known as Beeple.
His visionary and often irreverent digital pictures have propelled him to the top of the digital art world, winning him 1.8 million followers on Instagram and high-profile collaborations with global brands ranging from Louis Vuitton to Nike, as well as performing artists from Katy Perry to Childish Gambino.
Beeple (b. 1981), EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS, 2021. Non-fungible token (jpg). 21,069 x 21,069 pixels (319,168,313 bytes). Minted on 16 February 2021. Sold for $69,346,250 in a single lot sale concurrently with First Open.
In EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS, the artist has stitched together recurring themes and colour schemes into an aesthetic whole. The individual pieces are organised in loose chronological order: zooming in reveals pictures by turn abstract, fantastical, grotesque or absurd, deeply personal or representative of current events. Recurring themes include society’s obsession with and fear of technology; the desire for and resentment of wealth; and America’s recent political turbulence.
‘Beeple is looking at his whole body of work as it’s presented on Instagram as a kind of Duchampian readymade’ — specialist Noah Davis
The notable differences between the early and later pictures reveal Beeple’s enormous evolution as an artist. At the project’s inception, ‘everydays’ were basic drawings. When Beeple started working in 3D, however, they took on abstract themes, colour, form and repetition. Over the past five years, they have became increasingly timely, reacting to current events.
‘I almost look at it now as though I’m a political cartoonist,’ Beeple explains. ‘Except instead of doing sketches, I’m using the most advanced 3D tools to make comments on current events, almost in real time.’
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