NFT is named word of the year for 2021 by the british Collins Dictionary that maintaining its tradition has released the word of the year. The winner was the acronym NFT (non-fungible tokens), which surpassed competitors “crypto” and “Metaverse”, conquering the prominent position this year.
According to the publication, the term NFT has undergone a “meteoric” increase of 11.000% in its use compared to 2020, which made it present everywhere, from the internet to museums and auction houses.
Currently, there is an audience willing to pay large sums to have original NFTs from renowned artists. Although the crypto art market has existed since 2018, its growth began mid-2020, and the “boom” happened in February 2021, with the volume of works exceeding US$ 78 million, or €68.8 million.
Crypto art’s explosion
Beeple, the digital artist Mike Winkelmann is known for his contribution to the world of digital art through his artistic project Everydays. His proposal boils down to the daily publication of a digital piece of art on its website since May 2007. At the time of preparation of this project, 5344 days have elapsed.
In 2021, part of these creations (13 years of work) was brought together in the form of NFT in Everydays: The First 5000 Days, something unique in the history of digital art, represented in the collector market by the gallery Christie’s and becoming the 3rd most expensive digital work by a living artist at US$ 69 million.
The Currency in 2021, marks the entrance of the famous British artist Damien Hirst in the universe of NFTs, which questions this art and its value. In this new creation, the English artist makes the work available in physical and digital format and tests the boundaries between these two worlds. The artist explores the boundaries between art and currency – when art becomes currency and when currency becomes art.
The auction house Sotheby’s reported US$ 100 million in sales in its new NFT category, with bidders gathering for the first time in its virtual gallery, Decentraland, to acquire the collectibles Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunk, according to a review report on the year 2021.
NFT museums and galleries
Exclusively NFT museums and galleries emerged globally in 2021. Superchief, in New York, was the pioneer, being followed by: Crypto Portal.art (Prague), Kiwie Space (Latvia), Blackdove (Miami), imnotArt (Chicago), Bright Moments (Venice Beach), and Seattle NFT Museum (Seattle).
The Hermitage Museum and Underground Museum Moscow (Russia), The Museum of Art and Philosophy (Australia), Francisco Carolinum Linz (Austria), Museum of African Art (Netherlands), and the National Museum of Liverpool (England), are examples of traditional museums that already give way to the NFT in their exhibition’s agendas.
The NFT Magazine held its first event in November 2021, the Crypto Art Fair, in Times Square, New York. It took place through a large 15,000 m2 billboard that displayed, for 24 hours, works of more than 70 crypto artists. After the worldwide success of this event, the NFT Magazine, in partnership with Blockchain World , realized in December the Crypto Art Fair in the UAE (United Arab Emirates): a huge interactive blockchain festival attracting more than 20.000 in-person visitors and reaching millions of global viewers online.
After having its 2020 edition canceled, A Art Basel, one of the most important events in the art world, returned in 2021 with NFTs as the main focus. Art Basel Miami Beach attracted 60.000 people in its execution, solidifying the new highlight with an official conversation dedicated to the topic, entitled “Navigating the NFT Art Market ”.
In Portugal, the city of Porto was presented with the first solo exhibition of crypto art: Electra kW Edition with the signature of Galla, and, in Lisbon, the first European festival of crypto art Rare effect Vol2.
Festivals, fairs, and exhibitions
Market places are being established worldwide, enabling the acquisition of NFTs from renowned and new artists and a new positioning for art. Prominently, Maecenas, an art investment platform, that, through the tokenization of “masterpieces,” fractionalizes them, democratizing the acquisition of fractions of works by artists such as Picasso, Monet, and Warhol.
Fractionalized NFTs democratize art and open the possibility for holders of art fractions to contribute to the development of sustainable projects developed by blockchain technology, prof-of-stake.
NFT brands, market, and sales
It was not only crypto art that exploded this year, but NFT technology also found no barriers in its adoption. Important world brands already see in it a disruptive business angle: Adidas, Nike, Coca-Cola, Mcdonald’s, Warner Bros, Gemini, Burberry, Louis Vuitton e Gucci are examples of major brands that have already incorporated NFT technology into their commercial and marketing strategies.
Sales of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) grew from US$ 4.41 million, or €36.2 million in 2018 to US$ 2.5 billion, or €2.2 billion in the first half of 2021, representing a growth 60 times higher, in three and a half years.
The end of 2021 arrives with an NFT sales value to ignite at US 17.7 billion (€15.6 billion), of which US 3.5 billion (€3 billion) are focused on crypto art.
Article and Research | Marcus Ferreira | Maria João Matos Translation and Review | Carolina Martins