Digital technology rules as NFT tops art world power list

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  • Theaster Gates
    Artist
 (Nyan Cat @prguitarman/Christopher Torres)
(Nyan Cat @prguitarman/Christopher Torres)

The rise of digital art is complete after game changing technology NFT topped a chart of the most powerful influencers in the art world.

NFT, which stands for non-fungible token, is a digital file confirming ownership of a work of digital art.

The digital asset is stored on a blockchain and can be copied but there is only one original and the technology means its ownership can be proved and then sold or traded with other collectors.

It topped the Art Review’s Power 100, which has been published since 2002, ahead of artists including Theaster Gates, Steve McQueen and Olafur Eliasson.

Steve McQueen (Dave Benett)
Steve McQueen (Dave Benett)

NFTs have been around since 2014 but really made headlines this year when Chris Torres created a rainbow animation of a cat based on his own pet and sold a one-off digital version for around £450,000.

That was followed by a first-of-its-kind sale at the historic auction house Christie’s where an NFT for a for a digital artwork by the American artist known as Beeple sold for almost £50 million.

The magazine said the technology has “upended the art market, bringing contemporary art and millennial meme culture crashing together”.

JJ Charlesworth, Editor at ArtReview, said: ““NFTs have completely upset the usually closed shop of the art market, with crypto millionaires calling the shots. Meanwhile, a younger generation of artists are discovering that they can sell their work through a different kind of market, as culture shifts increasingly online.”

The increasing power of the digital world is also represented by entries for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is at number 100, and social media pioneers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss who now run a crypto currency exchange and are at number 58.

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