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A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding NFTs (As Taught By the Experts)

10 May 2021

On April 2629, Christie’s Education and AndArt Agency held the first of its kind course on art-focused non-fungible tokens (NFTs), tailored to those interested in deepening their knowledge of the space. Conducted by the leading experts in both the crypto and traditional art worlds, the four-day virtual course offered a complete overview of NFTs, covering key topics, including: ‘The History of NFTs and How We Got Here’, ‘NFTs in Context: Is it Art?’, ‘What Does the Future Hold?’ and a roundtable discussion with key thought-leaders in the field.

 

Each session was presented by a selection of notable specialists, collectors, curators and artists who delivered valuable insight through a one-hour lecture followed by an open discussion with participants. 

 

 

Schedule

Session 1 — The History of NFTs and How We Got Here.

 

The first session covered a range of key topics essential for developing a thorough understanding of NFTs, including:

  • Definitions of key terms, such as digital art, crypto-art, blockchain, non-fungible token (NFT) and others. 
  • The history of NFTs, their origins and the reason behind their recent explosion in the art market. 
  • The benefits of NFTs, including a discussion on fractional ownership and artist resale rights. 

 

Session 2 — NFTs in Context: Is it Art? Why Do People Collect It?

 

The focus of the second session was to contextualise crypto art and to explain its place in the wider context of the history of art. Topics covered in the second session included:

  • How crypto-art and NFTs can be viewed through the wider lens of art history.
  • An exploration of assignments of values for NFT works, including historical importance, originality and scarcity. 
  • Some of the main NFT artists, their work and why they are the current leaders of the market. 

 

Session 3 — What Does the Future Hold?

The third session covered the future of NFTs, alongside the potential perils and downsides of adoption. Topics covered in the third session, included:

  • What the future of NFTs will look like, both for the works themselves and for the platforms and systems surrounding them.
  • What are the potential perils and downsides of adoption?

 

Session 4 — NFTs: Roundtable Discussion — Collectors, Artists, Museums

 

For the final session, the lesson took place in the form of a round table discussion. A leading collector, artist and curator answered questions from a moderator and was followed by an open discussion with students.

 

 

Presenters included

 
 

Bernadine Bröcker-Wieder, Co-Founder of Vastari 

Bernadine co-founded Vastari in 2012 and has been shaping Vastari's strategic direction, investor portfolio and industry advocacy ever since. Coming from the commercial art world, Bernadine holds a track record of successful entrepreneurial activities. Amongst others, Bernadine helped establish Trinity House, an Impressionist and Modern gallery in London in 2010. Bernadine is a huge proponent of technological innovation for the art world, and in July 2018, Vastari helped co-organise the first Christie's Art+Tech Summit in London, focussing on blockchain technology.

Colborn Bell, Co-Founder and Curator of the Museum of Crypto Art (MoCA)

Colborn is the co-founder and curator of the Museum of Crypto Art (MoCA), an immersive digital art centre in virtual reality. Bell is a long-time blockchain and ventures investor and advisor to individuals allocating capital towards the exponential change frontier technologies can effectuate. Previously he was a co-founder of the 5th Element Group, a global brain trust advising corporations in aligning brand and social impact. At Abacus Wealth Partners he worked alongside families to create value-aligned investment portfolio and he has also served as a consultant for the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) in designing an innovative infrastructure bank for East Africa. 

   

Elliot Safra, Partner at AndArt Agency 

Elliot is a partner at AndArt Agency, a creative agency focused on unleashing synergies between global brands and the art world. He has been involved in the crypto art world since 2018 when he created the Art+Tech Summit at Christie's. Since then he has advised numerous auction houses, galleries, art fairs and artists about their potential NFT strategies. Safra is also Vice-Chair of the Board of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

  Fanny Lakoubay, Digital Art Advisor
Fanny is a French-born, New-York-based digital art advisor with 12+ years of experience in art and technology. As an advisor, she supports institutional and private collectors, who want to enter or better navigate the NFT art space. She is also involved in two impact projects: RadicalxChange Foundation and ETHLOCAL. Prior to this, she took part in some of the pioneering projects in art and blockchain (MoCDA, New Art Academy, The Contemporary And Digital Art Fair, Editional App, Snark.art) and worked with larger organizations (Christie’s, Artnet, Societe Generale).
  Jason Bailey, Founder of Artnome and Co-Founder of ClubNFT
Jason is the founder of the art and tech website Artnome.com and co-founder of ClubNFT.com, an exciting new stealth NFT startup that will change the way people collect. Bailey is an early collector of digital art on the blockchain (NFTs), cofounder of the GreenNFTs initiative and has helped to spread interest and to grow the community globally. Bailey holds a BA in studio art and art history from Framingham State University and an MFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Bailey's writing has been featured in Art in America and Harvard Data Science Review and he has lectured at Christie's, Sotheby's, and well-known universities around the world.
  Anika Meier, writer and curator
Anika writes a column about art and tech for the German art magazine Monopol. Together with gallerist Johann König she curated the group show THE ARTIST IS ONLINE on view at KÖNIG GALERIE in Berlin and in Decentraland, a virtual world based on the blockchain.
 

Micol, Founder of VerticalCrypto Art

Micol is the founder and creator of VerticalCrypto Art - a profile dedicated to the NFT space born in July 2020 and documenting the rise of NFTs. She has worked in the tech and creator industry for over seven years, building partnerships and consulting on content strategies for big and small corporations across the globe. Being passionate about the intersection between technology and art has led her to be interested in the blockchain and more specifically art on the blockchain. She now curates artworks of some of the most outstanding artists in the space, as well as building a community around the brand, VerticalCypto Art, which has led her to develop deep expertise in the NFT ecosystem. 

 

Pindar Van Arman, Artist 
Pindar has spent the last fifteen years deconstructing his creative process by teaching it to painting robots. His machines make marks, use AI to analyze the marks, then make more marks based on the analysis, repeating this cycle over and over again in a creative feedback loop. Their collaborative paintings take days to complete and reveal the parts of his creativity that are simply an algorithm, and the parts that make it human

 

 

 

Qinwen Wang, Producer of Virtue Niche, Polkadot Network Council Member 

Qinwen’s adventures span from being a published Artist to Venture Capital to Entrepreneurship geographically extending from China, the Middle East to Europe. Hybrid backgrounds form Qinwen's mission-driven dedication in Art + Tech, she is the co-producer of "Virtue Niche", the world's first crypto art exhibition hosted in UCCA lab 2021, and has previously presented at Christie’s Art + Tech Summit (2019),  Bahrain Art Week (2019), Shanghai West Bund Art Fair (2020)  featured in Vogue Business, Artsy, Harper's Bazaar Art how Web3.0 technology is building up the Decentralized Art Market. She joined Web3 Foundation in 2019 to build China Community for Polkadot Network which is the flagship project of Web3 Foundation. 

   Simon Denny, Artist 
Simon is a contemporary artist who lives and works in Berlin, Germany. He makes exhibitions that unpack the social and political implications of the technology industry and the rise of social media, startup culture, blockchains and cryptocurrencies, using a variety of media including installation, sculpture, print and video. In 2016 he co-founded the artist mentoring program BPA//Berlin Program for Artists and has served as Professor of Time-Based Media at The Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg (HFBK) since 2018. His works are represented in institutional collections including Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, (Düsseldorf), MoMA (New York), Walker Art Centre (Minneapolis), Kunsthaus Zürich (Zürich), Sammlung zeitgenössischer Kunst der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Berlin) and Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (Wellington).
   Dr Tom Flynn, Art Historian
Tom is an art historian specialising in European art markets and the professional practices of the global art market. A former journalist at The Art Newspaper, his writing has appeared in numerous international art market publications and he has held board positions with London-based art price data and contemporary art publishing companies. He has published widely on the global art market, contemporary sculpture, museology, and art and design history and is an accredited lecturer with The Arts Society. In 2017 he co-founded with Angelina Giovani the art provenance research agency Flynn & Giovani (FlynnGiovani.com), of which he is non-Executive director.

 

Thomas Webb, Artist

Thomas is a contemporary artist, hacker, video game and NFT developer. The theme of his work explores how society interacts with technology and the effect of social media and AI on mental health. His artwork is programmed into electronic installations using real-time data sources, AI and computer algorithms.

 

Zack Yanger, Chief Marketing Officer of SuperRare

Zack was the first hire at SuperRare in 2018 and led the charge on building the SuperRare community and marketing initiatives. He's now the Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Artist Relations, responsible for overseeing the marketing team and initiatives and managing the artist relationships.