Numerous blue-chip dealers raced to plant a flag in the booming cryptocurrency world over the past year. Larry Gagosian wasn’t one of them.
“I really don’t know much about it,” the dealer said of tokenized art to the Wall Street Journal in April 2021, after one of his star artists, Urs Fisher, partnered with rival gallery Pace for an NFT project. “I’m not an expert on it, but I pay attention,” he added in a Financial Times profile earlier this year.
Now, after months of surveying from the sidelines, it seems Gagosian is ready to join the game. Through a partnership with the exchange platform Coinbase, the gallery will henceforth accept payments in Bitcoin, Ether, and USD Coin.
Since then, the artist explained, he’s been doing his homework, buying and trading cryptocurrencies to better understand the mechanics of the market.
“I’m sure there is still so much about this space that I don’t understand, and I’ll be needing a lot of guidance from everyone,” he wrote. “Having said that, I have a rather sensitive mind, and if I start to panic, I might evacuate myself in order to avoid mental breakdown—I hope you’ll understand.”
Developed in collaboration with RTFKT Studios and released last November, Murakami’s CloneX series comprises 20,000 randomly generated digital figures, each of which—like Bored Apes or Cyptopunks—is decked out in different outfits and paraphernalia.
Murakami.Flowers, meanwhile, features 11,664 pixelated flower pictures, a riff on the artist’s favorite motif rendered in his signature Superflat style. They’re expected to hit the market later this spring.
At Gagosian, the artist will present sculptures and paintings based on the two series. Also included in the exhibition, called “An Arrow Through History,” will be a series of circular paintings inspired by the fish illustrations of a porcelain vase from China’s Yuan dynasty (c. 1279–1368).
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