Christie’s sale of Fidenza NFT for £365,000 – a resurgence for digital art NFTs?

On 28 February, the Christie’s 20th/21st Century: London Evening Sale offered Fidenza #724, a digital pigment print on paper which was sold accompanied by a NFT by the artist and software engineer Tyler Hobbs. Christie’s described the work as “channelling inspiration from art history and nature into innovative computer code.” The work exceeded its pre-sale estimate of £200,000-300,000, selling for £365,000. This sale is the latest in what seems to be a resurgence in the NFT and digital art market.

Tyler Hobbs is best known for his Fidenza series which he produced in July 2021. It comprises 999 NFTs which are generated using a computer algorithm that he coded to produce the images. He is regarded as a pioneer in the Generative Art movement, a genre which is described as “art made using a predetermined system that often includes an element of chance” and which “is usually applied to computer based art”. Hobbs spoke with Christie’s about his creation of the Fidenza series, saying that “many of the algorithmic and visual elements in Fidenza can be traced back through my work over the past five years. However, it was also a radically new experiment – designing an algorithm suitable for 999 outputs was a massive increase from my previous largest, which only had 32.”

It has been noted that Hobbs’s works show visual similarities to the work of artists such as Piet Mondrian and Bridget Riley, of which Hobbs states that “I wasn’t relying on any particular art-historical references. However, I do spend a considerable amount of time studying the work of other artists – especially those with a systematic approach to their work, like Mondrian, Riley, Agnes Martin and Kandinsky in his later period. They have been my biggest influences, and I often notice connections between their work and my own, even if I didn’t introduce them consciously”. Hobbs is represented by Pace Gallery, who explain that “Tyler represents an upper-tier of the NFT market that is similar to what a Pace Gallery artist represents to the physical art market” and that “he is the one defining this space.”

The success of Fidenza #724 coincides with a revival in the NFT art market. NFTgators published the NFT market report for February and noted a huge resurgence in NFT sales. The report details how the industry realised a total transaction volume of close to $2.5 billion, which is the highest it has been since April 2022, and at least twice as much as any single month over the last 10 months. On 6 March, Yuga Labs – the company behind the NFT collection Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) – sold their collection of TwelveFold NFTs in an auction, which made over $15 million, suggesting there is renewed demand in the industry.

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