Blockchain Fever At Miami Art Basel Week

Arthur Falls, Marc Glimcher, Andy Milenius, Dan Long, Emmanuel Aidoo, Nanne Dekking at The Art of Blockchains conference.Madison McGaw/BFA.com

This year the Miami Art Basel Week turned into a tech mecca where most of the contemporary art fairs, including the main Art Basel fair, hosted at least one talk or a panel discussion focused on the blockchain.

The largest of more than a dozen events was The Art of Blockchains, organized by collector and entrepreneur Adam Lindemann in partnership with the blockchain company Artblx (a startup that Lindemann invested in). The conference boasted a lineup of some of the most influential players in the art community including Lisa Phillips, the director of New Museum and Serpentine Galleries artistic director Hans Ulrich Obrist.

Well attended and overall optimistic in tone, this event was especially unique because of the group of people it brought together. With so many global museum and art fair directors, dealers, curators and top collectors in attendance, the conference opened up a conversation about the broader effect of the blockchain technology on the art market.

Another noteworthy event was a panel organized by attorney Katya Fisher at the Scope Art Fair. Hosted by MasterCard, the discussion focused on the opportunities for blockchain to simplify and bring transparency into the transactional side of the art market. Vanessa Grellet, Executive Director at ConsenSys, participated in both Lindemann’s conference and the Scope panel. She expressed hope that blockchain will become a helpful solution for the ‘lack of liquidity and investment options for art buyers, as well as minimal monetization opportunities for artists.’

Art Basel fair hosted their own talk entitled Which Art Problems can Blockchain Solve? The panel covered a range of topics including the digital art market. Matt Hall, the co-founder of CryptoPunks, shared that the most exciting thing to him is ‘the possibility of [blockchain] becoming a model for digital art ownership.’

Nada Art Fair organized a series of art and blockchain panels supported by the art-tech startup, Snark.art. The series focused on blockchain as an artistic medium and involved several artists experimenting in the field including Hayden Dunham, Simon Lee, Siebren Versteeg and Eve Sussman. Fanny Lakoubay, CMO at Snark.art, shared that blockchain technology enabled the current growth of the digital art market suggesting that ‘bringing established artists into the field will get more attention from the audience outside of the blockchain ecosystem.’

All of these events inevitably have a real impact on the broader market adoption and reflect the growing interest in art and technology as well as digital art. In order for blockchain to become part of the industry infrastructure, however, the art market needs to see new business models and the solutions that are easy to implement and adopt in the day-to-day operations.

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