History of Crypto Art
A Chronological Review of Crypto Art, Blockchain-related Physical Art and Crypto Collectibles
Ever since I started following the crypto space in 2017, I was fascinated by its pace. At increasing speed, blockchain technology seemed to reach for the traditional art world. With crypto art, I discovered a potential paradigm shift for digital art, which led me to co-author a position paper on crypto art.
Curious about its roots, I started collecting blog posts, articles and press releases on the subject. In a nutshell, the history of crypto art lies in trading card games on the CounterParty blockchain and intertwines with blockchain-related physical art and early crypto collectibles.
Initially intended as a blog post, this overview grew fast, so I decided to curate a list of relevant milestones instead. It includes milestones in the history of crypto art, crypto art galleries, physical blockchain-related artworks and events, blockchain technology in the traditional art world and first digital collectibles.
The following selection is a work-in-progress, subjective and vast yet doomed to be incomplete. Please drop me a note of any relevant milestones I missed; I would appreciate it.
Highlights in the History of Crypto Art
It seems commonly agreed, that the first tokenized crypto art was issued on the Counterparty blockchain. However, opinions differ whether Rob Myers' tokenized MYSOUL on November 11th, 2014, the FDCARD created by game studio EverdreamSoft on March 11th, 2015 or Rare Pepe created by Mike on September 9th, 2016, is considered the first crypto artwork. » See MYSOUL / » See FDCArd in the timeline / » See Rare Pepe in the timeline
August 21st, 2013 - Untitled Mining Installation by Peter Frölich
German artist Peter Frölich creates a conceptual artwork which consists of a working Bitcoin mining rig within a traditional antique gold painting frame.
February 15th, 2014 - Group Exhibition: Computers and Capital: The Rise of Digital Currency
Bitcoin-themed group exhibition curated by Erik H Rzepka and Wesley Yuen for Coinfest 2014 in Vancouver, BC.
March 13th, 2014 - Cryptograffiti's Street Art promotes Bitcoin with Guerrilla Marketing
The intricate pieces includes destructed credit cards, modified bank logos, Bitcoin ads and are attached to bank buildings and ATMs.
July 22nd, 2014 - Rob Myers creates This Contract is Art
In this conceptual artwork, the smart contract can be set to nominate itself as art or not with a click of a mouse and the payment of the gas fee.
November 3rd, 2014 - Christopher Steininger creates The Slaying of BearWhale
Commemorating the of 30,000 BTC ($9m) sale within 6 hours at a low market price, Christopher Steininger's painting depicts this historic moment.
October 18th, 2014 - Group Exhibition: The Darknet - From Memes to Onionland. An Exploration
Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen showcases an interdisciplinary exhibition examining themes such as copyright, privacy, illegality and resistance.
April 9th, 2015 - Coin Artist releases Bitcoin Puzzle Painting
Coin Artist Marguerite Christin released her puzzle painting and raised attention for the 4.87 Bitcoin reward and the 3 years it takes to solve.
April 24th, 2015 - MAK Vienna becomes first art museum to buy digital artwork with Bitcoin
Austrian Museum of Applied Arts became the first museum to buy a digital artwork using Bitcoin from Dutch artist Harm van den Dorpel.
July 17th, 2015 - Primavera De Filippi creates the first spore of her Plantoid
The first spore of the autonomous blockchain-based lifeform is created during a workshop at the Stadtwerkstatt in Linz, Austria.
November 12th, 2015 - Cryptograffiti raises 17.3 Bitcoin for Dorian Nakamoto
Created in 2014, this collage of destructed credit cards raises $5.5k in Nov 2015 (May 2020 $150k) in the benefit of Dorian Nakamoto.
November 4th, 2016 - Solo Exhibition: The Revolution Will Not Be Centralized by Cryptograffiti
Cryptograffiti showcases his Bitcoin-themed solo exhibition at the Digital Garage in San Francisco, CA. N0416
November 9th, 2017 - Sarah Friend showcases Clickmine at the NEoN Digital Arts Festival
Winner of Furtherfield's blockchain art commission, Clickmine is a hyperinflationary ERC-20 token that is minted by a clicking game.
October 20th, 2017 - Exhibition: Open Codes - The World as a Field of Data
Technology-themed group exhibition featuring blockchain-related art and digital collectibles at the ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Germany.
January 10th, 2017 - Group Exhibition: New World Order at Aksioma
Traveling blockchain-themed group exhibition as part of the European collaboration project State Machines at Aksioma, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
February 10th, 2017 - Group Exhibition: New World Order at Drugo More
Traveling blockchain-themed group exhibition as part of the European collaboration project State Machines at Gallery Filodrammatica in Rijeka, Croatia.
February 14th, 2018 - Kevin Abosch sells his crypto artwork Forever Rose for US$ 1 million
In celebration of Valentine's Day, Kevin Abosch created this fractionalized artwork with the gifting protocol GIFTO.io
April 14th, 2018 - Solo Exhibition: Games of Decentralized Life by Simon Denny
Simon explores concepts of centralization decentralization through installations and modified board games at Galerie Buchholz in Cologne, Germany.
September 28th, 2018 - Group Exhibition: Bitcoin Art (r)evolution
On the occasion of Bitcoin's 10th anniversary, this international group exhibition showcased physical blockchain- and bitcoin-related art.
October 24th, 2018 - NYC ArtTech + Blockchain with the Rarest Book Launch
New Art Academy hosted the NYC ArtTech + Blockchain Connect Kimmel at the Center for University Life during, also launch of the Rare Pepe book.
November 11th, 2018 - Panel Discussion: Intersections Vol. 9 Printemps Numérique
Montreal's blockchain panel discussion with Crypto Art and Blockchain Experience zone at the Canadian Centre for Architecture.
November 11th, 2018 - Christie's and Artory Record First Fine Art Auction on Blockchain
Christie's documented and recorded the $323.1 million in sales of its Ebsworth auction with Artory on the Blockchain.
December 10th, 2018 - Discussion Panel: Decentralizing Art
Blockstack hosted a panel entitled Decentralizing Art: The Hype and Hope of Blockchain at Foley Gallery on the Lower East Side of New York City.
December 19th, 2018 - Cryptograffiti breaks record with Black Swan for least expensive painting
Black Swan by Cryptograffiti becomes the least expensive painting ever sold for 1 millisatoshi or $0.000000037 at the time of auction.
February 1st, 2019 - Buttchain by Red Paper Heart
Brooklyn experiential specialists Red Paper Heart created Buttchain to demystify blockchain tech and how it will eventually infiltrate your everyday life.
September 6th, 2019 - Solo Exhibition: Tropopause Contemplation by Martin Lukas Ostachowski
The blockchain-centred exhibition is held at the Centre Culturel et Communautaire Françoise-Dunn in Sherbrooke, QC, Canada.
More About Crypto Art
Did I Miss a Milestone?
Please drop me a note of any relevant milestones I missed; I would appreciate it. Please add a date and reference link such as a blog post, article, etc. which documents the milestone date and gives more information.
F1016 - Date confirmed with Cryptograffiti via Telegram April 22nd, 2020
N0416 - Date confirmed with Cryptograffiti via Telegram May 5th, 2020
M2118 - Date confirmed with Jonas Lund via Instagram May 6th, 2020.
D2218 - Date confirmed with MoCA founder Benoit via Twitter on June 12, 2020
A119 - Date confirmed with Mintbase-Cofounder Carolin Wend via Twitter April 15th, 2020
O2419 - Date confirmed with Rarible-Cofounder Ilya Komolkin via Telegram April 16th, 2020