NFTs Take Over Art Basel Miami: The World’s Premier Art Fair

Eighteen-year-old Victor Langlois, aka FEWOCiOUS, is an NFT-art wunderkind who hosted a massive paint party at Art Basel Miami, the world’s biggest art fair. Photo: Tyler Blint-Welsh.

Art Basel Miami is the art world’s biggest annual bash — a citywide marathon of official and satellite events that draw galleries, collectors, and fans from around the world. This year, the fair got a crypto-powered digital makeover, as pretty much the entire NFT scene — from Beeple to the Bored Ape Yacht Club — took their talents to South Beach for a weeklong series of immersive experiences, yacht parties, and much more. “This is the first time that Art Basel has taken on this digital footprint,” Miami mayor Francis Suarez told an NFT crowd early in the week. “I’ve been saying this is going to be the largest sale of NFTs in the history of humanity.”

  • Some of the most crowded exhibits at the official fair featured interactive NFT art. In a packed convention center booth, the open-source crypto platform Tezos partnered with German artist Mario Klingemann for a piece that used neural networks to meld visitors’ likenesses into a grotesquely surreal mashup — which could be minted on the spot as free NFTs by scanning a QR code. Elsewhere in the convention hall, the major international gallery Pace showed off its own NFT platform and sold a piece by the artist duo DRIFT for $550,000 (a portion of the proceeds went to an environmental nonprofit).
  • Bored Ape Yacht Club, The Heart Project, and other top NFT collectives hosted events all over Miami. BAYC — which boasts an ever-growing roster of celebrity holders, including Steph Curry and Post Malone — had plenty to celebrate: over $1 billion in sales, a metaverse deal with Adidas, and a new mobile game. Also on Saturday, 18-year-old NFT star FEWOCiOUS threw a “paint party” — with 250 friends and collectors (all wearing white coveralls) filling eight massive canvases with bright colors and inspirational messages.
  • After hours, attendees hopped between VIP parties across the metro area. Digital art crews The Heart Project and Doodles partnered for a warehouse bash with performances from rappers Gunna and Aminé. At Coinbase’s Probably Nothing party, hosted by entrepreneur and NFT booster Gary Vaynerchuk, Marshmello DJed to a crowd of collectors, creators, and crypto investors. “My hope is that the executives remember the feelings of how wrong they were about Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and YouTube,” Vaynerchuck told us at a VIP brunch earlier in the day. “And they say, maybe we need to do [NFTs] differently.”

Why it matters… Before Basel Miami 2021 kicked off, some art-world observers had wondered if big international galleries — whose clients’ purchasing power fuels the annual event — could comfortably coexist with crypto. The answer? Not only do digital and traditional art both have a place at Basel Miami, but together they’re pushing art and collecting into the future. At his paint-splattered bash, FEWOCiOUS summed up the potential: “NFTs taught me art doesn’t have to be a still painting. We still have to explore fashion, literature, and more.”

– Story Provided by Coinbase Bytes