In a Tatler exclusive, we’re pleased to break the news of the forthcoming Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale Trailblazers: Centuries of Female Abstraction, to be held on 14 May 2021. Celebrating the women of abstract expressionism, the auction will present connoisseurs of both digital and traditional art the rarified opportunity to acquire paintings by Helen Frankenthaler, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Yvonne Thomas, and Lynne Mapp Drexler. Each work is accompanied by an original NFT created by Rewind Collective in response to the lives and oeuvres of the women featured.
So what are NFTs exactly?
Before we delve further into the details of the innovative Christie’s sale, it’s vital that potential bidders have clarity on NFTs — an acronym for ‘non-fungible tokens.’ In simplest terms, NFTs transform regular digital files (artworks, videos, tweets etc.) into unique and verifiable assets using blockchain technology. Similar to having a deed, NFTs allow for authentication and provide provenance.
According to Time Magazine’s Andrew R. Chow, ‘Digital art has long been undervalued, in large part because it’s so freely available. To help artists create financial value for their work, NFTs add the crucial ingredient of scarcity. For some collectors, if they know the original version of something exists, they’re more likely to crave the “authentic” piece.’
Chow gets right to the heart of how NFTs make digital artworks distinctive and, therefore, suitable for blue-chip auctions. The lure of scarcity has also proven effective in attracting buyers for NFTs that are more akin to collectables — like Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey selling his first Tweet as an NFT for a shocking $2.9 million.
Under the umbrella theme of trailblazing female artists, Christie’s has curated a beguiling selection of works in partnership with Rewind Collective — an anonymous, feminist group of digital artists — and Amar Singh of London’s Amar Singh Gallery. Together, this trio of industry leaders have designed a singular experience that conjures a compelling visual dialogue between past and present.
‘As part of this grouping, we will also be offering for sale an NFT lot created by the Rewind Collective… responding to existing paintings and art world structures,’ shares Isabella Lauria, Head of Post-War to Present Sales at Christie’s. Regarding the lasting impact of Amar Singh, Lauria adds that their team ‘will continue building on his work championing female artists.’
Echoing Lauria’s sentiments, Singh shares that, ‘Trailblazers: Centuries of Female Abstraction is a beautiful and important project which celebrates women, and I’m thrilled to be working with Christie’s and Rewind Collective to bring it to market.’ When probed about the dizzying NFT boom, Singh — who has been at the forefront of digital art acquisition — notes that despite the noise saturating the market, when it comes to ‘highlighting women and minorities, NFTs can be a powerful tool for positive change.’
The clever composition of the auction allows for collectors to peruse the crème de la crème of works by pioneering dynamos like Helen Frankenthaler while simultaneously experiencing the fruits of their impact in the contemporary work of Rewind Collective. Inherently, Trailblazers: Centuries of Female Abstraction offers the chance to acquire a small piece of the long arc of art history —specifically the evolution of women as avant-garde creatives.
‘Works by abstract expressionist painters like Grace Hartigan and Elaine de Kooning show us the rich history of where women artists have been,’ reflects the author of Ninth Street Women, Mary Gabriel. ‘And the innovative and exciting Rewind Collective shows us where women artists are going.’ As a Pulitzer-Prize finalist with an encyclopaedic knowledge of female artists, Gabriel is at once a tastemaker and historian whose stamp of approval speaks volumes.
Online viewing for Trailblazers: Centuries of Female Abstraction will be opening to the public later this week. As an experiential sale, aesthetes are encouraged to interact with the NFTs (which are video files) and contemplate their relationship to the five paintings on the auction block.
Each NFT is supplemented by a catalogue entry written by Rewind Collective, which expounds on the inspiration behind the finished product and the legacy of the female artist for whom the work is ultimately a tribute. For our philanthropic collectors, Christie’s is also offering a stand-alone NFT entitled Remember Us IV (Watch Your Head), with 10 per cent of the realised price going towards Vital Voices — a women’s empowerment organisation.
An arresting work, Remember Us IV (Watch Your Head) calls forth the Biblical episode of Judith beheading Holofernes, with digital reinterpretations of works by four female artists from the 16th and 17th centuries: Lavinia Fontana (1552–1614), Fede Galizia (1578–1630), Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–1656), and Elisabetta Sirani (1638–1665).
Explore the full breadth of this vanguard auction by clicking here in the coming days.
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