By Magdalena Gabriel, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 14 May 2021.
The art market, physical or symbolic is a place where digital art is sold and bought. In its simplest form, the art market requires a work of art that can be drawn from a very large collection of collectible objects by a seller.
There is no doubt that the sale and purchase of art began from the beginning of civilizations, the oldest art originated undisputedly with the archaeological culture Homo sapiens Aurignacian in the Upper Paleolithic.
Historically, some of the most important technical transactions have occurred outside the framework of what is now understood as an art market. The most common of these transactions involved the artist, craftsman, and shepherd, who may be either a private individual or, as was often the case in the European Middle Ages (circa 450-1400 AD), or an institution such as the Roman Catholic Church. In such cases, the artwork may be site-specific, as with a mural or altar plate. These works of art were not, and in fact, cannot be traded on the open market, and the artist was not the “owner” in the modern sense. Instead, the sponsor and artist develop a contract in which the price of the materials, the subject matter of the piece and the number of numbers are determined in advance in general. The price of the artist’s skill and work was often agreed separately, through external judgment.
The earliest substantial evidence of an art market in the West is from an ancient Greek civilization that includes a cup of Phintias dating back to around 500 BC and showing a young man buying a vase – perhaps the oldest depiction of art treatment.
There was a paradigm shift in 1974 when the British Railway Retirement Fund decided to invest in art, eventually allocating about £40 million ($70 million), or about 3 percent of its holdings at the time, to the project. British Rail has dealt with Sotheby’s, which has offered “free” advice on condition that any sales from British Rail’s portfolio pass through Sotheby’s. The importance of the British Rail experience, whose success remains under debate, is that it was the first systematic and wide-ranging attempt to treat art as an investment tool.
So it took about 50,000 years for art to turn into a way to make money, and about 2,000 years to become a way to invest money.
By comparison, it’s easy to say that digital art came into being in the early 1960s. This era is important as John Whitney helped create the world’s first piece of art on a computer. Known as the “father of computer graphics” he lost the first use of the term digital art in the early 1980s when computer engineers created a sketch program used by leading digital artist Harold Cohen. This became known as AARON, a robotic machine designed to make large drawings on paper placed on Earth.
Physical Art vs. Digital Art: Prices comparison
Also, by comparison, digital art began to become a way to make money immediately after the advent of computers in the 1980s, where artists began to design simple drawings, logos, or others.
Bottom line: It took thousands of years for physical art to turn into money, and it took more than 2,000 years to turn into an investment, and the peak was reached in 2019 when Da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” sold for $450 million.
On the other hand, it took digital art a few years to turn into money, and a few more years to turn into a market, and to investment. The price of the most expensive digital painting, the artist Beeple, the first 5,000 days, reached 69 million dollars on 2021.
If we analyze these figures mathematically, we will witness the sale of digital art worth $1 billion in 2023, but the specifications of this digital art will be determined in the following study entitled “Specifications of the One Billion Dollar Art/ MG5 Standards”
About the Magdalena Gabriel: art expert, artist, Member of the Future Contemporaries Committee of Serpentine Galleries.