The Centre Pompidou has announced the acquisition of a series of 18 NFTs from 13 prominent French and international artists. The works are set to join France’s national collection of modern and contemporary art, one that has been acquiring pioneering “new media” art since the late 1970s, including work by Nam June Paik, Valie Export, Bruce Nauman, Bill Viola and Vito Acconci.
The acquisition—the first of its kind by a major French public museum—came as a result of a joint effort between scientific and administrative teams from the French Ministry of Culture and the Pompidou’s director, Xavier Rey.
“Web3 is an innovative territory that artists have now seized upon to create original and daring work,” Rey says, “and this collection reaffirms our support for artists in their conquest of new means of expression, which is the foundation of modern art.”
The new acquisitions span practices and cultures such as crypto art, plastic arts, net art, and generative art, the museum said in a statement
The artists whose NFTs have been acquired by the Pompidou are Aaajiao, Emilie Brout and Maxime Marion, Claude Closky, Fred Forest, John Gerrard, Agnieszka Kurant, Jonas Lund, Larva Labs, Jill Magid, Sarah Meyohas, Robness, Rafael Rozendaal, and John F. Simon Jr.
As part of the acquisition, the Pompidou will take on Kurant’s NFT Sentimentite-Mt. Gox. Hack—one of the Sentimentite series produced in collaboration with the platform Zien, and based on the infamous Mt Gox. crypto exchange collapse in 2014—which can be redeemed for a physical twin. Lund donated a work called the Smart Burn Contract—Hoarder (2021), a code-based artwork that self-destructs if the instructions inscribed are not followed. While Larva Labs, creators of the wildly successful OG NFT series CryptoPunks (now owned by Yuga Labs), donated CryptoPunk #110.
According to Greg Solano, Co-Founder of Yuga Labs. “Seeing CryptoPunk #110 displayed in the Centre Pompidou, arguably the world’s most prestigious contemporary art museum, is a great moment for the web3 and NFT ecosystem, and we’re honoured to help drive this cultural conversation.”
The Pompidou has not commented on the acquisition budget, nor on whether they have established a centralised wallet to store the NFTs, but on-chain data shows that CryptoPunk #110, as well as Kurant’s Sentimentite-Mt. Gox. Hack, have so far not been transferred to any new wallets. The situation has even spawned some funny memes on Twitter.
The museum did however tell The Art Newspaper that full details of the acquisitions will be announced in April 2023.
The Pompidou added that it hopes the uniqueness of these digital goods will find a long, fertile home in the museum, doubling down on the institution’s hope that NFTs will ultimately help artists free themselves from the shackles of economic exploitation.