The famous digital artist Beeple continues to cement his place in art history with his latest hybrid artwork, HUMAN ONE. The work was auctioned by Christie’s last Tuesday in a collection that included pieces from artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Banksy, Peter Doig and Cindy Sherman.
In a collection of 21st Century artworks, HUMAN ONE stood out as a blend of sculpture and Non-Fungible Token (NFT). As one of the first works to combine physical and digital art, it should come as no surprise that the piece managed to sell for almost double the estimated price. Furthermore, it is Beeple’s first foray into physical art. The slightly over two metres tall and a little over one metre wide and deep aluminium metal and mahogany wood frame houses four 16k video screens that display an astronaut-like figure walking through extraterrestrial scenery. The box rotates, allowing the piece to be viewed from many different angles.
The extraterrestrial background and astronaut-like figure constantly change with it looping through different environments roughly every minute, 24 hours a day. The environments are NFTs and are stored in the blockchain; one of the significant benefits of using this system is that it gives Beeple a chance to update the work. He stated to Christie’s that he would be continually updating the work to reflect and respond to current events for as long as he lives. Furthermore, he has a story that he intends to tell through HUMAN ONE. The ever-changing nature of the work means that the new owner doesn’t know what the artwork will look like in the future, and, importantly, the meaning of the work will continue to evolve.
Speaking about the work in an interview with Christie’s, Beeple said, “At no point had I ever thought of making this type of work, to be quite honest, just because it didn’t really exist to a large degree. And that’s what I think is super-exciting about NFTs. It feels like genuinely new work is being birthed through this technology, through this movement.”
The auction, which was viewable via Livestream, was held at Christie’s New York, with buyers being represented from all over the world. Bidding took seconds to rise to 15 million before a bidding war occurred for the work. Eventually, the work was sold for USD 28.9 million to avid NFT collector Ryan Zurrer, Switzerland-based founder of Dialectic, a company focused on alternative assets.
Beeple, also known as Mike Winkelmann, turned the art world on its head when his work Everydays: The First 5,000 Days sold for USD 69.3 million. This was the highest amount an NFT has ever sold for, and for many people, it verified that NFTs were as viable as traditional artworks. Ever since, the NFT craze has grown hugely, with Beeple as the leading NFT artist. HUMAN ONE solidifies Beeple’s legacy as a prominent modern artist. As NFTs’ popularity grows, so does the hype surrounding Beeple.