After Deciding That ‘Technology Does Not Corrupt Artists,’ Pace Gallery Will Launch Its New NFT Platform Next Week

The platform launches next week with digital artworks from Lucas Samaras, followed by new projects by Glenn Kaino and DRIFT.

DRIFT, Block Universe (2021). © DRIFT. Courtesy of Pace Gallery.

Pace has been perhaps the most fervent embracer of crypto-art of all the blue-chip galleries. In July, it announced plans to launch a new platform for NFTs, and planted a flag in the nascent space by hosting digital projects on its website. (It accepted cryptocurrency for all sales.)

But an ethical question caught up with the gallery’s president and CEO, Marc Glimcher, who decided to delay the rollout. “Is this continuing to turn our artists into the creators of financial instruments?” he said.  

A couple of months later, Glimcher has decided that “technology does not corrupt artists,” and now, Pace Verso, as the new platform is called, will debut next week on November 22, with a suite of digital artworks from Lucas Samaras.

Glimcher recalled the many inventions that once felt like they threatened the landscape of art as it was once known—the camera, the computer, the internet“Artists are not transformed by technological advances,” he said, “they transform technological advances into art.”

Lucas Samaras, <i>XYZ 0868 (Chinoiserie)</i> (2012/2021). © Lucas Samaras. Courtesy of Pace Gallery.

Lucas Samaras, XYZ 0868 (Chinoiserie) (2012/2021). © Lucas Samaras. Courtesy of Pace Gallery. 

Following the Samaras launch will be new projects by Glenn Kaino and DRIFT artists Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta on November 29.

The platform, piloted by online sales director Christiana Ine-Kimba Boyle, will live on Pace’s website. Design-wise, it will forgo the blitzkrieg of content one’s bombarded with on the homepages of NFT sites like OpenSea and Nifty Gateway in favor of a cleaner, more curated appearance. The idea, Glimcher explained, is for the interface to take a backseat to the projects hosted therein.  

Notably, Verso was also created in collaboration with the Palm Network, a new blockchain system that boasts a 99 percent reduction in energy consumption compared to other networks.

Glenn Kaino, <i>Salute (Generations)</i> (2021). © 2021 Glenn Kaino Studios. Courtesy Pace Gallery.

Glenn Kaino, Invisible Man (Ceremony) (2021). © 2021 Glenn Kaino Studios. Courtesy Pace Gallery.

With Verso’s launch, Pace artists now have an open invitation to dip their toes into the NFT world, and carte blanche to do whatever they see fit, Glimcher said. (Will we soon get a Kiki Smith drop? The Lynda Benglis NFT? It remains to be seen) But it’s not a binding obligation; the artists on the gallery’s roster are free to explore other platforms, just as Pace Verso will host projects by outside artists.  

Glimcher, it’s worth pointing out, was particularly proud of the name of his new platform, which came late in the process of bringing the thing to life. It’s both a nod to the Metaverse, and a reference to the word for the backside of a painting. 

“This,” he said, meaning the dawning world of crypto art, “is the other side.”

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