As Many Museums Weigh Whether to Embrace NFTs, Italian Institutions Are Going All-In With a Wave of Digital Art Shows

A NFT exhibition called “Decentral Art Pavilion” popped up during the Venice Biennale, while “Let’s get Digital!” opens this month at Florence’s Palazzo Strozzi

Anyma, Angel 1 (2022), computer generated image. Owned by Ivan Hodl. Courtesy of the artists.

NFTutto bene! It was only a matter of time before NFTs, which upended the art world in 2021, would take over some of Italy’s most prestigious arts venues. 

In April, when the art world’s literati descended on Venice for the 59th edition of the city’s Art Biennale, an NFT exhibition called “Decentral Art Pavilion” popped up in a Venetian palazzo.

Displaying works by more than two dozen artists, including Beeple, Robness, Ryan Koopmans, Alice Wexell, XCOPY and others, the event marked a coming-out moment for NFTs in the often cloistered world of contemporary art. 

Daniel Arsham, Eroding and Reforming Bust of Rome (One Year) (2021),
NFT single-channel video with sound. Owned by Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile. Courtesy of the artist.

Now, another exhibition in Florence’s Palazzo Strozzi, “Let’s Get Digital!”, set to open May 18, aims to take visitors on a journey through the vast expanses of digital art, presenting works by Refik Anadol, Anyma, Daniel Arsham, Beeple, Krista Kim and Andrés Reisinger.

Curated by Arturo Galansino, the Strozzi’s director, alongside Serena Tabacchi, director of the Museum of Contemporary Digital Art (MoCDA), the show has been developed with the Fondazione Hillary Merkus Recordati in Florence.

According to Galansino, the exhibition is intended “to bring together the avant-garde and tradition, research and popularization,” by looking at the ways in which art and technology are creating new possibilities for experimentation, research and collaboration. 

Beeple, Infected #34/123 (2020), edition of 123, NFT single-channel video with sound. Owned by Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile. Courtesy of the artist.

“‘Let’s Get Digital!’ sets out to offer a broad insight into the most recent development in digital art now universally recognized by the contemporary system,” Tabacchi added. “Decentralization, blockchains and NFTs have certified and disseminated the work of countless artists, who could not be considered in that capacity until no more than a few years ago.” 

Among the highlights of the show is a site-specific installation for the Palazzo’s courtyard developed by Anadol, in which a series of artificial intelligence algorithms are projected onto visitors as they enter the museum’s lush grounds. And the digital artist Beeple, whose career was launched into the stratosphere after selling his EVERYDAYS: The First 5,000 Days for $69.3 million last year, will be presenting a selection of some of his most well-known, post-apocalyptic digital images. 


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