An Artist Just Sold 1,000 NFTs to Give Digital Art Nonprofit Rhizome the Biggest Gift in Its 25-Year History

Internet artist Rafaël Rozendaal donated half of the profits from his new generative NFT project to the digital art organization.

Rafaël Rozendaal, Endless Nameless (2021). Courtesy of the artist and Rhizome.

Rhizome, the digital art nonprofit affiliated with the New Museum, just received the largest donation in its 25-year history, thanks to a generous artist.

Rafaël Rozendaal, a Dutch-Brazilian internet artist, directed half of the profits from his recent sale of 1,000 NFTs to the organization. Rhizome was gifted 164 Ether in the process, an amount valued at roughly $430,000. 

That accounts for “nearly half a typical annual operating budget” for Rhizome, the nonprofit’s executive director, Zachary Kaplan, told Artnet News in an email.

But the donation means more than just money, he added. “A gift like this doesn’t just go to the bottom line. We feel a real responsibility to build something new with these funds in keeping with Rafaël’s values and the needs of the field,” Kaplan said. 

The sold works belonged to Endless Nameless, Rozendaal’s recent generative NFT project wherein individual artworks—all squares filled with bars of bright color—are made via algorithm. The project, the artist explains on its website, is an “exploration of composition.” 

“We start with a square. The square is divided into sections. The sections are filled with color pairs,” Rozendaal wrote. “Sometimes all colors are used. Sometimes fewer colors are used.”

All 1,000 of the Endless Nameless artworks were minted and sold last week on Art Blocks, a crypto-art platform with a built-in donation feature. As buyers snatched up the colorful squares, money was automatically transferred to Rhizome.  

“I always saw Rhizome as a great resource and as a motivator to bring discourse and credibility to the new world of net art,” Rozendaal said. “The internet is vast, and Rhizome helps to communicate the importance of digital art to a broader audience.”

“I built great friendships with several people from the organization over the years and always found the conversations meaningful and interesting.”

A long-committed practitioner of internet-based art, Rozendaal is well represented in ArtBase, Rhizome’s ongoing archive of digital art from 1999 to today. The artist’s work is also featured in the organization’s Net Art Anthology, a book and exhibition of the same name that similarly charts the evolution of artwork that exclusively lives online.

Kaplan said that Rhizome doesn’t have a specific plan for the money yet. “But,” he said, “I expect there will be activity around direct support for new art, our ArtBase archive and preservation work, and—importantly considering the source of the gift—programs related to communities and artists around blockchain technologies and networks.”

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