Oxymorons of sorts, physical galleries dedicated to NFTs are springing up worldwide — but few ventures have been spearheaded by traditional art dealers. Enter Berlin’s Nagel Draxler gallery, which is converting one of its venues into a space dedicated to crypto- and blockchain-related art.
The dealer and collector turned NFT artist, Kenny Schachter, will be the first to have an exhibition in the new gallery, opening 14 January. His show will examine “future transportation modes and how we’ll travel on the blockchain and to where”, says the gallery’s co-founder Saskia Draxler.
Schachter, whom the gallery now represents, curated a bricks-and-mortar show of NFTs in its Cologne venue earlier this year and its booth at Art Basel. He has also collaborated with Patrik Schumacher of Zaha Hadid Architects and the metaverse company, Journee, to design the gallery's presentation at Art Basel in Miami Beach next week, where 50% of the stand will be dedicated to NFTs.
Of his newfound artistic career, Schachter says: “Every time I blew out the candles of a birthday cake, which are now too many to mention, besides health of my family I wished to make a living from my own art. NFTism has made that possible and not a single day in my life has been the same since I discovered the three magical letters N-F-T.”
There are tentative plans to call Nagel Draxler's new gallery Crypto Cabinet. “It will be a space to take a tighter look at this emerging art form and to put on solo shows,” Draxler says. “Then it will be a matter of having conversations with each and every artist about how they want to work. The blockchain community has its own ethics and we have to respect and negotiate this.”
Smart contracts will play a crucial role in this new landscape. Traditionally dealers and artists split the proceeds of art sales 50/50, but smart contracts, created when NFTs are minted, are different, usually offering artists 10% resale royalties as well as other benefits. “We’re observing what happens [with contracts] and will wait a bit until the field settles down and finds its balance,” Draxler says.
Either way, Draxler believes NFTs are today’s avant-garde movement. As she puts is: “This is a reality and, like every technical innovation, it brings with it social, political and cultural changes. Artists always take this as inspiration, especially avant-garde artists. This is why we have to pay attention to it.”