Christie's Collaboration with Robert Alice Continues to Resonate

*This article is part of our new editorial series, Gallery Selects, where we showcase the diverse artists, collectors, and curators who are creating and sharing their NFTs on Gallery.

About a month ago, Christie’s, the renowned auction house, teamed up with artist Robert Alice to unveil the generative art collection, SOURCE [On NFTs]. This series of artworks minted on March 12, represents a pioneering foray into on-chain art within the traditional auction house framework.

This collaborative effort stands out for its collection of 400 unique works, each crafted entirely from text using Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithms. SOURCE [On NFTs] is intimately connected to Alice and TASCHEN's seminal publication, On NFTs, serving as its endpapers and conceptually linked to its content.

The series explores the complexity of history by bringing together language (which could directly or indirectly include research domains such as linguistics, psycholinguistics, computational linguistics, and language acquisition) and contemporary themes from politics, art, and technology. It encapsulates the cultural context of NFTs' origins and adds an important chapter to the ongoing narrative of digital art within the crypto space. From a visual perspective, SOURCE [On NFTs] transitions between order and chaos, highlighting the text-based essence of NFTs.


This drop marked the US launch of On NFTs and because of its thoughtful narrative, it's not a huge surprise that it generated a wave of enthusiasm and reflection within the art community, collectors, media outlets, and enthusiasts alike. “Both Artnet and the Art Newspaper wrote thorough and thoughtful articles about the project; they both took a good amount of time to understand it,” Sebastian Sanchez, manager of the digital art sales at Christie’s, tells us. “Between the On NFTs book published by TASCHEN and the SOURCE [On NFTs] project released by Christie’s, this initiative by Robert Alice and Christie’s made a big splash on both traditional and digital art worlds.”

Given its artistic approach, robust composition, and compelling storytelling, the series carries significant implications for the future direction of art auctions and the broader landscape of the market.“It is a collection that is deeply rooted in history and research, and I think that projects like this are important for the future of digital art,” he explains. “Whereas oftentimes digital art collections don’t have strong roots in what came before them, SOURCE [On NFTs] is all about history.” Indeed, as one delves into the project, it becomes clear that it encompasses the young yet complex background of NFTs. This history is an intricate composite of art, surveillance, privacy, publishing, and crypto, among other elements. Together, these aspects create a new and unique narrative in the art timeline.

On NFTs by Robert Alice, Taschen
On NFTs by Robert Alice, Taschen

The collection and its accompanying book, On NFTs work together to deepen our understanding of the evolving landscape of digital art. As artworks and academic research come together, On NFTs is a symbol of the interconnectedness between creativity and intellectual inquiry.

Highlighted pieces from the collection, including the hardcover edition of On NFTs personally signed by Robert Alice himself, are shining for their rarity and importance. Moreover, Christie's adoption of a 'Dutch auction' model also makes this collection more accessible, encouraging collectors to explore digital art in fresh and exciting ways. “This auction model made a lot of sense when thinking about bringing a volume-based generative art project to Christie’s,” Sebastian explains. “For a primary artwork of this type, Dutch Auctions help find fair market price. Bidding on 125 individual pieces from the same collection wouldn’t make much sense given that at the point of purchase collectors find out what their work looks like.”


One month on, the impact of this collaboration still reverberates throughout the art world. As the project continues to be spoken about (the proof is just here), it invites us to ponder the synergy between tech, culture, text, art, and the market. Looking ahead, we can expect the digital art landscape to evolve significantly in the coming years, especially with the integration of blockchain technology and NFTs into traditional auction platforms like Christie’s. “Our Digital Art team at Christie’s is actively working on bridging the gap between digital and traditional art. This includes placing digital artworks in our live and online sales and to contextualize digital art alongside art masters like Picasso and Warhol.” He said, adding that AI will have a huge impact on the traditional art world, probably even more than blockchain technology.

Sebastian concludes by mentioning that Christie's is continually seeking innovative approaches to enhance and evolve their platform for Christie’s 3.0.“Nothing we can confirm at the moment but we have a few things on our radar.”

Head to the project website to learn more about SOURCE [On NFTs], or explore the whole collection here.

You can follow us on X (Twitter), Farcaster, or here on Mirror to stay updated on the latest articles and interviews we publish. You can also join our Discord server to chat with the artists and other community members.

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