Jeff Koons, the world’s most expensive living artist, has announced his first foray into the world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – a new collection of physical sculptures, each with a corresponding digital trinket.
He’s one of the more high-profile visual artists to venture into NFTs; Damien Hirst, another artist known for splashy, commercially-minded projects, made similar moves last year.
The twist for the Koons effort is that, in a nod to a longstanding crypto meme, these sculptures are literally going “to the moon.”
Per a press release, a subset of the physical pieces in “Jeff Koons: Moon Phases” will “make a lunar landing on an Intuitive Machines Nova-C Lunar Lander, to be launched on pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in a fully autonomous mission.” They’ll end up in Oceanus Procellarum, on the near side of the moon.
It’s a collaboration with Pace Gallery’s dedicated crypto arm, as well as two lesser-known private companies experimenting with art and tech: 4Space, founded by Chantelle Baier, and NFMoon, also founded by Chantelle Baier, along with an investor named Patrick Colangelo. Intuitive Machines, the company that built the lunar lander in question, is also involved.
Koons’ works remain the priciest of any living artist. He’s best known for a series of giant, stainless steel balloon dogs, which are beloved by collectors and often dismissed by critics (he began his career as a commodities broker on Wall Street – which is to say, he knows a thing or two about what sells).
Though Koons began teasing his NFT project this past winter, there are still no details about the pieces themselves.
Said Koons, in a prepared statement: “I wanted to create a historically meaningful NFT project rooted in humanistic and philosophical thought. Our achievements in space represent the limitless potential of humanity. Space explorations have given us a perspective of our ability to transcend worldly constraints.”
The “to the moon” concept is also a reference to the trajectory of NFT art, which, until early 2021, was mostly dominated by crypto memes – imagery along the lines of bulls, astronauts, and physical bitcoins. You can see the remnants of that style in the work of the NFT artist Beeple, who famously sold a token for $69 million last year.
The Koons launch is being planned for later this year, and proceeds from “one of the first NFT sales” will be donated to Doctors Without Borders.