Can this $34,500 display help digital art go mainstream?

At this year’s edition of The Armory Show, a major annual international art fair that opens in New York on September 9, major paintings by contemporary artists and collections from leading art galleries will be joined by a somewhat odd first exponent called Danvas. It’s not an art creator or an art dealer: it’s an art exhibition. Measuring four feet by four feet and selling for $34,500, Danvas’ screen is a high-end display for showing off the type of art that suddenly seems to be everywhere.

red mouse by Piskunov. [Photo: Stephan Julliard/courtesy Danvas]

Designed to display digital art and heavily influenced by the advent of art produced and sold as NFT, Danvas attempts to set a new standard for how digital art is exhibited, sold and enjoyed.

“We think [digital art] is just as beautiful and just as dignified as anything hanging in the Armory and we want the mainstream art world to see it that way,” says Danvas Co-Founder Jeanne Anderson. “We also want digital artists to be celebrated in this way.”

Fragments of an infinite field by Monica Rizzolli. [Photo: Stephan Julliard/courtesy Danvas]

Anderson previously worked for leading art gallery owner Saatchi Art and saw how difficult it was for digital art to be exhibited. “Digital artists were really misunderstood. The artwork they created was remarkable, but it didn’t sell very well,” she says. “A lot of times it was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to pay you and you’re going to send me a file, but then what do I do?'”

If the works were sold, they would typically be displayed on a repurposed TV, tablet or computer, or, more commonly, on the small screen of a phone, “which just isn’t the way the world should see beautiful digital art,” says Anderson.

Artifact 07 by ThorElias. [Photo: courtesy Danvas]

About a year ago, Anderson and co-founder Hernan Lopez started imagining a better way, focusing on how gallery owners and art collectors could put digital art on walls. The recent explosion of NFT art – more than $8 billion worth of NFT digital artworks and collectibles were sold in 2021, according to the Art Market 2022 report – has also been a factor.

The Danvas Series G, the company’s first retail product, debuts at the Armory Show with an exhibition of works by seven digital artists. Designed by industrial design studio Ammunition, known for its work on Beats by Dre headphones (and the trophy for fast business‘s Innovation by Design Awards), the display uses Micro LED technology for glare-free presentation. “You can appreciate it in any light,” Anderson says. The screen is surrounded by a wooden frame that also serves as an acoustic channel for digital art featuring audio elements.

Displaying digital art at this size and clarity isn’t cheap. The Danvas Series G’s $34,500 price tag, Anderson says, is a reflection of the quality of the technology and the elegance of the design, but also an argument for the legitimacy of digital art. “We intentionally decided that our first product would be a large-scale, truly stunning Micro LED display, because we believe this work of art deserves to be hung that way,” Anderson said. “At the high-end art level, when you talk about other art that sells at the Armory, the frames that those works hang in are also in that price range.”

Euterpe, violet by Hermine Bourdin. [Photo: Stephan Julliard/courtesy Danvas]

“If you buy a Basquiat, of course it would be in an expensive frame,” adds Anderson.

Indeed, some digital arts are now valued in the same way as works by well-known non-digital artists. During a recent video call, Anderson points to one of the Danvas displays on his office wall showing a work by digital artist Pak, who recently sold for nearly $17 million from NFT during a Sotheby’s auction. “I wouldn’t put that in a sideways-facing TV,” Anderson says.

Enter the Dark Room by Lushaalic. [Photo: Stephan Julliard/courtesy Danvas]

But some of the so-called works of art being sold as NFTs may not even be worth it. NFT speculation has led to a flood of digital images being created as transparent cash grabs. Anderson acknowledges that some creators and many collectors in the NFT art space are more interested in profit than artistic expression, but the resulting works of art may still be worth hanging on the wall. a living room. “NFT crypto native guys who collect for commercial value, I think they also have a right to put their work into something beautiful,” Anderson says. “If you collect because you want to participate in a value structure and want to benefit from it, that doesn’t mean you don’t want to display it.”

For all the forgettable NFTs available in the crypto markets, there is always a growing group of serious digital artists pushing the boundaries of contemporary art, says Anderson. Danvas is in talks with many of these artists about partnerships and ways to improve the Danvas display for emerging forms, such as generative art.

Although Anderson says the company wants its screens to help advance digital art, the screens are essentially meant to give that art a place for exposure and appreciation. “Collectors who really care about their artwork and want to make sure it’s presented in a beautiful display are people who are at the heart of what we think about on a daily basis,” she says.

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