By Annie Armstrong
This past weekend, Adam Lindemann’s uptown enterprise, Venus Over Manhattan, opened “Snowfro: Chromie Squiggles,” the first exhibition of generative NFT works by Snowfro (aka Erick Calderon) and the first digital art show that the well-regarded and traditional art-world gallery has hosted. Not everyone was pleased.
“I texted one collector, ‘Hey, what do you think of this idea, it’s kind of interesting, right?’ And they texted me back that I was being pushy! I don’t usually hear that,” Lindemann confessed to Wet Paint. “One very influential art-world person said, ‘I’m not set up for that.’ I thought that was actually a clever way to put it.”
Lindemann set out to do the show with one goal in mind: sell 10 NFTs by Calderon to 10 collectors who had never bought a piece of digital art before. He succeeded. But not without some pushback.
“I’m not trying to tell someone that a Bored Ape is a piece of art. But a Squiggle is a form of art, and a collectible, and a digital animated computer file. It’s all these different things together, but the simplicity is what made me feel like this was a good place to start. They’re artful in their simplicity.”
So how did he get these things sold? A range of price points helped. On the low end, the Squiggles sell for 9 ETH, or around $27,000, which is pretty inexpensive compared to Bored Apes that sell for about $250,000, or CryptoPunks for about $200,000. But there’s a wide spectrum, with “rarer” squiggles like Hyper Bold raking in as much as $2 million. So there’s a low-risk margin if you want to just dip your toes into Web3, or you can go for the high end.
“Some [collectors] just thanked me,” Lindemann said. “They appreciated the fact that I was giving them access via this artist to something you couldn’t otherwise get. It was exciting and fun, which is what it’s supposed to be.”
At the opening last Saturday, there was a line around the block. Lindemann described it as Venus Over Manhattan’s “Yayoi Kusama opening,” a nod to the out-of-control lines that typically follow the artist’s highly Instagramable Infinity Rooms. The crowd veered far younger than a typical Venus Over Manhattan joint.
But before we get too excited, Lindemann still isn’t a full convert. “Most of these projects I personally find awful—I can’t even look at most NFTs. So I’m not really that different from the rest of the art world. But I do take a step in the direction of wanting to learn about it.”
Yet since the craze first began, he’s picked up NFTs by Urs Fischer, Tom Sachs, Lucien Smith, and is a participant in Damien Hirst’s “The Currency” project. (Did he ever think about selling? “Uh, yeah!”)
“I think this idea of NFTs and art was created by the auction houses to make money,” he said. “So I don’t really care much about that part of the dialogue. I’m not giving up my paintings or my sculptures for a computer screen on a wall. But it’s interesting to follow the NFT market and understand it.”