How CryptoPunks Creators Charmed the Art World and Paved the Way for Blockchain Art

"App developer John Watkinson had never signed a piece of art before. He certainly hadn’t signed one that would grace the walls of a gallery in Zurich, Switzerland—a country he’d never visited—alongside a piece by the famous Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. Until recently, he’d never introduced himself as an “artist.”


“I’m nervous about signing these,” Watkinson said one day in October in his shared office space on Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal, bent over a printed image of a CryptoPunk—a simple, pixelated image of a man with a beard, mohawk, and sunset-colored glasses. “I’m one of those computer guys who never learned to handwrite anything.”


Watkinson practiced his signature a couple times before marking the 12 CryptoPunk prints that would appear in the “Perfect & Priceless: Value Systems on the Blockchain” exhibition in November at the Kate Vass Galerie in Zurich. He’d been invited to exhibit his work there by Georg Bak, a Swiss curator and digital art expert, while appearing at a blockchain conference at Christie’s, the famous auction house, in London—another thing the computer programmer never expected to do..."

January 23, 2019
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