Hokusai’s Works, the British Museum, NFTs

The British Museum is partnering with a French start-up to sell NFTs (non-fungible tokens) of Hokusai’s works, 200 of them. The intent is to democratize artwork and to make it more accessible to younger generations. However, I do question if this is really able to achieve its intent, as it commoditizes artwork. I question how meaningful it is for someone to own the digital rights to the artwork, and for sales of the artwork to indicate anything of intrinsic cultural or historical value. It is riding on the train of NFT sales of various memes and artwork, as well as a new exhibition on Hokusai, with some previously unseen art pieces. While more people will get to see the artwork as a result, given that it is internationally accessible now as an NFT, I wonder how many will see the art as art and sit down and reflect upon it, or even read deeper into the history and intent of the piece before engaging in the marketplace. Relating to this week’s topics, I feel like the artwork is being transformed into a form of badge of ownership, simplified as a virtual icon for the quick and easy trade rather than a physical piece that people visit and focus on.


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