NFTs Are Having a “Four Seasons Total Landscaping” Moment

A miscommunication resulted in digital artist Claire Silver being dragged online for believing her work could be shown at the Louvre, illustrating how the NFT market’s consistent “hardcore believing” has its shortcomings.

The Louvre Museum. Photography by Kiran Radley/Getty Images

It’s difficult to fault digital artist Claire Silver for thinking Paris Blockchain Week wanted to exhibit her work at the Louvre during the conference’s fourth edition in late March. The offer arrived shortly after a series of career wins: Silver signed with talent agency WME, and one of her pieces entered LACMA’s permanent collection this past month when Cozomo de’ Medici—a prolific collector believed to be Snoop Dogg—donated 22 blockchain artworks, including her trippy, kintsugi-inspired collage that layers acrylic blooms over an AI-generated face.

Eager to celebrate an ostensible career peak, Silver excitedly tweeted the news about exhibiting in the Louvre’s hallowed halls. Variety picked up the story, leaving NFT expert and New York Times contributor Zachary Small incredulous about her claims. Louvre representatives confirmed his suspicions, and Silver soon clarified (in a now-deleted series of tweets) that Paris Blockchain Week allegedly misrepresented the location of their show: it would take place at Le Carrousel du Louvre, an underground shopping mall nearby, not the Louvre proper. She pulled her work from the show and began assessing other options. 

“A Feeling I Can’t Put My Finger On” (2021) by Claire Silver

Despite Silver being a community leader and outspoken advocate of Web3 art, the backlash was swift and vicious. The NFT community (a group with a shaky reputation to begin with) branded Silver as a scammer. Others mocked her for believing her work—the result of AI sweeping away “the barrier of skill,” as she puts it—was strong enough to be shown at the Louvre. Superchief Gallery, which represents her, sprung to her defense with a stern retelling of their side. Silver, meanwhile, has asked to be excluded from the narrative.

For digital artists experimenting with non-fungible tokens, the past few years have seen oceanic ebbs and flows. A monumental digital collage by Beeple fetched $69.3 million at auction, stoking nonstop internet hype and a market bonanza that made NFT artwork and discourse unavoidable. Digital artists once relegated to the industry’s periphery were suddenly thrust into the spotlight, even if it required heavy evangelizing to convince Luddites that NFTs were a legitimate medium. The market has since cooled considerably, but digital artists are still carving out a niche and being granted access to the highest echelons of an industry fiercely resistant to change. 

An artwork by Claire Silver. Image courtesy of OpenSea

“In the end, Silver was a victim of the ecosystem that made her,” Shanti Escalante-De Mattei writes in ARTnews. “The fortunes of those in the NFT scene were made by harnessing a single, precious resource: hardcore believing. Artists and sellers of NFTs had to convince buyers that these pieces of digital art, mere JPEGs, could be worth something, and that meant a lot of evangelizing… Silver believed because believing brought her this far. But belief has its limits.”

All Stories