SFMOMA acquires its first NFT among more than 60 other permanent collection businesses

Lynn Hirschman Leeson “Final Transformation #2, 2022” (a gift from the artist and the Altman Siegel Gallery). Photo: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has entered the NFT game.

Among the museum’s acquisition of 63 artworks for its permanent collection, the museum now owns its first non-fungible token by a San Francisco artist. Lynn Hirschman Leesontitled “Ultimate Transformation #2, 2022,” featuring actress Tilda Swinton, SFMOMA announced Thursday, January 12.

In the art world, NFT files usually contain digital files including audio, visual, text, or video elements created by artists. Leeson NFT content in dialogue with her 1997 feature film “Conceiving Ada,” starring Swinton as Countess Ada Lovelace, author of the first computer algorithm. “Final Transformation #2, 2022” includes a video from the movie’s final scene as well as an image related to Leeson’s movie Multimedia installation “Infinity Drive” displaying petri dishes containing DNA. The text accompanying the image – “The gift of redemption to mankind is that each generation recreates itself” – comes from the film.

The NFT is a two-edition release, the first of which Leeson designed for SFMOMA 2022 Art Bash auction. It was the artist’s first foray into the medium and it sold for $9,000, and the museum benefited.

Lynn Hirschman Leeson poses for a portrait on March 4, 2022, outside her “About Face” exhibition at the Altman Siegel Gallery in San Francisco. Photo: Gabriel Lowry/The Chronicle 2022

NFTs have become a major topic in the mainstream art conversation At the height of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 many visual arts experiences moved towards digital presentations due to the pandemic related lockdown. A 2021 report from NFT data firm NonFungible.com and technical analysis firm L’Atelier BNP Paribas showed that NFT market trading rose 21,000% to $17.6 billion over $82 million in 2020.

Many have criticized the NFT market as a cynical grab for money and an inflated bubble for the crash. By May 2022, NonFungible.com reported sales of NFTs were down nearly 90% compared to their peak in 2021. The energy costs and carbon emissions of NFTs have also been criticized.

For her part, Leeson said she was asked to create the second NFT specifically for the museum’s collection by Rudolf Freiling, SFMOMA’s curator of media arts. Both NFTs have been awarded by Leeson to the Foundation.

“Lynn is an outstanding figure and pioneering spirit in Bay Area art,” Freiling told The Chronicle. “She is a role model for all contemporary artists as she has been continually reinventing and re-creating her own artistic identity for over 50 years, always with a critical and hopeful approach to technologies. This work is a fitting addition to SFMOMA’s holdings as we have collected objects in all the mediums in which she worked during her career. broad career.”

In spring 2022, the installation “Room #8” (part of Leeson’s “Infinity Engine” series) was part of SFMOMA’s exhibition “Speculative Images” (curated by Associate Media Arts Curator Tania Zimbardo) and is now in the museum’s permanent collection.

“Room No. 8,” 2006-2018 by Lynn Hirschman Leeson, seen in an installation scene from the “Twisted” show at the New Museum in New York. Photo: Dario Lazani/The New Museum

“Rudolph did my first show in Berlin in the mid-1980s; he saw the trajectory of what my work had been all these years,” Leeson told The Chronicle.

Leeson, 81, has been working in emerging technology-based media for five decades and was honored last year at the Venice Biennale for her video installation “Logic Paralyzes the Heart,” which featured San Francisco actor Joan Chen as the world’s first robot, and is now witnessing An existential crisis 61 years after its creation.

But those hoping for more Leeson NFTs are out of luck.

“I did this especially because Rudolph asked me to, but I doubt I would do other things,” said Lyson. “There are other projects I want to do more of, and I don’t want to break my limited focus.”

Leeson is currently working on her fourth installment of Cyberborgian Rhapsody in San Francisco, a follow-up to Logic Paralyzes the Heart, with a script written by AI.

Troy Lamar Chew II, “Ask, Mama,” 2021; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Acquisition Commission Fund Purchase. Photo: Troy Lamarr Chew II/SFMOMA

Among the other works acquired by Sfmoma are pieces by 18 artists not previously represented in the permanent collection. These include paintings and paperwork by Troy Lamar Chew II, Derek Fordgor, Twain Auger Odutola, and Maja Rosnick; portraits by Yolanda Andrade, Amy Anrakoji, Anthony Lepore, and Tokoku Ushioda; an installation by Amalia Mesa Pines; design work by Pentatonic and Peter Saville; a sculpture by Iman Issa, Suki Seokyung-kang, and Minok Lim; and media art installations by Rosa Barba, Richard Moss, and New Red Order.

Wu Tsang’s new multimedia installation “Of Whales” has been on display in the museum’s atrium since December.

Among the Bay Area artists represented in the acquisitions is artist and activist Yolanda Lopez. Painter and musician Mike Henderson. Photographer Alice Wong. and mixed media artists Sergio de la Torre and Chris Trigiari of the Sanctuary City Project, and Suzanne O’Malley.

SFMOMA Manager Christopher Bedford He said in a statement that the acquisitions represent “an amazing range of artistic vision and SFMOMA is committed to bringing together artworks from artists from the region and around the world.”

Yolanda Lopez, “Self-portrait, From the Three Generations Series: Tres Mujeres, 1975-1976,” San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Accession Commission Fund Purchase. Photo: Yolanda Lopez/SFMOMA

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