After growing up among paintings and art books, Benoît Couty and Thuy-Tien Vo decided to dedicate themselves to this burgeoning ecosystem.
They grew up among classical art paintings and books, frequented museums, but, at the age of 50, their discovery of NFTs led Benoît Couty and his wife Thuy-Tien Vo to start promoting digital art.
“4, 5 years ago, I was directed, as a lawyer, to work on tax regulations related to cryptocurrencies. That’s when I discovered NFTs”, these digital objects attached to a deed – virtual or real – of which prove the property. Benoît, white shirt, salt-and-pepper beard and cap displaying a line of code screwed into his head, shows AFP.
The first French museum dedicated to “crypto-art”
This code is the address of MÇK, the first French museum dedicated to “crypto-art” which opened in 2018. To access it you need an internet connection as it is virtual and presents around 800 works. With it, the duo aims to support this new form of digital art, which they describe as “committed”, because it is based on the values set forth in the early stages of the Internet, such as the exchange of information or freedoms.
This “crypto-art”, he explains, is distinguished from digital art in general by the recurring themes: man and machine, the questioning of life and death or the relationship with a distant past such as the Renaissance.
Benoît Couty has also become artistic director and co-founder, along with a hundred other enthusiasts, of a physical gallery dedicated to NFTs near the Pompidou Center in Paris. Called the NFT Factory, this exhibition and work space, which hosts training sessions, opened on Saturday. This is a new step for him, which the first NFT bought was “land in the metaverse”, these digital universes presented as the future of the Internet.
“At the time I thought there might be value. I walked around this metaverse and discovered my neighbors, artists who were building their own galleries to exhibit their digital works in the virtual universe,” he says.
Among them, Pascal Boyart, the first artist to create the NFT from his mural works, and in particular from a fresco, “Freedom guiding the men of the yellow vests”, related to the painting of Eugène Delacroix. Struck by the “energy and spontaneity of their works, I contacted them to offer to exhibit them in a large museum (built on his virtual land, editor’s note) which I decided to call the Museum of Art Crypto”.
“To thank me, artists gave me their NFT works. Other collectors wanted to buy them, and I realized that there was value. I started buying some with Thuy-Tien and the money at home. Sometimes dozens, almost every day,” he remembers.
“The works cost 10 euros, 100 euros, at the beginning of 2019. Today they can be 10,000, 100,000 euros”, he adds.
Thuy-Tien Vo, she explains, “has long been a spectator before diving down the rabbit hole,” in other words “rabbit hole” in French, referring to Alice in Wonderland, to describe a unknown world set in another reality. .
For the three years of MÇK at the end of 2021, the couple exhibited on the screens of the former Pierre Cardin museum, 50 works from their permanent collection and 30 works created exclusively for this event.
“That’s when I fully entered this ecosystem and decided to make my own work by starting a consulting company,” she explains.
“Growing up on classical art with collector parents, I believe that it is cryptoart that will remain after the NFT fever subsides, and it already has. You can really see that it evokes the same rejections, but also the same collaborations and the same emulation as certain artistic movements that have remained in the history of art such as pop art,” she continues.