The controversy around the Centre Pompidou’s exhibition on NFTs is spreading in the art world

NFTs are coming to the epicenter of the Parisian art world. On Friday, the Centre Pompidou, home to the National Museum of Modern Art, announced plans for a new exhibition on the relationship between art and blockchain, which will feature NFTs from the treasured CryptoPunks and Autoglyphs projects, among works by 12 other digital artists.

CryptoPunk #110 and Autoglyph #25 were both donated to the Centre Pompidou and will be on view at the museum this spring, along with 16 other NFT works by artists from around the world.

This is the first time the Centre Pompidou has accepted NFTs into its collection, which houses masterpieces by groundbreaking artists such as Vasily Kandinsky, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse and Frida Kahlo, among others. The Centre Pompidou is the largest museum of modern art in Europe.

Seeing CryptoPunk #110 on display at the Centre Pompidou, arguably the most prestigious contemporary art museum in the world, is a great moment for the Web3 and NFT ecosystem, and we are honored to contribute to this cultural conversation” said Greg Solano, co-founder of Yuga Labs, in a statement.

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Yuga, which owns the CryptoPunks intellectual property, has donated the NFT to the museum as part of its Punks Legacy Project. The initiative, which aims to place CryptoPunks in major museums around the world, kicked off with the donation of CryptoPunk #305 to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Miami in November.

CryptoPunks, minted on the Ethereum blockchain, are one of the most dominant and popular NFT collections of profile pictures (PFPs) in the cryptocurrency. There are 10,000 CryptoPunks in circulation, the cheapest of which can be purchased for 63 ETH, or about $95,000, according to CoinGecko. CryptoPunks have consistently sold for millions of dollars per coin, even during the current bear market.

Autoglyphs, meanwhile, are much rarer. The Ethereum-based generative art project from Larva Labs, the original creator of CryptoPunks, has only 512 NFTs in total. The current floor price (or cheapest NFT price) for this project is 249 ETH, or just over $377,000. Larva Labs donated this piece to the Centre Pompidou.

Despite the large amount of capital consistently attracted to these first-rate NFT projects, some members of the art community have derided this medium as lacking artistic legitimacy.

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Perhaps that’s why Yuga Labs – which also created the dominant NFT collection Bored Ape Yacht Club – used Friday’s announcement to affirm the artistic merits of these projects.

The partnership with the Centre Pompidou, one of the world’s most iconic contemporary art museums, means that CryptoPunks are legitimately recognized as an important art movement by the industry“, said Yuga in a statement.

But it’s still unclear what function, exactly, CryptoPunk #110 will play in the Pompidou exhibition.

With this new acquisition, it’s less about the pop cultural phenomenon of “collectibles“[those collections of images sold as NFTs, such as Bored Apes or CryptoPunks]than to explore the more adventurous uses of the technology,” the museum said in its announcement of the upcoming NFT exhibition.

The exhibition’s curators went on to explain how the NFT space, though it first asserted itself with projects “homogeneous” and “highly publicized” such as CryptoPunks and Bored Apes, quickly gave way to more complex experiments, which seem to be at the heart of the exhibition. The exhibition also features NFTs by artists such as Jonas Lund, Rafael Rozendaal and Jill Magid.

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