The concept of the meme in crypto art is not new.
‘Seize The Memes of Production’ as Punk 6529 says every day.
For example, Rare and Fake Pepes have one of the space’s most thriving communities and are some of the earliest examples of art on the blockchain.
However, what we are witnessing now is a new phenomenon; that of the marrying of 1/1 fine artworks and meme culture.
With Twitter as the main platform of communication, the potential for fine art memes to go viral is huge. The network effect of a Twitter post can turn a creative idea and sharable concept into an event that has a global impact on the digital art sphere.
Aside from Beeple incorporating aspects of meme and pop culture in his illustrations, Alpha Centauri Kid’s ‘The Muse’ stands out as one of the early cases where 1/1 art showed signs of harnessing the power of the meme.
Part of successfully incorporating meme concepts in one’s work involves applying the unexpected, where the only element that remains constant is the power of the meme itself. ACK frequently employs unexpected drops and release mechanisms, surprise announcements and decisions which further fuels the power of his meme, as it playfully and mysteriously startles his audience.
The Muse guides ACK himself, just as it pulls the strings of his collectors, puppeteering his audience wherever the Muse decides it should go. The Muse has thus turned ACK and his work into a meme of sorts itself.
Grant Yun’s ‘Cow’ is another example of this emerging fusion of meme culture and 1/1 artwork. Employing multiple themes found in Yun’s typical work, the Cow has taken on a life of its own.
Utilising an olive green color palette, an aerial perspective, the agricultural subject matter of the MidWest, and a simplistic minimalist style, this piece developed into a highly successful meme in that it encompassed many defining characteristics of the artist’s identity but also employed one critical element of virility: Humor. The Cow is a relatively mundane and banal subject, however the different contexts in which it can be reappropriated in creative and comical ways is endless. This is especially the case due to its license status as CCO, meaning that anyone is allowed to make and sell derivatives of the original piece and it’s
The artist them self benefits from the memeification of their work and the derivatives that come from it. The growth of the meme can be harnessed by the original creator to great extent, evidenced by Yun’s follow-up piece to ‘Cow’ titled ‘Description’, of which this referential work was sold to Cozomo de ‘Medici for 42 ETH.
When you combine JPG art with a global internet audience that is active across all time zones, certain memes in 1/1 art can spread like wildfire.
Case in point is BLeU by tjo. The artist has frequently incorporated the colour blue in his work, and it has become a recognisable tone found across his creative palate. However, the minting of a pure ‘BLeU’ rectangle has led to one of the most interesting and significant chain reactions in the contemporary digital art space.
BLeU is also CCO license status, which has led to hundreds of derivative pieces that benefit not only the creators of the derivatives but also the original artist himself. The auction on SuperRare ended in a massive sale of 69.42 ETH, almost purely reflective of the power of the meme in which this piece has become.
Furthermore, as stated by Vincent Van Dough and quoted by BEN, "we’ve historically seen monochrome works like Yves Klein’s blue squares attain great market value. So Tjo’s BLeU emerges not just in the context of his own work where blue is prominent and meaningful but in this broader art history where such works can accrue significant value.”
So, who is going to be next to successfully fuse their art practice with meme culture? I suspect it will be the McDonalds logo by Brazilian artist omentejovem.
The design takes his recognisable crescent moon on an orange background and flips it 90 degrees to emulate the infamous Mcdonalds logo. McDonalds as a concept in and of itself is a popular theme in the crypto space, and has been incorporated into multiple different projects and artworks in recent months. omentejovem’s logo has all the ingredients for a successful meme and I anticipate widespread memeification and incorporation by other artists in the space.