Curation comes from the Latin curare which means to take care of. Etymologically, the curator is therefore the person who takes care of works of art. Applied to the NFT market, platforms seek out and select artists to present them to often sophisticated collectors. Here we present 6 curators that collectors appreciate:
These curators all have different specialities (photography, generative art, etc.) and different visions. Indeed, art is often connected to society and current events.
Art Blocks was launched in November 2020 with the first drop “Chromie Squiggle” a collection that became famous. Some of the most recognized and expensive collections include Fidenza by Tyler Hobbs, Ringers by Dmitri Cherniak, Archetype by Kjetil Golid, and Elevated Deconstructions by Luxpris.
Art Blocks was conceived around the NFTs of generative art. Thus, each work presented is generated upon purchase by the collector, and the transaction determines the final work. Indeed, it all starts with the creation of a generative art script by the artist. This script takes starting variables that determine characteristics such as color, size, etc. By modifying these variables, you can generate a new work of art. By altering these variables, you can generate many different artworks from the same script.
When purchasing an Art Blocks, a unique sequence of characters is generated during the transaction. There are several types of collections (Curated, Playground and Factory), several drop mechanisms and a clear application process for artists. Indeed, Art Blocks does not work with everyone and artists need a track record, the ability to create generative scripts and a unique collection idea. The vetting of artists is rigorous and applications can take months to process.
Anyone can access the platform and mint.
SuperRare was founded in 2018 by John Crain and Jonthan Perkins. Since then the platform has become a reference in the crypto-art ecosystem and NFTs. The platform allows you to buy and sell NFTs from the world’s top artists.
We can read on the SuperRare website the following presentation:
you can think of SuperRare like Instagram meets Christies. A new way to interact with art, culture, and collecting on the internet!
SuperRare welcomes only a small number of hand-picked artists each month. Applicants must meet specific requirements in order to have a chance to be selected and presented on the platform. For example, the works exhibited must meet certain criteria: must be original, created digitally, must not be tokenized available for digital purchase elsewhere on the internet.
In August 2022, the marketplace launched the latest phase of its development, called “SuperRare 2.0”. 3 years after its launch, the platform is focusing on its community:
Spaces are one of the main innovations of SuperRare. They function as sub-galleries dedicated to specific thematic communities. Indeed, Spaces are independent galleries that curate and sell artworks.
As SuperRare is a DAO, Spaces are elected by RARE token holders. Once applications are reviewed, participants are submitted to a community vote over the course of 2 weeks and the applicants who receive the most votes are given the opportunity to open a Space.
At the time of writing, there are 19 Spaces listed on the site. We can mention for example: Fellowship Gallery, Metafísica, The Joy of NFTs, MONOLITH Gallery, 33 GALLERY, Neal Space, The Foundry – MoCDA, NEW French Touch. Thus, Metafísica is a space dedicated to Latin American crypto art.
gmDAO is a community of NFT collectors, artists and investors established in September 2021. As the name suggests, the organisation operates as a decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO) and much of the governance is decentralised.
gmDAO has developed the entity gm Studio which defines itself as a generative art platform built by artists, for artists. A particularity of the curation here is a blind selection. In other words, only artistic and technical information is presented and the artist remains anonymous. On the presentation website we read:
“Our belief is that art should be inclusive & accessible to all, which is why we implemented two practices into our ethos which we understand will allow for equal opportunity for every applicant.”
gmDAO believes that the analysis should let the art speak for itself without any personal bias being communicated towards a particular artist (whether favourable or not).
The curation team currently consists of about 15 people and includes collectors and artists (Rich Poole, Cxkoda). Each member of the jury gives his or her opinion separately, before entering into a discussion period with the other members of the jury. Finally, a vote is held to accept or reject a proposal.
There have been four launches to date and a fifth is planned for September 2022 (10 September). We can name them:
To access the drops and the community, you need to own one of the 900 gmDAO NFTs, the minimum price is currently 5.2 Ethers (ETH).
Quantum Art is an NFT platform focused on digital art and particularly on photography. In February 2022, the Quantum Art platform raised $7.5 million in a Series A funding round led by True Ventures. Other participants in the round included entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, as well as DAO Flamingo.
Quantum Art was co-founded by Justin Aversano, creator of the popular Twin Flames photo project. Twin Flames #49 sold in November 2021 at a Christie’s auction for $3.7 million, making it the 5th most expensive photograph sold in public.
Quantum’s curatorial team is led by Kris Graves (photography) and Rodolphe Ködderitzsch (digital art). They work with artists to define the optimal size, selection, sequence and value of their work.
Quantum has already presented the work of more than twenty photographers in two seasons. For example, in Season 1, the platform presented “Divine” by Delphine Diallo, “Home Grown” by Julie Blackmon and “Touching Strangers” by Richard Renaldi.
Some digital works were also presented to Quantum members with the collections SLABS by Nicolas Sassoon and Math Art by Hebert W. Franke for example.
Drops are reserved within the first five minutes for key holders. At the time of writing, the Quantum Key has a price floor of 1.4 ETH and has generated a trading volume of 3200 ETH on OpenSea.
Quantum has opened its own Quantum Space LA, a 3,800 sqm community centre that opened on the Santa Monica 3rd Street Promenade in June 2022. The space includes an NFT gallery and space with over 30 screens, a metaverse immersion room, spaces for artists in residence and an exclusive collectors’ lounge, open only to Quantum Key holders and their guests.
Gallery of Digital Asset, or the GODA, is designed for contemporary artists who wish to enter the NFT space. Goda defines itself as a reliable solution for leading artists seeking to explore digital as a new medium.
GODA consists of a team of advisors from the art world and NFTs. These include contemporary artist KAWS, artist manager Todd Kramer, gallery owner Ryan Ross and star Pharell Williams.
In July 2022, the first collection launched by GODA was “Super Cool World” by painter Nina Chanel Abney. With a supply of 5080 NFTs, the collection generated a trading volume of 5300 ETH.
The second collection “Art Party” by Todd James was launched at the end of August. This time, 1500 NFTs were offered to Mint Pass The GODA holders.
How does the Mint Pass work? The Mint Pass is an NFT that offers holders exclusive access to GODA artists and drops. The supply is 1000 NFTs and the price floor is 7.55 ETH at the time of writing. Collections over 5,000 coins will give Mint Pass holders 2 mints. Collections of less than 1,500 coins will be treated on a case-by-case basis, with priority given to Mint Pass holders.
Goda plans to hold one collection launch per month.
Tender is a slightly different curation platform as it focuses on selecting collections based on FxHash. As a reminder, FxHash is an open platform for generative art on the tezos blockchain.
Thus Tender is a “stewards of generative art, empowering artists and collectors – currently focused on artworks from fxhash.”
How are projects selected? There are no specific rules. They are not chosen based on an objective measure such as sales volume, they are not added by consensus vote. Projects are added as a result of a set of completely subjective, but “highly deliberate” considerations, according to the Tender website. Variables include originality, craftsmanship, beauty, conceptual intrigue, community reaction, value and similar attributes. These characteristics are evaluated by Tender’s founder.
Tender offers several curation services (some of which are reserved for Tender Pass holders):
Pass holders can also access the Curated Drops calendar on tender.art.
Curation solutions are growing and this is a good move to help artists and collectors browse through the ocean of the NFTs market.
Most of the time, curation remains subjective and artists may question their value when receiving rejections from these platforms. However, it must be acknowledged that these curators are a sign of a real structuring of the market.
Finally, we can see that the level of decentralisation of curation is very variable. Sometimes completely centralised in the hands of a few people and sometimes totally decentralised. The model is most often a hybrid and the structures are still looking for the right balance.