A new Sotheby’s Justin Roiland auction is taking place, with the auction house hosting the animator’s physical work following his successful debut on the NFT art scene.
The canvas being sold is a collage of cartoon faces that appear to be quickly scrawled, complete with dried paint drips. At the time of writing, bids had surpassed $26,000, suggesting the final price will be significantly higher than the $15,000 – $20,000 estimates.
Sotheby’s and Digital Arts
The Sotheby’s Justin Roiland painting auction reflects more than the auction house’s admiration for his work. At the beginning of the year the artist sold a collection of NFTs through Nifty Gateway for more than $1million.
“Testing the boundaries of crypto art,” he tweeted at the time. “What makes something valuable? The art? The artist? The process? The state of mind while created? The intention of the piece? Feeling really good about this collection.”
All proceeds from that sale went to homeless encampments in Los Angeles.
Of course, Sotheby’s is no stranger to the crypo art space — in recent months it has auctioned off the first NFT ever minted, ‘Quantum‘, sold wrap sketches of the Arc de Triomphe, and even opened a digital branch in the Decentraland metaverse.
With this in mind it’s no surprise to see Sotheby’s linking up with Roiland for a sale, even if it is in the physical rather than digital art world.
Wait, who is Justin Roiland?
We’re not going to make a song and dance about it, but simply put Justin Roiland is among America’s finest cartoonists. To date, his oeuvre includes ‘Solar Opposites’, which streams on Hulu. But his most recognisable work is ‘Rick & Morty’, an animation about a time travelling alcoholic scientist and his nephew.
Although Roiland is well-established in the animated world, ‘mypeoplefriend‘ will be his first foray into the world of painting. As per the Sotheby’s listing, his debut effort as been compared to “Jean Dubuffet’s boisterous compositions from the 1960s.”
“As his title suggests, Roiland compresses visual information, blurting it out in a single word,” the listing continues. “In this way, his composition becomes a kind of dream world, where there is no respect for visual or spatial logic. Instead, there is only a feeling, or rather, a progression of feeling.”
My first Sotheby’s auction. Painted this in May. Acrylic 36”x48” canvass https://t.co/AtnYfXW38P @Sothebys pic.twitter.com/w6wNrA351R
— Justin Roiland (@JustinRoiland) July 14, 2021
Art, NFT, Message
Roiland isn’t the only person using NFT art to try and make a point about inherent and perceived values. Turner Prize-winning British artist Damien Hirst recently announced he was moving into NFTs, with the launch of a 10,000 strong collection tomorrow. Buyers will initially receive a non-fungible token of a unique ‘spot painting’, each priced at $2,000 each.
However, after the asset becomes theirs, bidders must decide whether to keep the crypto piece or exchange it for the real-life version, which is stored in a vault. They have 12 months from the purchase date, or until 27th July 2022, to make the choice. Meanwhile, SuperRare’s NFT exhibition, ‘Unrealism‘, also set out a goal of showing how the lines between digital and physical realms are blurring in the art world.
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