The “Boho Dance” goes on

Exactly one year ago Christie’s procured a sale of a non-fungible token for an eye-watering sum of US$69,346,250. Since then, my friend and former colleague Professor David Hawkes and I have co-authored a series of articles on the subject of NFTs: their relationship to other currencies, their lack of aura, and their use for art history.

Over the winter break, as I was preparing to teach my usual Spring course on later 20th century art, I reread The Painted Word—an oldie-but-goodie little book by Tom Wolfe originally published as an article in 1974. I was struck by how well the model of modern art’s de-materialization Wolfe constructed (and raged against) fits our current NFT predicament. Wolfe’s astute social comedy that caused outrage among critics and especially artists turned out to be eerily accurate in its predictions of trivialization and monetization of culture that started decades ago, but picked up pace recently.

The resulting analysis “Against De-Materialization: Tom Wolfe in the Are of NFTs” is our fourth article on the subject. It just came out in Quillette (which bravely published my article on the relationship between art history and pornography last summer). In it, we apply Wolfe’s ideas to the new, Twitterfied, reality.

Click on the image below to read the article.