The Currency is the first NFT collection by Damien Hirst. Reimagining the way NFTs are used, The Currency is a collection of 10,000 NFTs which correspond to 10,000 unique physical artworks which are stored in a secure vault in the UK. The works are now brought to life through their launch on the blockchain.
Starting with the creation of the physical artworks in 2016, The Currency explores the boundaries of art and currency — when art changes and becomes a currency, and when currency becomes art. Successful applicants all initially received NFTs. Ultimately, they had to decide between the digital NFT or the physical artwork, both of which are artworks in their own right. Whichever is picked, the other gets burned. (Burning in the crypto world refers to deleting an NFT.)
The Currency launched in July 2021. The exchange period closed on 27 July 2022 by which time just over half the collectors, 5,149, had decided to keep the physical artwork and 4,851 the NFT. On 12 October 2022 Hirst destroyed the first thousand physical artworks of The Currency at his own Newport Street Gallery. In an Instagram post prior to the first burning he stated ‘I’m completing the transformation of these physical artworks into NFTs by burning the physical versions. The value of art digital or physical which is hard to define at the best of times will not be lost. It will be transferred to the NFT as soon as they are burnt.’
Damien Hirst is a British artist whose name is synonymous with contemporary art. Since his work as a student at Goldsmiths School of Art, Hirst’s production has redefined boundaries. Working primarily in installation, painting, sculpture and drawing, Hirst explores the complex relationships between art, beauty, religion, science, life and death. He constantly returns to these fundamental themes, which he reworks to develop an innovative visual language.
The Currency #8875. Don’t forget your cardigan, 2016
One shot enamel paint on handmade paper, 20 x 30 cm