The art world has long been known for mysterious antics with ambiguous meanings. A surprising discovery outside Sotheby’s yesterday morning shows that this trend is still alive and well. It appears that three large digital displays were placed in front of the famed auction house and left for passersby to wonder about.
“Crypto Lilies” stunt sparks curiosity ahead of Monet sale.
Photos appear to show three large digital screens, each displaying a different artwork, placed directly outside the front doorway of Sotheby’s York Avenue auction house. The discovery comes just hours before a long-awaited, high-profile auction of one of Monet’s famed “Water Lily” works. This series of paintings are among the most celebrated and sought-after of the artist’s body of work.
The stunt seems unrelated to the auction in any official capacity, but with the content of the digital artworks, it appears that it was intended to coincide with the big-name sale, which went $10 million over the estimated price.
The painting of the hour: Coin Le Bassin aux Nymphéas.
The specific canvas going to auction, Coin Le Bassin aux Nymphéas, is a 1918 masterwork of Impressionism by one of the movement’s founders, Claude Monet. It depicts – in the notably abstract and dreamy style of the Impressionists – a colorful corner of the lily pond in his water garden at Giverny. Green, yellow, red, and blue foliage reflected in the lily pond blurs the subject of the work into a haze of saturated color. The November auction marks the first time the painting has been sold in almost 25 years.
The discovered “Crypto Lilies” were inspired by Monet’s painting.
The person or group behind this morning’s surprise find was certainly aware of the day’s significance. In the center of each screen is a multicolored variation of Monet’s Coin Le Bassin aux Nymphéas in a layered digital style with its own unique color scheme – brown and purple, red and green, purple and blue. The images are contained in ornate blue, red, and green frames, each affixed before a repeating background of similarly colored flames. A line of text stretches across the top, reading “Crypto Lilies” and “Deafeye Fine Art” in a rock-n-roll-esque font.
As Coin Le Bassin aux Nymphéas is one of Monet’s “Water Lilies,” “Crypto Lilies” can be read as a title for the vibrant series of works, but who is Deafeye Fine Art? What are they trying to say with this – admittedly bold – act?
What is the point of the “Crypto Lilies”? And who left them there?
Are the Crypto Lilies a form of advertising or activism? Demonstration or promotion? It’s not always clear in the art world.
A thorough Google search for Deafeye Fine Art yields nothing that seems connected to the Crypto Lilies. This doesn’t leave us much to go on. The purpose of the works, the people behind them, and the point of leaving them in front of Sotheby’s – where they were undoubtedly removed post-haste – is not immediately apparent. If the intent was simply to generate questions, it seems that Deafye Fine Art has succeeded in its endeavor.
The digitization and variation of the works could suggest some relation to NFTs. It is also possible that the name “Deafeye Fine Art” is a play on “DeFi,” an abbreviated term for “decentralized finance,” but this has yet to be confirmed, and as of now, there doesn’t seem to be a place to buy Crypto Lilies online.
This is far from the last we’ll see of Deafeye Fine Art.
Despite the surrounding mystery, one thing seems certain: Deafeye Fine Art has a plan, and this isn’t the end. It seems unlikely that the group would go to the trouble of planning and executing such an act (complete with a kind of “calling card”) and leave it at that. We will undoubtedly see more of Deafeye Fine Art; the public should keep an eye on art events, auctions, festivals, or any other art world gatherings. In the meantime, we can trust Deafeye to keep us on our toes.
Read about Coin Le Bassin aux Nymphéas at Sothebys.com.