Meet The Artist Who Just Launched Christie’s New Platform For NFT Sales

Celebrated visual artist Diana Sinclair’s first solo exhibition is serving as the launchpad for Christie’s 3.0, the auction house’s new platform for on-chain NFT sales. Phases, a curated auction of nine NFTs, is currently open for bidding through October 11 and on exhibition at Christie’s New York galleries through October 5.

Christie’s 3.0—which enables all transactions, including post-sale processing, to be fully automated and on the blockchain—is a technological first for the industry and represents an important step in the role of auction houses to evolve digital art. Equally important, says Lesley Silverman, who heads the Web3 division at United Talent Agency, which signed Sinclair in all areas and brokered the deal with Christie’s, is the artist with whom they chose to launch.

“This for Christie’s is a big step in the right direction, but I think it is only going to be a step in the right direction if they are aligning themselves with artists that are paradigm-shifting,” Silverman says. “The artist they chose to elevate, in this instance, Diana—it’s a real statement. She’s a once-in-a-generation artist who embraces the doorway that blockchain opened for digital art in the past couple years.”

Indeed, Sinclair’s work is a far cry from the likes of an animated bored primate. The 18-year-old is passionate about work that explores self-identity and social justice, and her art is reflective of both a deep curiosity and introspection, and an ethos that’s wise beyond her years. It’s a quality that’s catapulted her to NFT stardom during the past year.

In June 2021, she became one of the youngest curators of digital art with the Digital Diaspora, a Juneteenth exhibition and auction celebrating the work of Black artists working within the NFT community. Soon after came a collaboration with Time magazine and a project with the Whitney Houston estate, for which she created an NFT featuring never-before-seen video footage of Houston that sold for close to $1 million.

“That meant a lot to me because of the kind of person Whitney Houston was,” she says. “I was able to sit down and speak with her family. They felt very connected to me as a person and an artist, so that was a special relationship I was able to develop because they felt that what I was doing this time resonated with the way Whitney was in her time. It was like this connection across generations with the same, I think, core values as artists, and women.”

Sinclair describes Phases as an exploration of impermanence, the fluidity of life and the human experience with time—concepts with which she’s struggled most of her life and which bubbled up again just as she was exploring the Christie’s partnership.

“It came about earlier this year when I had, again, starting dipping into a phase of depression… I feel like I’ve lost a lot of time with my depression and potentially have taken myself off the path I should’ve been on. And I decided this time instead of just allowing it to happen and potentially stopping the path I was going on with Christie’s, I wanted to sit down and process the core of why for the majority of my life I’ve had this very strange relationship with time and finality, and not really being able to come to terms with it,” she says.

“It started to shift how I was dealing with the project and then this obscure thought translated into visuals that I have to work backwards from. That’s how it always goes. Everything I’m feeling now I can see visually but then it comes to working backwards to figure out how to make that a reality on set on camera.”

Launching Christie’s 3.0, for Sinclair, has implications that are both far-reaching and highly personal.

“The fact that one of the biggest auction houses is building out a platform and selling digital art through the blockchain represents a huge shift for how the world is going to view digital art. In the future it will help lead to the steps to see digital art being taught in universities and other schools,” Sinclair says.

“And as an artist who has family members who were also Black and were also women and who were denied in the arts, to be in this position now—I’ve been talking a lot with my family about how important it is to be a part of the shift in the art world, but also that representation.

“And it’s cool that with the provenance on the blockchain. There are so many Black people in history whose contributions to the world have been dismissed or haven’t been properly recorded, but because of my collaboration with Christie’s and the way it happened, it’s going to be on the blockchain forever,” she notes. “So it’s been a moment where I’ve sat and felt that surrealness. I’ve definitely cried over it a few times.”

“By launching Christie’s 3.0, we hope to bring new artistic voices to the worldwide Christie’s stage—highlighting the best of the best digital art to collectors across the globe,” says Nicole Sales Giles, business director, digital art, at Christie’s. “Diana Sinclair’s work in Phases and her career in general is the perfect representation of this. Her work is introspective, inspiring and relatable.”

UTA’s digital artist roster includes collections from Deadfellaz and MV3, and web3 artists Emonee LaRussa and Vinnie Hager.

“The core of who Diana is as an artist will touch so many areas that comprise our agency in the months and years to come,” says Silverman. “The thing I love the most is when our clients cross-pollinate their talent with one another.”

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