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Phillips And Tumblr Launch First Digital Art Auction To Be Held By A Major Auction House

It's a banner day for the digital art community. The tides in the contemporary art world have shown signs of change for some time, inching closer towards acceptance and integration--recognizing that artists working with digital technologies are a valuable part of the current cultural discourse and they aren't going anywhere. On Friday, Phillips, a major contemporary arts auction house and an influential voice on the international art market front, announced its first digital art auction, in collaboration with Tumblr, which serves as a beloved platform for the creation and distribution of much digital art.

Last year, we spent a week exploring the lack of a digital arts market with our #DIGART coverage, which featured a series of articles and guest posts from artists, curators, gallerists and more. Since then, some small breakthroughs have occurred--the sale of the first-ever work of art created on Vine, the prominent art blog Art Fag City selling USBs full of art at the NADA fair, and new galleries dedicated to digital art exploring alternative funding models.

This digital art auction from Phillips and Tumblr, named Paddles On!, is significant because unlike most of the aforementioned initiatives, it's being organized from inside the contemporary art market. The old guard, taking notice of the considerable energy and buzz surrounding digital art is finally starting to pay attention and Phillips, a major player on the contemporary art scene, is taking some time off from auctioning off multi-million dollar Basquiats and Richard Princes to experiment with this new wave of artists and artworks. We don't want to get our hopes up too much, but one can't ignore the feeling that their support could help carve out meaningful inroads for digital art in the art market--pending the success of this program, of course.

An official press release and details of the show are forthcoming. Meanwhile, there's an open call for submissions that encourages artists of all kinds to apply for inclusion in the auction and accompanying exhibition. The show will be curated by Lindsay Howard, curatorial director of the digital art gallery 319 Scholes and the force behind the incredible F.A.T. GOLD exhibition at Eyebeam this past April.

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