Art Blocks and Pace Verso Announce a New Partnership for Digital Art

Featuring a Series of Artist NFT Releases, Exhibitions, and Community Programming

Published Tuesday, Jun 7, 2022

Marc Glimcher, CEO of Pace Gallery, and Erick Calderon, Founder of Art Blocks, are pleased to announce a multifaceted collaboration between Pace Verso and Art Blocks, two of the most prominent players in the worlds of contemporary art and Web3. Through this partnership, Art Blocks and Pace Verso will release boundary-pushing generative NFT projects by Pace’s artists as well as crypto-native artists selected by and developed in partnership with Pace Verso.

The dovetailing interests and combined reach of the Art Blocks and Pace Verso networks will create unique opportunities to share the featured artists and NFT projects with new audiences around the world. The partnership will bring generative art to life through in-person and digital programming dedicated to the NFT releases, including exhibitions at Pace’s global locations and presentations at international art fairs.

On June 21, the first collaborative release will spotlight a new NFT project titled Petro National by John Gerrard, a pioneering figure in generative art known for his custom-programmed, politically resonant simulations. Petro National is comprised of 196 unique works that engage the potential of game engine technology and explore issues of oil consumption. The Petro National NFTs feature the outlines of different countries, which are represented as glistening patches of gasoline on the world ocean. Petro National will be on view at Pace’s 540 West 25th Street gallery in New York from June 21 to 23 during the upcoming NFT.NYC conference and ahead of Gerrard’s solo exhibition at the gallery’s 510 West 25th Street space, which opens June 28.

In celebration of the launch of Petro National, Glimcher and Calderon will participate in a conversation on Pace Verso’s Discord on Wednesday, June 8 at 4:30 p.m. EDT. An AMA discussion between Gerrard and Art Blocks Chief Creative Officer Jeff Davis will take place on Thursday, June 16 at 10 a.m. EDT—further details about this program will be released in the coming week.

Since its founding by Calderon in 2020, Art Blocks has become the industry-leading generative art platform, deploying more than 300 innovative projects by top contemporary artists. The Art Blocks platform combines creative coding with blockchain technology to establish a new paradigm for the creation and ownership of art. NFTs created on Art Blocks are generative artworks that incorporate algorithmic processes to produce outcomes born of a combination of human control and computational chance. Collectors actively participate in realizing an artist’s vision by generating unique algorithmic artworks that are minted in real time following their purchase. Art Blocks has cultivated a robust community of artists, collectors, and digital art aficionados, including Dmitri Cherniak, Tyler Hobbs, Monica Rizzolli, Casey Reas, Emily Xie, and others. Earlier this year, artist Leo Villareal, who is part of Pace’s program, debuted his first-ever NFT project, titled Cosmic Reef, with Art Blocks. Pace later presented works from this series at Frieze Los Angeles and its Palm Beach and Los Angeles spaces.

Pace’s collaboration with Art Blocks underscores its commitment to supporting artists’ advanced studio practices under the banner of Pace Verso, its hub for Web3 activity. Since its debut in 2021, Pace Verso has been at the helm of inventive NFT projects by Jeff Koons, Glenn Kaino, Zhang Huan, DRIFT artists Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta, and Lucas Samaras. Over a year in the making, the partnership between Pace Verso and Art Blocks will see Pace artists extend their practices into Web3 as the gallery continues to support its artists’ creative and experimental approaches to the medium.


John Gerrard, Petro National (United States of America), 2022 © John Gerrard / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York

Marc Glimcher says:

“Art Blocks is a leader in the world of crypto art and has cultivated a unique community of artists and collectors using a cutting-edge algorithmic NFT platform that propels the medium forward. They share our ambition to provide artists with the tools they need to invent and create artworks that will endure the test of time. Our shared belief in the future of generative art aligns with our history of working with systems-based artists, from Sol LeWitt to Leo Villareal. We look forward to participating in the future of digital art and its infrastructure through this exciting partnership.”

Erick Calderon says:

“Art Blocks started as a nerdy and fairly esoteric hobby, a culmination of ideas that had been brewing in my mind for a decade or more. Only a year ago, it would have been beyond the edges of my imagination to think that we would be announcing a collaboration with Pace, a top-tier gallery with an incredible roster of artists, many of whom have been meaningfully inspirational in my life. One of the artists, John Gerrard, will be leading the way with a project called Petro National that literally gave me goose bumps when I first experienced it. As a platform, everything we do is in service of moving the practice of generative art forward. This is a transformative moment for everyone in the Art Blocks ecosystem, and I couldn’t be prouder.”

About the Project

Comprising 196 unique, generative NFTs that engage the potential of temporal and spatial media online through game engine technology, John Gerrard’s new NFT project Petro National examines the global impact of burning 100 million barrels of oil per day and the ways that energy consumption has become a signifier of political power. Petro National explicitly addresses the disparity in oil consumption between the global north and south.

Each Petro National NFT features the outline of a different country, with every nation represented as a glistening patch of gasoline on the world ocean. With Petro National, Gerrard has connected the world of WebGL, a web graphics language that enables the game engine to live in the web browser, with NFTs. For this project, the artist created a custom thin-film refraction algorithm, which reproduces the phenomenon of iridescence through the simulation of millions of rays of light broken down into a novel conceptual prismatic language.

The Petro National NFTs will feature oil spills of different thicknesses depending on the local per capita annual oil use of the respective country. Lower national consumption rates yield thinner, more delicate spills in the NFTs, while higher consumption rates produce more intensely iridescent scenes. Light conditions in the NFTs, which run on the local times of the respective capital cities of the depicted countries, change throughout the year in accordance with the seasons. Night and day are also experienced in the NFTs. On a spatial level, the NFTs can be viewed from various orientations on the screen by dragging the scene. Each work features different atmospheric and wave activities as well as varied sea colors, all of which are produced as part of a randomized, generative process.

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Art Blocks x Pace Verso

John Gerrard

Petro National

Released Tuesday, Jun 21
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  • News — Art Blocks and Pace Verso Announce a New Partnership for Digital Art, Jun 7, 2022