The world’s largest art collection has been digitized. And in a very Warhol-esque way, it’s now possible to own physical pieces of the work without owning them—a digital representation that you can store and trade on NFT platforms like CryptoKitties or OpenSea. What does this mean for how we collect artwork? How do artists respond? Are there any ethical issues here?

“Pop Art & NFT Collections: How Warhol Paved the Way” is a blog post that discusses how artworks by Andy Warhol paved the way for crypto collectibles. The article includes information on how to buy and sell these collectibles, as well as what they’re worth.

Pop Art & NFT Collections: How Warhol Paved the Way

Andy Warhol initially imprinted Marilyn Monroe’s visage on print for his Marilyn Diptych sixty years ago. He couldn’t have realized at the time that his use of the silkscreen method would have a direct influence on the future digital art movement. But that is precisely what occurred.

Current algorithmic NFT collections may be traced back to Pop Art, and these collections substantially draw from Pop Art’s silkscreen works in terms of concept and methodology. Critics panned and praised Warhol’s Marilyn Diptych at the time of its publication for many of the same reasons as modern algorithmic NFT collections do. There are a few significant locations where these similarities may be seen:

  • Utilization of modern methods
  • Appropriation of images
  • Interaction with popular culture
  • Belonging to a community as a member or owner

Is Technique Increasing the Value of Art? 

In silkscreening, a pre-existing picture is taken and printed onto silk in a “assembly-line effect,” as Warhol put it. In this sense, the art’s technique of creation parallels the assembly-line manufacture of pop-culture commodities, which are the movement’s backbone. His drawings of the omnipresent Campbell’s Soup cans are the finest embodiment of this assembly-line image. But we’ll come back to the soup later.

Warhol was chastised for employing a method that many considered as inferior to painting and for utilizing a picture that he didn’t create (the original image of Marilyn Monroe). Some people believed that silkscreening required less ability than painting a wholly unique piece of art.

As a result of this perspective, the artistic works were seen to be less powerful and significant than a “pure original” piece of art. Many critics also argued that since the silkscreened pieces were created via an industrial technique, they couldn’t have the same depth of meaning as original paintings. Some have claimed that it is impossible for an industrial process to be “artistic” in any sense.

The Marilyn Diptych, which was published a few weeks after her death, contains subtle variations on a hyper-colorized picture on the left panel. This colorized side has lines that become clearer/darker as they go darker, and colors that get brighter as they get brighter. The right panel is black-and-white, with the image copies fading away as they are repeated. The allegory for life and death in this diptych could not be clearer. It refutes the notion that the significance of a piece of art is somehow linked to the perceived ability of the method employed to make it.


One of the most common criticisms of these algorithmic NFT collections is that there can’t be any meaning inherent in the images because they’re created with the help of computer algorithms. It’s important to remember this Warhol lesson, because one of the most common criticisms of these algorithmic NFT collections is that there can’t be any meaning inherent in the images because they’re created with the help of computer algorithms.

This critique is just a reiteration of the same criticisms leveled about Warhol. The fact is that the observer of art creates meaning, and the methods may influence how the work is understood – but they have nothing to do with the quantity of meaning (or lack thereof).

Simply simply, Andy Warhol made an effective creative work using the materials he had at his disposal. The same is true for algorithmic NFTs. Although they are increasingly technologically sophisticated, they are still just instruments that artists use to engage and amuse people.

In many respects, algorithmic NFTs are just a computerized version of the analog silkscreen process. There is a human hand that initiates and leads the whole collection. That reality should not be neglected or forgotten.

Appropriation vs. Appreciation: What’s the Difference?

Pop Art reflected the commercialisation of life that arose in post-World War II America. To make their work approachable and comment on modern society, artists appropriated imagery from the American consumerist zeitgeist.

Warhol created art using imagery such as Campbell’s Soup cans and Coca-Cola bottles (over which he had no copyright or ownership). These businesses ultimately decided that the reputation of Warhol’s art was beneficial to their bottom line, therefore they chose not to prosecute him for copyright infringement. Nonetheless, Warhol was working in a freshly discovered legal limbo in terms of what defines the public domain.


Many recent NFT work use pictures of superhero costumes or elements of pop culture that are not directly owned by the artists. Some of the photographs might be claimed to be in the fair-use category.

These photos depict things or concepts that have gained traction in the public imagination outside of the works in which they were first produced. As a result, some of these photographs may be considered to be in the gray area between copyright and fair-use. Having said that, the complicated and delicate interaction between art and fair usage is no longer contentious.

Appropriation/reimagination is less of a difficult problem in today’s society, owing in part to the rise of remix culture in the 1980s. The use of sampling in underground hip hop and dance scenes was well-known, and it could be argued that it was an aural equal of what Warhol achieved with photographs.

The concept of reusing someone else’s work and changing it into something new has grown significantly less controversial over the years. Those on the opposite side of the NFT collecting argument, however, still use it as a point of contention. The interaction between copyrighted material and content that has been taken into the public domain continues to change with particular NFT collections.

NFTs and Pop Culture

Pop culture is alive and well in the minds of the general public. It isn’t static; rather, it evolves and transforms with time. NFT collections aim to catch the public’s imagination, not only by reflecting current sentiments, but also by directing them in a straightforward, logical manner. This is the same mechanism that gives memes their potency. The paintings of Andy Warhol are quite significant in this discussion.

When one examines Marilyn Monroe’s long influence in the public mind, Warhol was a master at being memetic. Marilyn Monroe as a pop culture icon has been inextricably linked to Andy Warhol’s interpretations of her image. This memeification of culture is more efficient than ever before thanks to modern technologies. As a result, it’s only natural that NFT collections have become a part of the process and are highly memetic in their own right. This is a big reason why they’ve become so popular in the last year.

We also live in a society where different people have diverse ideas about what constitutes pop culture. There is the regular “mainstream” culture, which includes streaming movies and programs as well as social media debates. There are other components of culture that are widely discussed but don’t exactly fall under the ambiguous category of “pop culture.”

Take, for example, the Curate multichain NFT Platform’s Style of Skull collection. This collection pays homage to skull and skeleton imagery from throughout the globe. People have a natural attraction with death-related iconography, from the renowned sugar skulls of Mexico to the dreadful Skull Catacombs of Paris. Another Curate collection, aptly titled “Memento Mori,” delves into this interest (remember death). Distilling a widespread love with death images into algorithmic NFT collections is an appropriate method to simultaneously acknowledge and reimagine the ancient fascination with skulls.


The famed CryptoPunk collection on OpenSea is another example of pop culture’s effect on NFT collections. These Punks’ look is evocative of the 24×24 pixel imagery used in early 1990s computer games. When seeing these photographs, anybody who played Advanced Dungeons & Dragons between 1988 and 1992 is sure to feel nostalgic. These pixelated images are designed to seem like character avatars from those (and other) games.

The vintage imagery has the effect of bringing back memories of hours spent playing these many games. As a result, we can observe that the popularity of CryptoPunks is straightforward: The art of the NFT is based on a cultural artefact, which evokes nostalgic sentiments. Furthermore, the sheer variety of 10,000 distinct characters ensures that at least ONE of the pictures will certainly strike a personal chord with some individuals.


In a similar vein, Warhol picked Marilyn Monroe as the subject of his diptych. Despite her troubles, she remained a revered figure. The viewer’s emotional connection to Monroe is critical to experiencing the diptych’s emotional impact, which addresses the dichotomy of her life and death. In hindsight, using Monroe’s photo was a brilliant idea, since Marilyn Monroe continues to be memefied until this day. Her appearance and narrative are frequently encapsulated in iconic photographs and posters that may still be seen on the walls of many people throughout the globe.

However, there is one key distinction between Warhol’s Pop Art and many of the popular algorithmic NFT collections. Warhol actively utilized existing pop culture artifacts, such as Campbell’s Soup cans, to communicate familiarity. Algorithmic NFT collections aren’t always as obvious as Warhol’s creations.

Instead, cultural allusions may appear on occasion inside individual pictures, but it is the images themselves that are breaking into the general awareness. Take, for example, the BAYC collection. Regardless of the controversy, they have surely captivated the attention of a large number of individuals all around the globe. Even though they may or may not have copied elements of the collection from elsewhere, the Apes have essentially produced a pop culture icon(s).


Belonging as Ownership

The last way that algorithmic NFT collections are linked to Warhol and Pop Art is via the significance that comes with owning a piece or a print. Of course, when it comes to any item of culture that may be held, this is more of a general rule… However, this is true of Pop Art as well as any other kind of art.

Meaning and identity may be generated by having a cultural item (whether it’s an mp3, a picture, or a book). Declaring or displaying that a person owns a certain piece of art is a statement about that person’s interests, viewpoints, and worldview. Algorithmic NFT collections have the exact same technique.

A person may acquire a work just to attempt to sell it for profit, but they may also buy a work because it speaks to their interests, their worldview, or a piece of nostalgia they want to keep near. These collections appeal to a buyer’s identity and provide a commonality to share with others who have purchased art from the same collection throughout the globe.

Algorithmic NFTs have now been shown to be fully compatible with the canon of current art history. While the NFTs have received some criticism, they are equally as famous and vital as any other art movement that has before them. It’s incredibly beneficial to consider and discuss about algorithmic NFT collections through the prism of Pop Art and the silkscreen process.

So, the next time you’re scrolling through the various collections out there, looking for the exact jpeg from the specific collection that genuinely speaks to your sense of self, remember Warhol.


The “pop art movement” was founded by artists like Andy Warhol. The idea of this movement was to combine the mass production of popular culture with the avant-garde art world. This led to a new form of expression that has been seen in many forms since its inception.

Frequently Asked Questions

What defines Pop art?

A: Pop art is a term used to describe an artistic movement that emerged in the mid-1950s. The artists of this movement rejected prevailing ideas about creativity and embraced commercial culture, particularly mass media, advertising and consumerism.

What are 3 characteristics of Pop art?

A: To be a Pop artist, you have to have three characteristics. Those are being mass produced, meaning that it was created in an industrial process; being popular and accessible by the general public; and using bold colors, line drawings or patterns.

How is Pop art made?

A: Pop art is a type of visual art in which mass-produced images or scenes from popular culture are an aesthetic medium, typically combined with elements of streetwear and photojournalism.

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