The 2021est Art.

By el Prof
January 4, 2022
Image: beeple

El Prof here. 2021 has been a splatter painting, of the possible murder scene variety. My gloomy palette is populated with the same macro shades as everyone else’s — inflation, pandemic spikes, politicians treating historical institutions like middle school food fights — with some micro notes of instability and sheer terror, probably due to the nosedive of a trust fall I took when I left my job at Google to start this business. In the spirit of the year, I’ll leave it to an AI algorithm to describe succinctly my mood, which Spotify’s did quite well of expressing, ‘hopeful angst’. That, indeed, seemed to be the mood of 2021, and certainly of these three paintings, drawings, and Internet doodles that, for me, best sum it up.

Image: Madison Jesseka / sn0b

Prideful Renaissance — Madison Jesseka

I could shout out the obvious contenders: the Bored Apes, the shredded Banksy, the $69m Beeple. Instead, I’m plugging an unsung piece by an artist I am all sorts of interested in (financially, emotionally, you name it) which, in the year of the hustle bro, feels especially fitting. It depicts 5 disembodied white male heads, all shedding golden tears, which is like a Russian nesting doll of metaphors, but all around a 2021 vibe. Here’s hoping we are heading into our own Renaissance Age in the coming years, beheaded czars and all. 

Image: Sabet / OpenSea

Lovescript “Ape Royal” 2021 — Sabet

An NFT art mainstay whose comic book scenes have generated a lot of awareness for web3 in general, Sabet’s blend of styles embodies a year of cultural diffusion. East and West, digital and physical, homage and original, you name it — Sabet encompasses it all, and never better than in this plagiarized Bored Ape, which couldn’t be more gilded if it tried. Welcome to the raging crypto ’20s.

Image: McKenzie Fisk / Instagram

Heading Out — McKenzie Fisk

This piece drew me into an IRL conversation with the artist regarding the struggles promoting artwork without devaluing it, which was one of the first sparks to light the fire I’ve been stoking with cultr_h0r, sn0bs, 3mrgnt, and the rest of my content and ventures ever since. And, while this whimsical work, apparently designed to raise awareness of the deadly repercussions of the shark fin trade, would surely make a killer animated NFT, I’m including it here for the opposite reason.

I never could sell Ms. Fisk on the concept of NFTs, and I’m not sure we H0Rs are entirely sold ourselves. At the same time, they present an attractive alternative to the current state of things. Fisk’s imaginative artwork is a far cry from the utilitarian cash grabs, PFPs, and algo trash I’ve been forced to cover all season in this column. And yet, as I found out at the art fair where we first connected, she’s losing countless earned royalties to a Russian company using her artwork without permission and with impunity. Would blockchain-secured ownership rights change this? She wasn’t sure, and I’m not either. But it’s easy to see why so many creatives this year have adopted it nonetheless. 

el Prof

el Prof

hey, i'm el prof, but most people call me Connor. Thanks for reading.

subscribe to Cultr_H0R.

want a unipro account? get them here. powered by Emergent Digital.


Search Archives

everything important on the internet, in your inbox.

subscribe to cultr_h0r.