Art and Blockchain

A Primer, History, and Taxonomy of Blockchain Use Cases in the Arts


  • Amy Whitaker New York University



Blockchain technology, while commonly associated with cryptocurrencies, stands to bring radical structural change to the arts and creative industries. This paper presents a history, primer, and taxonomy of blockchain use cases in the arts and then explores the implications of blockchain in three regards: the blurring of the for-profit / nonprofit distinction, changes in the ownership structure of art, and potential for new structures of public and private support and related policy changes. These developments raise important questions of governance of a technology which requires expertise in cryptography, coding, and securities law for implementation. Ultimately, blockchain holds the potential to tip the role of the arts toward democratic availability through collective ownership structures or toward further commodification of cultural assets.

Author Biography

Amy Whitaker , New York University

Amy Whitaker is an assistant professor in Visual Arts Administration and a longstanding researcher, teacher, and mentor at the intersections of art, economics, and politics.

Amy is author of the books Art Thinking (Harper Business) and Museum Legs (Hol Art Books) and of numerous scholarly articles, artists' projects, white papers, and essays. Holding both an MFA and an MBA, Amy has written business-for-artists curricula for the New Museum Incubator and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and taught art-economics classes at Williams College, the School of Visual Arts, California College of the Arts, and the Sotheby's Institute. Amy is a past president of the Professional Organization for Women in the Arts and a past mentor for the TED Fellows program. She began her career in art museums including the Guggenheim, MoMA, and Tate, and worked after art school for the hedge fund manager D.E. Shaw & Co., L.P.

Her research and teaching have been featured in the New York Times, the Financial Times, Harper's, the Atlantic, Art Forum, the Art Newspaper, Artsy, Forbes, the Boston Globe, Vanity Fair, and the Stanford Social Innovation Review. Amy is at work on a new book on the economics of visual art.





How to Cite

Whitaker , A. (2019). Art and Blockchain: A Primer, History, and Taxonomy of Blockchain Use Cases in the Arts. Artivate: A Journal of Entrepreneurship in the Arts, 8(2), 21–46.