Unique kinetic sculpture by Beeple on show through 2023 at Crystal Bridges

It’s described as “four video screens (16k resolution), polished aluminum metal, mahogany wood frame, dual media servers and endless video.”

It was sold at Christie’s auction house in 2021 for $29 million.

And it’s being shown for the first time in the United States at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, following exhibitions at M+ in Hong Kong and Castello di Rivoli in Italy.

“HUMAN ONE” was created by digital artist Mike Winkelmann, better known as Beeple, and is on loan to the Bentonville museum from its owner, Swiss venture capitalist Ryan Zurrer.

Xuxa Rodríguez, Ph.D., associate curator of Contemporary Art for Crystal Bridges, first saw the artwork during a visit to Christie’s with the Kindred Spirits museum group.

“Our members were so engaged by the kinetic sculpture that our team quickly began working to bring the work to Northwest Arkansas for our museum guests to enjoy it, too,” Rodríguez says. “‘HUMAN ONE’ offers our guests a work that takes artistic mediums that they may already be familiar with and brings them together to make an entirely new work.

“Beeple is a self-taught artist who has been creating for years across multiple mediums, including video, animation and sculpture,” she explains. “With ‘HUMAN ONE,’ he has fused animation with sculpture to create a work that lives across both digital and physical worlds simultaneously. It sounds like a simple fusion on the surface, but when you see the work in person, you can see how complex it is in practice as you take in the sculptural form that is always moving and let yourself relax into the expansive digital world of the walking explorer as the landscape behind them also transforms before your eyes.”

Visitors to Crystal Bridges will encounter “HUMAN ONE” as they enter the Contemporary Gallery.

“It’s your visual welcome into works of our present moment, showing a glimpse into a vast world digitally nested within our own through the physical form of the sculpture,” Rodríguez says. “It’s a visual delight to watch as the sculpture turns, and the explorer figure walks across an ever-transforming landscape that blooms into different imagined vistas with each step along their quest.

“The explorer’s world reflects both our own and all that we can imagine as it morphs from a silvery mountain scene where rainbows burst from the ground to a vibrant flowering landscape where chrome bunnies roam all around the world,” she says. “The work’s internal sun rises and falls in sync with our own so that time within the explorer’s world follows our world.”

Emblematic of the 21st century and its relationship to digital technologies, this artwork is linked to an NFT, or non-fungible token, that lives as a unique object on a blockchain, or an online decentralized ledger, a Crystal Bridges press release says.

“The internal scavenger hunt is such an exciting aspect of ‘HUMAN ONE,'” Rodríguez enthuses. “It takes the concept of close looking in art, where you as the viewer take your time to slowly take in the artwork visually and notice all its details, and turns it into a game that guests can participate in. In this way, guests are active contributors to the work’s ongoing story by using the clues they find to solve the puzzles that Beeple builds into the work.

“‘HUMAN ONE’ then is never a static work — neither physically as an always active sculpture nor artistically as it always changes with updates made by the artist,” she says. “It’s a dynamic work that will change throughout the course of Beeple’s lifetime and our own, a radical departure from thinking about an artwork as forever fixed within the moment that it’s been completed!”

Rodríguez assures visitors that “HUMAN ONE” is accessible to all ages and all levels of art expertise, “whether it’s appreciating the variety of landscapes depicted or how the artist has used technology to create a new artform out of some that guests will already know in different ways. We’re thrilled to present this to our public and can’t wait to welcome everyone to experience ‘HUMAN ONE’ with us.”

There is no charge to view the sculpture, which will be located in the Contemporary Gallery through January 2024.



WHEN — 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Sunday & Monday; closed Tuesday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday & Friday

WHERE — Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, 600 Museum Way in Bentonville

COST — Free

INFO — crystalbridges.org

  photo  “HUMAN ONE,” the first sculpture made by digital artist Mike Winkelmann — better known as Beeple — is on display throughout 2023 at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. Winkelmann (pictured) says “HUMAN ONE” “taps into the full potential of digital art because it has the unique ability to dynamically change over time.” (Courtesy Photo)

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