Artist Morgan Jesse Lappin may be High on Collage – the title of his latest show – but he’s also riding high on the current digital art trend: NFTs. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are cryptocurrency units on the blockchain which, when created as art pieces, certify permanent assets for buyers. In recent weeks the art industry has been rocked by developments in the medium; digital creator Beeple made a record-breaking $69.3 million NFT sale through Christie’s on March 11, 2021, marking his piece the world’s third most expensive by a living artist. Lappin joined these storied ranks earlier this month with his first NFT sale, “Dracula’s Bitches in Night Time Snow,” and his second, “Nighthawks Popeye,” sold within minutes after being reposted on Instagram by Mark Cuban’s company NFT.
High on Collage, featuring some of Lappin’s most popular works, opened this week as a debut for Trigonal Gallery. An innovative digital gallery founded by Jonathan Goodman, Trigonal is dedicated to supporting working artists in the wake of the pandemic. It was a natural choice for Lappin, called the “master of contemporary collage art,” to be the first craftsman showcased in Trigonal’s exhibitions on Artsy.net. Not only is he the founder of the Brooklyn Collage Collective (BCC), the first internationally-renowned assemblage of collage artists, but Lappin has also formed an indelible presence in the global art, music, entertainment and fashion communities through a variety of works. Known for his eye-popping collages that use nostalgic 1980s materials – VHS tape boxes, audio cassette covers, comic books – to comprise paper worlds with mixed comedy, chaos, vintage music, sci-fi, and horror, Lappin often combines zany, gleeful sound and performance elements to his fine art works.
“Morgan has an incredible eye for design intertwined with an emotional view of his surrounding world, making his art at times seem like a dreamstate with melancholy undertones,” says Goodman.
Goodman and Lappin have bonded over their shared interests in revolutionary art and technology, as well as bold, outgoing senses of humor that help even novices find the big questions of the sector accessible. Trigonal’s show centers on Lappin’s “Back At Home,” an extensive piece picturing a colorful and complex world. “Back At Home” was part of a two-man show in Australia at the height of the pandemic in 2020, where it sold prior to the exhibition’s opening. Trigonal has 9 prints of “Back At Home” for sale, remaining from the original run of 14. Each isare 30” x 40” (76.2cm x 101.6cm), signed and numbered by the artist, for $500 unframed. A unique NFT will be attached to each sold piece, available exclusively with purchase of the print.
“This is a limited print of an original analog collage paired with NFTs,” Lappin says. “’Back At Home’ shows a place you always wanted to visit, but only exists within your mind. It’s a map to adventure, where there are no rules and the vibrant beauty goes on into infinity. This world has elements from children’s books, encyclopedias, magazines, and other strange vintage publications. These limited-edition hand-signed prints are a portal into a vast and beautiful world.”
High on Collage runs through April 19, but the preparation for the show has empowered Lappin to embrace the NFT medium in ways he never would have imagined possible pre-pandemic. “As an artist, my life has gone through great changes due to the Covid pandemic,” he comments. “This need to survive pushed me to look for new and innovative ways to create revenue. A combination of timing, necessity, and hard work pushed me to publish my first NFT.”
And it is through NFTs that Lappin and Goodman are continuing their collaboration well into the future following High on Collage’s conclusion. The “Dracula’s Bitches in Night Time Snow” NFT sold within 48 hours of its launch, prompting the pair to host a Clubhouse session discussing the sale and NFT’s impact on contemporary art. Due to the popularity of their premiere session and the continuing craze around NFTs, Goodman and Lappin will host weekly episodes of The Art of Art Business on the platform to announce new works and analyze the continuing shifts in the industry. Viewers can tune in Sundays at 4PM Eastern Time, while buyers can purchase Lappin’s available NFTs at OpenSea.io.
For those wishing to see great art in person, every piece in High on Collage can be viewed for a limited time at the Strictly CBD store in Jersey City, New Jersey. Strictly CBD, founded by Jeffrey Devine, is one of New Jersey’s most groundbreaking CBD and hemp retail stores. It provides not only a vast array of premium locally-grown hemp-based products including CBD oil tinctures, infused coffee, chocolate, skincare and petcare goods, but also works to educate consumers about the plant’s health benefits, best dosing methods, and current legislation. The Strictly CBD-Trigonal partnership is an ideal match for Lappin’s show, as the artist has long been an active advocate in the cannabis community.
In the coming months, Trigonal will launch numerous art shows focused on emerging and classic artists (including Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, Joan Miro and more), as well as a celebration of World Collage Day in May. But for those who can’t wait another day to get their digital paws on an NFT – and business experts say run, don’t walk to do so – Goodman and Lappin have unceasing surprises in store. Hardcore sushi lovers can almost taste Lappin’s newly-released NFT “Sushi Monster,” a lighthearted take on Godzilla-style attacks geared toward the hipster scene. It’s currently available on OpenSea at 1ETH.
“Sometimes your hunger for sushi becomes so strong that you can’t contain the pain,” Lappin notes. “This is when the sushi monster comes, smashes some buildings, slaps some fish, and drops some yummy sushi on your dish!”
Whether you’re hungering for sushi or seeking a feast for the eyes, it’s pretty clear that Lappin and Goodman have your daily dose of nourishment. So feed your soul with a click, and take home your NFT doggy bag. If the market’s right, you’ll never go hungry again – and neither will some very deserving artists.
HIGH ON COLLAGE is now running at Trigonal Gallery on Artsy.net through April 19. Learn more at artsy.net/trigonal or @TrigonalGallery on social media. For more on Morgan Jesse Lappin and upcoming NFTs, visit morganlappin.com, @morgan_jesse_lappin on Instagram, or Lappin’s Trigonal profile. For more on Strictly CBD (394 Communipaw Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey 07304), visit strictlycbdjc.com.