For a long time, the art market was “a secret world of whispers” according to art advisor Kim Heirston, who started her career working in New York’s downtown galleries three decades ago. Then, as an archivist for the late gallerist Robert Miller, she safeguarded and only shared materials that were critical to gallery sales, on request.
But today, starting a fine art collection is easier than ever, thanks to the internet, where many players in the art market now operate. Purchasing artworks isn’t just for art experts or the wealthy collectors who can afford to hire them. Now, “you’re able to get every bit of information,” Heirston said in a phone interview.
Many artworks can be purchased or bid for online, bypassing older models, such as directly negotiating with galleries or attending auctions.
Artworks from Platform by Aneta Bartos (left) and Lucía Vidales (right). Credit: Jonathan Hökklo @hawkclaw/Platform
In 2019, Hiscox’s annual art trade report captured the trend, estimating that online art sales had reached $4.8 billion that year — up from $1.5 billion in 2013. The figure is expected to climb to $9.32 billion by 2024.
But that said, those who are able and interested in purchasing artworks for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more), hiring an art advisor to guide your collection and counsel you on the art market is probably still wise.
“I’ve been able to see the vicissitudes,” Heirston said. “I know who’s in favor and who’s not. I try to project who may be favored or coveted down the line.”
But for first-time buyers or newcomers with a more modest budget — say, in the hundreds or thousands — they’ll find there are many new ways to get started.
How to buy art online
Online art marketplaces offer a number of tools to help you get a grasp on the market, from robust search features and extensive pricing data to informative articles to help put the artists and artworks in context.
Artsy, founded in 2009, remains the largest marketplace, with an inventory of over 1 million artworks from more than 4,000 galleries, art fairs and institutions [disclaimer: this writer was a former employee at Artsy], but sites including Artsper and Saatchi Art also offer plenty of options. Users to these platforms won’t necessarily be able to click-to-buy all listed artworks — with some, you’ll have to make online offers or contact the gallery. Both Artsy and Artnet also partner with auction houses and other organizations to offer exclusive online auctions.
A view of Platform’s marketplace. Credit: Platform
So, where might someone start? As a rule of thumb, prints, works on paper, photography and digital art often offer more reasonable price points than painting or sculpture. In addition, following the market of early-career artists can mean finding a great piece of art before their works become too pricey.
With seemingly endless listings, however, the question becomes how to sort through them all.
That’s where Platform has stepped up, The David Zwirner-backed marketplace curates only 100 contemporary works each month from independent galleries around the US. General manager Bettina Huang says their model is similar to Net-a-Porter, which offers edits of luxury fashion and beauty offerings, “and then makes it really, really easy for you to buy.”
Artworks on Platform by Marcel Dzama (top) and Danielle Orchard (bottom). Credit: Jonathan Hökklo @hawkclaw/Platform
After the mega gallery David Zwirner partnered with smaller galleries to launch a series of viewing rooms while the pandemic shuttered galleries and halted their sales, Zwirner’s son, Lucas, turned the project into its own art e-commerce company with Huang and a separate team. Platform offers many works under $10,000, and all can be directly purchased through the site (even in installments through Klarna). It’s first-come, first-serve — unlike many galleries, which can require intensive relationship-building — though there is a loyalty program for repeat buyers to gain 24-hour early access each month.
“By limiting it to a certain number of artworks that are really vetted by the galleries whom we’ve specifically invited on, it’s a very different approach so that as a consumer or collector, you can feel really confident that whatever you’re buying has gone through multiple layers of checking,” said Lucas Zwirner in the video call with Huang. “Our aspiration with Platform is to present a really diverse, accurate snapshot of the very best of what’s out there.”
How to lease-to-own
Buying expensive artwork isn’t a snap decision for most people, which is why Parlor, a company that launched in 2020 is operating on a try-it-before-you-buy-it model, signing on galleries to offer monthly installments that go towards the total cost of a work.
Parlor users only have to be lightly committed, signing up for a 3- to 12-month lease, with the option to renew, purchase or swap for a new piece at the end. If an artist’s market value happens to rise over the course of the lease period, the cost of the artwork will not go up — though if someone else wishes to purchase the artwork during the lease period, the galleries reserve the right to sell it. Parlor handles installation and insurance, and also offers guidance on how to build a collection.
A view of Parlor’s website. Credit: Parlor
“Buying art is hard…most people don’t really know what they want, because they haven’t really lived with art,” Parlor’s co-founder and CEO Julian Siegelmann said in a video call.
“Most (people) don’t drop multiple thousands of dollars within galleries or fairs. So for us, it’s really about…reducing the financial barriers, taking care of the logistical headache, and then also offering advisory services.”
Though some of the works listed on Parlor can reach upwards of $50,000, Siegelmann says they are mostly focused on offering works of art under $20,000. (Works under $10,000 generally cost $85 a month for a 12-month lease). And the company’s inventory is not only limited to what’s on their site — they’ve recently launched a request feature where you can send them artworks you’re interested in while browsing at galleries or art fairs, and they’ll reach out on your behalf.
A Parlor collector’s home featuring “Flow (Buckley)” by Henrik Eiben from Pablo’s Birthday. Credit: Mark Rosen/Parlor
Parlor’s marketing manager Kaitlin Macholz, who came to the company from Christie’s, said that living with a piece first is the best way to make sure you want to keep it long-term.
“Sometimes you have a really different reaction to seeing an artwork in person rather than seeing it online,” she said. “Things like scale or texture that might not always be visible online…Having it actually hanging above your couch or above your bed might totally change the way you look at that artwork and at the space.”
How to collect digital art
One of the biggest shifts in the industry has occurred in the digital realm, with the emergence of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. NFTs act like virtual signatures that use blockchain technology, giving digital creators the ability to prove their work is the original file. (NFTs can be made out of any digital file — virtual fashion, event tickets, memes — meaning the technology has also impacted much more than just the visual arts.)
Merel van Helsdingen, founder and managing director of Amsterdam’s new-media focused Nxt Museum — and a digital art collector herself — says that NFTs have demolished the barriers for who gets to sell their work as an artist. The physical art world is “all very highly curated and controlled by the big auction houses, the bigger galleries and institutions,” she said in a video interview.
NFTs, on the other hand, are sold largely outside the confines of traditional art spaces, on newer or exclusive e-commerce platforms which don’t distinguish whether an artist is a “blue chip” or represented by an esteemed gallery.
“It’s open for everyone, if you have an email address and a cryptocurrency wallet, but you don’t even need (a wallet) everywhere,” she said. (She does recommend a Rainbow wallet for safekeeping your collections as well as your coins.)
One of the biggest benefits of artists using NFTs is that they automatically make a percentage of each new sale of their artworks, in contrast to traditional auctions where artists’ works can sell for millions and they don’t see a dime. Collectors know that each resale is benefiting the creator.
But the market is also prone to “a lot of hype,” van Helsdingen said, with competitive, rapid bidding for limited editions, an intrinsic unpredictability, and unfortunately, hacks and scams. (It’s also environmentally unfriendly due to the energy requirements of mining and transacting, though many crypto projects and NFT platforms have been aiming to reduce their ecological footprint, van Helsdingen notes.)
As for showing your NFT collection, you can do so on any digital display, but the virtual world is bound to offer more options soon, she said, like displaying your artworks within video games or through extended reality (XR) apps.
Top image: A Parlor collector’s living room featuring “Mantle” by Zach Bruder from Magenta Plains.
Art Beat: Arts Council keeps its friends close – Coast Reporter
Until Feb. 6, the Sunshine Coast Arts Council is exhibiting works by its members in a variety of mediums.
The annual “Friends of the Gallery” show is hosted in the Doris Crowston Gallery of the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre, at 5714 Medusa Street, in Sechelt.
Now in its 20th year, the “Friends” event began as a way to encourage emerging artists. Today, individual artists from the community are invited to submit one piece of work they completed in the previous year to be shown in the group exhibition.
Artworks are also available for purchase.
Youth Urged to Float Beachcombers-Inspired Creations
The Sunshine Coast Writers and Editors Society describes itself as “a magnet for creative souls on the Coast.” To mark this year’s golden jubilee of The Beachcombers, the iconic CBC Television program, the society is seeking to attract young creative souls through an art and writing contest.
Various types of submissions are welcome, including short stories, creative nonfiction, poetry, scripts, cover artwork and colouring for the planned anthology and exhibit.
Written entries must contain at least one reference to The Beachcombers, the Coast or the beach. Allusions to jet boat manoeuvres and amicable ribbing at the lunch counter of Molly’s Reach are likely assets as well.
Details are online on the Society’s website at scwes.ca. Submissions must be received by midnight on June 1.
Family Literacy Week: Tales on Trails
The Province of British Columbia has proclaimed Jan. 24 to 31 as Family Literacy Week, marking the fifth successive year that Family Literacy Day (Jan. 27) has overflowed with a sevenfold increase in bookish intensity.
“Children’s literacy skills expand and grow much faster when families read, play and learn together,” said Jennifer Whiteside, B.C.’s Minister of Education. “Family Literacy Week is a great opportunity to focus on dynamic ways to support our youngest learners so they can develop the skills they need to succeed in their school years and beyond.”
Decoda Literacy Solutions, a province-wide literacy organization, is hosting a photo contest. Participants may take a photo using a “Let’s Be Active” theme and submit it by email to email@example.com or post it on social media using these hashtags: #LetsBeActive and #FLW2022. There will be a class prize and a prize for individuals.
To mark the occasion, the Gibsons and District Public Library has encouraged families to host “reading walks” in which families and individuals stroll through local parks, reading along to stories.
The Coast Reporter encourages all such literary ramblers to glance up from time to time, in order to avoid mid-chapter collisions incurred while covering one’s tracks.
Library Line: Parrott Art Gallery open to viewers online – Belleville Intelligencer
By Wendy Rayson-Kerr
Although the Parrott Gallery is closed until at least January 26 due to public health restrictions, we are still working to bring you art. We hope that our awesome gallery supporters will sign onto our website to view new virtual exhibitions, participate in online art workshops and register for free Armchair Traveller presentations on Zoom. We’ll also be increasing our social media posts, so please follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to view artwork from our current exhibitions as well as from our permanent collection, because everyone could use a little more art in their life right now!
Coming next: The Bay of Quinte Modern Quilt Guild is presenting an exhibition called, “Outside the Block” which will be available to view online through our website starting on Saturday, January 22. The traditional Log Cabin Quilt design, generally speaking, starts with a center shape which is surrounded by strips of coloured pieces that follow a specific sequence of light and dark patterning. Colours have meanings in these quilts, whose shapes can be seen to symbolize log cabins with both dark and sunny corners, and much has been written about their connection to North American pioneers. In our upcoming exhibition, this traditional pattern has been given a modern interpretation. The twenty quilters represented in this group show have all used the Log Cabin Quilt pattern as their inspiration, resulting with an assortment of unique designs. Each artwork is as original as the artists themselves, and we certainly hope you will log in to view them on our website (for now) as well as get the chance to view them in our gallery in the near future.
Another exhibition that will soon be available to view online is called “Corona and Friends” by George Kratz. This prolific Stirling artist has assembled a large collection of paintings that he has been working on over the past two decades. He describes his Corona series as, “an abstract journey” which he completed during the pandemic. The earlier work in his Friends series is equally intense, full of symbolism both borrowed and unique to the artist. George Kratz is a story-teller and this exhibition tells the story of vivid colour, strong lines and imagery you will not soon forget.
Both of these online shows will be available to view in person when we are allowed to re-open our doors once again.
We continue to offer Online Acrylic Pouring Workshops at the Parrott Gallery. These monthly projects are meant for beginners and skilled artists alike, and are the perfect way to learn knew creative skills. Prepared and presented by Warkworth artist Sheila Wright, these workshops are fun and easy to complete. Each kit costs thirty dollars and contains all you will need to create a unique artwork, including materials and video instructions. The January project is a painting called “Rainbow Swipe” and the deadline to register is Saturday, January 22. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us as 613-968-6731 x 2040 if you are interested or would like more information.
On February 19, Photographer Lydia Dotto will be sharing her online Armchair Traveller presentation on the Antarctic. From the comfort of your own home you can take a journey across the globe, for free! “The Antarctic: Abundance of Life” is your chance to view a place that most of us will never have the chance to visit. You can register for this live Zoom presentation through our website. When we re-open our doors, our Corridor Gallery will feature the photography of Susan and Clint Guy, in a show they have called “India: The Golden Triangle”. Plans for an in-person presentation are also under way, so stay tuned for this next part of our Armchair Traveller Series.
We know 2022 is going to be an exciting year of exhibitions and programs here at the Parrott Gallery, so we won’t let the current closures discourage us. We hope that we will be open for in-person viewing again soon.
Wendy Rayson-Kerr is the Acting Curator of the John M. Parrott Art Gallery
Eden Deering Started Her Art Career at 8 – The New York Times
She is the director of PPOW, a venerable art gallery in TriBeCa co-founded by her mother in 1983.
Name: Eden Deering
Hometown: New York City
Now Lives: In a one-bedroom apartment in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn that she shares with her boyfriend, Weston Lowe, who also runs a gallery.
Claim to Fame: Ms. Deering is a director at PPOW, a contemporary art gallery in TriBeCa that grew out of the 1980s East Village art scene. She curates book-fueled exhibitions that comment on social life. “Everything, for me, starts with reading,” Ms. Deering said. “Writers and artists have always been in conversation with each other. Books give me a tool to think about the importance of art.” Her first group exhibition in 2019, “Do You Love Me?,” focused on “the unbalanced power dynamic between those that desire love and those in our culture who have the power to give it,” she said.
Big Break: Ms. Deering unofficially began her art world internship at age 8, when her mother, Wendy Olsoff, one of PPOW’s founders, took her to Art Basel in Switzerland, the Venice Biennale in Italy, and various artists’ studios. In 2016, while working as an assistant at Gladstone Gallery, she started a roving art collective, Duplex, with Sydney Fishman. Duplex now has a permanent gallery on Essex Street in Lower Manhattan. “All of my friends are artists,” she said. “It is why I am.”
Latest Project: Ms. Deering will lead the programming at PPOW’s second downtown gallery, opening later this year a block away. It’s “a space for experimentation,” she said. “We don’t always get to work with the artists that I bring in for group shows.”
Next Thing: PPOW’s summer 2022 exhibition will feature feminist landscape paintings, including works by Carolee Schneemann, women artists in their 20s, as well as some from the 19th century. “Carolee always said she was a painter,” Ms. Deering said. “The general culture does not think of her as one.”
Personal Space: Her mother and Penny Pilkington, who co-founded PPOW in 1983, are still involved with the gallery. “I feel very honored to work for such incredible women,” Ms. Deering said. She credits the co-founders for their clarity of purpose. “Artists need money and space to work,” she said. “And that’s always been Wendy and Penny’s No. 1 priority.”
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