Thursday, November 11, 2010
panel discussion recap: E-commerce and the art marketCollect+Art+Delete: E-commerce and the art market, a panel discussion organized by FIT’s Art Market graduate students, took place last Friday night. The panelists were: collector Ron Dominguez; artnet.com’s Gracie Mansion; David Grosz from Pace Gallery & Artifex Press; and gallerist & VIP Art Fair founder James Cohan. The moderator was art advisor & NADA co-founder, Sheri Pasquarella.
Here are some highlights from the evening:
The topic that came up most and seemed to be on everyone’s mind was Cohan’s new VIP ONLINE Art Fair. (VIP stands for “Viewing in Private,” but Cohan said his daughter suggested “Viewing in Pajamas.”)
Some facts about the VIP Art Fair logistics:
- works will be shown in relative scale so viewers can get an idea of size
- all art work is shown in 2-D. There are no 3-D features and no way to virtually “walk” around like you would a normal art fair.
- Cohan mentioned a partnership with Art21 to produce artist videos .
- Participating galleries are available through an IM chat feature and through video chat.
- Galleries are encouraged to be online and available for a minimum of 12hrs a day, ideally about 18hrs.
What is the cost of a virtual booth at the VIP fair? They range from $5,000-$20,000 in price, and come in small, medium, and large sizes. The larger your “booth,” the more “wall” space you have for displaying work. Galleries have a limit to how many works they can “hang” at a time, but they can change them as needed. Galleries can also have “back rooms” to reserve certain works.
There is no E-commerce feature. That’s right, you can’t actually buy anything directly from the VIP Art Fair. Cohan explained this by saying that the fair is about interacting with collectors and cultivating relationships. Panelist David Grosz supported this notion by saying it “wouldn’t feel right” to have E-commerce for the direct purchase of works through the VIP fair website.
Gracie Mansion provided a contrasting argument when she mentioned that she sold a Richard Prince Joke painting through a jpeg on artnet.com. Gracie also mentioned that contrary to the popular belief that buying artwork should be a slow, calculated process, and that clients want to see works in person, that most of her collectors have requested a “Buy-It-Now” feature.
Cohan even pointed out that auctions and traditional art fairs are built around the idea of impulse and competition in vying for art, so why no E-commerce with VIP?
Moderator Sheri Pasquarella also mentioned that 10 years ago, many galleries scoffed at the thought of even having a website, and today it is essentially a required standard. So it is possible that as time goes on, and the Internet becomes more and more engrained in our daily lives, that future generations may not think of buying art online as any different than buying anything else online. This brings up a great question….what makes buying art online different?
A few notes about the other panelists:
Ron Dominguez collects primarily emerging, illustrative works, many of which he has discovered via Internet research. He also has bought a lot of work from Jonathan LeVine Gallery. Ron has used Facebook as a tool for discovering new artists (although he mentioned that they often seek him out.) He has even purchased art through Facebook, but only works worth a couple hundred dollars.
David Grosz is part of Pace Gallery’s new online entity Artifex Press, which is producing digital catalog raisonnés for artists like Sol LeWitt and Agnes Martin. Grosz also mentioned that Pace has had four iphone apps, and that their most successful ones have been the free ones.
Overall, the discussion was a friendly narrative between panelists. Interesting conversation, but it would have been nice to see some debate or opposition. This is definitely a relevant topic that will continue to evolve and influence the art market.
FYI- Lindsay Pollock was in attendance and live-updated on Twitter from the event. You can read her synopsis in tweet form here.