Art, art, art
Christies grossed $1.726 billion this past week in the art auctions. The first fine art auction started at Christies in 1766. The majority of art auctions, essentially a bidding frenzy that takes place in the secondary art world, has been taking place for around 250 years. Christies commissions range from 12% and 35%. The beneficiaries of this was the auction houses and the owners of the art, period.
I am thinking about the weekend of art. I am also thinking about how technology is changing the art world. Years ago if you were interested in something you would be given information and small photos of the work. Today each gallery has an iPad with photos of work from each individual artist in their gallery. You can scroll through the the iPad to see past work and the gallery will send you a jpeg while you think about the piece. That was a big move for galleries. Now it is business as usual.
Then sites starting cropping up. As Jen Bekman of 20×200 says, “art should be available to everyone”. That has always stuck with me. You don’t have to spend a huge amount of money to have art on the wall from artists. No doubt that buying art can be walking into a mine field. It is important to educate yourself. I have been watching Kollecto where for a small fee you can educate yourself, connect with an online art advisor and begin to collect.
We are collectors and have been since graduating college. The first piece we own is one of the first things I see when I come home every day. I still love it. Surrounded by books and art is a privilege that is available to everyone. Artists are creators. A little bit like entrepreneurs who create companies and can’t stop thinking about new ideas but artists think imaginatively about what they want to create. It is an extension of what is going through their own head.
When I see those prices are Christies I am blown away but I also believe that technology has to invade that space. The artists should be benefitting from those transactions too and sadly they are not. That is why I am such a fan of Artlist. There are pieces on the site that are in the million dollar range and the few thousand dollar range. When each piece is sold (and you can make an offer vs just paying full price) 5% of the proceeds goes to Artlist and 5% goes to the artist. So if the Andy Warhol up for sale on Artlist goes for the $1,250,000 then $62,500 will go to the Andy Warhol foundation. If the Danh Vo sells at the listed price from the seller at $480,000 then $24,000 goes to Danh Vo. He continues to be paid for his brilliance. That is powerful.
Globalization has also changed the art world. People get on a plane and travel to ends of the world at a drop of a hat. They also can use the same art sites that are in London and the US when they are in Brazil. If you are a collector you can collect from your kitchen. You can educate yourself on artists that you are following. People who are purchasing pieces at Christies for $680m are obviously not your typical collector but decades ago the changes were that the majority of people at the auctions were not as international as they are today.
I have written about this before but seeing that Christies number just made me think more about how powerful the art world is and how important it is to continue to pay back our artists who give all of us the ability to experience their work. They should benefit from their success just as other artists do such as actors with residuals or entrepreneurs who build companies that sell or go public.
Change is afoot everywhere. There are a few places where technology hasn’t changed much but the art world is just starting to see more change and I for one think that is a very good thing.