Category: Retail

Recent art market technology reading

Filtering the web for art market technology news so you don’t have to! Here are some items of interest over the past few weeks.

  • Fast Company profiles a number of startups targeting the intersection of authentication and display of digital art (For Digital Art, Watermarks Aim To Bring More Aura—And A Hotter Market). Depict integrates authentication and watermarking software with a HD display device, while Electric Objects is developing digital art frames. Whether watermarking technology could help the digital art market develop a mature secondary market is discussed. The article concludes with an observation from Jacob Ciocco, a New York-based digital artist: “Art is about always questioning value within a contemporary context. And if a certain type of value is defined—watermarking—then another artist will always find a way to subvert that. It’s what art does really well,”
  • The Association of Art Museum Directors has published “Next Practices in Digital and Technology”, a collection of 41 US-based case studies of the application of digital technology in a museums context covering a wide range of topics: 3d printing, access programs, apps, collections management, education, in-gallery technology, interpretation, membership, multimedia, open data, publications, research, social media, and visitor services.
  • The Guardian is running an occasional series on “young creatives doing interesting and innovative things at the intersection of art and technology.” The latest piece is a commissioned interview with the CEO of Cuseum, one of a growing list of location-aware apps for museums and exhibitions, including some pointers to other uses of technology in museums.

Sotheby’s “preeminent anchor tenant” in eBay’s revamped marketplace

Today, Sotheby’s formally announces its eBay partnership, and both companies flesh out some detail on their future strategies. Intriguingly, Sotheby’s is described as “a preeminent anchor tenant in the revamped marketplace” – a description which will worry those who consider this move a risk to the Sotheby’s premier brand. Continue reading

Back to the future for Sotheby’s first post-Loeb digital play

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In 2013, Dan Loeb wrote that “Sotheby’s is like an old master painting in desperate need of restoration.” Now, a little more than a year later after a bloody boardroom battle and with three seats on the Sotheby’s board, the company is getting ready to make its first big digital play with Loeb and his deputies in the room.

The New York Times reports today that Sotheby’s and eBay have formed a partnership to stream Sotheby’s sales worldwide. It’s tempting to ask is this 12-year old idea the best Loeb can come up with? Both companies worked together on a similar project in 2002 but it was quickly shelved. Perhaps this time around it will be different – the difference being that under Loeb’s influence, Sotheby’s is now more comfortable in loosening its collar and using technology to chase a higher volume, lower value end of the art market. This would be consistent with Loeb’s 2013 statement: Continue reading

Online art goes offline

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The increasingly co-dependent relationship between the online and offline art worlds reaches another milestone on April 2nd, when Saatchi Art (formerly Saatchi Online) holds its first “offline exhibition.”

Titled Continental Shift (a nod to Saatchi Art’s transition of its operations from London to Los Angeles over the last couple of years) the show exhibits works from the Saatchi Art website in the Edition and Print Gallery at the Saatchi Gallery in London. The collection will also be available through Saatchi Art online, and represented artists will receive 70% of any exhibition sales (the same as Saatchi Art’s online commission).

The online art market is becoming increasingly commoditized. Employing the Saatchi Gallery as a shop window for Saatchi Art – even though both operations are now only connected by name – is a valuable differentiator for Saatchi Art and its artists. Exhibition of artworks for sale online in brand name galleries could even create a ‘halo effect‘ so it won’t be a surprise if other platforms emulate Saatchi Art by creating alliances with established bricks-and-mortar galleries. But it would be a supremely ironic one.

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Saatchi Online (@SaatchiOnline) combines curation, technology, and a global brand to “democratize” art sales

In a spirited and wide ranging interview with Lori Kozlowski of Forbes Magazine at Social Media Week LA yesterday, 27 September 2013, Rebecca Wilson (Chief Curator) and Margo Spiritus (Chief Creative Officer) clearly articulated the Saatchi Online digital strategy and mission: to apply traditional curation skills, technology, and the Saatchi brand to connect emerging artists with collectors worldwide. In the process they believe they can democratize and make transparent the often “murky” and “intimidating” world of art sales.


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3D printing comes to the Van Gogh Museum shop – at a price


Fujifilm, in partnership with the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, is applying the much-hyped technology of 3D printing in a world first for the art world: creating the “ultimate fine art reproduction” which Fujifilm is branding Relievo. FUJIFILM Belgium NV is the technology owner and manufacturer of Relievo.

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