Quasi Objects: My Room is a Fish Bowl, 2016. Frieze Viewing Room.

2020 is far from a typical year. Collectors had to exchange their VIP passes for accounts: it seems that due to the pandemic the art market has become completely digital. The new landscape is already marked by special milestones. Sotheby’s broke its own record, earning $13.7 million at the first fully virtual contemporary art auction, with the Frieze New York online exhibition showing several seven-digit sales.

“Gone” to the Internet and Art Basel, completely canceling offline fairs in 2020. Christie’s auctioneers are boasting about the New Global 20th Century Art Sale. Giovanna Bertazzoni, who is responsible for contemporary painting, assures that this global marathon of four online auctions “corresponds to how customers spend their money today”. But overall, sales have fallen, and galleries in the U.S. are predicting a 73% drop in revenue in the second quarter of the year. Online purchases are happening, but the overall figures are pale. Few collectors who buy what they systematically buy remain active, in all weathers.

Adam Lindemann, an influential American financier, and dealer, admitted that his only purchase since a quarantine was a cold water surfing suit… He’s not the only one talking about “breathing space” and fair fatigue. The general conclusion is that art is not meant to be seen on the Internet, except for art intended for viewing on the Internet. Physical experience is key.

A noteworthy event designed to change the rules is David Zwirner’s “Platform”. It allows trading to be consolidated online and 12 galleries to offer their work through the David Zwirner Gallery portal. Another newest company is called Vortic. Its founder, Oliver Miro, hopes that galleries that lack physical space will find his initiative super useful: Vortic is a way to visualize work in your own home without having to move it.

The son of the famous gallery owner Victoria Miro says that “crossed the Rubicon” when he had to send a painting by Yayoi Kusama from Japan to London and New York, then back to London, and then to Hong Kong before the collector decided that it “does not quite fit him. The client-side of the platform is two applications, Vortic Collect and Vortic VR, available on the App Store. With Vortic Collect, collectors can attend private viewings, previews of fairs, and exhibitions. Directly contact galleries as well as try on works.

Сын знаменитой галеристки Виктории Миро говорит, что «перешел Рубикон», когда ему пришлось отправить картину Яёи Кусамы из Японии в Лондон и Нью-Йорк, затем обратно в Лондон, а потом в Гонконг, прежде чем коллекционер решил, что она «не совсем ему подходит». Клиентской стороной платформы являются два приложения, Vortic Collect и Vortic VR, доступные в App Store. С помощью Vortic Collect коллекционеры могут посещать частные просмотры, аванпремьеры ярмарок и выставок. Напрямую связываться с галереями, а также примерять работы.

Art at a Distance: New Art Consumption Formats
Kerry James Marshall, Untitled (Blot), 2015. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, London.
The Hauser and Wirth Mega Gallery takes an even bigger step forward by announcing ArtLab, a technology and research division. The first project will be the HWVR exhibition model, the “gallery of the future” (opening scheduled for 2021). Objective: To expand the audience as much as possible with those who are ready to wear VR glasses and artists who are willing to create their projects specifically for Hauser and Wirth using new technologies. There are also those who don’t want to transfer online formats offline by turning to stream long ago. They believe that their audience has long been ready to consume digital art, want to watch, buy, and broadcast art only on the Internet.
David Green, founder of Daata (since 2012) believes that paid subscriptions take precedence over individual purchases. Most of Daata platform traffic is divided into three segments: exhibition, streaming, and television. For a monthly subscription fee starting at $10, users can watch broadcasts, create lists, post their own works, etc.. Daata serves two audiences: regular customers and artlabbers – those who only want to watch.
Art at a Distance: New Art Consumption Formats
Other companies have adopted a similar, albeit more commercial, model. The Sedition platform (since 2011) offers the ability to stream any artwork, but only until it is sold out, in return for a $15 per month subscription. Niio sells digital art, with a subscription starting at $99 per month. This more expensive service provides access to an extensive catalogue of fresh media works as well as solutions for managing collections, gallery “artcastes” and curatorial services.
Art at a Distance: New Art Consumption Formats
Exhibit #4 of the Okamenelosti series, 2020. Marble. 18 x 9 x 7.5 cm. Start price 100 euros. Auction Vladey.  “All 100 on quarantine. Bidding X. June 20, 2020.

The essence is to move and adapt while remaining inclusive and attractive. That seems to be the new normal. At least in 2020.

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