The art world is only just beginning to address the questions raised by the pandemic, such as: Are in-person art fairs a thing of the past and virtual viewing rooms the future? Will museums maintain no-touch ticketing and auction houses continue global online salesrooms?
One mega-gallerist, David Zwirner, has decided to double down on what he took away from the last year: the need for a click-to-buy marketplace to sell original works of art. As a result, Zwirner has created Platform, a website that debuts Thursday and which each month will offer 100 works presented by about 12 independent galleries around the world with prices ranging from $2,500 to $50,000.
“We learned there is a real place in the art world for e-commerce,” Zwirner said in a recent telephone interview. “There is an audience out there we did not know existed. They don’t go to galleries necessarily and they don’t really go to art fairs. They look at things online.” He noted that the audience was “almost all millennials,” who discover art through Instagram and word of mouth. “The art world has never catered to them,” Zwirner added. “They can graduate into a much broader participant.”
earlier pilot of Platform last year, and several of the participating galleries are returning for the new iteration, including Bridget Donahue and Night Gallery. Among the new partners are Bortolami, Charles Moffett, and Jessica Silverman. The artists that Platform is presenting initially include Kenny Rivero, Jane Dickson and Jibade-Khalil Huffman.
Gallery Network, an online, buy-now marketplace for works valued up to $150,000.
But for a blue-chip behemoth like Zwirner, the Platform venture represents a significant departure from the traditional in-person gallery model. The additional information provided about the works of art is more extensive, and in many cases artists are making work for the site.
“Everybody is trying to figure out this new landscape, which relies so much on digital content and selling material without actually seeing it in person,” Moffett said. “We’ve tried a number of different platforms and have been less than satisfied with the results. Obviously the David Zwirner brand is one that is very well respected and my artists liked the idea that they would be presenting on the Zwirner platform, so we figured, why not give this a shot?”
Skeptics will say that Zwirner is just trying to garner publicity and generate good will with a paternalistic, Robin Hood move that ultimately gives his own gallery 20 percent of every sale on Platform. And some in the art world worry that Platform is merely a farm team for Zwirner — a way to develop emerging artists, woo them from smaller galleries, and harvest information about those galleries’ clientele.