Can the art market thrive in a sharing economy?

The Art Newspaper | Melanie Gerlis

“No one wants to own anything any more. It’s all about experiencing, sharing and being in the moment. Since the digital revolution, information and algorithms are more valuable than the physical.” So said Ralph Nauta, the co-founder of the artist collective Studio Drift, at a recent event for Future/Pace, itself a collaborative effort to produce often-experiential art. He has a point. Millennials don’t seem to have the same collecting gene as previous generations. In many ways, this is a wonderful thing that has contributed to upcycling, crowdsourcing and other on-trend benevolent behaviour—but it is not good news for the art market, which relies on a cult of possessing. This shift from an ownership to a shared economy, in which companies such as Uber and Airbnb loom large, is very much on the mind of the market’s leading players. “Is the art of the future an object or an experience? I don’t think it should be overstated, but it should be taken into consideration,” says Marc Spiegler, the global director of Art Basel, who says this is a topic that he and the Los Angeles-based artist Doug Aitken often discuss.

There are some positive side-effects for art. The fetishisation of the unique may be on the wane, but editioned works, including photographs, prints and ceramics, are increasingly popular, helping to broaden the art market’s appeal. Some museums’ outreach programmes now explicitly encourage visitors to Instagram the works on their walls, which again democratises the potential audience for art. Forms of private patronage are changing, too. Although collectors have historically supported artists by buying their works on the primary market, they now increasingly invest in production or, through platforms such as Patreon, even fund artists directly. “Sharing and supporting art is an implicit duty, rather than making another status-building acquisition or investment,” says the collector Alain Servais, who has shown his own support by becoming a member of Friends of Liste, a smart scheme that has reduced the exhibiting fee for ten of the galleries at the Liste art fair this year…read more

Image: Melanie Gerlis