Art but without the second mortgage- Artspace, a newly-launched online marketplace, allows normal people to partake of priceless works for half the…price. BULLETT loves Artspace’s accessibility- art from the source means art for everyone.
Most of the people I know have some very stern pre-existing notions about art ownership. Perhaps because it seems to us still so blue-blooded–an unthinking signifier of those divisions of class that Americans had tried to pull away from in the ‘self-made’ century, but which have followed us well into the current one. Along with European chateaus, heirloom jewels and ‘the hunt’, art buying and selling of the most cherished stereotypes of the filthy rich. It appears, to most people of normal income, still more as a hobby than an investment.
But do ‘the rich’, as we perceive them, actually exist?
The ethos behind Artspace, an online marketplace of contemporary art at a conscientious price, renders the answer irrelevant.
Art ownership for normal-income people: it seems so simple–yet so advanced that one wonders how it hadn’t been thought of before. However one can make an educated guess: our ideas of the rich as actual characters in the drama of everyday life, attending auctions and brunches and all manner of Gossip Girl events (I do believe Blair Waldorf had a harpist at one of her parties) seems to preclude such a liberal idea. The concept of reasonably-priced art where the profits go to charity, or even to the artist him/herself is not only unheard of, but basically discouraged. Thus Artspace’s revolution is powerful on both a diplomatic and social level. The go-word behind the concept–democracy:
“Artspace democratizes artwork.” Says Christopher Vroom, Co-Founder and Chairman of the company. “We have the entrepreneurial opportunities here to make it happen”
Catherine Levene, the CEO and Co-Founder, is every bit as passionate about the boundless possibility of the Artspace platform. Art, as she sees it, doesn’t have to be a cold object in a public space, it can be part of a childhood, part of a relationship. It can be personal.
“It expands you world view to have art in the home” said Levene. “Being introduced to other landscapes outside of your own world—it broadens you.” Vroom said that he could recognize in his son a more mature understanding of certain ambiguities, understandings of the complexity of race and gender, as a response to growing up surrounded by art.
Levene, whose, grandparents were collectors on a small level, associates art not only with a broader world view, but with a kind of intimacy within the objects.”My grandmother would take me around and show me the art” she says “and explain it to me.”
It makes sense—artwork is, after all, the kind of thing that can immediately spark–or stilt–a conversation. The more abstract it gets, the more one feels the necessity, the urgency, of voicing an opinion about it. To learn to voice these opinions early is maybe the [most important] work that art in the home can do. Art in the home, or even in a fairly bipartisan space like the dentist’s office, appears still to some as a trivializing method, similar to those critics who find fault with the Brooklyn Museum for not sufficiently resembling a palace. But to the minds behind Artspace, it’s a movement towards a kind of national rebirth—and at the same time something indicative of American identity.
“That idea of promoting taste and retaining individuality through taste—it’s very American.” Said Vroom.
Though American and individualistic as the Artspace platform may be, the concept behind it is finally logical–a responsible stance towards the rapidly dwindling American interest in art as education, more than anything else. With [public] arts funding at an all-time low, arts education in constant danger and museums crying wolf at every opportunity, the presence of art in the home may be more important than ever. It reminds us, as well, that the internet itself is the most expansive/valuable marketplace there is. The ability to purchase artwork and be able to research the artist within the same space is something new that the internet age facilitates, less chilly relationship to not only the art object, but the creator of that object as well. It’s the kind of reminder that a lot of people are embarrassed to be confronted with–that even in the so-called dehumanizing internet age, certain institutions, thoughts and ways of thinking, making a certain kind of mind-to-mind contact closer, swifter and more possible than ever.