Cardboard, the new JPG?

WeberBooth2.jpg Had a funny moment while walking around Zurich yesterday: I stopped in at Galerie Jamileh Weber and saw this little maquette of the gallery’s fair ABMB booth. First off, I just love models. And this one was accurate right down to the Eames chairs and the storage closet filled with paintings.

But my favorite part of this was finding out that a collector had been visiting the gallery, spotted a Frank Stella hanging in the “booth,” then bought the painting after seeing a JPG of the work. In a way this is a precursor to ArtNet’s upcoming arrangement to build a fully 3D digital model of Art Basel that can be perused online long after the art dealers have packed up the far and started summering in Capri, the Hamptons and St Tropez. But that’s another post.

2 thoughts on “Cardboard, the new JPG?”

  1. The notion of an online market to bridge annual or bi-annual physical exhibitions exists in many arenas; the appeal of constant access being obvious, as long as inventory is kept up to date. I wonder, though, if it would work in today’s market for contemporary Art for anything other than occasional browsing? This market is about being SEEN to be buying as much as it is about collecting; and no-one sees you looking or buying online. It is the “happening” physicality of the fair or the auction which supports today’s market buzz; Warhol would have approved. But if no-one observes or reports the sale, I wonder how much less would be bought?”

  2. Personally, I’m thinking that the ArtNet/ArtBasel effort could work, but only if they build an incredibly good front-end interface onto it. If not, it won’t be worth the hassle to virtually navigate your way around the fair after the fact.

    Granted, art buying is a much more public act than in the past – especially at auction – but there’s also a hell of a lot selling via internet. While many collectors are vain, virtually all collectors are competitive – they’ll buy what they want whenever they can. Many great works disappear before Art Basel even opens, either bought while in transit to the fair or poached by collectors sneaking in early (though that’s less prevalent than before).

    Also, I’m curious to see precisely which works wind up online in this project – will it be the unsold ones left on the booth walls at the end of the fair or the most impressive ones, sold earlier, but better for the gallery’s image? Will people treat this as a backroom to clear out stock or as a street window for positioning? As with most hanging tactics at fair, we’re likely to see dealers trying several different approaches until they’ve figured out how to best game this virtual market platform.

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