Marek Swierad, Founder ANASAEA
The new Artists, Collectors, and Technology: The changing ‘Traditional’ Art World:
Having recently re-read 3 major publications: ArtBasel/UBS, Apollo, and Artnet‘s, 2022 wrap-ups and 2023 predictions, (all very well written) I noticed there are central themes that focus on diversity, sustainability, and artists rights- I however also noticed that there is slightly less content paring technological advances and how they relate to those themes.
The short article below, but more importantly further articles on this site, written by contributors, guests, or partners (and you, please write us) will try to focus on these and other changing dynamics
The changing demographics:
One of the most notable changes in recent years has been the increased participation of younger buyers, more diverse and more interested in contemporary and emerging artists.
This has led to a shift in the types of art in high demand, with contemporary art and street art gaining popularity at the expense of more traditional forms. Additionally, the rise of the global art market has led to an increase in the number of international buyers, which has changed the way art is viewed and consumed.
Millennials and GenX, (born between 1979 & 1965 ) are more focused on social media for art research. Instagram, and other socials, are currently important but due to their non-immersive nature are already less favored by Gen Z. Interestingly, 80% of young art collectors and first-time buyers discover new artworks and emerging artists based online and based on likes or recommendations.
According to ArtBasel/UBS: “55% of boomers and only 28% of Gen Z collectors prefer to buy at galleries” Which means that online experiences are paramount, yet most of what is available on the market is akin to the 2D, non-immersive platform of Amazon, or the typical list your art in a ‘catalog’ style portal. This Web2 experience, especially, when we look at the fashion world, is losing favor over new immersive formats.
Another trend is the increasing participation of women, and non ‘traditional’ geographies, but this may not last as 2023’s recession fears drive buyers back to more known ports, namely the ‘living or dead white male artist’.
According to ArtBasel/UBS, “Last summer, the main Venice Biennale exhibition was dominated by Surrealist, outsider, and technology work by largely forgotten female artists…..This is set to change.”
“Meanwhile, in the market, trendy areas ( …) emerging genres – such as modern and contemporary African art – appear to be cooling. The top 10 selling artists by market share in New York in November were all canonical dead white men.”
If the above is true, then the coveted physical viewing spaces will be less available to rising demographics.
The Viewing, Preservation, and Sustainability of Art
Art has been traditionally viewed in person, or on the current 2D traditional website, but like with architecture, 3D (and VR) is making its way onto the scene. 3D scanning and viewing technology are being used to create more accurate and detailed reproductions of artworks, making them more accessible to a wider audience, and creating immersive viewing spaces.
This is a more sustainable way to view art, with its original brush strokes and depth on display, without the need for travel. Yet sustainability, despite new mediums is taking a back seat to many wealthy art patrons as art fair attendance skyrockets after a lull during the pandemic.
According to Apollo “collectors say they are back to 2019 levels of art fair attendance (some in private jets) (..) All of this led Julie’s Bicycle, an agency hired by Arts Council England and the GCC (..) to say in its most recent cultural industries report that ‘the high-end art market presents particular sustainability challenges.”
Not only that but 3D scanning can help preserve the art for generations to come, overcoming natural or man-made disasters (or the fact that most art is currently in storage).
The technology, and its effects on the Art Market (maybe, no longer just a footnote?)
Even if we forget demographics, the ‘internet revolution’, sustainability, and what technology means for those, let’s focus on Artists’ rights for a second.
Technology can be the single biggest force to give artists a bigger say in the art market, encourage transparency, and open new distribution channels. All 3 of the publications took a stand in this regard, albeit a very short one, but it is clear the market is aware change is on the way.
As noted by Artnet in their Epiphany #2 ‘Until artists recognize that they have more power and influence than they realize, things won’t change,” said Max Kendrick, cofounder of Fairchain, a platform that uses blockchain-backed records to authenticate, track titles to, and facilitate sales of art“.
Technology has often been a footnote in the art market: due to the establishment’ not wanting to move past a brick-and-mortar model, fear of the unknown, but mostly due to fear of losing control of their business, however in my view, these fears are now passé and not in favor of the creators.
Interest in Web3 is gaining due to the ways that they can empower artists with art display and distribution, copyright protection, and change the traditional ‘Gallery-Artist’ relationship in a positive way for both parties.
This technology, which includes blockchain, can provide new ways for artists to protect and monetize their rights. For example, blockchain-based platforms can be used to create unique digital fingerprints for each piece of content, providing a tamper-proof record of authorship and ownership. Additionally, smart contracts can be used to create licensing agreements, allowing artists to control how their work is used and ensuring they are compensated for its use in both sale and after-sale.
Another advantage of Web3 is to create a digital asset that represents ownership of a piece of art. This can allow artists to establish the authenticity and provenance of their work and sell it directly to buyers, cutting out intermediaries and giving them more control over the distribution and pricing of their work.
It can be argued that the Web3 models presented in 2021 and early 2022, were not mature enough, and here I agree and hope the lessons were learned.
However, according to Apollo ‘“Although cryptocurrencies crashed in 2022, interest in blockchain has not (…) Artists, museums, and galleries meanwhile attest to the administrative burden of registration, authenticity, provenance, and condition reporting (…) Blockchain, like Bitcoin, is sometimes described as an answer in search of a question.”
The new art collector and artists are global citizens, who understand that artists’ rights need to be a top priority and that technology can be the bridge over the current chasm
The way art is distributed and consumed like has happened with music or with film, must change to accommodate this or risk becoming obsolete
The art market should not be based on geography, or who has access to the walls to hang that art but instead use new platforms to spread democratization and sustainability.
Art should have no borders
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