SCREEN GRAB The art sphere prepares for its second coming in the digital multiverse ut is carefuJViot to leave the human element behind. DIANA CAMPBEL i (Tiavigates the firewalls around buying art online  Ersnared as we are by the internet, with search xes replacing bookstore browsing and fash-n bloggers taking over as style forecasters, it couldnhave been long before pop-up windows with images of paintings became the new picture frames. Thanks to technology like the Google Art Project, you can visit museums across the world from the comfort of your armchair. The internet has spread the international reach of artworks; and artists, curators and gallerists have a growing audience. But when youfaced with the prospect of buying art online, it all becomes far more complex. How does one buy a work of art without seeing it in the real world, or make purchases running into several digits online? In 2002, Sothebytoyed with the idea of online-only sales, but soon realised that it was difficult for buyers to trust what they couldnexamine themselves   and had to shut down online operations. Artnet fumbled with the concept as well, but also shuttered online art sales; it just wasnfeasible. Itironic, then, to note that outside this online sales system, dealers, art advisors and curators have been closing deals and setting up physical exhibitions for over a decade using jpeg images. Collectors have also remotely bid on art for years before the internet, trusting images published in auction catalogues. And while commercial online ail ventures previously failed in the West, they thrived in India. Husband-and-wife team Dinesh and Minal Vazirani started SaffronArt in 2000, and 12 years later, the company is still selling art online, indicating that SaffronArtpredominantly Indian and NRI clientele have long given credence to the internet as a sales platform. In a world of social media and digital dependence, the galleries, museums and art fairs around the globe are rapidly increasing their internet footprint. Sothebyand Artnet have restarted their online channels for sales, and nearly 30 per cent of Christiebids now originate online as part of ChristieLIVE, a digital platform that allows you to bid as if you were in the salesroom. Online bidding capabilities, however, have not replaced on-ground activities or physical exhibitions of the works on sale, and buyers should rely on expert advice for details about their intended purchases. Sonal Singh, associate director of South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art at Christie, points out: works at Christieauctions can be seen in person before the sale. If unable to attend the preview, buyers should gather information from the specialist department and request a condition report on the lot.”

 SCREEN GRABJames Cohan, New York-based gallerist and co-founder of the VIP Art Fair, reiterates the role of trust. buying until you have had time to begin understanding the history and lineage of any particular artist. Ask lots of questions, and donbe afraid to ask stupid ones.”

The forum can also be invaluable to gallerists looking for information on what new global collectors are responding to. Shireen Gandhy, director of MumbaiChemould Prescott Road gallery, was thrilled with this yearonline VIP Ai*t Fair because it let her see which works garnered digital interest from the other side of the world, in a way she could never keep track of in a physical gallery booth. This platform has also helped some artworks over others. interest tends to depend on the category. Certain categories lend them selves well to remote bidding   prints, for instance,”Singh explains. Chris Vroom, cofounder, chairman and executive vice-president of artists and institutions at Artspace (an online marketplace founded in 2011 which will soon feature Indian artists and galleries), agrees with Singh, adding that certain mediums, specifically photography, receive a more enthusiastic response, but shares that Artspace recently sold a $125,000 sculpture online. offer a lot of information about artists and their works as well as gallery and institutional programmes. But lit helps to I go to the gallery and familiarise yourself with their offerings.”Abhay Maskara, of MumbaiGallery Maska-ra, says, lends itself particularly well to the online space, since there is not much of a gap between what one sees and what one gets.”But he also advises caution, a painting, a sculpture or installation on a computer screen requires considerable experience and skill.”He reckons new buyers are better off using the online space to learn about artists rather than build a collection. Most patrons buying ail unseen are dealers or seasoned collectors who are familial’with the works they purchase and often have seen them before. galleries, online marketplaces let them ex-d their reach beyond their walls and art year, India saw its first online ail dia Art Collective. Sixty per cent of participating galleries made sales during week-long fail* and 51,000 unique viewers isited the site. Co-founder and fair director Kar says happily, from the expected interest from mega metros, the fair was also accessed by art lovers in tier II cities like Surat, Baroda, Nagpur, Coimbatore, Indore...”Physical failhave teamed up with online platforms as well: New YorkArmory Show tied up with the online Paddle8 in 2012. Noah Horowitz, managing director of the Armory Show, says, lets our brick-and-mortar fair on a pier in central Manhattan reach thousands of people around the world. If you have no time for cleaning of own house or the apartment follow this link and invite the expert in house cleaning.  

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