artnet Asks: Avant Arte and What It Brings to the Instagram Landscape

This new company wants to change the way you collect.

Conrad Jon Godly, SOL 23 (2013). Courtesy of Avant Arte.

Avant Arte is one of the biggest and most influential art publishers on Instagram. Founded by Curtis Penning and Christian Luiten in 2015, the platform has rapidly evolved into a key player for the younger generation of enthusiasts and collectors. Despite its initial success in the digital world, Avant Arte’s true achievement lies in the combination of the physical and the virtual. Knowing that an image on Instagram can’t replace the experience, Penning and Luiten have big plans.

This week, Avant Arte launched its new store with limited edition prints in collaboration with eight of today’s masters.

Tell us about your background in art and what led you here?
None of us come from an arts background or have families who are invested in collecting. We grew up with hip hop music —that was our kind of art. When Jay-Z published “Picasso Baby” in 2013 and mentioned around ten world-famous artists from Basquiat to Da Vinci, we started thinking: “What is our generation of artists? Who are the Picassos of this generation?” We began compiling a list—a very long list—of works which we thought stood out from the masses. As we started uploading the images on Instagram, more than 100 people were following us every day.

Screenshot of Avant Arte’s Instagram feed. Courtesy of Avant Arte.

What has been your proudest moment so far?
Well, we recently passed the 500k mark of followers on our Instagram channel. We are very happy to reach so many people and who seem to share and enjoy our selection of art works.

But of course it is not all about numbers. We feel very humbled that there are a lot of art world professionals and collectors who follow us and use our Instagram to discover things they maybe haven’t seen yet. The last months have been a great experience, we have had the privilege to work with fantastic artists for our website and show their work in a physical exhibition too.

Tell us about the exhibition. Was there a particular situation, good or bad, that was memorable for you?
Probably every single situation, our first show was crazy. We collaborated with Unit London for a group show in their gallery space in London. Most of the pieces were already sold before the show because people had seen them on Avant Arte’s Instagram. The opening night surpassed all of our expectations, people were queuing up in drizzly weather to get a peek into the gallery. Can you imagine? A week after the show the New York Times published an article on the exhibition.

Katrin Fridriks, Waving miracle – Magic Mind (2017). Courtesy of Avant Arte.

Why do you think Instagram is important for the art world?
As a social media platform, Instagram is incredibly well-suited to the art world. It is predominantly visual and allows you to discover artists from all over the world at any time. There are no entry barriers, it is all at your fingertips, which makes it a great tool.

But at Avant Arte, we are very conscious that nothing can replace the physical experience of art in a space. It is important for us to curate and host offline exhibitions, we don’t want to be associated with digital media only. Art is more than that.


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