While those closely monitoring the art world have been aware of the Instagram art sales trend for a while, it appears to have caught the attention of the folks at Vogue, who just published a namedrop-heavy feature tracking the trend.
The article discusses Christie’s adoption of social media in the recent auction “If I Live I’ll See You Tuesday,” but the more fascinating aspect are the artists who are managing to amass fan bases and sell five- and six-figure works off their Instagram accounts “before the paint is even dry,” according to painter Ashley Longshore. Longshore is based in New Orleans, but sells her work around the world, and counts Blake Lively, former President of Time Inc. Digital Fran Hauser, and a Rolling Stones wife as both clients and followers.
This levels the playing field for artists (you don’t even have to live in New York or London anymore!) and, as the writer points out, it opens up an “industry shrouded in pretense and exclusivity.” But it’s an obvious concern for dealers, who might see their roles slowly becoming obsolete. Gertrude founder Kenneth Schlenker likens it to what happened 15 years ago in the music industry, which now allows for anyone to produce an mp3, release it online, and grow a fan base, all without the help of major labels. “It used to be impossible for an artist to reach a massive audience directly…[but] the cards have been reshuffled,” he says. At this stage, however, smart gallerists are embracing the hunger for art on Instagram by using it to sell works themselves.
The piece goes on to mention artists like Petra Cortright and Baron von Fancy, who have also harnessed the tool. But what’s most fascinating is the fact that this trend has gained attention outside the insular art world community, which means it could truly signal a shift in the guards.
“Vincent van Gogh sold only one painting in his lifetime, maybe he would have wanted to sell through Instagram if he could,” said Cortright.
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