As we collectively near the end of the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, an acknowledgement of the ways our world has collectively moved online seems almost superfluous. Yet, the innovation of how this shift into the digital sphere has influenced nearly every industry of our lives is still worth writing about. As galleries and museums were shuttered, the art world had to adapt like everyone else, creating innovative ways to view and purchase art online. In this article, we have compiled a list of some of the best forums to buy original art digitally, at every price point.
Virtual Auction Houses
Auction houses have long been the gold standard in the art world for buying and selling top-quality art from all around the world. Auctioneers gather bids on contemporary and classical works of art, as well as fine jewelry and other luxury goods to be snatched up by collectors. Today, even the most prestigious names have had to move to virtual sales and programming when large gatherings were prohibited. Today, although big-city houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s have re-opened their doors at least partially, they still have many online opportunities for viewing and for the upper echelon of art collectors, purchasing everything from Old Masters to fine jewelry from extensive online catalogues as well as designated virtual auction windows. Even as brick-and-mortar auction houses reopen, they have retained digital options that give collectors access to art. And even if pricey heritage auctions are out of most art enthusiasts’ price range, browsing these virtual galleries is free to all.
Museum Virtual Auctions + Shows
Although there is no central database, those with a list of their favorite museums or those willing to research upcoming events will find a plethora of virtual auctions and art sales hosted by museums around the country. Galas or events that would have once been held within an institution’s galleries had to pivot online, as they were in dire need of funds while museumgoers quarantined at home. Now two years down the road, enterprising museums are still hosting virtual sale offerings as they welcome patrons back into their galleries. For instance, the Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos, New Mexico, still offered online purchase options even as they hosted their annual Miniatures Show in-house again after two years fully virtual. Research the smaller museums in your area and subscribe to their newsletters to stay up to date on all of the best options. Prices vary with the specifics of each show, but they can be a great option for people building their own collections.
If bidding wars are not your thing, or you do not have a favorite local gallery, Saatchiart.com is a massive online marketplace for new and original works of art. Browse their blog or catalogue for new listings, or get lost in their endless offerings in any medium you desire. They pride themselves on a strong user interface and customer experience, with perks like a 7 day money back guarantee if the art does not look exactly how you imagined it would on your wall in real life. Talk to their complimentary art advisor concierge service if you need guidance or assistance at any step of the process, from browsing, to purchasing, to carefully shipping your artwork to your home.
Purchasing original, high quality art does not have to drain one’s paycheck. For those readers whose banks would immediately flag their account for fraud if they so much as started typing their information on sothebys.com, original art is possible to purchase at nearly any price point. Websites such as Etsy.com have been offering marketplaces for original art, as well as nearly every kind of handmade good one can imagine at every price point. If you have never browsed Esty, picture the world’s largest, most expansive craft fair. However, it is not all just handmade jewelry and decorative trinkets – there are incredible fine artists all over the site. Many artists will sell prints and originals through their own virtual storefronts. Since you are able to message vendors directly, there are countless options to commission something custom. Etsy is arguably the most original way to decorate your home out of anything on your list.
The easiest way to integrate more art – for purchase and for enjoyment – into your life is by following smaller, local artists on their social media accounts. This offers many exciting opportunities for buying art directly from the artist. There is no perfect formula to finding an artist whose work resonates with you, but utilizing your media preferences and paying attention to what your friends are sharing will often lead you to incredible talent without leaving your home feed. If you don’t have the funds to drop millions on a museum-quality masterpiece at an auction house, whether you’re on the hunt for the next new museum show or simply browsing the vast catalogue at Saatchi Art, there is endless inspiration to be found on your computer. Whatever your price point, there are a myriad of great options to furnish your living spaces with high quality art, all purchasable from the comfort of your own home.
Edited by Anna Hilbun