Are online viewing rooms the future of the art market?

Art Basel Hong Kong’s online viewing rooms initiative could not have been more timely. The digital platform had been in development for several months but was fast-tracked after the Hong Kong fair was cancelled in February due to the coronavirus outbreak. The organisers of the premier Asian fair quickly filled the gap with its new online facility, which was accessible to the public from 20–25 March (VIP access was granted two days earlier).

In total, 235 galleries – around 95 per cent of the fair’s original roster – showed more than 2,000 works, valued at a total of $270m according to Marc Spiegler, the global director of Art Basel’s fairs. The site, free of charge for galleries, offered basic options to view by artist, gallery, medium and price range. A zoom-in option to view works up close was available, while viewers could head down a rabbit hole and link through to other websites such as the video platform Vimeo for more content.

Whether the coronavirus crisis is a turning point for the art market and its approach to all things digital remains to be seen. The New York-based art adviser Nilani Trent is adamant that online viewing rooms will not replace art fairs in a healthy market, pointing to the demise of the VIP Art Fair, the first online-only fair, which flopped in 2011, mainly because of technical glitches.

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Learn to buy in an auction, discover art galleries, evaluate the price of a piece of art, identify forecasts and artists and many more.

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article inspired from:

written by Gareth Harris

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