PAI Opinion: Industry adoption, digitally-speaking

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Photo by Kaboompics from Pexels.



Anyone who has been in the art market long enough will tell you it is an industry where change is slow to be adopted. Perhaps it’s a generalisation. But if you are nodding while reading this, perhaps it’s not.

So, while Covid-19 has put art – and the rest of the world – largely behind closed doors until further notice, this might be good for the industry’s adoption of digital, more transparent ways.

Last week, Art Basel kicked off the virtual stand-in for its 2020 Hong Kong show, Online Viewing Rooms, which allows 235 fair exhibitors to display 10 works each – amassing a total of art worth $270m. Although the website went down briefly when it launched last week, the glitch has been called a minor setback for what is a promising measure for the format’s popularity.

Mega-galleries Gagosian and David Zwirner were joined recently by LA dealer Susanne Vielmetter and New York’s Di Donna Galleries, which announced their debut in-house online viewing rooms. 

And it is not only galleries embracing the virtual world. Major auction houses, too, this week, have either cancelled or moved their live auctions online until May. These have become increasingly popular for international collectors who are miles away; but now, no matter the distance, buyers can bid from the comfort of their own homes.

Art market innovators and new-tech-pioneers agree that introducing a concept to the industry is extremely challenging.

Our up-to-the-minute guide compiles big online sales to look out for this spring. Maybe 2020 is the year to shatter the $6bn ceiling for online sales again (after 2018).

However, there are other sectors that will see growth from the social hiatus. Art market innovators and new-tech-pioneers agree that introducing a concept to the industry is extremely challenging. Now might be the time for collection management systems, blockchain registers and digital condition report platforms to become further integrated.  

Whether in Seoul or San Francisco, it is likely that the art industry will emerge more digitally savvy and more transparent than before.