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Online Sales and Millennials: 2020 Ushered in Changes in the Art Market

If there were positive aspects of the Covid-pandemic discussed throughout the media and in private circles, accelerating digitization in all aspects of life would be one. For many of us, working from the kitchen table is the new open space office, and a shopping spree no longer involves an iced latte at a hip location, but Ben & Jerry’s on the couch instead. Digital media lets us go to places without leaving our four walls. Seems convenient, but one aspect gets lost along the way through the fiberglass – the full perception of materiality with our senses.In the 18th century the philosopher, Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten called it aesthesis and defines it in Aesthetica, Prolegomena as „Aesthetics is the science of sensual cognition.“

It is no wonder that many art dealers, galleries, and art fairs were skeptical of promoting and selling art online. We all can remember what a sensual experience it was to walk through a museum or pop-up exhibition, or art installation. And now all of this is online?

The reserved attitude towards buying art online doesn’t seem to have vanished this year but maybe softened slightly. As a study, conducted by Art Basel and UBS shows, there seems to be movement in the art market.  Not just in the way art is purchased but also in the composition of target groups. A new generation of collectors is on the brink of entering the market: millennials. As the study shows, the younger generation shares a different set of habits, beliefs, and values – and one of them is buying art online. 

Thus, it might not be solely attributable to the pandemic that online sales of art have risen from 10% to 37% in the first half of 2020. It remains to be seen what further implications this holds – and, more importantly – if the online buyers, especially millennials, are satisfied with this experience. The aesthetic and haptic aspect, seen through the philosopher Baumgarten’s eyes, cannot be imitated through VR and other technology. Here, many start-ups are currently developing solutions that might ease the transition, but this will never replace the live experience. Established artists can be easily shown online and recognized and bought but presenting young artists and new work is more complicated. Here we depend more heavily on the sensual experience of discovering a new piece of art.

IAM can assist aspiring collectors in navigating both online and analog spaces. We can help you to find art that is high in quality and gives you joy over many years. An experience that cannot be replaced online.

Read more about how IAM can help you collecting…

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