Toss a Monet in Your Shopping Cart: Amazon Debuts Fine Art Department
On August 6, Amazon launched a new fine art marketplace in partnership with over 150 galleries and dealers across the globe. Choose from drawings, mixed media, paintings, photographs, and prints, and sort by designators such as subject, style, and price. Opt for a $76 portrait of a husky or a $18,600 Dali etching. The most expensive item on sale is a Norman Rockwell for $4,850,000 (free shipping, though).
“Amazon Art gives galleries a way to bring their passion and expertise about the artists they represent to our millions of customers,” said Peter Faricy, Vice President for the Amazon Marketplace.
Critics see it differently. “I’ve browsed the ‘above 10k’ category and virtually all of it seems a) aesthetically abysmal and b) drastically overpriced,” wrote economist Tyler Cowen. “ It looks like dealers trying to unload unwanted, hard to sell inventory at sucker prices.” If you don’t have a few million to spare, Megan Willett noted at SFGate that most of the items by famous painters are lithographs, which means there are multiple renditions available, making them less expensive than a typical painting.
Patricia Bransten, the director of the Rena Bransten gallery in San Francisco, told NPR that she worries that this Amazon initiative will reinforce the big names and marginalize lesser-known artists. As for its impact on other dealers, Lydia DePillis wrote, “Amazon doesn’t threaten brick and mortar galleries — all of which can also drive sales on the site — as much as it does the smaller online art marketplaces, like Artsy, Artnet and Artquid.”
Some of the product reviews have playfully mocked the venture, take for instance the “buyer” of L’Enfant a la tasse, portrait de Jean Monet: “For as much as I paid I’m a little upset that this isn’t a new painting. You can see OBVIOUS cracks and I’m worried that the artwork has had several owners before me. I might return to Amazon if I can’t get in touch with the seller. 1 out of 5 stars.”
What’s your view on this new business model for fine art dealing? Would you ever consider selling your fine art through Amazon?