Catherine Levene and Christopher Vroom, Artspace
Launched: March 2011
What Artspace does: Artspace is on online marketplace for contemporary art. “[Contemporary art] is a $40 billion business and it’s just at the very earliest stages of internet transformation,” says Vroom. “We believe that ultimately, $10 billion of this business is going to migrate online.”
According to Vroom, they have built a platform that incorporates all the major constituents in the art ecosystem and brings together cultural institutions, museums, artists, non-profits, galleries, and collectors. The company has worked with such high-end players as the Guggenheim, the Art Institute of Chicago, the White Cube gallery, and the David Zwirner gallery. The site has more than 60,000 members—or people who have signed up to browse and buy.
How it’s changing the game: Having contemporary art from all over the world accessible in one place is unique. “We’ll see an order come in from Australia and that one order may include a piece of artwork from London, another piece from Paris, and something from New York,” says Levene. “One order with art coming from multiple countries and continents is very unique and has never really happened before. That’s really where we are differentiating ourselves.”
Artspace is also making the process of buying art much easier. On behalf of both the buyer and seller, the company handles logistics such as shipping, insurance, and customs, if it’s an international order. “The logistics component is quite painful for the partner and for the customer, so we’re facilitating that on a global scale and enabling the transaction to be almost frictionless,” says Vroom.
In addition to being an e-commerce site, Artspace also has an education component. They publish information on every artist and every artwork on the site. “We’re interested in helping the next generation of collectors develop a deeper understanding of the artist, gallery programming, and museum programming,” says Levene. “We recently hired our editor-in-chief, Andrew Goldstein, who was the managing editor of Artinfo.com, to manage that editorial program for us. We think the content is going to become increasingly important in helping people make informed and competent buying decisions.”
What’s next: The market for contemporary art has outperformed the Standard & Poor’s list of 500 common stocks since 2003, and art fairs are becoming a bigger and bigger part of the industry each year. Artspace is planning on expanding their relationships and e-commerce enabling these fairs. The company is also focusing on increasing their trade business with interior designers, architects, and real estate developers. “I feel that within another year, our business is likely to triple in size,” says Levene.
Photography by Jill Lotenberg
Daria Meoli is the Executive Editor at The New York Enterprise Report. She can be reached at email@example.com