Can you buy fine art online?

"Self Portrait" by Andy Warhol

Traditionally, it’s been considered difficult – and highly inappropriate – to purchase a Monet or a Warhol in your underwear. Amazon, however, just made that a possibility – and maybe the norm.

The site launched a fine arts marketplace today, partnering with gallery owners and dealers across the world, to deliver fine art to consumers online.

As we reported last week, Amazon is not the only place for someone to purchase rarities online --  but it's the most visible and possibly the most organized. Consumers who wanted to purchase art online, once either had to go through individual organizations – or worse, brave lightly-patrolled online auction sites. 

As archaelogist Charles Stannish told us in a recent blog about buying rarities via online auction:

“Anything that makes it easier to sell antiquities is bad,” says archaeologist Charles Stanish, who wrote an 2009 articleexpressing concerns that online auctions would foment looting of precious artifacts from ancient sites. Instead, Stanish now claims, it’s spurred an uptick in the sales of forged items.

“You take away that gatekeeping function of museums and auction houses, of course it opens it up to abuse,” says Stanish.

Amazon Art, as the new service is called, is attempting to undercut the monetarily precarious world of online arts commerce. Unlike, online auction sites, Amazon is working directly with galleries and dealers.

The online marketplace is also not the first service of this kind. Artsy, which publicly launched last year, offered the services of trained specialists to assist customers in purchasing fine works of its site.

If nothing else, at least Amazon will revolutionize decorating your college dorm.

About the author

Jason Slotkin is a reporter in Washington, D.C.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...