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Four disruptive art startups for the next generation of art enthusiasts

My father is an art dealer. On all of our family vacations, we would inevitably have to “swing by” any museums, galleries, or private collections within a 100 mile radius of where we were staying. Fortunately, my father happens to be a brilliant storyteller and he often succeeded in silencing our whining and keeping us engaged for most of the visit. Nonetheless, I never used to boast about those outings to any of my friends.

Lately, however, I have discovered a new-found appreciation for the early arts education I received, as an increasing number of my conversations with peers revolve around the latest MOMA exhibit or record price at auction. Technology and the internet have had a dramatic impact on the art world – for better and for worse. On the one hand, the “expertise” that art dealers have painstakingly yet passionately built up over decades is becoming increasingly obsolete, as potential buyers try to drive prices down by comparing an expert’s valuation to online auction results. These auction results are more likely to be the outcome of a bidding war, however, inspired by emotional ties to the work of art (or the counter bidder) and hardly reflect the fair value of the work.

On the other hand, the internet has made art accessible to a generation who values transparency and convenience above all – two adjectives that have traditionally not been used to describe the art world. While I used to be welcomed into art galleries on my father’s arm, I started avoiding solo visits when I realized that it would only result in an uncomfortable 20 minutes during which the Gallerist stared me down after deciding that I could never afford anything.

Fortunately for us, several new start-ups and innovative concepts are disrupting the art industry and appealing to the next generation of art appreciators and collectors:

  • Uprise Art is solving three key problems in the art world today: access, knowledge, and price. Uprise allows their clients (mostly young professionals and entrepreneurs) to invest in pieces over time and connect with a community of fellow art enthusiasts as well as the artists themselves. They have partnered other start-ups to host events, such as “Affordable Art 101” with Urban Girl Squad, and their blog features intimate interviews with some of their hottest new collectors.
  • Art Remba is similarly democratizing access to high quality art by offering subscriptions to individuals and small businesses who can lease these pieces for as little as $50/piece/month. The subscription fees include everything from delivery and installation to insurance coverage, and your dues are even deducted from the purchase price if you decide you love it too much to give back.
  • Just 5 years ago, art aficionados may have argued that it was impossible to imagine fine art being sold online – in fact, my father may have been one of them. How can a 2D image truly capture the energy and history surrounding such a unique object? However, platforms such as Artsy and Amazon Fine Art are disrupting the industry by bringing the auction house and gallery environment to your living room or kitchen table. It is hard to believe people are spending millions of dollars with the click of a button, but that is what the next generation of art collectors is becoming accustomed to.
  • Gertrude is redefining the traditional art “salon” for the 21st century. They have created a community around carefully curated events, where people can learn, discuss, and collect art. Gertrude has adopted a “crowd-hosting” approach, as anyone can sign up to host and curate a salon – just pick the time, date, and topic of discussion.