Internet giants Amazon have launched a new platform on their website allowing users to browse and buy art from dealers’ stock.
Effectively another online dealers' portal,
Amazon Art is offering more than 40,000 works
of art from 150 galleries. Mainly targeted at the US market for the
moment at least, the bulk of the sellers are American dealers and
the prices are shown in dollars. There are, however, a small number
of dealers from the UK, the Netherlands and Canada.
The company's announcement last week stated
that the aim was to "demystify the world of art and allow every
customer the chance to enjoy a gallery experience. From Folk Art to
Impressionism to Modern Art, Amazon Art features a broad selection
to suit any customer, from the experienced collector to a
first-time art buyer".
Indeed, even converting a tiny fraction of
the website's enormous audience into art buyers would take the
whole realm of internet gallery sales to a new level. Users can use
search filters in much the same way as when browsing for other
Amazon products and can narrow their selections by subject, style,
colour, size, price or seller.
However, critics would point out that many
people may be reluctant to view and purchase art in the same way as
books, CDs and household products.
Wide Price Range
Prices for works currently listed on the
site start from around $30 for photographs and prints and range up
to $4.85m for an oil painting by the popular American artist Norman
Rockwell which is being offered by New Orleans dealers M.S. Rau
There is no limit to the number of works
that dealers can post and Amazon make a percentage on every sale
made through the site.
For many dealers, especially those who are
using a web portal for the first time, one of the main advantages
is the greater online profile the site can provide.
Elisa Cooper, owner of New York's Elisa
Contemporary Art, said: "As a small gallery, Amazon Art gives us an
online platform with a breadth and depth unlike any we have had
This is not Amazon's first attempt to gain a
chunk of the online art market. Back in 1999 they formed an
alliance with Sotheby's and launched a joint website offering not
just upcoming lots but also stock from around 400 registered
dealers. In the end, the venture was abandoned and Sotheby's chose
to instead focus on developing their own stand-alone website (www.sothebys.com).
Amazon meanwhile had much greater success in
targeting the online marketplace for rare and secondhand books,
culminating in their purchase of the website AbeBooks in
Galleries and dealers interested in selling
on Amazon Art can register their interest here.