Buying Art Online: Browse, Click, Collect
The need for social distancing has normalised the process of viewing and purchasing fine art via online platforms. It’s also likely that these methods are here to stay and, in the post-pandemic future, will operate alongside traditional brick-and-mortar galleries and art dealerships.
Here are a few online platforms worth visiting if you’re hoping to browse or buy South African art.
Art Gazette is a contemporary, curated catalogue of South African artworks that provides art to public and corporate collections and spaces, as well as personal collectors. Art Gazette assists predominantly young artists in creating small-scale works or series to sell.
All artworks in their inventory are purchased directly from the artists, meaning no agents, no pre-sale consignments, and less admin. If you’re wanting to decorate a space with a cohesive body of work, or if you’re keeping an eye out for the kind of bespoke artworks you won’t find in a gallery, such as studies or process pieces, you’ll be able to find both on Art Gazette.
While Apartment Volumes operates as a salon-style exhibition project exploring the intersection of living space and commercial art practice, Apartment Bound provides a digital commercial platform for artists via Instagram.
The account provides art-buyers with quality images and details of artworks, as well as brief bios and insights from the artists themselves. Painters, printmakers, photographers, sculptors and more make up their stable of artists.
“The audience on Instagram is naturally a bit younger than our usual collector groups for Apartment Volumes,” says co-founder Josh Meltz. “The collectors of emerging artists tend to be younger as the works are more approachable in their price points.”
Purchasing an artwork is as simple as sending the account a direct message about the work in question, and taking it from there.
State of the Art
Established in 2010, State of the Art is an online gallery offering a range of modern and contemporary local art. Users can browse by medium, price, subject, artist, and even commission an original work by an artist via the platform.
Not letting a global pandemic get in the way, BKhz Gallery in Johannesburg was one of the first local galleries to offer 3D virtual exhibition tours, and have now follow this with the launch of their own BKhz app. Founder and director, Banele Khoza says that “the idea was to make engagement with art more accessible and convenient.” The new app allows buyers immediate access to current artworks on show and streamlines the effort and time required to make enquiries. With one click, potential buyers can connect with the gallery to express interest in an artwork they are potentially interested in purchasing.
Founded in 2013 with the goal of making affordable, original South African art more accessible to both view and purchase, Unsung Art is a digital platform that deals primarily with paper and canvas works. Artists range from emerging to internationally renowned, and prices can vary from R350 to R3 500, making Unsung Art a great place for novice collectors or art enthusiasts to build up their collections.
Warren Bradley, who manages the technical elements of Unsung Art, explains that digital platforms often allow for a broader viewing experience for first-time buyers. “Our site is constantly updated with new work, and the home page displaying artworks is randomised so that every visit is a new experience,” he says.
Their website also allows for specific browsing by way of subject, medium, price, or size.