What is Great Art and How Do We Engage With It?
The inaugural Art World Forum London event welcomed the insight and expertise of four pioneering women – Dominique Bouchard of English Heritage, Irini Papadimitriou of the V&A, Eugenia Bertelè of Look Lateral and moderator Tiziana Maggio of Maggio Art Consultancy, to discuss great art and audience engagement.
Tiziana: How has the audience perception and engagement changed in the last 5-10 years?
Dominique: One thing that has changed is the relationship buyers have with ownership; the way digital technology has influenced the way they use visual culture and the visual experience to incorporate that into a sense of themselves.
Tiziana: Considering the changing trends and attitudes of our audience, how is the art industry maintaining a fresh objective?
Irini: Institutional exhibitions are being designed with the intention of inspiring people to attend exhibitions and collect the work. The approach is pioneering, tackling numerous experiments with new technologies. I’m not sure who takes the first step in adopting trends – the audience that paves the way for the others to follow, or the arts organisation. It’s a matter of responding to what happens next.
Tiziana: There are plenty of discussions addressing how art and technology are working together, but what do they actually have in common?
Eugenia: They both share an interest in innovation; being able to engage people and create original experiences. Technology is a tool to transform our legacy and heritage, and to democratise the art world. It is undoubtedly playing a role in our evolution, and the numbers make it evident; online sales represent 8% of the global art market and galleries agree that the majority of their clientele consists of new buyers. Tech is disrupting the art market (as it has done in other industries). In brief, it’s a new reality to consider.
Tiziana: Addressing this new reality and the obvious change in behaviour, what are the current barriers facing a newer and stronger engagement? How is the industry adjusting to the new tools they have been presented with?
Dominique: One of the main challenges we face is education; the way we cultivate ideas around connoisseurship and taste to answer simple questions like “What is great art?” The art market has always been driven by that connection with the artist or the work and despite the eagerness to predict habits, it boils down to something greater than technology – that gut feeling. As we increasingly rely on AI, is this the way we want to be offloading connoisseurship or should we rather be training people to generate original ideas to acquire, investigate and look?
Tiziana: Transparency, accessibility and liquidity are terms that are becoming increasingly fundamental in the art market. How do we encourage growth in these sectors?
Eugenia: It is no surprise that the art market comes with a lack of regulation, transparency and a limited number of active buyers so the focus is on building an ecosystem to benefit four key aspects – tax, provenance, pricing and accessibility to the FIMART (Fractional Market Place of Art), the fractional ownership art marketplace on the blockchain. Catering for more crypto investors this ecosystem promotes transparency, increases audiences and generates liquidity. You don’t need to be a millionaire to buy a fraction.
Dominique: Some museums are great at raising money and some are not. They all need money. This is probably the antithesis of what collectors want to hear, but I think we should let some art die.
Tiziana: how do you think tighter ecosystems will change the art world?
Eugenia: The strength of an art ecosystem will encourage more people to influence the market, and the size of the market will increase benefitting artists and institutions.