Andy Warhol once famously said, “Art should not be reserved for a privileged few, art is for everyone.” That’s a bit rich coming from someone who ran with a jet set crowd and whose mass produced silkscreens are now worth hundreds of thousands on up, but the sentiment is nice. Despite how many artists, curators, and critics talk about “democratizing art,” original, bluechip artwork will always be reserved for the wealthy. That’s just a fact. The odds of discovering a Rembrandt in your garage in Jersey are slim (although it has happened). The top galleries will always dictate which artists are important, and original artwork sold at galleries like Carre D’artistes might look nice, but are not a meaningful investment to bet your retirement. Most people are scared to even walk into a gallery, for fear of humiliation and sticker shock. Even with many galleries offering discounts and financing, great art is still out of reach for a majority of the world without stepping into a museum. Or is it?
Love or hate Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook and Instagram are finally democratizing art in a meaningful way. Artists are posting new works before they appear in galleries, giving the Average Joe the sneak peak and the chance to play critic. Art fans can discover and interact with their favorite artists in real time through the use of live Instagram videos and Direct Messages. Skyler Grey, the 18-year old Pop Art sensation, says, “Interacting with my fans on social media keeps people engaged in what I’m creating and gets people excited to purchase.” Artists are also using their new social media platforms to promote art fairs and personal appearances, essentially bringing new works of art to the masses for the first time in history. Imagine the impact of a young artist doing a personal appearance at Art Basel. Now imagine the impact after photos of the artist and his work are posted and reposted all over social media! More importantly, young collectors are discovering early and mid career artists, giving them a chance to purchase and invest in these artists’ original works before they skyrocket in price. Social media essentially grants access that was previously exclusive to the wealthy and well-connected.
Contemporary artist, Bradley Theodore, represented by London’s Maddox Gallery and known for his street murals of Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Winter, recently used his Instagram account to promote a new collaboration with Puma, featuring sneakers and athletic apparel in his signature colors and brushstrokes. Such artist collaborations are the very definition of accessible art, and are selling out almost immediately because of their limited nature and aggressive social media campaigns. Finally, people without extreme wealth can own a work of art, and even better, its wearable!