Amazon Begins Sponsoring Art Fairs to Convince Galleries That It’s Friend, Not Foe
When the Affordable Art Fair opened its doors in New York City a week and a half ago, one setup didn’t seem to fit in among the art pieces from more than 50 international galleries: A big, bright display with a computer screen built in.
The name across it: Amazon Art.
This new Amazon business line, which launched publicly in August, had secured the spot as lead sponsor of the popular annual event. It also will be the headline name at the fair’s Seattle stop next month.
Along the way, it hopes to convince gallery owners and artists that it isn’t in the business to drive down prices, but to make artwork that is sold mostly locally and offline available to art shoppers across the U.S.
So far, Amazon Art’s launch has elicited strong opinions, both positive and negative.
But if it wants to make nice as an industry newcomer, it would be smart to find more Lisa Coopers: The owner of a gallery in Riverdale, N.Y., had a presence at the Affordable Art Fair and has recently set up an online shop on Amazon Art.
Cooper, a former digital-ad-industry veteran who is a relative newcomer to the art world, admits that she was skeptical of Amazon’s art-selling idea when she first heard a pitch at an invite-only event hosted by Amazon this summer.
“It’s not something they are known for,” she said. “Most people know them for books or more everyday things, and art doesn’t fall into that category.”
But the combination of Amazon’s enormous customer base, as well as its expertise in targeted marketing, convinced her to take the plunge and set up shop.
“A lot of Chelsea galleries sort of pooh-pooh something like Amazon, because it takes away a little bit of that elitism,” Cooper said. “But, for me, being a small gallery, it’s a great opportunity to get the eyeballs and increased awareness.”
So far, Cooper’s results have been modest. She has sold one work, a $3,000 piece by Houston artist Mitch McGee, after it was featured on the Amazon Art homepage. Still, she’s hopeful that the company will ramp up its online marketing of the service, especially at this time of year.
“I’m hoping that it’s a great holiday season for all of us,” she said.