A packed room at the venerable National Arts Club in New York City was the venue for a January 23 panel discussion entitled “Technology’s Impact on the Art Industry Today and Predictions for the Future”. Moderated by Natalia Kolodzei of the Kolodzei Foundation, the panel included Bernadine Brocker of Vastari, Adam Fields of ARTA and Andrew Goldstein, the Editor-in-Chief at Artnet News.
The evening included a lively discussion around the adoption of current technology in the art world and what these leaders predict for the future. In the audience was a mix of attendees, including representatives from companies involved in art and technology ranging from Artsy to Artlogic to Collector Systems. Having so many experts in the audience as well as on stage meant that there were interesting debates and discussions in the initial conversation and the subsequent Q&A.
The discussion started with the background to how each of the three companies have been involved in digitising the art world, in the order of each company’s founding date. Artnet is greatly known for its pricing database, but also increasingly through the popularity of its email-based editorial content known as artnet news. Andrew’s experience also spans to another initiative for digitising the art world, called Artspace, a company selling art online which was sold to Phaidon in 2014.
Bernadine Brocker Wieder described how Vastari was founded, from a desire to make more connections between collectors of art and museums for exhibitions. Adam Fields, who also worked at Artspace, described how his work selling art online exposed the inefficiencies in sending art using global logistics suppliers. He set up ARTA in 2014 to make it easier for art marketplaces, auction houses and galleries to get a variety of quotes for shipping their art around the world.
As the discussion coincided with the beginnings of the Art Innovators Alliance, there were also questions about best practices, security online and issues with art market players embracing technology.
Natalia led the conversations in a variety of directions, weaving from questions more related to the interests for artists, to those related to galleries and museums. Looking at how the art world has evolved from the 90’s to today, the conversation then evolved to what people can expect in the future.
One of the points that resonated most about this panel discussion was the importance of engagement from collectors, galleries and artists. Unless they are aware of the importance of technology and the security that these applications are providing, there is limited impact for innovation and technology.
Interestingly, the companies expressed less concern about upcoming competition and were more worried about finding sustainable financial models that can help continue the growth. There is a certain expectation from the industry to constantly receive services for free, which can be difficult for the companies that are providing the services. “Nothing in life is free” said Bernadine, “so if you are getting services for free, then the company offering you the services may be selling your data.”
Raising awareness of these issues for the art world, and how innovation can be transformative in a positive way, is why the Art Innovators Alliance was founded. The Innovators will officially launch on 19 March 2019 with an industry panel discussion at Postmasters Gallery in NYC. Book here.