Art | Need To Now

A very 21st-century way to view and buy art

All the fun of the art fair, without the hustle and hassle

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A very 21st-century way to view and buy art

Image: © Louise Bourgeois. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth

January 21 2011
Victoria Woodcock

An art fair minus the hustle and bustle: sounds appealing? Well, from Saturday January 22 to Sunday January 30 there is such an event happening near you. In your own home, in fact. For the VIP Art Fair is taking place exclusively online, making it a world first.

Co-founded by New York and Shanghai gallerist James Cohan, his partner Jane Cohan and internet entrepreneurs Jonas and Alessandra Almgren, the VIP (Viewing In Private) Art Fair promises to be the real art deal with a new 21st-century interface. It’s open to the public for one week only, and attendees will be able to browse the booths of 139 of the world’s leading contemporary art galleries, counting major players such as London’s White Cube and Sadie Coles HQ, Zurich’s Hauser & Wirth, New York’s Marlborough Gallery and Cheim & Reid and Berlin’s Sprüth Magers alongside a smaller selection of exciting “emerging” names. As a result, very serious artworks by names as prominent as Louise Bourgeois (first picture: Untitled, fabric, 2005), Francis Bacon (second picture: Man at Washbasin, oil on canvas, 1989-90) Sarah Lucas and Takashi Murakami will sit, virtually, side by side with works by young Los-Angeles-based photographer Carter Mull and Albanian, Milan-based video and performance artist Adrian Paci. (Third picture shows one of the offerings from White Cube, Franz Ackermann’s The Citizen, oil on canvas, 2010.)

The “doors” will open at 1pm GMT and it’s free to enter – as long as you register online first. Once in the fair’s “Atrium” (aka opening page), clicking on a gallery name will lead you into its booth, where artworks are presented on a “virtual wall”. A work’s scale is communicated by showing the piece in relation to a human figure, while its surface texture is within reach of a zoom function.

Adding a new dimension to the real-life fair, there’s also a handy search tool to find artworks by name, gallery and medium. And those opting for the VIP ticket option ($100 on January 22 and 23, and $20 from the 24th onwards) to the Art Fair will also be able to search by price and access a further realm of interactive options, including a series of 18 videos by award-winning film producer Art21 that allow you to visit virtually the studios of leading names such as Bruce Nauman and Cindy Sherman. Perhaps most crucially, however, the purchase of a VIP ticket also enables you to chat live to the dealers, who will be online for 12-18 hours a day to answer pre-purchase questions.

See also

VIP Art Fair