Amazon has launched a new online fine art store, as an extension of its marketplace partner offerings. The store offers access to more than 40,000 works, according to Amazon, from over 4,500 artists supplied by more than 150 galleries and dealers, including both generally affordable art and paintings in the multi-million dollar range, like Monet’s “L’Enfant a la tasse, portait de Jean Monet” for $1.45 million, and Norman Rockwell’s “Willie Gillis: Package from Home” for $4.85 million.
The benefit of the new storefront is that it consolidates and makes searchable a collection that was previously fractured and spread across a number of smaller storefronts. Search results on the shop can be narrowed to zoom in on specific subjects, styles, sizes, colors used, price and also gallery,
Some of those involved have first-hand experience with trying to modernize the online art shopping world. UGallery, for instance, is a 2006-founded company that essentially tried to do something similar by providing an online platform for showcasing original art from a number of different galleries in one central locations. UGallery now joins the Amazon Art stable of partners, which should give it broader reach even as it continues to also sell works through its own platform directly.
UGallery offers up some interesting statistics around online art: 71 percent of collectors have now bought works via the Internet, per the 2013 Hiscox Online Art Trade Report. While at first it might seem like an odd fit for the ecommerce giant to deal in the works of the great masters, alongside the myriad $2 plastic trinkets, cables, dog toys and whatever else it sells, in the end it’s just Amazon identifying an emerging area of online shopping and locking down that nascent market to add to its growing empire.
Is it weird browsing Amazon for Warhol lithographs worth thousands that you’d normally see in a private auction house (i.e., not at all, for someone like me)? You bet it is. But as we saw from Jeff Bezos’ purchase of the Washington Post announced yesterday, nothing about this company or the man who founded it should come as surprising anymore.