Art Collecting Comes to a Computer Near You

I worked for a year in an art gallery while I was in design school. The hours were great – 10am to 5pm Tuesday through Saturday – and I got to hang around cool people and look at art all day.

We sold pieces by lesser-known but up-and-coming artists, as well as stuff from greats like Ruscha, Rauschenberg and Rothko. Learning the ins and outs of the LA art scene was fun, especially since I’m a sucker for a starving artist and LA has more than its share.

Art collecting is a hobby for some, a necessity for others. It requires a serious cash flow, but starting small (and when you’re young) and building slowly is the way to go. My only regret is not starting sooner.

But the art scene can be intimidating – an incestuous pool of who knows who and why and how much. So if you don’t know the right people or the relevant questions, shopping for art might prove to be an overwhelming pursuit.

But don’t hang up your collecting shoes so fast. There’s a new kid in town and its name is Art.sy. That’s right – without the .com or .net. Just Art.sy.

It is being pegged as Pandora for fine art, which makes sense since Joe Kennedy, the CEO of Pandora and the Music Genome Project, is involved. Kennedy, along with a computer science engineer from Princeton and a former Christie’s executive, are three of the geniuses behind Art.sy.

They created the Art Genome Project, “an ongoing study of the characteristics that distinguish and connect original works of art” which will work in tandem with search technology that collects your preferences. The goal is helping you discover art that speaks to your taste.

The Art.sy database will include art currently for sale in the hottest galleries, as well as art on display in museums and private collections. It works in three ways – “discover, learn, connect”. You can discover new art, learn more about it and the artist, and finally be connected or introduced to galleries where you can purchase the art, if that’s your goal.

The entire process is streamlined, simplified and confined to the privacy of your own computer. That is, until (and if) you want to buy something, when it’s crucial to see a piece of art in person.

It’s the ideal way to introduce fine art to the masses. Kind of like an art encyclopedia (if you remember that far back). I wish it existed when I was taking Art History in graduate school.

Art.sy is currently accepting requests for an invitation (You don’t need an invitation code, just name and email). I eagerly await its launch, expected this March.

Image: See-ming Lee

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