Sellers seeking professional art brokerage services face a multitude of barriers.
For example, they must physically consign artworks to galleries or auction houses and sales often come with exclusivity agreements.
A new digital marketplace aims to remove such barriers, this week formally unveiling a platform “designed to democratize art transactions.”
And we’re not talking about non-fungible token “art,” either, but rather the real stuff.
Launching out of Vancouver, ArtRow provides a first-of-its-kind marketplace for buyers and sellers to make transparent sales grounded in market intelligence and validated by historical substance.
The tech startup was founded in 2022 by Dr. Lara Tomaszewska, who boasts two decades of experience as an art advisor, appraiser, and historian. She also holds a Ph.D. in Art History from the University of British Columbia.
Tomaszewska says that the art industry experienced transformation during the pandemic, “highlighting the need for new art market models.”
“As travel to art fairs halted and galleries shuttered, gallery and auction house online sales skyrocketed,” the entrepreneur explains. “This revealed an opportunity for a new digital platform where independent buyers and sellers could participate in art transactions through an easy-to-use marketplace model, and thus, ArtRow was born.”
To fully realize the potential of ArtRow, Tomaszewska assembled a team of experts, including Natasha Mendelsohn (formerly of Sotheby’s in the UK) and Dr. Dorothy Barenscott, an art historian at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
Adequate expertise is critical for ArtRow because it “underpins the sourcing and verification of all primary and secondary market sales, allowing buyers to be confident in making art investment decisions, regardless of prior experience,” according to a statement from the BC company.
The platform already features both historical and contemporary artists from private sellers, including Canada’s own A.J. Casson (pictured is Casson’s “Haliburton Field near Lake Kashagawigamo” from 1925) and William Perehudoff, as well as international artists like Jack Shadbolt, Susan Point, and Alexander Calder.
ArtRow sources directly from professional artists’ studios—however, anyone is welcome to apply to sell their privately-owned artwork on ArtRow, the company says. The mediated marketplace structure provides a unique opportunity for artists to receive professional art services that have only been traditionally offered by galleries and dealers.
“ArtRow’s launch marks a significant milestone in the art market, ushering in a new era for both established and emerging artists,” believes Canadian landscape painter Jeremy Herndl.
According to Herndl, ArtRow is committed to transparency—one of several factors contributing to the viability of the marketplace.
“From the detailed descriptions of each piece of art to the team’s commitment to transparency, the platform not only promises to be a vibrant hub for art enthusiasts but also an avenue for independent professionals to present their work globally,” the artist stated.
Prices of art on the platform currently range range from a few hundred dollars to well over $100,000; for higher-value works, the platform offers bespoke sales, through which ArtRow manages all aspects of the sale, from pre-purchase enquiries to shipping.
It’s all a part of “democratizing” the art world, which isn’t just buzz-wording to Tomaszewska—it means putting decisions into the hands of the people.
ArtRow is “committed to giving everyone, regardless of social status or geographic location, the tools they need to make informed decisions in our marketplace, whether their personal goals are investment, passion for visual art, or social justice,” according to the company’s website.
“I see an exciting future,” Tomaszewska says, “Where anyone can experience art and participate in the art economy.”