How a sharing economy could transform the art market

“No one wants to own anything any more. It’s all about experiencing, sharing and being in the moment. Since the digital revolution, information and algorithms are more valuable than the physical.” So said Ralph Nauta, the co-founder of the artist collective Studio Drift.

A real change is happening indeed. Our society is shifting from an ownership to a shared economy, and Uber and Airbnb are both perfect examples of this transformation. The digitalisation has in fact democratised the potential audience of Art. Museum or exhibtions visitors take the habit to post artworks on social media, allowing new people to discover public – or private – collections. And it is replacing Art as its proper value. In fact, Art is a common good and should be shared. Digitalisation is the perfect way to share Art thanks to social networks, but also thanks to the cultural and social changes it occurs. Transparency and availability of data have become normal and it should concern the Art market, forcing museums, hotels and corporate to give access to their properties.

Also, Art has a brand new dimension : it’s not a question of property any longer – it’s becoming a real experience. Marc Speigler, the global director of Art Basel questions rightly : “Is the art of the future an object or an experience? I don’t think it should be overstated, but it should be taken into consideration.” In fact, the collaboration between artists and collectors has increased : collectors not only buy artworks, but experience it with the artists. Aaron Cézar, director of Delfina Foundation, said “in this unmediated context [artists and collectors] discuss shared concerns about the politics, psychology and philosophy of collecting in relation to the social, rather than the economic value of art.” Investors seem more and more interested in the production and the support of artworks, rather than just their ownership .

It is also interesting to analyse how art’s intermediaries are finding new ways to monetise experiences. Von Bartha gallery (from Art Basel) includes the artwork Non Alcoholic Vodka (2006; priced at SFr55,000/$55,000), an installation by Superflex made with more than 100 bottles and is actually a lot more commercially valuable than other pieces from the collection. Therefore Speigler says : galleries and artists “who can make buying and owning art an experience have the most natural future”. This is because life experiences are easier to share, and art is more and more about sharing, this dimension has indeed a great future.

It feels that we are experiencing a move from an accumulating to a sharing economy and it could potentially turn today’s art market system upside down.

In order to allow private art owners to share their collections, Uart has developed an online platform for private art collections. Every business, firm, hotel or restaurant can publish and share their art collection with their community and network. In this way, executives and art curators will see that art is for collecting rather than possessing. It is almost a social obligation to share art collections with the outside world.