Alex Proud has always taken bold risks, and his rock and roll photography gallery has always been at the forefront of change and disruption in the art world. In 2020 the Proud Gallery moved quickly to move it’s entire collection of exclusive and rare photographs onto it’s website, as the Covid-19 pandemic forced the wider global art market online and into the C21st.
A Move To Online
The Proud Gallery wasn’t the only space experiencing a migration to online.
Art Fairs’ online viewing rooms and galleries websites worldwide saw a huge increase in online purchases as a result of 2020’s pandemic. In June 2020, ArtNews¹ reported that online purchases had skyrocketed with Sothebys reportedly doubling its online sales in the first few months of the pandemic, and Christies showed that online sales were up, whilst live bidding were down.
Christie’s also noted that of new buyers, 60 percent did their business in online sales, and online sales continue to recruit the largest number of new buyers, at around 41 percent.
New data from Resilience in the Dealer Sector, a Mid-Year Review seems to suggest that the Covid-induced mass shift to online for buying and selling art, may well be here to stay.
Of the 700 dealers across 54 countries surveyed in this Mid-Year review (published by Art Basel and UBS), up to 95% of them forecast that online sales will continue to grow and will at least remain as significant a proportion of the total market in the coming years. In 2020, dealers reported that 37% of their total revenue came from online sales.²
Clare McAndrew, an economist behind the annual Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report told the New York Times, “This is the stimulus the art market needed to move online.”
Marc Spiegler, director of Art Basel, was reported in Art News Summer report as saying that even when the world returns to its in-person ways, he foresees an accelerated shift toward digital promotion.
“Galleries that have been forced to think about how they can promote their programs digitally—whether that’s online studio visits with artists, or online viewing rooms—will continue to take advantage of such features,” he said.
How Is Alexander Proud Responsing?
Like many contemporary modern art dealers and spaces, Alexander Proud has invested heavily in the Proud Gallery’s online presence and strategy in the past year. Upgrading its website and communicating more consistently with it’s database. Gallery Manager, Javier Robledo has uploaded thousands of new images to the online archive and has seen a surge in online enquiries since the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown.
The art world’s events calendar has yet to stabilise and online platforms remain a critical channel for art buyers and collectors. Many bought online for the first time as a result of Covid-19 restrictions, and as Alexander Proud notes ‘online sales channels enable us to reach new customers, and broaden our International audience. It can only be a good thing for smaller galleries. It's what we've focussed on for our Cabaret venues, and that's bigger and better than ever."
Of course the Proud Gallery is no stranger to the International art world. Alex Proud successfully toured shows to the US, Asia and Europe, but reaching a worldwide clientbase without having to leave London means that the gallery owner can focus his energies on developing the current archive and looking after his Cabaret Dining business. Plus, as Alex Proud notes: “Online, you have access to the whole archive, to vintage and limited edition prints, that you would never see in an individual exhibition. You can browse to find exactly what you’re looking for.”
With a dramatic spike in purchases of art by high net worth individuals and a growth in millennials buying art, it seems like the art world is experiencing a welcome period of growth and rejuvenation; a change that Alex Proud celebrates.
“Art needs new blood, it thrives on change and disruption” says Alex Proud.
Younger people are quicker to adapt to new technology but it is the older, established art buying community that makes the world go round and many collectors feel that there is no substitute for interacting and engaging with art in person. That is why the Proud Gallery will maintain a presence in Central London for the foreseeable future, with Javier Robledo welcoming new and familiar faces alike for an exclusive opportunity to view the archive just off The Strand.
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