Most art is destined to hang in homes, and buying it online has only made it easier and quicker for Joe-public to become regular Peggy Guggenheims on a budget. But, it's safe to say a double-click on a shopping cart takes away the mystique of buying art … until now. One intriguing new online gallery has turned buying art online into an immersive experience.
East of Mayfair, a London-based online gallery that styles itself as a "digital art and design salon" aims to turn the tables on traditional shopping methods with a site designed as an artwork itself. Founder Janina Joffe, 25, started the gallery earlier this year after seeing a gap in the market. "I got tired of going to gallery spaces that decontextualise art from being something you have a direct personal relationship with in one sense and enforce a very specific context on them in another," says Joffe, an Oxford graduate.
The German, who has worked for foremost galleries such as Guggenheim, Haunch of Venison, said it was time for something "different".
"Art should be lived with and galleries are, after all, not museums, but places to buy things. On the site, you can see how things look in the context of a home and know exactly how much everything costs at a glance." Like all good ideas, it's a simple concept but one that until now hasn't been explored in the digital context.
The site is modelled on a fictive Huguenot townhouse that could be found in London's East End where users can explore rooms from the kitchen to the bathroom and art for sale via the site is hung on the walls. The site's "virtual house" has been designed by French illustrator Pierre Le-Tan. Joffe met Le-Tan after working with Joëlle Chariau of Galerie Bartsch & Chariau.
Joffe believes cost-conscious art-loving visitors to the site will prefer the breezy purchasing process over traditional galleries. "For me the clarity of prices on the site is a big appeal. It makes buying art less intimidating and allows you to choose within your budget without an awkward encounter with a sales person," says Joffe.
She says artists wishing to be represented online will also find it appealing. "For artists who want their work to be available to younger collectors and have it visible outside of specific exhibitions. The online presence is also useful because people looking for your work can find it from anywhere in the world."
Currently displayed in the virtual house are artists including Marcus Tremonto, CJ, Antonio Girbés, and architectural illustrator Thibaud Hérem. It's a testament to Joffe's growing clout that she also specialises in the works of renowned fashion illustrators - Gruau who famously drew Dior's creations, and Studio 54 stalwart Antonio Lopez. "He was so charismatic, unconventional and creative," says Joffe of Lopez.
Fashion illustration is certainly in vogue with major exhibitions on the art form happening in New York and a book on Lopez published recently by Rizzoli. In a world where celebrities and catwalk looks are constantly photographed and streamed to the general public via apps and blogs, is the general public still capable of appreciating the languid charms of fashion illustration? "Fashion art takes a step back and has a more creative and personal approach, depending on the artists eye and style. The artistic process translates the product into something subjective and part of the context of an era and its feeling." It's hard to argue against it.
So what does Joffe have planned for East of Mayfair?
"We will evolve the house to include guest curators and will host some exciting exhibitions worldwide while adding more artists to the site." eastofmayfair.com
WALL OF FRAME
Antonio Girbes (born 1952)
Girbes completed his training at the prestigious American School of Photography, under the direction of Jocelyn Kargere, the art director of Vogue Paris. There he met a number of artists who would have an important influence on his work - including Reinhart Wolf, Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin and Horst P. Horst, for whom he worked as an assistant in 1980.
Grillo Demo (born 1956)
Victor Hugo "Grillo" Demo is an Argentine artist. In 1978 he settled in Ibiza, Spain, where he still lives and works. He is known for his jasmine paintings, depicting falling jasmine flowers over a "found" image printed on canvas - Kate Moss and Madonna are collectors of his work.
Marco Walker (born 1976)
Walker is an Austrian-US photographer who studied under Paul Jasmin at the Pasadena Art Centre College in California. He moved to London in 2011 and recently he has been shooting for Harper's Bazaar, Browns, and Club Monaco, and has working with major record labels.
Jeremy Wagner (born 1978)
Wagner lives and works in New York. He earned a BFA in printmaking from Rhode Island School of Design and attended Hunter College's where he received an MFA in painting. Often working directly on steel surface and using non-traditional mediums, he represents his appreciation for architecture and nature with a keen eye for detail.