Now I know this isn’t true, and for God’s sake I even study History of Art and enjoy frequenting galleries, but I can’t seem to knock this invented caricature. It lets me bury the thought of buying art within the same imaginary layer of my mind that I use to fantasise about leading the extravagant lifestyle of the Made in Chelsea cast. I recently read that Proserpine by Rossetti has sold for £3.3m at Sotheby’s; to me that figure is made up of dream pounds. Art I can look at but art I cannot buy, so I don’t really entertain the thought in realistic terms.
And how would I go about it even if I wanted to? For the majority, determining the worth of a piece of art is an insurmountable task, let alone considering how you would provide the justification for spending a fortune on a luxury item you surely don’t need. This is why when I picture the art buyer I pluck him from reality and instead figure him into a scene of absurdity. He seems to fit there all the more nicely when considering we live in a period characterised by the tightening of the public purse. While friends and family worry about their frozen wages and pensions being plunged into jeopardy, I’m worrying about how I will even put a foot on the first step of the career ladder. Babysitting doesn’t count.
So the man that throws stacks of bank notes at fancy pieces of art so he can drape them across the walls of his fabulous manor house is simply one I do not relate to. We are of opposite, clashing worlds. Yet strip back the coats of lavishness we build into the stereotype of the art buyer and we can be pleasantly surprised to find those that are more normal, like you and I.
With over 300 online ventures having been established in the past year, purchasing works of art is fast becoming an open playing field for ordinary internet users. Browsing through Saatchi Online’s affordable marketplace I see a friendly network that supports a carefully curated selection of emerging artists and protects buyers by offering a 7-day money back guarantee. Did you know that online platforms are able to make their commissions lower than traditional galleries whose prices are rigged by imposing infrastructures?
The complete transparency of Saatchi Online’s service is reassuring and I enjoy the experience of sipping from a cup of tea under a blanket as I scroll through the pages at my leisure. At home I don’t have to be swept up in the pace and pressure of an auction house and can avoid breaking into an embarrassed sweat under the gaze of professionals in physical gallery sales. I don’t have to appear knowledgeable or pretend I like something to impress art snobs. I can even have Topshop on the next page tab, and wonder if I could find myself a matching outfit.
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Words: Laura Yuen