Some galleries, including Sydney’s NandaHobbs, have replaced openings with recorded launch speeches and a 3-D virtual tour of the show. A tour of Chen Ping’s exhibition Muse and Mountain is online now.
Limits on international travel and freight mean local galleries will be forced to rely more on art objects and shows by Australian artists and Artspace gallery’s Richard Phillips believes this may benefit artists.
“It could be a positive because there will be more support for local artists and this is something the community is going to need,” he said.
Publisher and director of Everywhen Artspace on Vicoria’s Mornington Peninsula, Susan McCulloch, said closing the gallery for appointments only gave her time to design educational online exhibitions of the newest Aboriginal art.
“It’s a great time to help people enjoy the stories associated with the art,” she said.
The easiest stay in touch with a local art world in flux is to follow local artists, art centres and galleries on Instagram. It is also possible to arrange a studio visit or buy art direct from artists via Instagram.
Sydney art collector Linda Gregoriou said digitisation allowed buyers to quickly find and compare all the work by a given artist; to research authenticity and provenance; and buy directly from artists online.
Most fine art auctions are continuing as online auctions continue to grow in popularity on live auction sites like invaluable.com. Deutscher and Hackett will continue to host bimonthly auctions even if more bidders view the art work before and bid remotely.
Last week’s annual auction of major Aboriginal art by Deutscher and Hackett in Melbourne was conducted live and online at invaluable.com. Bidding was brisk with some 40 people in attendance and 83 per cent of works sold, for $2.3 million, and two-thirds sold to phone bidders. Director Chris Deutscher said online sales in general accounted for 20-25 per cent of auction sales, up from five per cent in the last five years.
Although major art galleries and museums have closed their doors, most now have much of their art online, often in high resolution and with 3-D virtual tours.
Google Arts & Culture hosts 3-D virtual tours of 500 museums and art galleries. Europeana.eu and Wikimedia Commons are still the largest art aggregation sites. Meanwhile, Britain has the largest photographic record of art with every publicly owned painting and sculpture made since 1000AD on file.
International galleries with some of the largest collections online include Amsterdam’s Rijks Museum with more than 640,000 works; New York’s Museum of Modern Art showing more than 5000 past exhibitions; and Britain’s Tate with more than 120,000 works online. The Guggenheim museum has 1700 of its 8000 works online.
Major art fairs, including the Melbourne Art Fair, have been postponed, but viewing rooms at Art Basel, still scheduled for June 2020, came on line last week.
Ancient art from world archaeological sites is also accessible online. The Adventure of Rock Art has made a fabulous 3-D experience of the famous Chauvet Cave in France. Project Mosul has created 3-D models, often from crowd-sourced photographs, of Assyrian and Mesopotamian artefacts and buildings destroyed by ISIS in 2015.
In Australia, state gallery images are often very high resolution and, after signing up, visitors can download, print and make their own designs with images out of copyright. Websites encourage visitors to make their own collections and research and curate their own shows.
The National Gallery of Australia, the National Museum of Australia and the Art Gallery of NSW each have 60 to 70 per cent of their collections online but the National Gallery of Victoria with 92 per cent of its collection online, is also leading the way with 3-D virtual tours.
The NGV has already uploaded its Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat and KAWS exhibitions. You can take a 3D tour of its Marking Time exhibition of Aboriginal art and the Comme des Garcons fashion show, Collecting Comme, which also comes with an e-book.
The NGV Channel hosts interviews with artists, curators and art classes and there are lots of creative exercises parents can download for children.
Donna McColm, acting assistant director, curatorial and audience engagement at the NGV, said online visits allowed people to take more time than the seconds they usually spend in galleries in front of art works. She said it was also a great time for people to engage with more long form content, essays and videos about the artists.
Photography looks as good as any art form online. Every photo in the current National Photographic Portrait Prize and every painting in the National Portrait Gallery are online in high resolution. People and schools can also sign up for delightful interactive virtual tours using the increasingly popular meeting app Zoom. Unlike most gallery tours, NPG virtual tours are conducted by a live guide who answers your questions, with two-way cameras and microphones.