Amazon has been making headlines this week for its launch of Amazon Art. The online behemoth already sells virtually anything you can think of via its "marketplace," so why not add fine art to the list of goodies?
This new venture offers customers online shopping access to more than 40,000 works of fine art created by over 4,500 artists and sold by over 150 galleries and dealers across the US, UK, the Netherlands, and Canada. But here in Miami, home to the country's largest art fair and an increasingly prominent arts scene, just one gallery is selling through the retail giant: Avant Gallery.
We spoke to owner and founder Dmitry Prut about his decision to join the brave new world of art sales through Amazon.
Avant Gallery first opened in 2007 in a small location in South Beach, and within a year moved to a larger space in the Design District. In 2011, the business relocated once more to a 5,000-square-foot space in a Miami Beach building on 23rd Street, just off Collins.
Prut explains how Amazon reached out to him and invited his gallery to be a part of this new platform. "I spoke to them and felt them out," he says, "and they weren't kidding around about doing something special with the art category, so I basically said 'what the heck, let's do this.'" It was important for Prut that Amazon be passionate about selling fine art, and since Amazon wasn't planning on becoming a sort of gallery on its own, he was happy to help and be onboard.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, "is actually an avid art collector," says Prut, "and is currently reviewing some of our collection." Prut assures us that "as long as quality art is being delivered on this platform," Avant Gallery is in it for the long run.
Even though Amazon started selling books, and now they're here, Prut believes adding art to the list of merchandise is a bold, and wise, move. "I look at Amazon as what they are: the number one online retailer in the world... So why not try art, right?" he says. From a business standpoint, partnering with Amazon allows his gallery to reach "the critical mass," letting art aficionados worldwide familiarize themselves with Avant Gallery.
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Prut is making sure that the collection his gallery offers on Amazon Art will have "something for everyone; whether the customer is an aspiring, mid-level, or high-end seasoned collector." Avant Gallery features a range of artists, from the established - including Damien Hirst, Guy le Baube, Marc Quinn, DAIN, and Mick Rock - to the up-and-coming - like Alejandro Vigilante, STMTS, and Santlov.
During his rigorous curating process, Prut follows his own five-second rule: "If I'm looking at an image from an emerging artist and it doesn't pull me in within five seconds, it's over." He offers that as a piece of advice to beginner collectors; "Buy something that tickles your emotions, something that you will enjoy looking at every day," he says, and of course, do your research.