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  1. Wealth
April 18, 2012

Online VIP Art Fair papers over the cracks

By Spear's

It’s preview day for Paper, the new instantiation of the VIP Art Fair, but unlike most fairs, this is strictly virtual.

It’s preview day for Paper, the new instantiation of the VIP Art Fair, but unlike most fairs, where art collectors rush round pulling Hirsts and Hatoums into their trolleys, this is strictly virtual. Well, the works exist – but the fair is nothing more than ones and zeroes.

The VIP Art Fair has not been a massive success so far. The first year was dogged with technical problems and there were complaints that it had not been financially worthwhile for some galleries this year (but when is an art fair ever good for everyone?).

Paper offers the same digital experience with (generally) cheaper works, below $300,000 and down to a thousand dollars. You can sort works by artist, gallery and medium, although the sort-by-price option is faulty, and you can make up your own tours of works you’ve liked. You can zoom in on most artworks to an extraordinary degree and each piece has a full description of its manufacture, size and edition.

Fred Tomaselli, Nov 11, 2010 (2011), $1,200, James Cohan Gallery
Every exhibitor has a gallerina on hand for you to chat with; the advantage of going digital is that they can’t check out your shoes and sneer before deciding not to talk to you.

Navigation problems (on Firefox anyway) have not been entirely banished. Click on one picture in the search section and you end up on another, and the Artists page is jumpy and hard to move around.

That you can browse through different galleries and all their works, if not quite as haphazardly/serendipitously as normal, is an important feature retained from the real world, and the rapidity of refining your search is certainly an improvement.

Do you miss the noise and bustle and atmosphere of a real fair? It’s the difference between shopping at Amazon and at Daunt (discounts aside): what you give up in experience you gain in capability.
Andy Warhol, Life Saver from Ads (1985), $75,000-100,000, Leslie Sacks Contemporary

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