Developing online audiences for contemporary art

Developing online audiences for contemporary art Rachael Clewlow, UK Elevation #1, 2010

From the London Art Fair we look at how the web is developing audiences for contemporary art

Our stand at the London Art Fair gives us an opportunity to meet our members, have conversations with many other people and, above all, see a great deal of art.

There is so much to take in, from established dealerships stationed in the large central area, with their aura of art historical respectability, to the outer reaches of Art Projects, where galleries like Transition, Untitled and Space In Between offer something much edgier, less settled and still emerging.

Not for the first time I found myself wondering how you convert art enthusiasts and collectors with a penchant for ‘Modern British’ into patrons of new art, with the intellectual and financial risk this entails. Most people, understandably, want the reassurance of knowing that the art they collect has gone through a cumulative process of critical validation and achieved enduring financial value.    

To venture into the unknown takes courage and a certain amount of ‘insider’ knowledge too. The physical separation of ‘modern’ from ‘new’ at the London Art Fair reflects the situation in most of our major towns and cities, where the studios, galleries and project spaces that support living artists are usually located well away from the main complex of civic buildings and shops. It doesn’t help that these organisations often see ‘audience development’ as a low priority, because they are  not well resourced and focus (necessarily) on production and presentation.

Potential collectors need guidance in navigating the somewhat impenetrable landscape of contemporary art, which is perhaps where the online world – including our own directory of artists - comes into its own. The digital realm enables a process of virtual discovery that inspires and supplements experiences in ‘real life’. It also plays an increasingly important part in the incremental, iterative process of exposure, mediation and endorsement that helps artists garner attention and build their career.

So if you’re an artist, why not join our directory? It’s a brilliant audience development tool. And if you’re an art-lover and collector, why not sign up for our news? There are few better ways of keeping in touch with the latest developments at the grassroots of contemporary art in the UK.    

Axisweb at the London Art Fair 2014
Axisweb artists at the London Art Fair 2014
Clive A Brandon at the London Art Fair
Tom Hackney at the London Art Fair
George Charman at the London Art Fair
Artist of the Month: November 2013, Virginia Verran
Collecting contemporary art: a beginner's guide


Contributed by Sheila McGregor, 18 January 2014