Originally announced in May, Amazon Art opened today, the company’s online fine art marketplace. The company has long boasted they sell everything from A to Z, but until now, this didn’t include Marc Chagall, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, or contemporary superstars like Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol.
Even though you can’t find any discounts through Amazon Prime, many of Amazon’s normal features are still a part of their new fine art shopping experience. You can conveniently buy works with their “one click” button, add items to your wish list, receive recommendations based on past purchases, and even browse through Staff Picks. (The paintings featured in the Staff Picks section are a little disappointing.)
You can browse by periods like “Impressionism” or “Romanticism”, but we question some of their categorization, given that this “Medieval and Gothic” section appears neither medieval nor gothic. You can also browse by subject matter, be it “Abstract”, “Still Life”, or “Social Issues”.
For us simple folk who don’t need any art-speak mumbo-jumbo, you can also shop by orientation. There’s “landscape”, “portrait”, and a new orientation dubbed “diagonal”, which is Amazon for “square”.
As surprising as this new platform may be, Amazon doesn’t seem to be making a big hubbub about their new, multi-million dollar paintings. The Fine Art section didn’t make Amazon’s front page, and if you perform a general search “Monet” the site will provide you with a selection of books and posters, not the artist’s own paintings.
We also wonder what Amazon Art might mean for the small gallery owners out there. For one, we could witness the rise of a profitable version of Art.sy, where blue chip galleries and international dealers pay big bucks for their artists to be featured on the front page. And given Amazon’s size and visibility, that’s a pretty big deal. Alternately, Amazon Art may provide unmatched visibility for small galleries that propels them into the spotlight. Taken to the extreme, if we’ve learned anything from Amazon’s history of lowering profit margins in the publishing world, it’s possible Amazon could use their size to compete in the art market and eventually lower prices. But for now, Amazon is just distributing works from other galleries and online platforms like Paddle8, UGallery, and Artstar.