When we talk about the latest innovations and digital disruption, the art industry doesn’t always spring to mind. And yet, the whole art landscape as we know it is on the brink of being transformed by forward-thinking startups. The market, which reached $67.4 billion in 2018, continues to grow and is constantly re-shaping its rules. While often being referred to as notoriously opaque and inefficient, it’s clear that the industry is now ripe for digital disruption.

New technologies and big data are likely to affect every aspect of the art world, from the creation and distribution of new works, to the way masterpieces are vetted, purchased, and enjoyed. But beyond that, digital technologies can help resolve some of the industry’s most pressing issues and champion digitisation, build trust, and add a layer of transparency to its processes. With giants like Google Arts & Culture digitising exhibitions and galleries such as Dadiana Fine Art in London selling art pieces in fractional stakes through cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, the way we engage with art and consume culture altogether is changing radically.

And there’s more: Various companies are immersed in projects that are utilising digital technologies to democratise the art scene, advance cultural education, and find easier ways to be an art owner, among others. Here’s our pick of seven startups that are doing just that and transforming the face of the art market.

Niio, a Tel Aviv-based company established in 2014, has developed spectacular curated collections of moving-image videocast for over a hundred of high-profile locations around the world. The company has worked with artists, galleries, libraries, and collectors, to provide a monthly subscription of a collection of frequently updated videocast art on connected display devices. The co-founder and CEO, Rob Anders, says: “Other content sectors have gone digital — music on iTunes, movies on Netflix and books on Kindle. We saw the same opportunity for art.”

Cuseum is a company using different strategies to help museums drive visitor engagement. By incorporating mobile as an integrated part of the art experience and setting digital membership up, the company steadily reacts to the mixture of technological convenience and the hunger of visitors for easy, enhancing, fun, and immersive experiences. Thanks to this, it has worked with a large number of museums and galleries and even major landmarks such as the White House.

Second Canvas (by Madpixel) has also been dedicated to the digitisation of museums and galleries. It has developed an app that allows gallery visitors to explore the artwork in high definition images and interactive storytelling. With a partnered network of exhibition spaces around the world, visitors can utilise their devices to easily access information, hidden stories, and symbology behind each masterpiece.

Maecenas, an art investment platform, is an online marketplace that works to give art lovers a chance to buy shares in famous paintings. It experiments with blockchain technology to transform the concept of auctions and art ownership altogether. In the past, the company caused noise by organising an auction of Andy Warhol’s 14 Small Electric Chairs (1980) because it offered fractional shares, collectively amounting to 49% of ownership, to buyers paying in Bitcoin.

Who would have thought that collecting digital art would become a thing? And yet, R.A.R.E.Art, a marketplace for digital art secured by blockchain, has established itself as a player with much promise in the art sector. Its platform allows users to discover, collect, and display limited-edition digital art through a direct connection with the artist. Not only the company provides a space for artists to engage with their audiences, but it also promotes a new vision of art, pushing for novel channels and mediums of culture.

Through its art cataloguing software, Arteïa has been taking the burden off art collectors and exhibition spaces. Since 2016, the company, which is made up of 20 IT professionals, has developed a collection management system that links to a matching platform supported by a provenance tracker. By aiming to bring transparency into the industry, its decentralized peer-to-peer service serves as a comprehensive solution to all actors across the sector.

Obvious Art is an initiative that experiments with AI-generated art. Bringing together art enthusiasts, artists, and artificial intelligence experts, the company explores the boundaries of creativity for a machine. Last year, it recorded tremendous success, when it sold one painting from an AI-generated portrait series for $432,500. The artwork, depicting a fictional character of Edmond Belamy in a classical portraiture style, was sold at a price much higher than the estimate, encouraging further discussion about the usage of AI algorithms to generate novel art.

All of these companies confirm that the way we produce, consume, and trade art is likely to be fundamentally different in the years to come. However, these examples show that there are many exciting things to come, bringing more transparency, interactivity, and accessibility to the realm of art.

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