Jon Pestoni, Windshield, 2014, from the Artsy overview of Art Basel

Jon Pestoni, Windshield, 2014, from the Artsy overview of Art Basel

I’m finally recovering enough time and attention to sit up and look around after one of those months of needing to neglect everything I thought I needed to do–but which I guess I didn’t need to do, since it didn’t get done. Such as writing this blog. Still, it felt as if I were goofing off, when I was actually busy getting through November. I hate that: busy but feeling like a slacker. But December is here and I can see a bit beyond my To Do list. One of the first things I saw this morning was Artsy, a new website and organization that looks poised to do something extremely useful (probably, it’s already doing it, and I’m way behind the curve, but they are hiring a lot of people, so that seems at least semi-poised . . .) It appears to be devoted to giving people a central place for following what’s happening in art and maybe finding ways to buy some of it or simply learn more about it. The website design is beautiful, simple, sophisticated, and friendly, If I’m understanding it properly, among other things, Artsy wants to use algorithms to make it easier to identify art that might be of interest to you and see connections with other art that might not have been obvious before. And follow nearly anything or anyone connected to the making or exhibiting or sale of art. That’s the key: a combination of the best elements of Pandora and Twitter and Spotify and Instagram. It can help you stay on top of what’s happening at exhibitions and art fairs, be a sort of concierge for collectors, and it offers an iPhone app that even allows you to organize art on your phone and serves as a guide for any art fair Artsy hosts.

One thing that comes through, this isn’t your typical little start-up. I don’t think even Google has a panoramic view of Manhattan from its offices downtown, does it? (The view of New York City on the Artsy website, if you linger on it, changes as you look at it, a slide show of the same scene in shifting weather, time of day, and season. Click here and scroll down just a little to see the city and watch it change. Yes, I’m easily amused, but still, a beautiful touch that makes the site congenial and inviting.)

Here is how Artsy describes itself. A “convergence of art and science” sounds encouragingly Renaissance to me, but it’s really a way of staying informed about art for people who have been trained by social media to select content for their media and set up alerts to what’s new from the content providers:


Artsy is led by Carter Cleveland, a computer science engineer from Princeton University with a passion for fine art, and Sebastian Cwilich, a former executive at Christie’s Auction House and Haunch of Venison Gallery. The Artsy team is headquartered in downtown New York City, with specialists and gallery liaisons in Los Angeles, Munich, Berlin, London, and Hong Kong.


Would you like to learn about an artist’s life and work? Artsy has published biographies for over 5,000 artists—both historically significant and contemporary—in an approachable style.


Keeping students and others informed and involved with current art-world happenings is an important part of our educational mission. Artsy’s team of journalists provide editorial coverage of hundreds of major gallery and museum exhibitions, art fairs, and biennials around the world. Check the Artsy homepage daily for new posts, interviews, and editorial coverage and browse gallery and institutional pages for the latest exhibitions.


The Art Genome Project is the classification system and technological framework that powers Artsy. It maps the characteristics (we call them “genes”) that connect artists, artworks, architecture, and design objects across history. There are currently over 1,000 characteristics in The Art Genome Project, including art historical movements, subject matter, and formal qualities.


Artsy features the world’s leading galleries, museum collections, foundations, artist estates, art fairs, and benefit auctions, all in one place. Our growing database of 200,000 images of art, architecture, and design by 25,000 artists spans historical, modern, and contemporary works, and includes the largest online database of contemporary art. Artsy is used by art lovers, museum-goers, patrons, collectors, students, and educators to discover, learn about, and collect art.


More than 25,000 high-resolution images of art and architecture from Artsy’s database are freely downloadable for educational use, including numerous iconic works from art history. We include a “Download Image” button beside these images on the site for convenient access.

JOBS AT ARTSY: JOIN US (apparently, they have 20 job openings at the moment)

At its core, Artsy is the convergence of art and science. We’re a team of designers, engineers, and arts professionals who share a passion for bringing the art world into the digital age. Making all the world’s art accessible to anyone with an internet connection is an ambitious goal. Amazing colleagues, creative challenges, and 360-degree views of Manhattan keep us inspired everyday.

Most encouraging of all:


There are currently over 135,000 works available for sale on Artsy, provided by galleries, museums, and institutions from around the world. These works range in price from $100 to over $1,000,000, with new ones added every day. Artsy takes no commission from the sale of artworks from our subscribing gallery partners. We serve as a link between our gallery partners and those interested in collecting.

In all of that well-crafted prose, one word rises up above all the rest: “approachable.” So I signed up, which is easy, and the wizard led me through a step-by-step questionnaire that helped Artsy get to know what I like, primarily schools, periods, and styles of art, as well as a way of keying in the names of favorite artists. I tried some sure hits–Porter, Frankenthaler, Vermeer–and it not only adds that artist to my profile, it suggests others I might like. It’s a process familiar to anyone who uses Pandora or buys something at Amazon, but this is the first time I’ve encountered it with art. So then I tried an artist I didn’t expect to be in their database: Nick Blosser. There he was. OK, now I’m paying attention. Next it did the same with museums and galleries. Artsy and I have been introduced and now I expect it will keep me posted on things that it suspects I’ll want to know. It’s great.

I’m going to spend some time using the site some more, and reading its posts, to see how it works. This might actually be fun. Thanks, Artsy.


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