When British, contemporary artist Tracey Emin, famous for that unmade bed, was made a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 2013, she proclaimed that art should be for everyone and not just the elite. Upon receiving her award at Buckingham Palace she added,
“I think that art’s for everybody and everybody’s entitled to the best culture, the best literature, the best education, the best that everyone can have.”
On a similar note, just this week, London-based sculptor Antony Gormley opened up his studio for an event to raise awareness about the chronic shortage of affordable studio space for artists. In his impassioned speech he declared,
“What an artist needs, more than talent and determination, is space. For many in the artistic community, developers are the enemy”.
We couldn’t agree more. With my own memories of anxiety and trepidation entering commercial galleries in London and New York front of mind, I intentionally landed upon the following mission when I launched The Road Gallery in 2014:
To showcase the work of talented emerging and established artists and to make their work accessible to people who love art and who want a positive experience buying art.
From the outset, I have tried to create an online gallery that dispenses with the snobbery, arrogance, haughtiness and over-intellectualism that can be found in the art world yet keep the intimacy and curated feel of some of the best bricks and mortar galleries I have visited around the world.
In an attempt to move even closer to achieving the gallery’s mission, this week we launched The 500 Project, the newest section of the gallery. The 500 Project is a curated collection of original, contemporary artwork, all priced under $500. The 500 Project moves the gallery one step closer to accessibility for two reasons: (1) the price point and (2) buyers and collectors can purchase artwork directly online without having to make an inquiry. We are living at a time when people are used to one-click buying and can be put by having to inquire for a host of different reasons. The 500 Project gives people the opportunity to browse the artwork, select the pieces they love, add them to their collection and checkout.
At a time when the art market has seen scandalous manipulation and escalation of prices, making contemporary art increasingly inaccessible, we wanted to buck the trend and provide easy access to quality, original, affordable art to people who love art.
The notion of affordability is interesting when it comes to art. For example, the hugely successful Affordable Art Fair, which is now a world-wide phenomenon, carries pieces from $100-$10,000 at their New York event, a huge range. The occasions I have visited the fair, I’ve seen very few pieces at the lower ends of the spectrum. We intentionally came up with the $500 threshold based on research we conducted, exploring different price points people were comfortable paying for artwork they loved.
We know this is just one very small dent in an otherwise aggressive, ruthless art world but we feel good about taking a stand and sticking to our principles. Here’s to Art for Everyone!