ART Basel Hong Kong cancelled its fair but will offer original works online :

In 2017, having realized how much business his galleries through online previews before art fairs, the dealer David Zwirner decided to develop virtual viewing rooms.

Now, as art fairs are canceled, museums close and auction houses consider whether to off their spring sales in response to the coronavirus. Mr. Zwirner seems prescient.

Last week, the art fair company Art Basel will, for the first time, offer online viewing rooms to replace its Hong Kong fair that was canceled last month because of the pandemic.

More than 200 dealers who planned to bring work to Asia will instead offer some 1,600 pieces through the virtual fair with an estimated value of $270 million, including some 70 items over $1 million. And galleries through out the United States are considering web-based works and curated online exhibitions.

The future has ''arrived so much sooner,'' Mr.Zwirner said. ''If galleries are closed, how we can sell art? The online platform is something we have envisioned as an important part of what we do.''

''In a funny way, the art world is late to the party if you think about other retail experiences,'' he added.

Many in the art world would say online viewing room cannot replace the the first hand experience of encountering a painting or a sculpture in person. But collectors have grown comfortable buying based on PDF images of artists they know from galleries they trust.

Both galleries and auction houses have even made significant sales based on images posted on Instagram. And when visiting a art becomes impossible, a digital substitute is better than not seeing the art at all.

Some point to the added value that online viewing rooms can provide, namely historical context through accompanying scholarly essays; the ability to reach collectors who can't easily travel to galleries and art fairs; and leaving much of a carbon footprint by eliminating shipping and flights to fairs.

Online art fairs could foster a potential democratization by removing the intimidation factor or walking into a gallery or auction house and, perhaps most notably, by posting prices in a art market that is typically opaque.

''You do need to eventually see things physically,'' said the artist Lisa Yuskavage. ''However, the dissemination is now digital and there is an upside to it. People don't have to know you're looking. You don't have to buy art to look at the viewing rooms.''

The honor and serving of the latest global operational research on Times & Tunes, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Robin Pogrebin.


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