In the digital age, is art for you?

Whatever fuels your passion for art, the market has always provided opportunities to create a collection that reflects your goals and tastes. Now, technology is presenting us with new ways to discover and own art.

Staying in the know

Discovering contemporary art

Art Basel is the world’s premier fair for modern and contemporary art, and we’ve been proudly sponsoring it for 25 years. Every year, in Basel, Miami Beach and Hong Kong, artists, academics, curators, collectors and other industry figures discuss the latest questions facing the art world, and society in general. Questions like "Has technology really changed the art world?".

Today’s art market

If you’re thinking of investing in art, you’ll want to understand the ever-changing art market. Our ground-breaking report, written by cultural economist Dr Clare McAndrew, digests the many movements of the market into must-know statistics.

  • Online sales across the art market were worth $4.9bn in 2016
  • Online sales accounted for almost 9% of the global art and antiques market by value in 2016
  • 25% of galleries enable customers to buy online

Own a pixel, not a painting

New technologies are changing both the nature of ownership in the art market, and shaking up what art actually is. For example, in the same way as you might own a share of a racehorse, you can now own pixels of art. As Chris Frey, who leads our art innovation programs, says: "We have artists who generate digital art online and register it using blockchain. You can buy it, but you never possess it in the traditional way. You have a piece of an object on your PC. You can watch it, but you can never hang it anywhere."

Is the internet the new gallery?

In the old world, your first point of call to discover new art would, naturally, have been a gallery. Not so anymore. For the past two years, we’ve been working with Artsy – a group of technologists, engineers and art professionals – who are using the latest in data science and artificial intelligence (AI) to revolutionize the way we discover art.

Artsy’s Art Genome Project has assigned 'genes' to 27,000 artists, based on the characteristics of their work, so it can recommend artists with similar ‘genetic’ traits, introducing people to new artworks. Its engineers are also developing an ‘art brain’ – a piece of artificial intelligence (AI) that will be able to understand the ins and outs of the art market, in the same way as an industry insider. Read about the art brain here.

The insider’s perspective on the art world

We’ve teamed up with Artsy to create a four-part mini-series that brings an insider’s viewpoint on this changing world of art – from auctions, galleries and patrons, to art itself.

Your personal art world

If you’d like the latest, most relevant content direct to your smartphone or tablet, our Planet Art app uses AI to digest hundreds of articles. Algorithms analyze data from around 100 of the world’s top art publications to bring you the content you’re most interested in.

Our art collection

We’ve grown one of the largest corporate art collections to reflect the economic, cultural and political life of the time it was created in.

Your collection

Whether a seasoned collector, or just starting your journey, we can give you objective, independent advice.

Is new technology impacting on our creativity?

Artsy’s Sebastian Cwilich thinks that, eventually, AI will start doing more of the manual tasks that we humans currently have to undertake. When this happens, he says, we’ll have more time for "being creative; experiencing and consuming art." He goes on to suggest that our social feeds, in particular our Instagram accounts, are actually mini art projects, and that perhaps we’re all already artists now.

The Nobel viewpoint

The Nobel Laureates in our Nobel Perspectives series agree with Cwilich. Many say we’ll be less likely to be doing routine work, and more likely to be spending our time creatively. They’ve shared their views on AI’s impact on jobs and creativity with us.

Various studies say that up to 50% of people might lose their jobs due to technology. Nobel Laureate Robert J. Shiller adds:

"The risk of losing your job to a computer is bigger than the risk of your losing the job because you’re hit by a car and paralyzed."

Laureate Edmund S. Phelps thinks certain jobs will survive, and that in future everyone should be involved in creative, innovative work, or it’ll be bad for the economy and society as a whole. He quotes David Hume saying:

"There wouldn’t be any progress in the world if it weren’t for human creativity."

Getting tech-ready

According to Janneke Niessen, Co-Founder of Improve Digital, if we’re going to make the most of the technological revolution, education is key. As part of our Life’s Questions series, she explains: "Artificial Intelligence will change the way we do things in a big way. And we have to prepare our next generation with the right skills, so they can play a role in a society where automation and robotics are key."

So should I buy art?

We’ve seen that art is developing, using technology to create exciting new takes on the world we live in. These same technologies are also giving us revolutionary, imaginative ways to discover – and invest in – art.

As Mark Haefele, from UBS Wealth Management says in our Art Market Report, to consider art in a context of the returns it provides, we need to compare it with other asset classes. And despite selling for record sums, art won’t deliver some of the staples crucial to a long-term investment proposition, in the way that traditional financial assets such as stocks and bonds do.

However, Haefele adds:

"What art can give us is, in some ways, worth more than money. It offers pleasure, passion, and the thrill of a new perspective."