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Social Media and the Art World: Buying and Selling Art on Instagram

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Guyton, who makes his art on inkjet printers and photocopiers, had used his own Instagram account over the weekend in what was quickly interpreted as a subtle threat, rather than just a cheeky response, to the auction by printing and photographing dozens of prints using the same file that produced his original inkjet on linen Untitled. He could flood the market, if he wanted to. But he didn’t and the auction, which “witnessed worldwide participation” according to Christie’s and surpassed its pre-sale target of $92.9 million to total a record-breaking $134.6 million, saw Israel’s Sky Backdrop sell for five times its estimate at $1.25 million in what was the artist’s first appearance at auction. Meanwhile Kippenberger’s Untitled sold for the world record price of $18.6 million. “Christie’s is taking contemporary art and making it go to prices that it shouldn’t,” the anonymous protester told the New York Observer. “By the time they’re 30, these artists aren’t going to have anywhere to go.” But if Gouzer’s auction has taught us anything, it is that what artists will have is Instagram.

The social media platform is not only launching the career of under-the-radar artists, it is providing the world with an entirely new way to access art. Where artists once had to first get support of the art world elite—critics, galleries and big name collectors, which would eventually lead to museum shows—before reaching the monied masses, today artists use Instagram as their own virtual art gallery, playing both dealer and curator while their fans become critics and collectors, witnessing the creative process in real time.

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Well this is a use of Instagram I never imagined. Good for them.

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