Retailers selling art rise above the e-commerce riffraff
Art and department stores, the oddly successful merging of high and low, is being taken to a new level.
Online malls are seeking to move canvas to the masses.
Shinsegae International said on Tuesday Kim Tschang-yeul’s “Recurrence” (2016) sold for 55 million won ($47,000) an hour after it was released on S.I.Village, the company’s website, on Monday.
Kim is well-known for the painting of water drops, and in “Recurrence,” the water-drop theme is present.
It was released as part of a promotional event that runs through Oct. 30.
A total of 118 artworks are available for sale during the event. They include Lee Ufan’s “Untitled” (2009), which is listed at 45 million won, and Maria Chang’s “In Between,” which sold for 10 million won.
“Interest towards art has recently reached its peak,” Shinsegae International said in a statement, citing record sales at the 2021 Kiaf Seoul art fair held earlier this month and the popularity of ticket sales for the exhibition of art pieces bequeathed by late Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee. Tickets for the exhibition, which started in July, are still sold out.
“Young consumers are becoming interested in art as they see it as a form of investment,” said Lim Ji-hye, a spokesperson for Shinsegae International.
Reselling, buying fractional ownership of artworks or renting art to galleries are different kinds of art investment.
Lotte Department Store started artwork sales at six of its branches in June. The branches include Jamsil in southern Seoul and Dongtan in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi.
Lotte Department Store previously ran a gallery at the stores, and the art was mainly for display, though the pieces could be purchased by special request.
The company started selling art on its website in August.
A total of 80 pieces – 60 offline and 20 online – have been sold so far.
“Apart from the investment reason, people seem to have become interested in purchasing artworks to decorate their homes, as they spend more time at home since Covid-19 started,” said Lim Ji-eun, a spokesperson for Lotte Shopping.
“YOLO consumption has driven the young to buy art,” he added in reference to You Only Live Once.
Shinsegae Department Store, which opened an art space at its Gangnam branch in southern Seoul last August, exhibits around 120 art pieces that are also for sale. More than 500 artworks have been sold as of September.
A curator is there to explain art to customers.
“Traditional retailers can differentiate themselves from open market platforms by selling artworks because people tend to trust major retailers when it comes to buying expensive products like art pieces,” said a spokesperson for Hyundai Department Store.
Open market platforms refer to e-commerce sites that sell products from individual sellers.
Hyundai Department Store started selling art pieces on its online mall starting this month.