Launched in 2015, Ready Art may well become the indispensable tool for collectors who wish to encounter the French contemporary scene over the Internet. This selective website is a place where handpicked artists meet galleries.
The platform Ready Art sets out to present top artists from today’s French scene to cybernauts from every country. The founders of this wonderful project, Tristan Vyskoc and Albane Rouvière, come from the universe of finance, but have always maintained close links with contemporary art. They are collectors themselves, and Tristan Vyskoc, also an artist. We talk strategy and artistic creation, collection and start-ups …
What originally inspired you to launch the Ready Art site?
Tristan Vyskoc: We both worked in consultancy for fifteen years. We sold our business in 2014 and really wanted to work in art. We’d already invested in art-related web sites such as Artips and Barter. At the same time, we’ve always been collectors, and I’m also an artist. We noticed that artists close to us had trouble being represented on the Web. So we looked for a viable economic model with a very strong positioning. We worked for twelve months before launching Ready Art, in February 2016. We want to show the French scene exclusively and to support it internationally, with the idea of becoming the Web leader on the French scene in five years’ time. Many people told us that we were “crazy” and that we wouldn’t succeed…
Albane Rouvière: Our site promotes the French artistic scene but our spectrum is fairly broad. Our artists are French, whether born or residing in France, or having a strong link to France. In addition, Ready Art is a networking platform. Works can be placed on the web site by galleries, or artists directly when they aren’t represented by a gallery, or collectors.
And how do you choose the artists?
T.V.: We’ve identified 300 to 400 artists who are representative of excellence on the French scene. Some artists have been co-opted – good artists refer one another. At the start we received a great deal of helpful feedback from artists such as Karine Hoffman, François Mendras, Olivier Masmonteil, Vladimir Velickovic, on our website and their expectations in this era of digitalisation in the art world.
A.R.: At a later stage, perhaps we’ll set up a selection committee. For now, we carry out many visits to studios in order to get to know the work of artists better, to see what they’re up to, their exhibitions… Many artists send unsolicited applications in to us. We receive 30 to 40 per month, but we remain extremely rigorous, always respecting our editorial line. Our site has the specificity of being extremely selective, because we wish to stand out from other online platforms that aren’t selective enough, and that lose out on quality. Today, we have around sixty artists, and our objective is to reach 300 to 400, maximum.
And how about the works: how are these selected?
A.R.: We communicate with artists or their galleries to select the works that are placed exclusively on our site for six months. For works from the secondary market, we reserve the right to refuse a piece if it doesn’t respect our criteria. Artists are very free to show different series, works that are more or less recent, and in different formats.
T.V.: We wish to convey the international image of being a “Hermès” on the French artistic scene. Our specificity is also based on the fact that we combine the primary and secondary markets, and collectors can resell a work on Ready Art when it corresponds to our selection criteria. This solution has come from a personal need that we’ve encountered, as collectors.
Who writes up the presentation texts?
A.R.: The artist or the gallery supplies us with texts written by critics, exhibition curators or figures from the art world. We place great importance on the written components and the content of the website, which help to promote every piece. When discovering a work, a website visitor should gain the fullest view possible of the artist’s work… and their desire should be whetted to find out more.
How do you deal with dematerialised works and more ephemeral artistic approaches?
T.V.: We are thinking about developing virtual-reality experiences to place visitors or collectors in a situation close to reality.
Generally speaking, how do artists react to Ready Art?
T.V.: Many artists would like to get on the site, but their gallerists are opposed to it for now, as some see us a type of “Uber” on the market – which we certainly have no intention of being. We are only too familiar with the difficulty of being a gallerist today, and the remarkable work that gallerists do to promote and support their artists. We incidentally put artists, galleries and collectors directly in touch with one another.
And how are galleries positioned in relation to the website?
A.R.: We don’t pose any threat to galleries – on the contrary. We offer an extra tool for raising the visibility of artists. The Web is crucial today, and we have the means to bring to galleries collectors who might otherwise not have crossed their thresholds. It can happen that a collector appreciates a work on Ready Art, and after contacting the gallery via our intermediary, discovers other artists represented by the same gallery. This is a real opportunity and an added value for galleries.
T.V.: There’s a real change in paradigm on the market today, through the Web, and this is the way that History is pointing. The latest reports by the art insurer Hiscox indicate that Internet is rising in power. Via this site, we wish to restore to France the place that it deserves in artistic creation, on the international playing field. Let’s be stronger by supporting one another, in defending this scene that is really worth the effort. Since the 1970s, we’ve literally abandoned our French artists, by only promoting and supporting the international scene in general, and American in particular. French painting was pilloried in the 1990s. We have excellent artists who don’t get the recognition that they should internationally: ten French artists made it into the 2016 Artprice 500, with the first, Robert Combas, at 106th place, even though he should be at the same level as Keith Haring, in 8th place.
Have you come across any surprises since February 2016?
T.V.: Not yet. Strategically, we wanted to dedicate 2016 to establishing the site’s smooth operation, and to developing a book of quality artists. In 2017, we’re entering our second phase. The launch of the site in English, its translation into Chinese, Russian and German as well… We also wish to work more with companies. We think that art can have a real social vocation, and be an excellent motor for cohesion and creativity in the corporate world. We need meaning today. In addition, we’re continuing to draw closer to institutions, foundations and museums.
According to Les Échos, your site tends to draw visitors aged 40 to 70 years, and the average cart comes to between €10,000 and 15,000.
T.V.: Prices range from €800 to a maximum of 60,000. In the last few weeks, we’ve received requests from collectors wishing to sell major works at considerable prices. So we’re thinking about offering access to private sales, by subscription. The purchase of art on Internet, beyond a certain price, say €2,000, is rather complicated. For higher prices, a direct relationship between the buyer and the work is absolutely necessary. In addition, for now, the bulk of our collectors are French. But we’re only just starting up. We’re paid once the transaction is carried out, by a commission calculated on the sale price. There are no registration or posting-online fees for the artists, gallerists or collectors.
Are you thinking of organising exhibitions or setting up a prize?
A.R.: Later… But it’s true, we’re thinking about taking on a curator and getting together a committee for a prize.
What sort of relationships do you have with institutions?
T.V.: We’ve been received several times by the French General Directorate for Artistic Creation, within the Ministry of Culture, which finds our approach innovative and interesting. In other fields, French start-ups get a lot of support, and we’re seeing the success of “French tech” in France, which has boosted our entrepreneurs overseas. In the domain of art, Germans have done well with the New Leipzig School, the British with the Young British Artists, the United States continue to support their artists, China makes provisions in its five-year plan, and Korea is also developing an ambitious strategy. But France is drawing as many artists as ever. We have multicultural, protean, rich creation… There is exceptional creation and a strong fabric in art schools. We also have a few outstanding private initiatives in France: we all know François Pinault and Bernard Arnault, but there’s also Laurent Dumas with the Emerige endowment fund, Michel-Édouard Leclerc and his foundation in Landerneau, Stéphane Corréard and the Galeristes fair, Philippe and Christine Pée’s Chamalot residency, celebrating its tenth year, or Jacques and Evelyne Deret’s Art [ ] Collector… All these movements will help give true meaning to the French scene. The more private initiatives there are, the better things will be! And if these are supported and relayed by public authorities, all the better.