Amazon Selling Fine Art Online

Prospective buyers can click a button to see what the artwork would like in a room. Prices range from $100 up to tens of thousands of dollars.

online purchase

Amazon is adding fine art to the categories of items that shoppers can buy from the e-commerce giant, which already is the leader in selling books, CDs, DVDs and more online.

The new Amazon Art category on Amazon's site includes more than 40,000 works of art from about 4,500 artists that are being offered for sale by more than 150 galleries and art dealers in the United States, Great Britain, the Netherlands and Canada, the company announced Aug. 6.

The new online Amazon Art store is "one of the largest online collections of original and limited edition artwork for purchase directly from galleries and dealers," according to Amazon. "The new store features easy-to-use discovery tools to help open the art world to customers and offers detailed information about the works of art. Customers can explore fine art from galleries of all sizes, including Paddle8 in New York, Holden Luntz in Miami, McLoughlin Gallery in San Francisco, Modernbook in San Francisco and Catherine Person Gallery in Seattle."

The breadth of the paintings, drawings, photographs, prints and mixed media artwork for sale is intriguing. Works from well-known to lesser-known artists are featured, at a wide range of prices, sizes and styles.

A sampling of the artwork for sale includes a colorful and striking Peter Max print, titled "Twelve Liberty Heads--Purple," that Max composed in 2003, at $4,500 with free shipping from RoGallery, and a "Blue Eyes," a 2013 mixed media piece by Mitch McGee, which is priced at $3,000, plus $4.49 shipping, from Elisa Contemporary Art.

For $52,000, a buyer can purchase a painting called "Untitled" by the French painter, Robert Marc, who died in 1993, from Heather James Fine Art. The painting is framed and includes free shipping.

Famous, historic works are also for sale, including Claude Monet's "L'Enfant a la Tasse, Portrait de Jean Monet," which is priced at $1.45 million from M.S. Rau Antiques, as well as Norman Rockwell's "Willie Gillis: Package from Home," which lists for $4.85 million, also from M.S. Rau Antiques.

Many works, however, come at much lower prices, such as $143 watercolor called "The Captain," by Amy Bernays.

Prospective buyers can click an "In Room" button for many of the works that will let them "see" the piece hanging on a wall in a room to get an idea of its size and presence. Details about the artworks, including materials, dimensions, historical information about the artists and more, are also presented for many of the works. Online shoppers can search using filters based on styles, prices, sizes, subjects and colors.

By selling artwork online through Amazon, the company hopes to extend its presence into a new market that it hadn't previously explored, Peter Faricy, vice president for the Amazon Marketplace, said in a statement. "We are excited to bring one of the largest selections of fine art direct from galleries to our customers," said Faricy. "We're pleased to share our expertise in e-commerce with galleries and dealers looking to expand their reach. In working directly with galleries, we've heard their desire to connect with new customers and be able to share their artists and creativity with the world. We look forward to working with them to reach customers who previously would not have had access to their collections of art."

By selling fine art through Amazon, gallery owners said they hope to interest first-time buyers in new ways.

Joshua Steen, co-founder of LusterNYC, an online photography gallery based in Brooklyn, N.Y., told eWEEK that Amazon's approach to work to feature small galleries—rather than being in competition with them—is a great move. "I think Amazon was smart in doing this from a different direction," he said. "And it doesn't take anything away from the artists. It just puts it all on a larger platform."

The gallery's co-founder, Jodie Steen, agreed. "It's good for the galleries to get it out there, and it's good for the artists," she said.

Lisa Cooper, owner of New York City's Elisa Contemporary Art, said in a statement that the Amazon Art venue is an exciting opportunity for her small gallery. "My gallery is committed to making original art accessible to all, especially new collectors," she said. "Amazon Art gives us an online platform with a breadth and depth unlike any we have had before. We're thrilled to share our artists and their work with our current clients and help us connect with new ones."