Christmas Shopping? Where To Buy Your Art Gifts Online

With Christmas shopping well underway, there’s still plenty of time to make some stunning art purchases without breaking the bank – and in many cases, such gifts give back, too, to important causes.  A roundup of ideas:

Oft forgotten, the Metropolitan Museum’s limited edition print program offers some terrific works by major artists at surprisingly reasonable prices – and purchases help support the museum.  (Bonus: Museum members get 10 percent off.)  Artists include Faith Ringgold, Robert Indiana, Sue Coe, Robert Rauschenberg, and William Wegman, with works available at prices starting below $200.  Among my own favorites: Christo’s “Wrapped Bottles and Cans”  ($4,000) and Katherine Bowling’s “Birches” ($1,600).

The Whitney also offers some limited edition items, including a fabulous Rudolf Stingel Limoges plate ($88.20 for members; for every plate sold, the publisher will make  a contribution to Citimeals-on-Wheels). Another winner: “Heavy Dog Kiss” by the late Dennis Oppenheim, a specially-commissioned work created for the Whitney, priced at about $4000 (members get 30 percent off).

Further afield, some of the best art being made today is coming out of Iran, despite the restrictions and dangers many of these artists – some of whom are also photojournalists – face in order to produce their work.  Newsha Tavakolian, for instance, whose work is now on view at the Victoria and Albert in London and was recently purchased by LACMA, has an exhibition with her Tehran gallery, Aaran (Aaran shows exclusively Iranian artists, including the extraordinary Abbas Kowsari, most of whom are still living in Iran.)  All of these artists can use the support – and for those who are concerned, art is not included in the current sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

More do-good buying: inspired by the detritus left by Hurricane Sandy, design writer Jennifer Gorsch has created Reclaim NYC, a one-day-only auction of furniture created by 24 designers, all using materials found in the aftermath of the storm – broken wood, bits of metal, and other found objects.  But the project goes beyond recycling: proceeds from the sales of these items – which range from furniture to jewelry and art objects – will be donated to the New  York chapter of the Red Cross and other organizations who are contributing to the recovery effort.  Silent bids only, on December 19 at Ligne Roset’s showroom in SoHo; go here for more details and RSVP information (necessary in order to bid).

Speaking of auctions, Artnet’s upcoming ephemera sale also holds some fun and relatively affordable possibilities, from a leather jacket painted by Keith Haring (estimated at $30-40,000) to a fabulous Roy Lichtenstein brooch  (opening bid: $2,500)  and Kerry James Marshalls’s dinner plates (opening bid $800 for the set) and tons of other fun stuff (books, letters, posters, model cars….)

And for those feeling especially generous: have a look over at The Spotlist, a relative newcomer to the online art market that bills itself as the “collector-to-collector art marketplace.” Focused on the secondary market only, the site features works by major (and some lesser-known) artists, offered by private collectors for private collectors, and vetted by the Spotlist team.  While any number of new online initiatives promise to be “the new alternative to current art market standards,” The Spotlist (which I’ll be writing about more soon) really does fit the bill, offering quality works valued up to $100,000  in low-key sales (which makes it more like private dealing than like auctions or galleries) and with commissions far below those commanded by galleries and auction houses. Clayton Press, an advisor and private dealer and U.S. managing partner of The Spotlist, puts their public inventory at nearly 300 works (the site also maintains a “private offer” category), priced from $5,000 (for a painting by Josh Smith) to $85,000, for a work by Franz Ackermann.

All of which should make for some fine shopping – belated Chanukah, Christmas, early Valentine’s, what-have-you.  Even more, it is sure to make for some very happy recipients.

Season’s Greetings.

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