Flash sales and no-fee subscription scheme fuel up-start New York gallery

Tennis Elbow partners with larger galleries, with the Gagosian artist Blair Thurman a recent exhibitor Photo: Thomas Müller

From music to television and even fashion, subscription services like Spotify, Netflix or Gilt have changed the way we consume media and luxury goods. The art worlds primary market, however, has remained a steadfastly traditional retail experience despite a growing number of similar online sales platforms, such as Artsy.

At Tennis Elbow in New Yorks Tribeca gallery district, a new programme aims to subvert traditional artist representation and art selling through a subscription service and flash-sales model. It plays on the time-crunch effects that psychologists believe can yield higher prices at auction houses.

An offshoot of The Journal Gallery, co-founded by Michael Nevin and Julia Dippelhofer in 2004, Tennis Elbow presents one artist to a group of online members every week—the name is released the day before opening—as well as a concurrent week-long, pop-up solo show for public view.

“We did a lot of the traditional things that other galleries did,” Nevin says of their previous 15 years in business. “We had represented artists, we participated in a lot of art fairs, but we became a little dispirited”, he says, adding that he and Dippelhofer found themselves looking for selling models that offered more freedom.

Pricing is often so elusive in the art world,” Dippelhoffer adds. “We are trying to have a more democratic and transparent approach.”

There is a fun-loving kind of start-up energy to the Tennis Elbow endeavour, but the owners are serious about protecting artists interests. Collectors must be pre-approved via a short online application. The no-fee membership offers no discounts and its terms prohibit the sale of Tennis Elbow works within two years of purchase, providing the gallery with a right of first refusal after that period. Those who do not buy work within a year may be de-activated, as will individuals who, according to the application, “havent been nice”.

Since re-launching last spring, Nevin and Dippelhofer—who stopped representing artists at Journal Gallery in 2016–have found that the model drives both web traffic and sales, resulting in faster turnover, with works ranging from under $1,000 to six figures. They aRead More – Source