Do your bare walls need a bit of excitement? Discover the best places to buy art – online and offline —without blowing your entire budget. Yep, more fodder, for the art-obsessed, to make your pad a gallery in its own right. Expect the sort of pieces that make your retinas dilate. After all, no room is complete without art and there’s plenty of great painting, prints, and more to be found if you know where to look.
While art sales once revolved mainly around high-profile auctions and blue-chip gallery sales the internet age has ushered in a slew of online retailers looking to make this ever-growing market accessible to a wider range of buyers—including broke apartment dwellers.
With so many options to choose from, we’ve rounded up our top picks based on your art preference and collecting style.
Blue thumb Perfect for: The Budding Collector
Bluethumb is Australia’s biggest contemporary online art place with the kind of art you would usually only find at art shows and auctions that opens the art world to all of us.
The website launched in 2011 and has assembled more than 1000 established and emerging artists under one cyber roof, boasting an impressive collection of art at accessible prices. It sells directly from artists studios to buyers, including Archibald prize winners, while also fulfilling transactions (including payment and insurance), with prices starting from $99.
Art is sorted by artist, style and medium, making it easy to browse thousands of original pieces. The collective collecting logic: welcome a broader (and younger) audience by opening the online gallery doors to everyone with categories for abstract, aboriginal, still life, pop, landscapes, oils, drawings, mixed media.
We love the core of the venture, its populist approach – and the chance to snag an abstract oil for a song, that you can enjoy which you may not have been able to have afforded otherwise. The site also runs a complimentary art advisory service, where a team of curators will build a collection for you based on your taste or space. bluethumb.com.au
James Said, Perfect for: The Photography Lover
The new retailer has a small yet good art arm, specialising in a small, limited-edition photography and prints with prices starting at $230. www.jamessaid.com.au
Becker Minty, Perfect for: The Interior Design Enthusiast
Becker Minty is always worth investigating for its concise edit of affordable, contemporary and vintage art. Skewing towards the downright cool, Becker collaborates with photographers and artists to provide decorative art for designers, architects and interiors afficianados. The limited editions and one-offs it has sold so far range from $200 to $10,000, and each is produced exclusively for Becker. The retailer also wants customers to be passionate and knowledgeable about their art, so every print has documentation about the work, with an informative write-up on the artist and project. Great website, too. www.beckerminty.com
Olsen Gallery, Perfect for: The Art Collector
Tim Olsen, a colorful chap in his own right, represents more than 40 established and emerging contemporary artists, most of whom are featured in big institutions here and overseas. (No teabags behind Perspex here.) They include Tim’s father John, as well as Robert Jacks, Cherry Hood, David Larwill and Marie Hagerty. 76 Paddington Street, Paddington (93609854) and New York.
They include John Olsen, Robert Jacks, David Larwilll, Marie Hagerty, Guy Maestri and Tim Summerton. Sydney and New York, www.olsengallery.com
Fellia Melas Gallery, Perfect for: The Discoverer
A favourite where the focus is on the secondary and primary art market with a huge stock room brimming with Australia’s best artists –including lots of Archibald names. Go for Sidney Nolan, Lloyd Rees, Fred Williams, Brett Whitely, Arthur Boyd, David Bromely, Ben Quilty, Cressida Campbell, Maragaret Olley and many more. 2 Moncur Street, Woollahra, fmelasgallery.com.au
Leonard Joel Auction House, Perfect for: The Fine Art Afficiando
Fancy an affordable impressionist-style painting? Leonard Joel specialises in Australian and international art from 17th-century Europe to contemporary local art with five sales a year. A-list designers, dealers, collectors, are regulars, (think Thomas Hamel, Martyn Cook and Cameron Kimber). Perfect for adding instant pedigree to your walls. Don’t miss it’s next sale, June 5. Inquiries, 9327 9904 www.leonardjoel.com.au
Michael Reid Gallery, Perfect for: The Art Intellect
A specialist in the contemporary Australian and international scene, where serious collectors go. michaelreid.com.au