Too busy to browse for art in person? Frederick Gentis, founder of the online platform Gallerease, understands…
A love of art and a busy lifestyle are not particularly compatible, as Dutch-born Frederick Gentis quickly began to realise when in the midst of creating a personal collection.
Despite having a healthy network of industry contacts, limited leisure time made browsing in galleries difficult, with the result that he often found the choice of work for sale limited, or worse, lost out to another buyer.
“Even when I visited fairs and openings, I couldn’t find what I wanted,” he confides. “Friends told me they had the same problem. They’d say they had a decent amount of money to spend on artwork, but were busy working and found looking for art too time-consuming.”
Gentis, who has a background in finance, but a long-held interest in art, explains that things came to a head one day, when, confronted with a freshly painted green wall at home, he realised he had nothing to hang on it.
And so the Amsterdam-based, online art platform Gallerease was born in February of this year, founded by Gentis and his partner, Cuno van der Feltz.
Both were convinced that the internet held the solution to the problem they and others faced. “It’s a massive resource that isn’t restricted by space constraints or geographical limitations,” he notes. “We are giving art lovers the opportunity to browse, search, save and buy art across exciting and extensive markets worldwide from the comfort of their home at a time that suits them.”
The internet’s potential has enabled Gallerease to expand extremely quickly, in terms of both volume and the variety of work and artists featured. The number of artists whose work is displayed on the site has already topped 600, while partnerships have been established with almost 50 art dealers. Approximately 1700 works are currently featured on the platform, selected by experienced curators and appraisers, with sales prices ranging from €500 to more than €1m.
“We really didn’t expect to grow so quickly, but we have to keep up with the pace,” he says. “We are targeting 100 art dealers and up to 4000 artworks by the end of 2016, while also extending our reach further into Europe.”
Gentis explains that while the online gallery is aimed at both seasoned collectors and newcomers, education is a key element of its operations. “We have expert in-house curators on hand to answer questions, and we regularly produce educational blogs on various aspects of art, such as how art deco differs from art nouveau,” he says. “We are trying to help viewers do more than simply browse. After all, how can they make informed decisions If they don’t know what they’re looking at?”
Making Gallerease user-friendly was another key objective. Gentis explains that the Artease system created for the website helps visitors to discover what art they like, save favorite artists, works and galleries, and make both enquiries and purchases with ease.
Asked about the buying trends he’s noticed since the launch of Gallerease, Gentis says that while modern and contemporary art is undoubtedly popular, younger clients are also showing an interest in antiques. “It’s a positive trend, otherwise we risk losing these important pieces,” he says.
William Bouguereau, A Priestess of Bacchus, 1894
He admits to being “one of the few these days” with a fondness for 19th-century European paintings. “The popular themes of light versus darkness and the chosen subject matter, such as trees and ships, fascinate me,” he acknowledges. “I’m also a great fan of impressionism and expressionism art.” Two of the most extraordinary works featured on Gallerease, he says, are Jean Grandjean’s ‘Celebration of Spring’ (1776) and William Bouguereau’s ‘A Priestess of Bacchus’ (1894).
Jean Grandjean, Celebration of Spring, 1776
The Dutch artist Isaac Israels is also high on his list of favorites. However, Gentis concedes with a smile, choosing what to hang on the bare green wall will first require a conversation with his wife and, perhaps, a degree of compromise.
Isaac Israel, Feeding The Swans, 1916