Will Auction Houses Ever Democratise the Art Market?

The art world is an industry that often focuses on the elite. Nowhere is this more apparent than at the auction house, but AucArt is trying to change that.


Launched at the end of last year, AucArt is the online auction house that is changing the rules of the auctioning industry one emerging artist at a time. Conceived with the aim of creating a fairer system catered to recent graduates from the top art schools in the UK, AucArt is democratising the market by offering transparency in terms of the curation and sales. This happens by offering contemporary art directly from the studios of early career artists within the first three years post graduation.

“I see so many artists being taken advantage of in the current art system, many are unable to support their practice which forces them to quit,” says founder and CEO Natasha Arselan. “We need to support and celebrate artists throughout their career – it’s about the art not just its price.” Currently AucArt has more than 1,000 artists in their collection, all of which selected by AucArt’s in-house curatorial team in collaboration with art world heavyweights including Phillips deputy chairman Svetlana Marich and Guest artist Petra Cortright, incorporating support from more established artists who are invited to review selected artists while mentoring them.

Left: “THE GUTS OF GUSTON” 2017 by Otto Ford
Right: “NESS” 2017 by Sif Norskov (images courtesy of AucArt)

The online auctions last seven days, with one work available each day. Every artwork has a reserve price, in which artworks will sell when this amount has been met. However there’s also the option to buy instantly with a capped and fixed price, hence protecting the artists’ market at such an early stage in their careers.

“AucArt cuts out the middleman,” says Arselan about artists receiving 70% of the final price. “By eliminating costly overheads, this system is economically a win-win for both artist and collector.” With prices ranging between £250 to £6000, AucArt already has more than 3,000 buyers signed up and counting. For the month of December Otto Ford and Florence Sweeney are some of the artists featured with many more to come, as from 1 December artists who have studied in the UK will be able to submit artworks for review.

AucArt Founder, Natasha Arselan (image courtesy of Natasha Arselan)

Above all AucArt is creating an access point, that until now has only been explored by influential art patrons and collectors. “By publishing prices, removing buyers premium, gallery overheads, and capping all auctions we are correcting unsettling traditions,” Arselan says. “And we want to really feel the joy of discovery and the opportunity to follow artists from the very beginning of their careers.”

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