It’s a year that will change Artnet forever. The Price Database comes fully online, and so does Artnet Magazine, the precursor to Artnet News and the second-ever online publication—preceded only by Slate. At the dawn of this new digital age, Artnet becomes the first to upload images of contemporary art to the internet.
Seeing the possibilities offered by this new landscape, Artnet creates the Gallery Network to extend the use of this medium and offer an online presence to galleries and dealers. By allowing gallerists to “rent space” online for the first time, Artnet creates a virtual art fair that never ends—presenting hundreds of thousands of artworks from galleries around the globe, available to curious visitors with the click of a mouse. At its peak, the Gallery Network has over 2,200 member galleries from across the globe.
1995 is also a big year for the internet itself, as the very first sale takes place on eBay. By automating the middle man and pioneering the concept of users rating each other online, it lays the foundation for all future online auctions—including Artnet Auctions, whose eventual launch is still a bit further down the line.
At this point, few galleries even possess a computer, much less an internet connection. The art world operates on paper, and many people in the industry are extremely reluctant to bring anything technology-related into their sphere. Paper seems more analogous to art, while computers are hard to use, hard to understand, and even physically hard to see as low-quality images struggle to load on dial-up screens. How could anyone imagine doing business—much less an intrinsically visual business—through a tiny screen, relying on a data connection that can be lost if the wind blows too hard?
The sales team would walk into a gallery, and they had to make it evident to a client who did not even have a computer that Artnet was worth it. They would crawl under the gallerists’ desk, take the fax line out, hook up the laptop, and then even after all of that the presentation might be slow, or you might not get online.”
Top Auction Lot of 1995
Pablo Picasso, Portrait d’Angel Fernandez de Soto, 1903.
Sold for $29,152,500 at Sotheby’s New York.
Source: Artnet Price Database