collage artwork

Nina Mae Fowler, Love VI. Copyright the artist, courtesy of COB Gallery

The Stand is a new digital art platform that raises money for charitable causes through curated online auctions, featuring works by early to mid career artists. Here, LUX speaks to the company director Beth Greenacre about the aims of the initiative, millennial collectors and addressing the art world’s gender imbalance

1. How did the concept for The Stand come about?

The Stand was the brainchild of Robin Woodhead, former Chairman of Sotheby’s International. When the pandemic hit, and live fundraising events were cancelled many charities started turning to artists to donate work. The strain this puts on artists, who are effectively donating work for free, can be difficult at the best of times and especially so during the last twelve months. It was clear to us that artists also needed support and so The Stand was born, a sustainable social impact model which puts the artist at the centre, whilst enabling them to donate a proportion of the sale price of their work to causes they feel passionate about.

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2. Why do you think collectors are becoming more comfortable with buying art online?

I have long been a believer in the potential of the internet to bring art to wide audiences. In 2000, David Bowie and I launched the Bowie Art website to support emerging artists and provide a platform to connect them with new audiences. People said we were mad and that no-one would look at art online; we had over a million hits most weeks and people still talk about it today as a place where they discovered now well-known artists. Much has changed since then; more and more of us research artists online and connect with them and the galleries we love. For collectors and the art market, the online space has opened accessibility and participation. Add to this the fact that millennials are the biggest spenders in the art market and most comfortable buying online and the digital imperative grows stronger.

abstract painting

Anna Liber Lewis, Bocat, 2015, Oil on canvas. This work is part of the ‘desire series’. Copyright and courtesy of the artist.

3. How did you select the artists to include in the The Female Gaze auction and are there any works that you’re particularly excited about?

I am excited about all the artists that I have selected for our first auction. There are many things that unite them, not just that they are non-binary or female identifying but that they all explore the female form through their practice, a subject that has historically been colonised by men. As someone who has navigated the art world as a woman, they really resonate with me.

Read more: The rise of millennial art collectors

Female artists still sell less than men and are not as well represented at auction. It was important to me to launch The Stand with an auction that raises awareness of issues in the art world. Each of these artists deserve our attention, and let’s not forget, the investment potential of all marginalised artists is incredible.

4. Why did you make the decision to focus on early to mid-career artists?

There has been a growing divide in the top and low ends of the market for years. It is harder for early to mid-career artists and their galleries to be seen and so it’s important that we give these artists visibility. I have long wanted to see a more holistic art market and in supporting and celebrating artists in their early to mid-careers and connecting them directly with collectors I believe that we will strengthen their market position and the market as a whole. For our collectors there is also great growth potential in terms of value.

portrait painting

Gill Button, Eve, 2020, Oil on linen. Copyright and courtesy of the artist

5. What are your predictions for the art world post pandemic?

I believe that our priorities and values will shift dramatically. I think Covid-19 has brought environmental and social issues to the fore with unexpected urgency. I believe that the commitment towards social impact investing that we saw before Covid will continue to grow. In the art world, I hope artists, collectors and galleries will want to do more and bring about change. I am proud of the The Stand as a sustainable social impact model which celebrates the artist.

6. Now that galleries and museums are opening, what are you most looking forward to seeing?

I am seeing Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Zanele Muholi, both at Tate, this week and I cannot wait. Lynette was one of the first artists that appeared on Bowie Art. I am also looking forward to seeing friends and colleagues in the art world now we can do so with more ease.

The Stand’s inaugural auction “The Female Gaze” is now open for registration and bidding. Find out more: thestand.art