Kill the middleman

All markets evolve over time. So does the art market. Digitalization leads to major change, offering global reach and bridging the gap between artists and art buyers. As a result, new businesses and platforms pop up. Some with the intention of establishing a direct link between those who make art and those who buy it. Ideally - according to these initiatives - there will be no hands in the middle. No gallerists, no curating art brands, no middlemen

Clearly there are some benefits in killing the middleman. It might open up the art market to more artists and more art buyers. It might drive structural change, making room for underrepresented groups that traditionally are being denied access to the market. It might be a means for artists to earn more or - alternately - for art buyers to pay less

So far, so good. But cutting out the middleman comes with a significant downside. Sure, the middleman is a gatekeeper that needs to be critically reviewed, and sure the middleman takes a piece of the cake, moneywise. Yet the core differentiator of the middleman is something else. Bluntly put: the most vital function of the middleman is that it separates good art from bad

If all artists were good artists or if anyone could understand and evaluate art, this function would be redundant. But not all artists are good artists. Not everybody can understand and justly evaluate art. This is why the initiated and dedicated middleman provides more value than it is costing. If we weren’t a middleman ourselves, we would take a bullet for it any day