Contemporary art United Kingdom

How to buy a Damien Hirst for £7.50

Online venture s[edition] will sell limited edition digital works by contemporary artists

Mat Collishaw's "Burning Flower" is available on

LONDON. Artists including Damien Hirst, Isaac Julien, Shepard Fairey and Wim Wenders have created limited edition digital works for a web platform, s[edition], that launches today in London.

The works are available to buy and download for display on mobile phones, iPads and computers. Each edition is numbered and authenticated with a certificate signed by the artist. Prices range from £5 to £500, and will increase as editions sell out, rising to around £1,000 according to Harry Blain, the site’s chairman and cofounder.

Blain, formerly the director of London’s Haunch of Venison gallery and now co-director of the Blain|Southern and Blain|Di Donna galleries, is leading the venture with Robert Norton, the former chief executive of Saatchi Online and head of e-commerce at AOL Europe. “It’s an idea I’ve been playing around with since the early 1990s when we were looking at CDs, but the technology was simply not there then,” says Blain. He calls the concept a “21st-century adaptation of woodcuts and etchings. Artists are just using the media available to them to reach a larger audience”.

The organisers hope to attract aspiring collectors with works including a downloadable Damien Hirst for £7.50. “If they go on to buy works, become patrons of museums, or major collectors it would be a wonderful thing, but at the moment it is just about being fun and interesting,” says Blain.

The site encourages users to follow the artists involved, as well as see which works other members are buying. Ultimately, buyers will also be able to resell works they acquire. “Once the edition has sold out you can offer it back for sale again. It is authenticated through the site and then sold through a separate part,” says Blain, adding that the technology for resale will not come into effect until 2012. Meanwhile, those tempted to buy physical works by the artists involved can contact the relevant gallery directly: those listed on the site so far include Gagosian, White Cube, Helga de Alvear, Lehmann Maupin and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery.

There are currently nine artists involved, including Mat Collishaw, Michael Craig-Martin, Tracey Emin, Tim Noble & Sue Webster and Bill Viola. A further “ten or so are creating works”, says Blain, adding that “it would be a nice objective to have 100 or 200 of the world’s best artists involved.” The project is a “great thrill”, says artist Mat Collishaw, who likens the reproduction of works on digital devices to illuminated manuscripts. Isaac Julien says the platform allows a “proximity that we do not have to artworks generally”, while Sue Webster adds that the speed of the internet means that the spread of information “is faster than a disease. And… instead of a disease being spread, why not some of our imagery being accessible to a wider audience because I suppose it is educating people to look at art.”

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12 Dec 11
15:17 CET


not sure about this

24 Nov 11
14:46 CET


This reminds me a lot of the "limited edition prints" that were so "new" and "different" in the 1970s that have very little value today. Collectors were told that over time they would definitely go up in value. When something is that easy to reproduce and the means of reproduction are simple or super easy to forge it is doubtful whether there will ever be any real value.

19 Nov 11
16:55 CET


erm, yeah, or i could just google the image and stare at it??

18 Nov 11
18:27 CET


£7.50? Sounds about right for any Damien Hirst IMHO. I'd take the Wim Wenders instead, thanks.

18 Nov 11
15:34 CET


Sounds like a reasonable idea to bring the world of art and technology closer. The digital medium offers some interesting possibilities, and huge (financial) opportunities for the artists! What I'm not so keen on is the use of the art as screen savers. They a huge waste of energy especially when you scale up. Modern art and hot air seem to go together! Our carbon calculator will give you an idea as to the math(s)...

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