“Why is art not as popular as music?” This was a question former Sotheby’s impressionist and modern art specialist, Elizabeth Markevitch, asked in a recent interview; and the answer she believes is accessibility. We can listen to music anywhere, it’s in our pockets, it’s on the radio, but until now, one had to wait until one went to the gallery to explore a painting or an artist in detail; thanks to Markevitch, paintings are going to be finding a way into our homes in their full glory – for free!
Maketvich has founded an online channel that is dedicated solely to broadcasting works of art in HD, and ikonoTV, is a world first.
“Everyone has music in their pockets and you don’t have to be knowledgeable to collect it,” she continued, “rather it comes from having pleasure.” Markevitch said. The idea, as Markevitch says, is “People will get used to looking at art the same way they’ve become accustomed to listening to music.” The works of art being broadcast are not videos, performance pieces or films, they are actual paintings that the camera slowly pans over in great detail for around 5 minutes each, allowing the viewer to explore the works in as much detail and with as much leisure as one would in a gallery.
The works available to view include more than 1,000 international artists such as Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, Caravaggio, Edvard Munch, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and many others. The visual collections form these artists make up around 500,000 artworks, taken from more than 200 collections from many museums and galleries the world over, including the Louvre, the British Museum, and Rijksmuseum.
As a business, it functions as ikonoTV offers an exchange for the museums involved. In return for granting full broadcasting rights, the institutions get promotional material free of charge. In the case of contemporary art, which is usually still under copyright, Markevitch negotiates the contract directly with the artist.
Last year the ikonoTV app had over 400,000 downloads on SmartTVs, and Markevitch estimates that around 500,000 Saudi homes are reached through the country’s local satellite TV alone. ikonoTV’s popularity in Saudi Arabia probably has a lot to do with the country’s limited access to art, for both cultural and religious reasons; and so ikonoTV is able to provide many viewers with their first exposure to art, or for others, just make that exposure feasible.
The site also has interviews with art critics, historians and other experts should your curiosity wander further than just viewing the work of art itself. As Markevtich says: “It’s like if you go to a party and immediately fall for someone you’re attracted to. You don’t know why, it’s just intuition. Afterwards, when you get to know the person better, maybe you’ll begin to understand why your gut brought you to this person. This is the same with art. You have to fall in love and be attracted by a work or type of art, before you get to the knowledge.”