Is Renting Art the New Way to Buy Art?

Is Renting Art the New Way to Buy Art?

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Allie M. Harper
Dec 28, 2016

I once bought a painting that seemed to be everything I had been looking for in a long search for art to hang above my sofa. I specifically wanted a blue-and-purple watercolor and was overjoyed when I found just the piece. But when I brought it home, in the different light of my living room, against the color of my walls, suddenly the blue and purple weren't the right shade of blue and purple, and the large painting wasn't as oversized as it should have been for the space. I hung it up anyway and tried to live with it for a while, and when I finally decided it wasn't what I wanted, it was too late to return it. If only I had been able to rent it before I decided on whether to purchase it, I could have avoided my artwork slump.

Enter Rise Art, an online marketplace based in London that is changing the way people buy art by giving them a chance to test-drive a piece before they make a commitment. (Genius!) "Our aim is to make buying art accessible, easy and fun, and, above all, to give people the confidence to buy great quality art online that has been handpicked by our curators and board of insiders," says Rebecca Gordon, head curator at Rise Art. "The rental option is really a try-before-you-buy option with the aim of giving the customer a greater confidence to buy an artwork they haven't seen in person without taking the plunge straightaway to pay the full price. They are able to live with the work in their house, and check whether they love it and that it fits in the existing space."

Try before you buy. I like it. Many museums and galleries have rental programs for their collections, but I'm not Rockefeller. So even though places like Rise Art do offer pricey works by established artists like Damien Hirst and Bruce McLean, they also represent emerging artists at affordable prices. And, they have a free curatorial service to help you navigate through all of the choices.

Though some rental programs have shifted their focus over the years—like Artsicle, which now helps its community of artists sell directly from their studios, or Art Remba, which has dissolved to launch Absolut Art, traveling the world to curate hand-selected works for you to choose from—there are still others out there like Rise Art. And I can only hope that more follow suit. Purchasing, and then hanging, art is the biggest argument we have in my house. My husband loves concert posters and I love, well you know, watercolors. I think we've finally discovered a way where we can both try out what the other one likes and see if we can learn to live with it.

Try These On For Size:

Rise Art

  • About: Rise Art is an online marketplace that offers curatorial services to help you rent art before you decide to purchase it.
  • Rental Fees: From £15 to £500 per month, including shipping costs
  • Purchase Prices: From just under £100 to £25,000
  • Credits Toward Purchase: Rise Art credits 100% of your first month's rental fee toward a purchase, and 50% each month thereafter.
  • Insurance: You can take out a damage waiver for 1% of the value of the work; otherwise, you're liable for any damage.

Hang Art

  • About: Hang Art is a gallery in California that rents art out in as many three-month increments as you'd like.
  • Quarterly Rental Fees: Approximately 10% of the purchase price
  • Purchase Prices: From under $250 to $49,999
  • Credits Toward Purchase: Hang Art credits 50% of the total rental fee toward a specific piece (or 100% if you decide to buy within the first week).
  • Selling Point: Aside from homeowners testing out a piece, Hang Art recommends its services to those who rent their residences and don't want to make a commitment because their space may soon change.
  • Caveat: You must be local to the San Francisco Bay Area to partake.

Get Art Up

  • About: Get Art Up allows access to a revolving collection of contemporary art using a monthly subscription plan based on the cost of the desired artwork.
  • Rental Fees: From $55 per month to $475, with the most popular works costing $75
  • Purchase Price: From $350 to $13,000, with pricier works saved for established clients and not listed on the website.
  • Credits Toward Purchase: 50% of each month's rental fee accrues toward the purchase of a specific piece.
  • Insurance: Get Art Up holds a security deposit equal to 10% of the purchase price. If the art is returned damage-free, the funds are released, and if the art is purchased, it can be applied to the price.

What do you think? Would you consider renting art? Sound off in the comments!

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