Artsy is a free online platform for exploring and collecting art from the largest network of international galleries, museums, art fairs, and auction houses. Artsy's search engine and database draw connections and map relationships among works of art. Led by Carter Cleveland, computer science graduate from Princeton and Sebastian Cwilich, former executive of Christie's and Haunch of Venison director, Artsy aims “to make all the world’s art accessible to anyone with an internet connection."
Artsy is backed by a group of investors, including Eric Schmidt, Wendi Murdoch, Dasha Zhukova, Joshua Kushner, Thrive Capital, Jack Dorsey, Bob Pittman, Rich Barton, Jim Breyer, Keith Rabois, David Tisch, Chris Dixon, Peter Thiel, Charlie Cheever, Dave Morin, and David Kidder. John Elderfield, former chief curator at New York’s Museum of Modern Art serves as Artsy’s senior advisor and Larry Gagosian and Marc Glimcher, president of Pace Gallery, are advisors.
Carter Cleveland founded Artsy during his senior year at Princeton University and worked on the site from his dorm room. Cleveland’s goal for Artsy is for the site "to be the place where every single user in the world goes to discover art online." In May 2010, Artsy participated in the New York City conference, TechCrunch Disrupt, where they competed in the Startup Battlefield and received the Yahoo! Rookie Award! A year later, the team demo'd Artsy at the Beyeler Foundation at Art Basel (June 15, 2011).
Artsy currently features over 500,000 works and 50,000 artists on its site, and more than half are for sale. Artsy partners directly with the world’s top galleries, museums, art fairs, and auction houses, providing collectors and enthusiasts a central resource to learn about and purchase artwork from anywhere in the world.
Artsy also partners with over 700 museums and institutions and 60 international art fairs, who also publish work on the site.
Artsy partners directly with the most influential players in the art world to provide collectors and enthusiasts with a central resource to learn about and purchase artwork from anywhere in the world.
Over 4,000 galleries from six continents list their inventory on Artsy, and visitors to Artsy are able to easily browse and collect from their computers or phones.
Artsy works with over 60 international art fairs, allowing art enthusiasts and experienced collectors alike to explore inventory from fairs around the globe, including The Armory Show, EXPO Chicago, and Design Miami.
In 2016, Artsy introduced its commercial auctions platform, which allows users to bid in live and online-only auctions from the world’s leading auction houses, including Sotheby’s and Phillips.
Artsy’s magazine presents articles and videos about art news, artists, exhibitions, events, and ideas. Artsy has also presented special editorial projects in collaboration with UBS, Gucci, and other top brands.
Artsy is powered by The Art Genome Project — "an ongoing study of the characteristics that distinguish and connect works of art." A collaboration between art historians and engineers, The Art Genome Project draws upon art-historical scholarship and artificial intelligence to assign values to artwork based on over 1211 characteristics or "genes." These genes ranges from color to "Content: Private of Personal Space" to period to "Technique: Documentary Photography" to "Group Portrait." The Art Genome Project aims to help users uncover works of art based on personal taste and preference to facilitate education and discovery of art. Matthew Israel serves as the Director of The Art Genome Project.
Artsy initially raised around $160,000 in seed funding. In November 2010, Artsy raised an additional $1.25 million in funding in an investment round led by Joshua Kushner and in November of the following year, raised $6 million Series A from Peter Thiel, Thrive Capital, Wendi Murdoch, and Dasha Zhukova.
According to Wired, Artsy "has the potential to introduce each buyer to a wide range of artists and artworks, all of them related in some way and—this is key—most of them unknown and otherwise inaccessible to any but the most knowledgeable connoisseurs."
Criticism around The Art Genome Project centers on "“its classification system, which rubs some artists the wrong way. 'I don't think what I am doing has anything to do with Cindy Sherman,' says British artist Jonathan Smith after being told the site links his work to hers via a staged-photography gene. 'That sounds like something a programmer would think of.'" Also, "there's the issue of whether art can be properly represented on the Web. "'There is something sensual about a visual object that doesn't translate online,"' says New York City--based collector Niel Frankel."
Numerous publications, including Wired, The New York Observer, Vogue, and The Wall Street Journal have written articles on Artsy.
Carter Cleveland was listed in BLOUINARTINFO’s The 30-and-Under Crowd: The Art World’s Most Influential Young Figures of 2012.
Artsy received the "Rookie Disruptor Award" in 2010 and was listed in Forbes’ Names you Need to Know in 2011.