The Saatchi Gallery has launched the latest exciting online art gallery that is taking the world by storm ... except that it isn't.
Mega art collector and Advertising doyen, Charles Saatchi, has launched the newest social networking space for artists all over the world. I couldn't be more critical.
Obviously Saatchi's decision to go online is huge news for the art world, and I can see why the online gallery is attracting lots of traffic. In fact, as I write this, there were over 55 million hits to the website in the last 24 hours*.
But I think the Saatchi online gallery is a huge disappointment. It looks as though it was built in 1997, which is bizarre since it's 2007 as I write this.
Arists are doing quite well for themselves, using a host of web 2.0 sites like myspace, etsy, deviant art, and redbubble. Sites which all tap into the real power of the internet and web 2.0 - creating a community of artists online. The Saatchi Online Gallery doesn't come close.
There is little need for a website with such poor functionality, even if it is the lovechild of such an influential art entrepreneur. The only search functionality is by artist name. Compare this to Etsy, where you can search for art by category, colour, location and the recommendations of others. If you want to see how an online art gallery should be done, Etsy is the place to go. I wonder if Charles Saatchi has even heard of it? In fact, I wonder if he's spent much time online at all. It's the worst website I've seen in a long time.
I think the Saatchi Gallery online is a case of much too little, a bit too late. Sure, it will attract a tonne of traffic in the next month or so. There'll be plenty of PR and buzz in the fine art world, pointing more than a few artists and collectors to the site.
But Saatchi has clearly done little to understand the internet, and the new ways that artists and collecters promote and buy artwork. It doesn't stand a chance.
* By the way, 'Hits' is an archaic web statistic, which was the leading online traffic indicator in 1997. It essentially means nothing in 2007.