Shoppers snap up off-the-shelf art

The annual art supermarket is popular with shoppers

Works of contemporary art can be bought off the shelf at Switzerland’s annual art supermarket in the town of Solothurn.

This content was published on December 5, 2003 - 08:15

The exhibition centre may only specialise in one line of product, but the store has all the characteristics of a modern supermarket – including trolleys.

And like a chain store, it has many advantages.

The artists see their works exhibited and sold to a wider public than normally frequents the smaller galleries. They also have the chance to meet their customers.

Visitors get to buy original works of merit at affordable prices, while the organisers profit from a share of the proceeds.

And with future exhibitions in mind, talent-spotting gallery-owners can make easy contact with new artists whose works look saleable.

Wide palette

Prior to the opening, 75 artists from Switzerland and abroad, chosen from about 400 applicants, were each invited to submit 40 signed and original examples of their work.

“We ask for so many examples because the idea is to offer the public as wide a palette as possible,” said organiser Peter Lukas Meyer. “But we also insist on a high level of quality.”

Meyer adds that only paintings are available for sale because of the logistical and space problems presented by exhibiting and selling sculptures.

Proceeds are split fifty-fifty between artist and supermarket. “For us, this covers our personnel and publicity costs as well as the cost of the premises,” said Meyer. “For the artists, it’s the price to pay for six weeks of exhibiting and selling their works.”

Last year’s contemporary art supermarket attracted over 25,000 visitors and resulted in the sale of about 1,800 paintings for a total of SFr500,000 ($380,000).

One of the aims is to bring art to a new and wider public by showing that original paintings can be affordable. Prices at the supermarket, which is open until January 3, range from SFr99 ($73) to SFr599 ($440).

The organisers are hoping that similar events can be launched in Zurich, Lausanne and canton Ticino.

swissinfo, Richard Dawson in Solothurn

art supermarket

Solothurn first organised a contemporary art supermarket in 2000.
75 artists from Switzerland and abroad were each invited to submit 40 signed and original examples of their work.
Prices range from SFr99 ($73) to SFr599 ($440).
Proceeds from sales are split on a fifty-fifty basis between artist and supermarket.
Last year’s event attracted over 25,000 visitors in six weeks and resulted in the sale of about 1,800 paintings for a total of SFr500,000 ($380,000).

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