Saatchi Art Featured in the New York Times


Buying Art Doesn’t Have to Be Intimidating: Yes, There’s an App

The Fix


Buying art can be intimidating. The thought of striking up a conversation with a gallery owner can seem daunting. And the alternative — scrolling through countless paintings and prints online — isn’t much easier. Even if you find something you like at a price you can afford, trying to figure out what it would look like hanging over your living room sofa may be enough to relegate the purchase to the bottom of your wish list.

To eliminate that last hurdle and help you visualize a limited-edition print or an abstract painting on your wall, online art sellers like and Saatchi Art have been developing apps that allow you to try out works at home using virtual and augmented reality. Other new apps let you tap into your phone’s camera roll to see what your own photos would look like hanging in your hallway.

Most of the apps, which can be downloaded for free on iTunes, build on the augmented reality development platform that Apple released last year, allowing you to shop from a particular collection of art and use your cellphone camera to virtually hang a three-dimensional rendering of pieces you like on your wall. With the release of Apple’s iOS 11.3 this spring, more apps that can stick things on walls are expected in the coming months. In the meantime, we tried out a few that are available now…

Saatchi Art

HOW IT WORKS If you’re looking for something unique, Saatchi Art has more than 500,000 original paintings, drawings, sculptures and photographs from thousands of emerging artists around the world. You can sort by medium, size and price, or browse curated selections like “artists of the week” or “new abstract expressionist paintings.”

Tapping on an artist’s name brings up more works by that person. Filtering by price ($100 to $500) and size (large) produced a wide selection, from limited-edition prints like a poster of Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” by Robotic Ewe, recreated using the film script ($210), to acrylic paintings like “Amazonia,” a bright abstract by Rashna Hackett, inspired by rain forest parrots ($490).

Tapping “view in a room” displays the art on your wall and allows you to save a photo on your phone. But judging size is a bit tricky, as users must estimate their distance from the wall. When I tried to view “Woods II by Dimitar Hinkov” on my wall, the app pulled up the $500 painting, showing its dimensions (20 inches long by 28 inches high) with the directions “please stand 5.1 feet from wall.” The company plans to introduce an update in coming weeks that eliminates this step by automatically sizing the artwork to scale.

Unlike’s app, this one has no self-serve feature for viewing your art in frames. But if you have a budget of $1,000 or more, Saatchi Art will connect you with a curator who will put together a selection of art for you to peruse based on your space and style, and work closely with you to produce a mock-up of what that art would look like in your living space.

BEST FOR Beginning and longtime collectors alike with budgets starting at $150, as well as those interested in emerging artists.

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