The Physical is Real; The Digital is Real - Valuing Physical and Digital Experiences
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The Physical is Real; The Digital is Real - Valuing Physical and Digital Experiences

Colnaghi's Eleanor Taylor discusses how the oldest commercial gallery in the world meets the future head on.

October 19th, 2022

In anticipation of our event Arcarta x Adapt, we sat down with our expert panel to discuss technological innovation in the art market.

Over the following few weeks released these short Q&A's to give our network insight into each panelist's unique point of view. In this instalment we speak to Eleanor Taylor, Head of Communications at Colnaghi.

Old Masters Meets VR

In Summer 2022, Colnaghi launched  The Colnaghi Virtual Experience, a new, cutting-edge digital collaboration with Endava. The virtual art gallery enabled existing clients and new users not familiar with Colnaghi, to view Old Masters in a virtual space. It fused audio, video, documentation, and x-ray scans with interactive user elements, demonstrating how Web 3.0 technology can add to the viewer’s experience and enhance how we see, interpret and engage with works of art.

As the oldest commercial gallery in the world, this project and Colnaghi's engagement with technology at large is an example of how adaptation can help a gallery thrive.

We chatted with Colnaghi's Head of Communications. Eleanor Taylor about this Virtual Experience, the marriage of both the physical and online world and how Colnaghi has evolved to meet the world around it.

Full Q&A below.

The Relationship between Painting and Viewer

Colnaghi has recently entered the metaverse with a virtual presentation of Orazio Gentileschi’s The Rest on the Flight into Egypt. How has this virtual experience changed the relationship between painting and viewer?

Working with Endava to create the Colnaghi Virtual Experience, a whole new way for clients to experience Old Masters from anywhere around the globe, was a fascinating opportunity. I think the virtual presentation of this Baroque masterpiece crucially enhanced the ease with which viewers could appreciate and unlock different aspects to its story, in one space, which was both enjoyable and exciting to explore.

The Physical is Real; The Digital is Real

Perhaps it is a misconception that technology can alienate established collectors, what is your experience connecting with both existing and next generation audiences digitally?

I love the concept: the physical is real; the digital is real. At Colnaghi, we interpret this to mean that both physical and digital presentations of paintings are of equal value to our clients, and in fact are mutually beneficial, helping each-other to engage new audiences. The virtual experience we built in summer 2022 fused audio, video, documentation, and x-ray scans with interactive user elements, and reached our existing client base, as well as new users not familiar with Colnaghi through widespread social media promotion. The data backed this up, as 49 % of its visitors were new traffic, a fantastic result for the gallery.

As one of the oldest galleries in the world, Colnaghi has constantly evolved to meet the world around it. What are some upcoming projects that make you excited for the future?

Colnaghi was chosen in 2021 to spearhead the scholarly assessment, scientific analysis, and restoration of an Ecce Homo painting now understood to be by Caravaggio. Drawing upon our unmatched history of connoisseurship and the pioneering new tech collaborations we have forged, we are working on some exciting projects relating to the rediscovery.

We also launched Colnaghi & Factum this year, a new partnership with Factum Foundation which makes 3D scanning of the surface of paintings more accessible, enabling clients to create a digital passport of their artworks which facilitate meaningful condition monitoring.

Both private and public collections are now digitally preserving and monitoring their paintings through high-resolution scanning, which is incredible. You can learn more here:

Listen to Eleanor discuss digital vs physical experiences on our panel...

About Eleanor Taylor

Eleanor is Head of Communications, Digital & Marketing at Colnaghi Ltd., with responsibility for overseeing the strategy and execution of communication, partnerships and marketing related activities. She joined Colnaghi in 2018 and began her career in 2014 at Sotheby’s, where she worked in the Press Office as Global Social Media Manager, with projects including leading the social media campaign for the sale of David Bowie's art collection. She is a graduate of King's College London with a focus on Digital Marketing Strategies: Data, Automation, AI & Analytics from Northwestern University. 

In Summer 2022, Eleanor worked on the launch of The Colnaghi Virtual Experience, a new, cutting-edge digital collaboration with Endava, a leading next-generation technology service provider. The first project focused on Colnaghi’s presentation of The Rest on the Flight into Egypt, a painting with remarkable provenance, painted by Orazio Gentileschi in the 17th Century. 

Founded in 1760, Colnaghi is one of the most important commercial art galleries in the world. By the late nineteenth century, the gallery had established itself in Europe and the United States as a leading dealer in Old Master paintings, prints and drawings, selling masterpieces to the greatest collectors and museums of the Gilded Age. Colnaghi today is the only major gallery to specialize in works of art from antiquity through to the modern era, offering its clients expert advice and service, and an exciting programme of exhibitions and events.

About Arcarta x Adapt

Arcarta x Adapt was an in person event that took place on November 3rd at Cromwell Place, which aimed to empower the art market with the tech of the future.

Assembling a group of experts at the cutting edge of their fields, this two part panel discussion and networking event provided inspiration and insights, alongside the technological tools to make them a concrete reality.

To access the event hub click here, where you will find additional resources, photos and videos from the panel discussion.

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