Former non-profit art platform Omanoot rebrands as a cultural e-commerce site, adding another name to Asia’s expanding online marketplace for art.
Omanoot, which started out as an online educational portal, is the latest in a crop of businesses to enter Asia’s increasingly crowded art e-retail sector. In an article published on 6 March 2013, Israel’s Jerusalem Post reported Omanoot’s re-launch as an online art sales platform.
Israeli art online
According to the Jerusalem Post, Omanoot co-founder Edoe Cohen was inspired by the likes of YouTube and iTunes to transform the site from a virtual cultural centre into the “first cultural e-commerce site, with Israel as the main focus“.
The Tel Aviv based start-up, founded in 2009, officially relaunched on 11 February 2013. Currently stocking photography by Israeli artists, Omanoot will expand, by April 2013, to include illustrations among its art offerings, followed by other media such as painting, music and industrial design. The emphasis is on accessibility, with prints starting at USD25.
Omanoot, which means “art” in Hebrew, originally started out as a non-profit platform for Israeli film, literature, music and visual arts. Cohen, speaking to Art Radar in 2011, described his ambition to connect Israel’s contemporary art scene to the wider world,
People who come to Israel are not falling in love with the politics. They’re falling in love with the culture, with the people, with the landscape. And that energy comes across through arts, through Israeli music, which is very avant-garde, through film, through the visual arts and definitely through the literature. That’s our idea: take that energy and bring it to the world.
However, politics proved difficult to surmount, as fellow co-founder and Creative Director Alexandra Schinasi explained in an email to Art Radar in March 2013,
A big challenge has been to rise above the political landscape often associated with Israel. It took a lot of work to create a brand that is solely about Israeli art and culture, without being overshadowed by the region’s political instability.
Omanoot also had to overcome various other challenges, according to Schinasi, such as rebranding and moving to an effective for-profit model.
Speaking to the Jerusalem Post, Cohen highlighted the continuing emphasis on diversity. Harking back to his previous work with Israeli cultural advocacy in New York, the co-founder sees Omanoot as a means of bringing Israel’s rich culture to the world’s attention. “It’s all about showcasing diversity, whether it be ethnic, age-based, religious, or regional,” he explains. “That is Israel. Israel is not just blue and white.”
Neighbourhood, not island
Schinasi points to ArtPeace, Omanoot’s soon to be launched project, as further evidence of the company’s commitment to diversity beyond Israel’s borders. ArtPeace will see a section of the website dedicated to selling work by artists from neighbouring countries such as Jordan and the occupied Palestinian territories. “We are actually part of a neighbourhood here in Israel,” Schinasi said in the Jerusalem Post. “We are not an island. We are trying to build bridges through art.”
Omanoot is the latest in a spate of art retail websites to go live, as the online art business sector in Asia becomes increasingly competitive.
- April 2013 will see the launch of Artshare.com, the first online platform dedicated to the sale of modern and contemporary Asian art.
- [s]edition, an online platform selling digital art, expanded its roster to include Chinese artists Liu Ye and Sui Jianguo in late 2012, and now represents six Asia-based artists.
- Ocula and sister site Ocula Black operate as both a portal and an online auction site for galleries and artists across Asia Pacific, encouraging browsers to buy art and creating an online network of collectors.
- Online auction site Saffronart, one of the pioneers of e-retail, is a specialist in Indian art, renowned for the innovative use of new technologies such as smartphone enabled bidding.
- Artspace magazine: The future of art marketing? – March 2013 – the latest art commerce website to tap into the “storytailing” marketing trend
- Palestinian artists used documentary tactics to sustain and subvert – ArtAsiaPacific – November 2011 – little distance between film-makers and their subjects
- Israeli artscene online with Omanoot.com launch – resource alert – February 2011 – read Art Radar‘s 2011 interview with Omanoot, before their move into online retail
- Israeli kinetic artist Yaacov Agam helps make “Taipei Beautiful” – July 2010 – kinetic artist Agam brings public installations to Taipei for the city’s beautification project
- Guide to art scene Tel Aviv, Israel – New York Times – November 2008 – the best gallery spaces in the city
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