Art e-commerce reaches Israel with Omanoot relaunch

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.

Tom Bartov, 'On Watch', photographic print, 20 x 25 cm. Image courtesy Omanoot.

Tom Bartov, ‘On Watch’, photographic print, 20 x 25 cm. Image courtesy Omanoot.

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 brands itself as a 'cultural e-commerce platform', reveals a relaunched website.

Omanoot, which brands itself as a ‘cultural e-commerce platform’, reveals a relaunched website.

Non-profit problems

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.

Noam Chojnowski, 'Spaceman Trampoline', photographic print, 20 x 25 cm. Image courtesy Omanoot.

Noam Chojnowski, ‘Spaceman Trampoline’, photographic print, 20 x 25 cm. Image courtesy Omanoot.

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.”

Jasmin Gershony-Geyer, 'White Light', photographic print, 20 x 25 cm. Image courtesy Omanoot.

Jasmin Gershony-Geyer, ‘White Light’, photographic print, 20 x 25 cm. Image courtesy Omanoot.

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.


Related topics: art and the internet, Asia expands, Israeli artists, business of art

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