Phillips unveils DropShop, pioneering a new era for artistic acquisitions

The auction house embraces e-commerce with its latest endeavour: A direct-from-artist digital sales platform featuring limited-edition pieces

Art acquisition has more often than not taken conventional means through galleries and auctions, but Phillips‘ recent venture heralds change to the old fogey methods. As with many introductions to an online proponent, the new platform will likely accelerate the way artists avail their works and how long it takes for you to own them. These limited-time releases are conceived with personal involvement of collaborators to be exclusive to the site, offered in realtime.

One can argue it’s taking the sneaker approach to art (with projects also called ‘drops’), but that’s hardly a flaw where contemporary art is concerned. Not only does it become somewhat of a collector’s utopia, DropShop empowers the art community in a revolutionary way. See, any art house can dabble in e-commerce, but what’s industry first about DropShop is resale royalties.

Uncommon to the sale of art, these contracts allow creators to receive commission for work purchased from DropShop that may be subsequently offered at Phillips. Now who better to represent this evolving commercial dynamic than Australian-born, Brooklyn-based CJ Hendry. Known especially on social media but equally esteemed offline for her hyperreal yet tongue-in-cheek exhibitions (namely Monochrome and Rorschach), the multi-disciplinary artist is the first to kick off the roster. The subject: plastic inflatable crowns. We don’t quite know how much say the brand has in the conceptualising, but going by how its described, it seems fairly certain the artist has majority if not full control.

Commissioned work for DropShop. Photo by CJ Hendry

“I have always been fascinated with ordinary run-of-the-mill objects, something you can buy for a couple of bucks from the dollar store. I enjoy the idea of transforming something ordinary into something extraordinary. In this case, an everyday plastic inflatable crown is instantly elevated and manipulated into a grandiose headrest,” Hendry tells DropShop.

“Another reason I have been so drawn to inflatable crowns is due to the playful nature of these cheap party favours. They are meant to represent the monarchy, but they are in fact mocking the very nature of the establishment through their mass production, everything the royals are not.”

Amidst the current news circulating the auction house, this is one hopeful step in the right direction. Bespoke art and custom curations aside, it may not be too optimistic to say that this helps enthusiasts to partake in an otherwise one-way dialogue, facilitating a direct connection with the creative minds behind the very work they love.

The platform goes live on 20 August 2023.