With people traveling far less this year than in 2019, it’s little surprise that more collectors have sought travel-related art to remind them of their journeys. The fine art and jewelry e-commerce site 1stdibs saw 2,625 orders of fine artwork between June 1 to July 26, 2020, an increase of 56 percent from the previous year that generated over $7.4 million in sales for the company. One of the high-ticket items sold was the tranquil Seascape Near Atlantic City by William Trost Richards, an American landscape artist who was associated with the Hudson River School. The oil painting, which sold for $195,000, shows luminous ocean waves in sunlight and instantly transports the viewer to a peaceful place.
Several artists have noted that although some galleries still remain closed, the pandemic has actually helped them sell travel-related art.
Art With a Sense Of Place
Catherine LaPointe Vollmer, who lives in the area of New York above the Adirondack Mountains, does everything from graphic design to pastel painting and posters. Of late, she’s noted a marked interest in posters focusing on travel-related themes. “Traffic and sales from my online travel poster shop have almost doubled this year compared to the same period from last year, especially since the pandemic started,” she tells Architectural Digest. “I think this is due to people not only craving reminders of their travels but also shopping online more.” Clients are willing to pay a price for art that helps fill their physical travel void.
Sarah LaPierre, a second-generation painter based in West Palm Beach, Florida, has a cobranded art gallery and garden shop at Rosemary Square and creates heavily textured and vibrantly colorful paintings inspired by flora, fauna, and the beach.
In mid-March she saw a rise in social media sales and requests of idyllic coastal views and tropical Florida sceneries. “Over the past few months, I’ve sold pieces from sailboats and palm trees to citrus fruits,” she says. “I’ve seen the most demand recently coming for pieces depicting sunrises over the ocean. Those views are energetic, and their vibrant colors are uplifting. Very symbolic of the first light of a new day.”
The Monterey, California–based fine artist Joaquin Turner, whose work focuses on unique landscapes in the Monterey Peninsula, has seen an interest for paintings that capture a sense of place. “I’ve read multiple recent studies that prove that art, whether it be in a gallery, museum, or the home, can have a very positive impact on both physical and emotional health,” he says. His newer pieces, painted in more rural and isolated settings, have a more introspective and contemplative feeling, and he has noticed that people—especially collectors who live beyond the immediate area—are more drawn to that subject matter.
A Strong Demand for Travel Photography
James Miille, a cofounder and managing partner at Superfine! Art Fair, which puts young collectors in touch with cutting-edge works by the world’s top female, Black, queer, and LGBT+ emerging artists, says that he’s been surprised at the level of art sales during the pandemic in general and travel-related art in particular.
“Despite having to pivot and funnel resources into our virtual e-fairs throughout the year, we’ve actually had comparable art sold versus 2019’s Superfine! Art Fairs,” he says, noting that well over $100,000 worth of art has been sold online. “With collectors and buyers having immediate accessibility—art at their fingertips—we’ve seen significant sales across all disciplines and mediums.” Miille adds that he has sold to many new collectors recently.
Some of his photographs that were sold during the pandemic include Between the Leap and the Abyss and Le Rêve d’une Abeille—both from a summer trip to Provence last August, which he describes as “a sweltering hot holiday.”
Some hospitality-related enterprises have taken the time to partner with photographers so their clients can keep their travel-related memories alive. Chateau Montelena in Napa Valley, California, notes that because of the tasting-room closures in Napa, many people were forced to cancel their trips to California’s wine country; it partnered with photographer Brandon McGanty to a limited-edition shot of the vineyard’s Jade Lake.
Exhibits With Travel Themes
Other artists have taken the opportunity to capture the lower levels of global air pollution in their work. The 85-year-old artist Mira Lehr has seen marked interest from visitors to the Mennello Museum of American Art in Orlando, Florida, who have expressed interest in learning more about her message of saving the planet before it’s too late. Since much of her work explores the intersection of climate change and art, the exhibit, “Planetary Visions: Mira Lehr from Spaceship Earth,” runs at the Rosenbaum Contemporary art gallery in Boca Raton, Florida through December 15th.
“Travel has been diminished for most people on the planet, and many are working from home,” Lehr says. “Few are traveling abroad. Less use of fossil fuels on the planet has cleaned the atmosphere. For the first time in history, mankind can now see proof that we can reverse the damage from pollution.”
Elisa Contemporary Art, a gallery in Riverdale, New York, had a recent exhibition called “Dive In 2020,” which ran through early September. It featured the work of the Hawaiian artist Carol Bennett and the Marfa, Texas–based artist Martha Hughes. Several works are still available to view online, with underwater swimmers, surfers, and poolside scenes as well as water- and beach-inspired artwork reminiscent of summer.
Bennett sold two large travel-related art pieces made for museum shows in 2019 during the shutdown, including 365 Days, for $20,000. Other travel-inspired pieces she sold during the pandemic included Noon Time Lightness, for $17,000, which she describes as more of a classic signature swimmer. The purchase was made by loyal repeat clients who were maddened by the quarantine and wanted to replace a piece they owned.
“They feel cooped up,” Bennett says, “and the swimmer makes them feel free.”
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest