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Tired of Looking at Empty Walls? Try Renting Some Art

Insights & Ideas Team •  October 23, 2014 | Home and Family

Okay, maybe you’re not among the lucky few who can afford to buy a Picasso for their living room. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy high-quality art in your home or office. Many art lovers today are going the rental route when it comes to showcasing original art.

The concept isn’t new; galleries around the world have long had art rental programs. Many museums, such as the Portland Art Museum, also offer rental programs for works by emerging artists that haven’t made it to the museum’s galleries.

But today art dealers, designers, consultants and entrepreneurs in the art world are eschewing the gallery system, turning instead to the Internet to provide a conduit between artists and potential clients. In the process, they’re changing how and when people buy art.

Companies like Hang Art and Art Remba, among others, have built an online platform that makes discovering and collecting original art easy and risk free. Like many art rental businesses, they cater to clients ranging from young art enthusiasts who are developing their own tastes in fine art to seasoned collectors looking to explore the works of emerging artists.

San Francisco-based Hang Art has been renting original artworks by local artists to people and businesses in the Bay area since 1998. You can browse through a catalog of more than 1,000 unique pieces of art to find the right one for your specific tastes and needs. You can rent artwork for as little as one month or for as long as you like; all you need is a driver’s license and a credit card to get started. Quarterly rental fees are typically 12 percent of an artwork’s purchase price.

In contrast, New York City’s Art Remba is a web-based club. Prospective members can fill out an application online covering everything from education level to building security. Once approved, you can subscribe to works from top galleries and artists for as little as $50 a month (including insurance). The company prides itself on its concierge service: They hand-deliver the art, install it in your home or office and then pick it up when your rental term is over. If you fall in love with the art and decide you want to keep it permanently, Art Remba will credit you as much as 50 percent of your monthly rental fees toward the purchase price.

While each of these lending services is different, they share a common goal: to provide easy access to the often exclusive art world, let novice collectors try works out before buying and help artists earn extra cash along the way.

The hunger for high-quality art rentals isn’t confined to individual collectors, however.

Real-estate developers looking to entice tenants with eye-popping lobbies are also big rental customers, as are corporations that want to keep their office décor fresh without having to make a large upfront investment. Art rental arrangements are also a favorite of interior designers, stylists and stagers looking to add polish and sophistication to their projects. This includes renting artwork for set decoration in movies and television shows.

People choosing art for their homes or offices are often intimidated by the thought of making a major investment in art. Renting allows you to try before you buy. It’s a great way to add some needed interest and depth to a special event or party you may be hosting. Or it can be used to fill wall space if you’re trying to sell your home. In short, it’s an easy and relatively affordable way to transform an interior space into something truly special.

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