“My first thoughts on .Art were, I need this domain,” recalls Jordan ‘Watts’ Watson, co-founder of the cult Instagram site, Love.Watts. “It sounded like an establishment that I wanted to be a part of. It’s a strong name.” With 1.3 million followers, Watson should know. A classic millennial disrupter and tastemaker, giving art fairs and gallerists a run for their money, Watson curates contemporary art on his social media feeds. He was one of the first to sign up for a domain name from .Art , a new internet domain offering the international art community an immediate digital identification with the arts and creative fields.
Since its launch last December, more than 2,000 names have been registered on .Art, from cultural institutions and artists, to companies and individuals, ranging from street artist Banksy, music titan Beyoncé, the Fondation Cartier, Centre Pompidou, the Guggenheim Museum, LACMA, the Serpentine Galleries, the Tate and many more. A .Art domain name starts from just $9, but for a very popular name the price goes up. For example, a common address like love.art would cost in excess of $15,000.
Ulvi Kasimov, one of Russia’s most prolific venture capitalists, founded .Art in 2015 “.Art is the new digital dress code for the art world,” he said in a Skype interview this week. Kasimov, also an avid art collector, has personally invested US$25 million in the venture. He says the valuation has already surpassed that. “This is revolutionary. .Art will be a signifier of everything creative. You no longer need to explain you are creative, you are by definition.”
Others get the vision. Stefan Kalmár, ICA director, said: “Moving the Institute of Contemporary Arts from ica.org.uk to ica.art is for me only logical as it underlines the ICA’s international role, not only as the first ICA, founded some 70 years ago, but as an organisation that has always thought globally and opposes the current remerging of nationalism in the UK and elsewhere. www.ica.art confirms ICA’s belief in an interconnected world in which solutions to global challenges can only be found together.”
Chinese artist Shen Wei has a different reason for moving his website to .Art: “My name is not uncommon in China. Acquiring shenwei.art is a unique way to differentiate myself from others. The most common mix-up when googling my name as an artist is with another artist of the same name who is a photographer — also called Shen Wei.’’
Other adopters have joined .Art to create project-based micro-sites, in addition to their existing web presence.
Meanwhile, US gallery Hauser & Wirth is marking its 25th anniversary this year with a specially conceived .Art micro-site. “We have approached the .Art domain as a creative and playful online space to complement our main website,” said a spokesperson. “Our new 25 Years micro-site takes the form of a digital chronology tracing the journey of the gallery and the artists who have shaped our history.”
Fondation Cartier in Paris is developing a digital home on .Art, to be launched in June, designed to host its vast collection of specially commissioned artworks that cannot be otherwise experienced in its entirety. Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven has similar plans to be launched this autumn, while art fair Expo Chicago will use expochicago.art as “a digital space that provides an exclusive glimpse into the artists, individuals and core programmes of the fair”.
Other adopters such as Sotheby’s, the Marina Abramovic Institute, The Estate of Francis Bacon, Istanbul Biennial, Pulitzer Arts, Random International and Axel Vervoordt are in the early stages of conceiving dedicated projects for .Art micro-sites.
Several international companies seeking an affiliation with art have embraced the domain name too. Swiss luxury watch brand Rolex and French fashion powerhouse Chanel, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and French insurance company AXA, as well as tech giants Apple, Google and Facebook are among hundreds of corporate registrants now part of the .Art community.
“From creating, launching, advertising, increasing traffic, re-branding, protecting one’s identity, the opportunities on .Art are endless,” says Kasimov. Does he have plans to sell .Art? “No! It’s going to be a long-term project for me.”