The broader picture: Pumping art

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The Independent Culture
SEE THE picture on this page? At this very moment, people are racing to buy it as though it were freshly released company stock. That's because this is not just a photo, but a brand new piece of work by Marc Quinn, one of the most celebrated artists of the Sensation persuasion. More importantly, this and other exclusive works, including Andy Warhol's "Santa" (on the cover), are now available on the Internet for the first time.

Quinn's work, called "Map of the Human Heart", is a photograph of an anatomical model, which was originally made by taking a real heart, filling it with resin and then burning off the flesh with acid.

"It's a very romantic title," says Quinn. "But it's also a literal description. It's a kind of ironic comment that the centre for all our emotions is really just like a road map." The two colours in the model indicate the passage of oxygenated and deoxygenated blood. "So it's also about the power of the heart to transform," explains Quinn, "in the sense that it's a real place of transformation as well as a metaphorical one."

"There will definitely be speculation," says David Grob, a co-founder of Eyestorm, the new on-line gallery that is offering Quinn's work in an edition of 500 for $500 each (all Eyestorm's prices are in US dollars). "The moment a limited edition piece is sold out it could be worth double the price." When you consider that the work on show includes exclusive photographs by artists like Damien Hirst and David Hockney, you can understand why.

Eyestorm is the brainchild of Grob and the well-known London gallery owner Michael Hue Williams. Their idea is to open up the exclusive world of art-collecting to a much broader audience. For this reason, most of the work available on Eyestorm is photography, because it lends itself to the volume sales needed to keep prices down. Unlike prints bought from existing on-line "art" sites, however, these works are exclusive and often signed. This is another reason why their value may rise. One bestseller is likely to be "With Dead Head", a photograph by Damien Hirst. The image recently sold at Sotheby's for more than pounds 70,000, while Eyestorm is offering a smaller signed version in an edition of 1,000 prints for $1,000 each.

For those who merely want to explore the art market rather than spend, visitors to Eyestorm can gather their chosen works together into their own on-line gallery. Work by 20 artists currently appears on the site, including a number of one-off Polaroids by Warhol, priced (like "Santa") at $9,000 each. Damien Hirst has produced an exclusive Christmas image which, like some other works on the site, is too sensational to be reproduced here. You might just want to look, but the best advice seems to be buy, buy, buy.

Eyestorm is at www.eyestorm.com. The first 20 "Independent on Sunday" readers to buy Marc Quinn's "Map of the Human Heart" will receive a 10 per cent discount. Call 00 800 393 78676 to order (all other orders, on- line only).

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