Art Market

Hauser & Wirth will launch a virtual-reality exhibition platform.

Justin Kamp
Apr 9, 2020 4:23PM, via Hauser & Wirth

ArtLab, Hauser & Wirth Menorca exterior view created in HWVR. View of Louise Bourgeois, Maman, 1999. Louise Bourgeois © The Easton Foundation/VAGA at ARS, NY. Courtesy The Easton Foundation and Hauser & Wirth.

Hauser & Wirth will launch its first virtual reality exhibition in late April. The exhibition will take place in a virtual rendering of the gallery’s future art center on Menorca, which is set to open in 2021. In keeping with its recently announced online benefit initiative, Hauser & Wirth will donate 10 percent of profits from the exhibition to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

The exhibition is the first initiative to run as part of the gallery’s new research and development arm, ArtLab, which created HWVR, the proprietary exhibition modeling tool used to build the virtual reality show. ArtLab will develop “bespoke technological solutions” to address art world issues such as accessibility and sustainability, according to a gallery announcement. It will also host a digital residency program at the gallery’s Los Angeles location, where artists can learn how best to use VR technology.

ArtLab, Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles interior view created in HWVR. Works pictured: Jack Whitten, Asa’s Palace, 1973; Louise Bourgeois, Crouching Spider, 2003. Louise Bourgeois © The Easton Foundation/VAGA at ARS, NY, courtesy The Easton Foundation and Hauser & Wirth. Jack Whitten © Jack Whitten Estate, courtesy the Jack Whitten Estate and Hauser & Wirth.

Iwan Wirth, president and co-founder of Hauser and Wirth, said in a statement:

When we created ArtLab and first began developing the HWVR art experience, our primary goal was to develop technology that would help our artists visualize the spaces where their exhibitions would be presented. We were equally motivated by a desire to plan exhibitions for our locations around the globe in a way that would reduce the amount of travel and transportation. Given the current situation, with so many in essential self-isolation, we are accelerating the launch of ArtLab’s programs with a new approach to virtual reality exhibitions that can engage as many people as possible and bring them together while we’re all apart.

The initiative is reflective of a larger art world migration to virtual space as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fairs such as Art Basel Hong Kong and Art Central are taking place online, while art market superstars such as KAWS have collaborated with VR and digital platforms to create publicly accessible exhibitions as well commercially available works.

Further Reading: A Virtual KAWS Exhibition Tests the Market for Augmented Reality Art

Further Reading: What You Need to Know about Collecting Virtual-Reality Art

Justin Kamp