20×200 Suspends Operations, Is Art Still For Everyone?

A view of the empty 20x200 offices (via Pando Daily)
A view of the empty 20×200 offices in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood. (via Pando Daily)

The much beloved 20×200 affordable art retailer is “temporarily suspending operations,” according to an email sent by company founder and CEO Jen Bekman last night to a number of contacts. Founded in 2007, 20×200 has been a ubiquitous presence in New Yorks art and tech scene. According to a 2012 interview with Artinfo, the site sold nearly 200,000 prints to 70,000 customers, and it was expected to make $7 million in 2012.

updatesWhile the company website began a “stay tuned” stasis yesterday, their twitterfeed has been reassuring those asking if the service is kaput with “Not gone, just resting. :).”

Pando Daily reports that “a source close to the company said the shut-down was a result of a disagreement over the direction of the site between Bekman, who wants to keep her focus on 20×200′s community of artists, and her investors.” And the tech news site posted a photo of the vacated 20×200 offices.

In the last few years, 20×200 raised $2.8 million in venture backing from a number of firms (True Ventures, Founder Collective, and AOL Ventures) and angel investors (Caterina Fake, Zack Klein, James Joaquin, Scott Heiferman, Nion McEvoy, David Mahoney, and Brendan McGovern). Bekman told Artinfo last year that the company was already making $1 million a year in revenue when it initially began looking for investors.

20×200’s motto, “Art for Everyone,” symbolized the utopianism that many art world tech startups believed the internet would bring to a field often construed as elitist by outsiders. While 20×200’s success at selling prints is notable, the scale of art purchases has never approached the level of mass consumption — facilitated by technology — that music, books, or other cultural products have enjoyed with the public.

Hyperallergic reached out to Jen Bekman yesterday, but our request for comment went unanswered. Stay tuned for updates.

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