Art Online

taliah lempert in her studio
Taliah Lempert
Taliah Lempert has a thing for bicycles. She rides them as a way to get around. She races them at a track. The 32-year-old artist works at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn, N.Y., on an old factory floor that she shares with a handful of friends and two dozen bikes, reports CBS News Correspondent Anthony Mason for CBS News Sunday Morning.

She is an artist, and the subjects she paints shouldn't surprise you. But why bicycles?

Says Lempert, "A lot of people ask me that. I don't have a real good answer."

There are hundreds of art galleries in New York. But you won't find her pictures there. You can find them on the Internet. Like more and more artists, Lempert has launched her own Web site:

She posted a couple of dozen pictures (priced at $500 and up) and waited to see the response.

Does the Internet ultimately give every artist his or her own gallery? Says Lempert, "I think it could. I think it's amazing just to be able to show my work in that way... On average, about 200 people look at my site every week, which is pretty amazing, as opposed to almost nobody before."

For the domain name, she paid about $70. and she continues to pay $12 for the upkeep of the Web site. "So," she concludes, "it's kind of ridiculous not to have one, I think."

In fact, some 70 Web sites now offer art for sale. One,, is like an online mall for 300 auction houses and 650 art galleries.

A Few Places To Visit
The Art Of The 'Net

For a look into fun little doodles and works in progress: Potatoland.

For artsy games and animated arts: Noodlebox.

For a collection of Web installations from diverse artists: Dia Center.

Art students at Oxford University put their online projects up for all the world to see.

Artists, designers and techies exhibit their experimental projects and get feedback from their peers at Thunderbaby, a site designed by Tara Kelley.

An incident on eBay in May of last year highlighted one of the risks of online art buying. An abstract painting passed off as a work by the renowned Richard Diebenkorn was auctioned for $135,000. It was a fake, and the sale was stopped.

How does icollector ensure authenticity?

"One way is by being a business-to-business Internet site as we are, compared to eBay, which is person-to-person," explains Clint Cantwell, icollector's vice president for North America. "We're dealing exclusively with art auction houses, galleries and dealers, so that gives you one measure of credibility. And in addition, we just introduced a thing called i-guaranty, which is a $50,000 insurance policy against every purchase off the site against fraud or damage."

About 48 million Americans made some kind of online purchase last year. As consumers have become more comfortable with e-commerce, icollector has found it can offer even pricier art online.

People will actually spend $10,000 on a piece of art that, physically, they have not seen. As a matter of fact, says Cantwell, his business sold a Picasso lithograph for $11,400: a small bull-fighting scene. The winning buyer saw it in an online auction and entered his bid.

"And five digits later," says Cantwell, "he's got it hanging in his living room."

Taliah Lempert also has found that e-commerce is paying off. She has sold 40 pictures over the Internet.

Taliah Lempert
The Colnago on Grey

The first was an oil-on-paper painting of a classic Italian bike called a Colnago. On the other side of New York, in a Manhattan office, Steven Marks, an avid cycling fan, stumbled onto Lempert's Web site.

"As soon as I saw the Colnago, it just grabbed me," says Marks. "It's not an artistic judgment. It's kind of like…finding love. You know, you don't explain it. You just know when you found it. I looked at it. I said, 'Yeah, I want that.'"

Marks is not an art collector. But he's the classic Internet customer. He prowls eBay shopping for memorabilia, and he often buys old photographs of famous cyclists, some for as little as $10 or $20.

When Marks emailed Lempert about his interest in the Colnago, she offered to bring the painting to him.
"So I put it on the back of my bike and rode uptown," Lempert recalls. (The sale may have been powered by new technology. The delivery was powered by old-fashioned pedaling.)

The Internet has given artists like Lempert another new tool. Now they can see just what catches the viewer's eye. She can track the number of times every single picture on her Web site is clicked.

Ultimately, is that going to affect what she paints?

"How I paint? Yeah, maybe," says Lempert. "I like road bikes a lot. I like track bikes a lot. If people like to look at the ones I've painted…well, heck…I'll paint some more."

And, she adds, "It's nice to be seen and not feel isolated in my studio."

Not every Web site offers personal delivery. But the Internet is offering every artist a showcase to the world.

© MMI Viacom Internet Services Inc. All Rights Reserved