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In Geneva, The Sharing Economy Tries To Break Into Art World

Can't afford original artwork? Never fear. For a small fee, people in Geneva can borrow a piece or two.

Some of the art you can borrow at Geneva's Pinacothèque
Some of the art you can borrow at Geneva's Pinacothèque
Sébastien Ladermann

GENEVA — We go to libraries to borrow books, so why shouldn't we be able to do the same with paintings? This is the question that inspired La Pinacothèque, in Geneva.

The project's aim, since its creation in 2005, has been to meet the demand for art by letting people borrow from its collection of about 100 works. Genres and formats vary, from photographs, paintings, drawings or serigraphs, to please all sorts of connoisseurs.

There's no elitism at La Pinacothèque. Art is for the many, and so it must spread. Thus the affordable prices: Borrowing one of La Pinacothèque's paintings for one year costs 100 Swiss francs ($104) for members and 150 Swiss francs ($156) for non-members. And, over the course of that year, the paintings can be exchanged.

To borrow a work of art, people can visit the showroom — either by personal appointment or during one of various scheduled events — and select something directly, or else log into the La Pinacothèque website and choose virtually.

Cléo Fiala and Ariel Inzaurralde initiated the project. The couple's private collection, initially made of the works of Uruguayan students and professors from the Torres-Garcia school, was enriched with new favorites through the years. It now also includes the works of several local artists, both famous or in the making. It's worth noting the presence of reproductions of Thierry Vernet"s drawings, famous among other things for his illustrations for his friend Nicolas Bouvier's book L'Usage du Monde (The Way of the World).

So, about that painting that's been hanging in your living room so long it's starting to drive you crazy... Now there's no excuse but to replace it. After all, bringing new, original art into a home is both instructive and invigorating. And who knows? It might even encourage children and adults to visit more museums.

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