By Prof Giles Jackson, Curator

In 1889 an exhibition of thirty works by Claude Monet was held at the Goupil Gallery in New Bond St. London, under the direction of David Croal Thomson, my Great Grand-Uncle. Thomson was an influential dealer, critic and editor of Art Journal, a magazine known for its longstanding crusade against dishonest business practices in the art world. Thomson was also an accomplished artist who painted alongside Paul Cezanne in Provence, France—the crucible of modern art.

Although Thomson’s Monet exhibition was a failure (London wasn’t ready for French Impressionism), it highlights the role of the art dealer in introducing new ideas, while bringing art fully into the world of commodities and exchange.

In the decades that followed, galleries perfected the art of translating aesthetic value into financial value through speculation. However, something vital was lost along the way.

Consider that just 25 artists account for almost half of all post-war and contemporary art auction sales, according to artnet. Depressingly, they all share the same recognizable style, making their works sought-after trophies. “For many buyers, it is important that their peers recognize the works they own—and that is only possible if the pool of artists is relatively small,” explains Olav Velthuis, a professor of sociology and anthropology at the University of Amsterdam.

These days galleries seem less preoccupied with advancing original ideas than with manufacturing an extraordinary mythology around whatever it is they’re selling—which they have clearly gotten down to a fine art.

From an insider’s point of view, pandering to people with money is perfectly rational. But from a societal point of view it’s wholly irrational, because it reduces the diversity of ideas in circulation—compromising our collective resilience and capacity to adapt.

Swimming between the cracks in the gallery system, we work for the cause of Effective Altruism—a burgeoning research field and practical community that aims to find the best ways to help others, and then act on them. We do this through our unique collections, as well as by donating 50% of our profits to like-minded charitable initiatives.

Following the principle of cause-neutrality, we are open to taking on any problem. But we had to start somewhere, so we chose two of the most pressing crises of our age: the war in Ukraine (Victory to Ukraine!) and climate change (Net Zero World).

But finding the inspiration to act on such problems requires something more. It requires that we cast the net wider. This may seem counterintuitive, but our goals are often best achieved indirectly, rather than head-on.

John Stuart Mill, one of the most influential thinkers in the history of classical liberalism, was a great advocate of the oblique approach to life. “I never, indeed, wavered in the conviction that happiness is the test of all rules of conduct, and the end of life,” he wrote in his autobiography. “But I now thought that this end was only to be attained by not making it the direct end.”

Crossing centuries and cultures, our Primeval Fire Escape and No Tardis Required collections exist to help you see things from completely different perspectives, and hopefully, confront the world anew.

All of our printed products are produced by our global production partner, Prodigi. Prodigi is trusted by some of the world’s most prestigious brands – including the Tate Gallery and The Royal Society – to produce and drop-ship museum quality fine art prints. So you’re in good hands.

It is our privilege to help you become the most effective altruist you can possibly be.