What started a year ago as little more than exhibit listings, the Paris art site Slash now publishes reviews, expert recommendations, a weekly newsletter service and more—all in a visually crisp design that makes discovering the next Dan Colen a few clicks away. Organized into broad categories such as events, artists and venues, pull-down subcategory menus sort by topic, from New Media to geographic location.
But it’s not just better navigation that puts Slash ahead of others in the field. The site also includes all the relevant data (in both English and French) so users can easily find Google maps, artists, nearby bus stations, etc., as well as browse well thought out lists like “Closing Today” or “Forthcoming” as an easy way to keep up with the scene. And an iPhone app consisting of short reviews and hi-res images shows the same attention to intuitive layout and clean visuals.
With a heavy editorial slant towards contemporary art, Slash comes in as a very practical, highly-appreciated tool in a world often confined to aficionado circles and insider knowledge. The service-oriented access the site provides, like details about the gallery locations and opening hours, sidestep the implication of common art world practices—that you are not supposed to, of course, know where this or that gallery is located and when it’s open.
The strength of the new concept’s visitor-focused directive lies in how it dares to handle art the same way the founders approached designing websites for French TV channels and newspapers, Google and MySpace during stints at the well-known digital agency Area 17. With a constant aim of making the site more user-friendly, Slash persistently tends to simplicity, signaling a shift away from the usually intellectual and/or trendy “musts” in arts reporting. Even visually, it presents artworks simply and soberly (but attractively), rather than frame them with graphic design flourishes, pushing contemporary art even from its exclusive shell to draw it into everyday life.
Also claiming to be the only site like it that allows artists and venues to publish resumes and portfolios and keep visitors informed throughout the year, Slash shows great promise for becoming the great all-in-one solution to democratizing the art world online.