A new online venture called Artify It is offering artists the opportunity to loan out their works to subscription-paying art lovers.

For a subscription fee, art lovers can select from a range of contemporary art work that can be changed regularly and displayed in their home and office. Subscribers are also free to buy the artwork or help artists sell it, according to Artify It.

The Artify It online catalog is designed to also act as a social network for artists to connect with each other and with art aficionados looking for pieces to display, according to company officials.

Artify It, located on the Web at www.artify.it, is in a beta phase but will be opened to the public in May, according to the company.

Artify It is trying to remove the obstacles to owning art, said co-founder Lorenzo Thione, by removing the idea that art has to be a major investment. The organization was created to connect artists and art lovers and to give artists exposure, he added.

"We think of art as a service to be enjoyed," Thione said.

Artify It is also expanding the idea of who can display art work and where it can be displayed by placing it on a rotating basis in homes and businesses, according to the company. If someone other than the subscriber purchases it, the subscriber receives a commission.

Subscribers will pay $50 to $150 per art piece when they have pieces in their homes or offices. When a piece is on display, and if it is sold, the artist will receive a commission.

Alessia Armeni, an artist and cofounder of Artify It, is in charge of selecting artwork and artists to be displayed on the Artify It Web site. Artify It is looking for art that has global appeal and artists who have the respect of peers, she said.

The startup company is based in San Francisco and has received $800,000 in angel investments so far from the Silicon Valley area, according to the company.

In the San Francisco area, art works will be shipped for free. Shipping to other areas of the country will entail shipping costs. The company has plans to open up branches in other parts of the country next year.

"Artify It's concept is evolving the very traditional art world by infusing technology and a subscription model to better support the needs of art lovers and collectors, as well as artists themselves," said Thione. "Artify It allows for affordable, unlimited access to high-quality art that can be swapped out or purchased at any time."

By creating a subscription-based model, members can introduce art into their homes or businesses without purchasing it, according to Artify It.

Artify It also is creating Artify Scout to enable subscribers to act as curators and find work that can be displayed and purchased.

"Artify It is using technology to create an entirely new business model for one of the world's most traditional industries: art," said Peter Thiel, a technology entrepreneur and founder of the Thiel Foundation who is a lead investor.

-Karen DeMasters