Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Price of Art.

As someone who purchases works of art from time to time, I am lead to wonder why some media comes with a higher price tag than others. You would think that time and material are a factor, but I somehow don’t think so.

Consider what one needs to paint: Sizing, canvas, paint, an easel, a pallet, brushes, varnish and hopefully talent.
For glass blowing you need: tools, silica, a furnace and hopefully talent.
For ceramics you need: Clay, a wheel or a roller, glaze, a bisque oven and a kiln.
For photography you need a camera, a darkroom with all sorts of equipment or more recently a good computer with a good printer and print paper, a mat cutter and frames.
Let’s forget mixed media because that is usually a bunch of junk that was liberated from the trash to start with.

I am talking about entry level collecting here, not the Southerby auction. Paintings generally go for well over $300. Glass will go for $50, pottery will usually go for around $50 as well. Photographs are next to impossible to sell at any price over $10. So why is it that a painting will often cost many times more than any other media? It only uses minimal soft equipment as opposed to industrial technology and fire.


Blogger Hahn at Home said...

The amount of work involved - translating what's in your head onto canvas and making it work.

6:16 AM  
Blogger Auntie said...

I agree that part of it is the work involved, but more.

For instance, someone who is a good technician can throw beautiful pots, someone who is a good technician who has a bit of an idea of design can produce beautiful photography, as can someone who blows glass. Their art is mostly dependent on the somewhat traditional techniques of the art that they produce.

That is not to say that its worth any less, its just different from painting is all and I think that is partly what could make paintings demand higher prices.

And mixed media is just left overs, you are right. But sometimes really cool when it comes together.

7:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good question. I have also wondered why some seemingly random, mediocre pieces of 'modern art' will sell for thousands of dollars when sometimes all that is used is some cardboard and splattered paint. The people who buy this stuff must have more money than they know what to do with.

8:07 AM  
Blogger Hahn at Home said...

I think the difference between two very fine pieces and what they'll get $$-wise is marketing.

A guy from my home town is very successful (Gary Kelley), but he's also the master of marketing - he knows who needs to show the work to get him the customers who will pay the higher prices. He's good, no doubt about it, but I've seen others who are just as talented make a pittance because they lack his business acumen.

8:17 AM  
Blogger Zoe said...

This is a very interesting question. I think in part it has to do with art education or rather lack there of. When you think about what you and most everyone you know, were taught about art as a child it probably was all about paintings done by the great masters, mostly from the "age of enlightenment" and maybe a few impressionists. We are taught that good art is about being able to visually reproduce something with charcoal, paint, or graphite.

There is so much more to art than visual reproduction. I think that if we actually had good art education from early ages, and taught art history and theory to our youth that our perspectives on varying media would be much different.

8:18 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

I'm not saying that brush arts should cost less, just that other forms of art seem to have a depreciated value.

I have all sorts of original art stained and blown glass, ceramics, oils, viscosity etchings, photographs water colors, mono prints, metal sculpture and hand made wooden furniture. I value each and every one of them. Each is hung or placed exactly where it needs to be and makes my house a home.

I guess it just comes down to what the marked commands. It's just a shame to see some artists working for less than minimum wage.

9:24 AM  
Blogger Mom of Three said...

Hey! SH has the classic "Dogs Playing Poker!" But I hear if you have it in velvet, you'll really get a return on your money!!!

10:10 AM  
Blogger Auntie said...

Now that work of art is truly priceless. How much does he want for it, Mom?

11:19 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Funny you should mention that, I was going to use a velvet Elvis painting for this article instead. Sometimes it takes me longer to provide a perfect graphic for these articles than it takes to write them. Sick, isn't it?

11:23 AM  
Anonymous gearhead said...

Several years ago North Coast Electric gave me a huge calander with breathtaking Oregon scenes.
One day I stopped by Goodwill and bought several frames for cheap.
I framed several of the pictures and ended up with the coolest looking office in town.
There isn't a painting hanging anywhere in the world that is worth one red cent more to me than those pictures.

12:23 PM  
Blogger Mike S said...

We have loadsa artists here as it's one of the few ways of making a living. The marketing angle seems to be key to our folks'
success. There are a few that are great at it and all the artists seem to have them present their work on commision when sold out-of state. Most make the biggest $$$ from NYC and Boston, etc.

1:20 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Mike, here we have so many artists and so little art.

1:55 PM  
Blogger Astorianna said...

Think Hahn at home has hit the nail on the head with the marketing angle.

Maybe I'm just jaded, but I often think art prices have much more to do with the talent of the agent than the talent of the artist.

6:49 PM  
Blogger TR said...

A high quality black and white digital print made on good paper with carbon based inks that will last for a long time (i.e 100 years or more they hope)probably couldn't be produced for less then 50.00. A silver gelatin print made traditionally can be produced for about 5-10.00 in materials. Of course a digital print can be made in a matter of a few minutes compared to a few hours for a print made in a darkroom. The silver gelatin print if properly processed with archival techniques though has a proven record of lasting over a hundred years. Digital prints don't have any such track record. As a darkroom photographer that's what I am banking on that my prints will outlive all the digital work that is replacing it and the silver gelatin print will get the last laugh.

8:01 PM  

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