Ever wonder how artworks increase in value? Or how is it that artworks can sell at auction for astronomical prices? Well, while there are many myths and misconceptions surrounding this topic, one thing is certain, it’s a lot more than simple talent or ability. Let’s examine the factors that influence the value of an artwork in order to better understand this intriguing phenomenon.
Visibility plays a key roll in the value of an artists work. If an artist is just starting out and has little to no recognition, collectors often will find it difficult to justify paying a premium price for their work. It's not necessarily that the work isn't good or worthy of those prices, its simply that the artist has yet to establish a solid track record. An artists career can be validated in various ways, including but not limited to: gallery exhibitions, collectors patronage, appreciation by the general public, high profile brand collaborations and inclusion into private and public art institutions and establishments (i.e. museums, corporate collections, etc).
Supply and Demand
This one is essential for most commerce but holds especially true for art. Before an artwork can fetch a high price, an artist must first find an audience and cultivate the market and demand for their work. This takes time, in most cases years, even decades to accomplish. In the beginning an artists supply will heavily out way the demand for their work; however, once an artist is in great demand and begins selling beyond what they are able to produce, their prices will increase exponentially.
An artworks price often reflects its rarity. That's why paintings, drawings and other unique works of art command a higher value than prints and multiples. Reason being, we all want what we cannot have. A perfect example is an original painting by Vincent Van Gogh. There is an extremely small number of original works by this great artist that are even available to the public (most are already in museums and private collections) so when one of these gems comes up at auction, a bidding frenzy ensues, and the prices are driven sky high in order for that one person to obtain this highly desirable work of art, even if it is a lesser work and not considered a masterpiece.
Recognition is one of the greatest contributing factors for increasing the price of an artwork. An artist who is known, respected and appreciated has a much stronger ability to appeal to collectors and art establishments. Once an artist is included in major collections, either private or public, they will achieve staying power. This is a crucial factor, especially in determining the high price an artwork can fetch. Serious art collectors want to be sure that their investment is in art that will stand the test of time. Artist notoriety gives collectors the confidence they need to pay a premium for a work of art.
There is a common myth which insinuates that an artists prices immediately increase once they die. Although this is a romantic notion it remains completely unfounded. In most cases, the only time an artists prices increase after death is if the artist was known prior to his death and had established themselves as a collectible and sought after artist during their lifetime. Sadly many unknown artists pass and their life and work remain as so, unknown. As with every rule, there are exceptions; there have been instances where an artist's family promote and exhibit the artists work posthumously, and the artist can achieve success and recognition from beyond the grave.
Sky is the Limit
When all is said and done, what determines the increase value of an artwork, it really comes down to one primary driving force…how effectively the artist is promoted to all aspects of the art world. The more effectively they promote their art to the critics, the curators, the collectors and to the public the greater the demand will be for their work and the higher the prices their art will command.