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Old 07-13-2019, 02:16 AM
Hairy wolf Hairy wolf is offline
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Is money the only measure of the value of a work of art??

Here is a (great) de Kooning abstraction that sold privately for $300,000,000 (yes, that’s three hundred million dollars). It’s called Interchange.
I’m sure that if it was displayed in a museum a lot of viewers would suggest that their sons or daughters could do better in no time.

On the other hand, I saw a magnificent photorealistic painting that Derek posted here on another thread (I hope you don’t mind, Derek....). Viewers of a work like this are amazed by the technical ability and would probably say to themselves “I couldn’t do it in a million years”. I don’t know how much this work would sell for, but I’m pretty sure there it would be a tiny fraction of $300 million.



The short and long of this comparison is that saying WOW four thousand times about a work of art is great. It shows appreciation, but it’s free.
Digging deeply into your pocket or bank account is very different.
So, is the amount of money paid for a piece is the only measure??
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Old 07-13-2019, 03:09 AM
Hairy wolf Hairy wolf is offline
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Re: Is money the only measure of the value of a work of art??

Peter Mayle (the author of “A year in Provence”) declares in his “Acquired taste” that he derives tremendous pleasure from viewing a work of art which certainly does not mean that he needs to own it. Why don’t the super wealthy collectors think the same way?
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Old 07-13-2019, 08:26 AM
DaveCrow DaveCrow is offline
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Re: Is money the only measure of the value of a work of art??

One wonders how much of that $300,000,000 de Kooning ever saw for it.

I rather suspect that in the stratified realms of ultra-collectors it is not the aesthetic values of the thing that matter at all, but rather the glory ownership. I imagine that if you packed the entire collection into sealed crates, and then secretly replaced those crates with empty ones of identical appearance and weight, many collectors would never notice the difference. It is being able to say "I own a de Kooning," not being able to look at the de Kooning that brings the satisfaction. Many issues of comic books are immediately sealed in bags and filed away, nt read even once. They might as well have blank paper stuffed between the covers. Toys and dolls are packed away unopened and unplayed with, forever sealed in their cardboard coffins.

Then on the other side of the coin are art museums where thousands of works are on display for all to see and enjoy for only the price of admission. Street artists who put their work out there for passers by to enjoy for free.

What is the value to the world of a painting sealed away in a climate controlled vault, unseen by anybody, even the owner?
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Old 07-13-2019, 08:56 AM
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Re: Is money the only measure of the value of a work of art??

When I taught Art History, de Kooning was part of the curriculum. He was a major artist of a landmark movement in Art History.
You will find him in most if not all History of Modern Art or general Art history books.
You'll find Sprick in many high end art periodicals and such, but not scholarly
publications on Art History. The artist does not have to be dead either. Example: I was also teaching about Chuck Close at the time and Andrew Wyeth.
So could the de Kooning have more gravitas?
Sprick is pretty hot right now with collectors. I love his stuff. Who knows, at some point his work may become higher in status.
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Old 07-13-2019, 09:15 AM
AllisonR AllisonR is offline
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Re: Is money the only measure of the value of a work of art??

I'd take this Daniel Sprick, or any of his other works, over de Kooning any day. I don't mind de Kooning's work, it is fine, but I don't enjoy it. Though I admit it could be a vast improvement seeing it in person though. I wasn't fond of Rothko until I saw some works in person, which was a 100% improvement. However, I would still chose Spricks work. Or any other number of contemporary painters. Then again, I'm not the upper rich and the choice isn't mine to make. Let them buy and invest in whatever they want. They are so far from my social/economic position that it affects me in no way.
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Old 07-13-2019, 09:20 AM
Artyczar Artyczar is offline
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Re: Is money the only measure of the value of a work of art??

Sorry this is so LONG:

Super wealthy collectors aren't usually paying for the "value" of the art itself, but are investing in a commodity just as they would be buying stock on the open market. Art just happens to be one you can look at for the time being before trading hands. That's not to say that some of these investor aren't lovers of art, but they are usually just playing an investing game.

I don't think it's all that different in the trickle down markets below on a smaller scale when we're talking about artists in the high-end galleries (artists that have been making a "name" for themselves that are currently alive or recently passed).

Even in the "third" tear galleries, let's just say somewhere in the very wide range most of us are selling in (I won't put the low-end numbers on it), but both the upper and third tear gallery prices are absolutely arbitrary. The numbers assigned in the high end of this range can me endlessly nonsensical, at least seemingly, but the galleries that run these things are the ones that are to "blame" -- that is -- if one is angry about it. I, for one, am not.

You can't put a price tag on aesthetics. It's impossible to price the sky, or how you feel about the sunset. Artists (usually) make things because they are driven to make things. They have to. What artist do you know that "decided" to be an artist to get rich? It's pretty ridiculous. We are artists, so we make art whether someone pays for it or not.

Artists who decide to play the business of art game need to also play the silly games that come with it. It is a market that is not predictable, like the housing market, or salt and pepper, or anything else in a casino, or business venture that's of some degree, at risk. There are no guarantees.

A car salesman, like the gallerist, is a middleman. You can pay more and buy/sell on the lot and deal with him to buy/sell to you and pay more for that, or you can do it on your own if you know something about cars. The car salesman may or may not be honest, or he may be a crook. It's no different in the gallery world. Lots of crooks, but some are honest and in it because they like to work around art.

Is art a car? No. Of course not! But if we are going to stick it into the business world, then, it's a "commodity" like any other thing and it's usually considered a luxury item kind of like a fancy car, depending of the price of the art.

When comparing a DeKooning to a lesser known artist, it doesn't matter which is "better," not that you can make a case on these two entirely different genres that you've used. Seems like you'd have two entirely different buyers anyway. Personally, I collect both genres but am not a big deKooning fan. I'd much rather have the 2nd piece and I'd be glad not to be out 300 million dollars!

I don't have 300 million dollars for art. Most people don't, but a couple people do (obviously) and they are willing to pay for art with these famous names where prices got driven up this high. It's crazy.

I sometimes get shocked looking at the art of my own peers, seeing how much they are fetching too! Maybe it's not 300 million dollars, but I even get flabbergasted at $60,000 price tags and wonder who the heck is buying these paintings. What the heck do they do for a living that they can shop these galleries? And how does my art hang in the gallery next door for a fraction of the prices they get, or for the show in my same gallery a couple months later? It's because I'm not Ed Ruscha, Larry Bell, Ed Moses, Barbara Kruger, or whoever they might be. There is some rhyme and reason to it. They have built a bigger reputation than I have, obviously!

And obviously, it doesn't matter what the art looks like.

To me, the higher the prices get for one artist (if one is working in this business), the better it is for all of us if we plan to get as much as we'd like to get for our art. The more precious of a commodity it is, and the more collectors are willing to pay, the better it is for us as artist and the more likely it would be for us to get a decent wage for our work. We might be making art--something of beauty that we are passionate about, but it's still a LOT of hard work, study, commitment, discipline, focus, and energy. Why not be compensated as anyone else who works?

If we want to do that, we have to gradually build a career, get a clientele, blah blah blah, just like a dentist would, or a person building a practice. You charge more as you become more known and get better "stuff," storefront, press, references, etc...you get my point.

So value? It's arbitrary. It doesn't mean anything in the case of your question. Monetarily, apparently, the deKooning is worth $300,000,000. I don't know the price of the other, but you're right, I'm pretty positive it's not as high.
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Old 07-13-2019, 09:54 AM
Artyczar Artyczar is offline
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Re: Is money the only measure of the value of a work of art??

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveCrow
One wonders how much of that $300,000,000 de Kooning ever saw for it.

Exactly! It's the secondary market, so he got a very small fraction, if any at all.

What state was it sold in? Sometimes the percentage is dependent on territory. At least that's what I read many moons ago. I read once in the state of California the artist was entitled to at least 5% of retail if it is sold on the open market.
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Old 07-13-2019, 11:02 AM
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Re: Is money the only measure of the value of a work of art??

Artyczar, your views are remarkable. You think value is "arbitrary" and that "it doesn't mean anything" in the case of HW's question?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Artyczar
Artists who decide to play the business of art game need to also play the silly games that come with it.

Do you also think all arts, including writing and music, are silly games?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Artyczar
I don't have 300 million dollars for art.

And based on what you've explained here, you don't need $300,000,000 ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Artyczar
If we want to do that, we have to gradually build a career, get a clientele, blah blah blah, just like a dentist would, or a person building a practice.
So, summing this up, you think that the "value" of Interchange really isn't in its apparent "worth"? Or, did you have a different meaning?
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Old 07-13-2019, 12:03 PM
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WFMartin WFMartin is offline
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Re: Is money the only measure of the value of a work of art??

I think that what some here have expressed as "playing silly games", is truly referring to "marketing". It has not much to do with "art".

I've always contended that because many artists have chosen to spend time on learning to employ the golden mean in their work , or to plan their composition down to the smallest detail, does it not make sense that the same artist might also put forth some effort developing an "image" for himself?

I think that this playing of silly games really represents the artist building an image (reputation) for himself, and it generally has little to do with creating works of art.

Many artists seem to have developed a reputation through such items as becoming known as womanizers, or drunks, or druggies, or being perceived as nuts, or treating people badly. But, my contention is that like developing a catch phrase, such as "painter of light", many artists have chosen, and actually worked toward developing such reputations for social type behavior, instead, as a means of marketing their art. It all makes perfect sense to me. And, it is THAT marketing that ultimately makes their art more "valuable".

I don't truly believe that it's all coincidence. They've worked at creating their marketing "image". It is THAT for which people are willing to pay lots of money, when they purchase an outrageously-priced piece of art.

So, in my opinion, money is NOT the only measure of the value of a work of art--the amount of money at which a piece of art is valued is based upon the perceived reputation (either appropriate, or inappropriate) that the artist has diligently created for himself.
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Last edited by WFMartin : 07-13-2019 at 12:10 PM.
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Old 07-13-2019, 12:33 PM
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musket musket is offline
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Re: Is money the only measure of the value of a work of art??

As Derek has pointed out, de Kooning must be kept in historical and social perspective. He was a very important painter of his time, one of the leading lights of the New York School.
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Old 07-13-2019, 12:52 PM
Hairy wolf Hairy wolf is offline
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Re: Is money the only measure of the value of a work of art??

Gents, de Kooning died 30 odd years prior to that purchase!.....
He wasn’t even notified....😀 let alone get a buck or two....
I have no idea who the seller was, but I’m pretty sure that he/she doesn’t visit soup kitchens anymore... The buyer was a Chicago based hedge fund tycoon.
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Old 07-13-2019, 01:00 PM
Hairy wolf Hairy wolf is offline
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Re: Is money the only measure of the value of a work of art??

And speaking of $300 million, another masterpiece matched that same price in a private sale to the Qatar art museum.
“When will you marry” - $300,000,000 (hope I didn’t miss a zero):

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Old 07-13-2019, 01:20 PM
Hairy wolf Hairy wolf is offline
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Re: Is money the only measure of the value of a work of art??

WfMartin, yes there are artists out there who are terrific at self promotion. However, for the most part it is not the artists who are the marketers. The people who make a “star” or a “superstar” out of an unknown creator are the gallery owners (the more prestigious the gallery, the better), art dealers and auctioneers.
I believe that we’re onto an important point here, which should be the subject for another discussion: can junk be promoted to untold heights or will real quality be discovered and highly valued with or without promotion?
Now obviously what may be termed junk or high quality is subjective. However, it seems the combination of what most people consider quality with proper marketing gets its rewards.
In this regard I might add: how many have we heard in a gallery or in an auction room the word “important”?!?....😀
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Old 07-13-2019, 02:49 PM
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JohnEmmett JohnEmmett is offline
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Re: Is money the only measure of the value of a work of art??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hairy wolf
I’m sure that if it was displayed in a museum a lot of viewers would suggest that their sons or daughters could do better in no time.

A poem is easy to write, a novel is difficult.

Although poetry is difficult in another way.



Abstraction (like poetry) is often inferior…

de Kooning is an exception!
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Old 07-13-2019, 03:03 PM
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caldwell.brobeck caldwell.brobeck is offline
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Re: Is money the only measure of the value of a work of art??

What’s “real quality” in your terms, Hairy? It’s such a hard thing to define, rather like “beauty”. And everyone interprets it differently. Personally I find the de Kooning more interesting than the Sprick shown above, so had I the $$$, I’d probably be willing to pay more for it. Not that I like either, fwiw.

I tend to think that a good measure of the value of art comes from the way the art influences the direction of art itself, and in our society that influence largely rests on innovation, not on repetition. What’s innovative about Sprick’s work? How many contemporary artists are picking up cues from him?

A couple of other aspects re. monetary value (i.e. worth) - the buyer of the de Kooning has a net worth of around $10B, so the painting represents about 3% of that. The median net worth for a head of household of about his age in the US is bout 125K. 3% of that is around $3.75K, about the prove of a nice living room suite of furniture, or a moderate vacation, or a decent painting from an average gallery. So while $300M itself might seem a lot to me, in his terms it isn’t huge.

Finally, have you ever read Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class? It was written about a century ago, but most of it is still relevant. One thing he points out is that the wealthy will spend their money in ways that that demonstrate wealth and power through indifference to necessity. Being able to visibly spend the most money for the least utility is an important aspect of social status.

Cheers,
Chris
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