Art and how it gains value
Art by Carol Lopez, painter.
What makes art rise in value? What makes an artist or painter turn into someone who is worth a lot of money? How does the world of Art enable Artists to monetize their work, and earn from it?
Say the name Thomas Kincade to anyone nowadays or the name Damien Hirst or David Hockney and someone will recognize the names. They are all famous painters and artists who have "made it". Their artwork is truly established. They have not just exhibited their art. They sold it for record prices and have astounded the art world on many levels, and most important of all - they earned large sums from their art works. Those works will continue to earn well for them.
Despite the apparent cynicism that comes with success, and believe me - there is plenty of this about - some artists are bucking a world-wide trend. There is a financial state of near recession in most parts of the world, but some artists have defied the hardship of a shrinking or collapsing market and have sold many artworks. Most of the media obsession is currently with China, the country with very deep pockets when it comes to buying paintings and "luvving it up" at art galleries around the world. Journalists predict that the Hirst success bubble, much like other bubbles will burst (ala Guardian newspaper recently) and in the USA, the market is slowing down for certain art.
But is it because the art is depreciating in artistic quality or is it because of market conditions? The quality of art is what it is. it remains constant. So art is auctioned to some extent and this affects the price of what is paid for art. but all artists must have their art viewed and judged and valued on an individual basis, otherwise the "one size fits all" system doesn't work.
Secrets of successful artists
UK Artist Damien Hirst
So how did Kincade earn so much that he eventually even was quoted on the US Stock market in Wall Street? Answer - he became successful because he was talented and found his niche, which was popular - and he grew his art and turned it into a big business. His galleries are known for the specific way they sell art. Despite his passing away at a young age as artists go - his business model had some issues. Still he was successful. Mainly painting with oil paint materials, his moniker as "Painter of Light" and religious sensibilities and focus in terms of style spawned both critics and copycats. But no one can deny his true painting talent. Hang his art in a gallery and it will sell.
Hirst is another artist who approached art as a business, by first exhibiting art that both impressed and challenged us. Cows sawn in half and preserved in formaldehyde certainly took many by surprise. But the mere fact that he created certain things and showed them to us and announced that "this is art" presented an argument which has since been settled very much in the affirmative. He tapped into an area where he he felt comfortable - challenging us with questions and making us face art in new ways. He found the ppoint in art, made the argument of what he wanted to say and put the art in front of us so that we could hopefully find the answers. His art invites many questions, that force us to look inwards, that make us validate things afresh. He makes us see things in a new context. He is also very successful since he turned his art into a successful business. Hirst now has an army of assistants who help him with his art, just as Kincade left some of the art to finishers and assistants and helpers.
Recently in church I noticed that even the priest who performs mass has a small army of assistants and helpers to perform the many duties and make it all work. Just as in a business - you can't do everything all by yourself. When the thing at hand, no matter what the task - becomes that big - it simply becomes necessary to have others help to make it work and allow its function. You know you are successful when you have turned that original scribbling and painting into a large company or corporation, involving many others..
The more art has to be seen and created and viewed - so the more contribution from employees and assistants is needed. Art does not hang itself on the wall of the Tate or National Gallery. Art is a business. We make it a business. David Hockney is more of a hands-on artist who is closer to his art that others - relying far less on assistants to bring his amazing art to the masses. But like Kincade and Hirst - his art fills a need. It reveals a slice of life - seen through the eyes of a gifted person who has the sense to observe and record it artistically. His style has evolved as Hirst has evolved into other art mediums. Hockney even has mastered art created in the Apple iPad, turning the world's most expensive reading device into a must-have gadget. Steve Jobs must have been rightly chuffed.
No matter what you say, Art is good for business as long as it is relevant, and serves a purpose. And with Art we live with art. Today art is part of our lives. Art lives with us. it can be cheap and affordable or very expensive. But the more we live with art, the more relevant it will always be. As long as we treat it almost like another family member and not as a utility - art can give us many happy years of enjoyment.
(Alan Mc Keogh is an artist, blogger and occasional coffee drinker.)
Art world brief
The Gustav Klimt epic painting "The Kiss" has been amazing reproduced on a war scarred devastated wall of a building in Syria, and was captured by passers by with cameras. The artist who created it is Tammam Azzam.
"Coloring outside the lines is a fine art."
Quotation by Kim Nance
In art, the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can imagine. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson