Sunday, August 23, 2009

Economics of art

This past week I sold a painting for the highest sum to-date for one of my works. This got me reflecting on the prices and values that society places on art works. My question is why are the prices so high? With most object-De-arts there is little use other than visual pleasure (or disgust). Life does not depend on these items. So why are they perceived as precious?

This is a thought that I have asked my art appreciation students to consider. In class, I taught that the value of a work depends on who the artist is, what his/her intention in making the art was, and what other viewers think about the work. In a broad sense this is true. These are the basic foundations for why critics and the public value a work, and why people would pay 6 million for a Van Gogh. But the real question of why or how these values are place on these objects isn't really answered. Would Van Goghs' sunflowers still fetch such a high price if it was instead painted by Joe Blow? I somehow doubt it.

This is a problem that I have thought about before, and I have no real answer. I don't know if I will ever completely understand this issue, but it is one that I think should be addressed. What are your thoughts? Post them in the comments, and we'll see you next week.

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