It Doesn’t Have to be Pretty to be Influential. What Drives the Price of Great Paintings with Matt Beasant
May 17, 2016
Artists are emotional, irrational and completely unhinged from reality. At least that’s what some people would have you believe. This same criticism is often placed on the art market when talking about pricing. Evan Beard, National Art & Exotic Assets Executive, dispels this notion by showing us tangible aspects of the market that can drive prices.
Evan starts with a story of a famous work by Johannes Vermeer in the 20th century. The painting, considered a masterpiece, was supposed to have been created while Vermeer was studying in Italy. It was so highly regarded that the renowned Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam had it on showcase. But after WWII it was discovered that the Vermeer was actually forged by Han van Meegeren. And so it was that the masterpiece so highly prized at Boijmans was no longer so cherished.
This is an interesting paradox. As Evan says ‘how does a piece that one day was considered an important work of art, a day later become totally irrelevant?’ The painting hadn’t changed. But the perception of it had.
The first thing a collector has to get over when investing in art is that value has little to do with aesthetics. You can have both but more than anything, the importance of work is measured by the influence that it has on future art and culture in general.
Evan uses Piet Mondrian as an example. Mondrian’s early work is much more detailed in comparison to his later geometric compositions. Yet in 2014, Mondrian’s compositions sold for far more. The reason is that the compositions were innovative and original. No one had seen anything like this before and it went on to influence everything from fashion to architecture.
By now it’s clearer that what drives price is not only the work but also the artist who created it. What is the artist’s worldview? What is the artist trying to say? Sometimes the best way to discover this is to take an artist out for tea or schedule a studio visit. Many artists spend so much time alone it can be refreshing to have visitors. Getting to know what makes the artist tick can help guide your decisions when searching for the next piece to invest in. And who knows, you may even find that artists can have a rational side after all – just like the art market.
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