What Makes Art Sell

how to sell art

A lot of features affect the value of a piece of art. Appreciating art can feel very subjective, which often means that it can be hard to tell what exactly translates to art that is desirable or that will sell well. Lots of opinions come to together to determine what art is valued at what price. This can include a whole host of influencers in the art world, such as critics, gallerists, curators, experts, collectors and more. It can sound very theoretical and difficult to establish, however, there are several key questions to consider that will help you determine what the dollar value of a piece of art can be.

Is your work authentic?

Authenticity is of huge concern in the art world. Fakes are often not of interest, as the art’s value is a combination of its aesthetic components, intentions, context, and creator. Certainly, works in a certain style can add mystery or curry favour, however, a work that is verifiable and of the artist themselves will always be more valuable. Be aware that there are bodies dedicated to the authentication of certain works – for instance, there are bodies of art experts in France who have the final word on what is or is not considered a Monet original. This can seem strange, but these experts are there to ensure that works are correctly categorised for future generations to come. Discovering that your work is a fake down the line can be very financially damaging: ensure the work is authentic in order to determine its correct value.

Authenticity is of huge concern in the art world. Fakes are often not of interest, as the art’s value is a combination of its aesthetic components, intentions, context, and creator. Certainly, works in a certain style can add mystery or curry favour, however, a work that is verifiable and of the artist themselves will always be more valuable. Be aware that there are bodies dedicated to the authentication of certain works – for instance, there are bodies of art experts in France who have the final word on what is or is not considered a Monet original. This can seem strange, but these experts are there to ensure that works are correctly categorised for future generations to come. Discovering that your work is a fake down the line can be very financially damaging: ensure the work is authentic in order to determine its correct value.

Does your art reflect an intense mode of individualism?

“Art is either plagiarism or revolution” – Paul Gauguin, painter

Famous artist Paul Gauguin once written – “Gauguin once written – “One must always feel the plane, the wall; tapestries need no perspective”

The value of freedom in our creative expression cannot be overstated. What about aestheticizing violence? What about creating art in gigantic forms? What about choosing topics that are controversial? Different expressive media have a tendency to attract different personalities. 

Paul Gauguin’s art, style, and legacy reflected strongly in his artworks and often dismantled the traditional definition of art. Gauguin was once of a few ordinary men that were able to leave mundane life to realize and fulfill a dream – to become an artist. Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? by Paul Gauguin is a great example of individualism where Gauguin said to read from right to left instead of from left to right – which in fact provides an entirely different perspective to the reader, which itself shows the true power and meaning of art

How relevant is your work?

There are subjects in artworks that are generally more desirable than others. This means that portraits of beautiful women are more popular than grumpy old men, sunny landscapes more popular than gloomy ones, and death is never as desirable as a work of art celebrating life. Nudes can be difficult for some Islamic buyers, and this is an important thing to keep in mind when considering resale. Biblical subjects are generally unfashionable at present. Keep in mind, however, that an important artist or great master will add value to the work regardless of the subject.

Does your art validates or embrace your emotions?

In viewing art, our perceptions change and grow, leading to growth and change in ourselves. In the famous book Art as Therapy, the authors have outlined seven functions of art and explain how art helps us grow and evolve in our understanding of ourselves, each other, and the world we live in. Taking your time to mindfully observe artwork can be of true value to your emotional well-being.

How popular are you?

Artists tend to come in and out of vogue, following the trends of the international art community. Today, much demand is made of contemporary and modern art. However, some artists and Old Masters re eternally popular, of course. Matisse, Picasso, Rubens, Rembrandt – these are not names that are likely to lose value. However, German Expressionism and Surrealism has certainly become more valuable in recent years, as a result of the reassessment of certain parts of art history. Keep international and major exhibitions on your radar – if an artist has been profiled at a major gallery, such as the Tate or a Guggenheim, they will experience a price hike as a result. It’s important to be on top of major artist trends.

Is the artist historically important?

As stated, if the artist is an established Old Master, this will trump all other considerations. Take note of the big names and keep in mind that certain artists will always remain valuable – what might seem like a simple sketch will have much more value if it came from Picasso’s studio in the 1900s. Where most art is down to the eye of the beholder, certain artists remain valuable regardless of trends. Within this, however, it is good to keep in mind that certain periods of the artist’s development are going to be more desirable than others – Picasso, for instance, dabbled with many different styles. Art from the 1930s, however, will be the most valuable from his life’s work. Take into consideration the artist’s individual history as well as their place in the overall spectrum of art making.

How interesting or powerful is your art?

This is the difference between a sketch of a few body parts and the full-blown composition of a hunting scene – some things are inherently more interesting to look at. Factors such as the work’s composition, colours, and emotional resonance, will make work more compelling and interesting to own. A powerful scene or subject will make a much larger difference to the price of a work often than the artistic quality itself. What will make someone want to own the work? Is it a challenging or provocative subject? Is it simply beautiful to look at? What are its features? Think about this carefully when determining the work’s potential value, both now and in future. After all, some subjects will be desirable to many people at any point in time.  

Closing thoughts..

All in all, valuing an artwork is a complicated business. There are many factors to consider, but once you are able to answer some of these key questions, you are on your way to determining the rough value of the piece. Take care to determine the qualities of the piece, and judge its physical condition before you commit to a sale. Once you are able to determine is characteristics, a value can be attached.

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