The "V" Word

Without a doubt, the question I’m asked most frequently is how one arrives at a “value” for a picture. Of course, a purist would declare that every art-image has value, if only to its creator. But usually, the V-word (value) is attached only to the monetary considerations of the painting. Therefore, one who determines monetary evaluation of art must consider a variety of factors. While a few of these are determined a priori, therefore subjective, and falling within the parameters of connoisseurship, most factors are objective. Assuming access to certain standard research facilities factors (listed after the break) should provide the best basis for determining the monetary value of a painting.

Read More

A Query For The President

Part of President FDR’s New Deal program, designed to combat the Great Depression, involved a project that was known as the Public Works of Art Project. It called for a six-month plan by government subsidy of artists and ran from December 1933 through June 1934. Painters and others were paid to make art.

I find myself wondering if a similar program would work in today’s world. Shall the government pay painters to make art? Should tax dollars go for those cultural products? Is the subsidy of art a worthy comparison to health care?

Read More

Can you name five American artists?

The next time you’re mingling at a party or at any gathering of culturally-minded individuals, ask them to name five American artists quickly, much as they might rattle off the names of the latest movie, car or computer. Chances are, you’ll get no name at all, or ones like Picasso, even Monet. No, that wouldn’t happen, not in circles of educated Americans. Oh yes it can, dear reader.

The truth is that all too many Americans are unaware of their artistic heritage, ironically in deference to the artistic tradition of Mother Europe. Why is this so? Because Americans have always and still do consider themselves the offspring of Europe’s aesthetic legacy.

Read More

The "C" Word

Connoisseurship
Its real meaning should be important to everyone who studies art beyond the level of general interest. Arguably the best method by which one inculcates the substance of the term comes from repetitious hands-on experience with actual art objects. The physicality of the work must come under the scrutiny of the human eye and scientific eyes. Ultimately one’s goal in this pursuit is to identify styles and sources and to discover influences, which provides unquestionable authentication of art pieces. As one becomes practiced in such matters, the work of one or a few artists becomes the connoisseur’s focus. Then, qualitative judgments may be put forth in an effort to establish canon values as they relate to their art.

Read More

American Art: Bull Market?

During the past few weeks, comparatively large and comprehensive sales of American art took place in New York auction houses and elsewhere. Notwithstanding current skeptics, results exceeded expectations. Not only were a high percentage of works sold but also a striking amount of buyers bid quite beyond the pre-sale estimates. Should we view these auctions as the genesis of a trend, a harbinger of things to come in the American art market? Might we carry our conclusion even a step farther, seeing these sales as a barometer of the whole American economy?

Read More