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Home / News / True "collectors" buy what they like (February 2012)

True "collectors" buy what they like

February 2012


True "collectors" buy what they like, not what will necessarily give them a financial return. Many true collectors get their "return" from the joy the artwork gives to them and if, over time, they get a financial benefit, really it doesn't concern them as they would not consider selling anyway.

Historically, many artists have reproduced their own works for clients, and this includes the greats. It was not unusual in Renaissance times for an artist to do more than one painting in either a larger or smaller format for a client or clients. Certainly, in Victorian times too, well respected artists would often do multiple images of the same painting to satisfy demands placed upon them by their clients. This has certainly not affected the artists values.

The modern trend of limited edition prints belies the idea that multiple images of the same image depreciates the image and the work of the artist.

If an artist produces say 10 works in his/her lifetime, if they are not artistically important, their rarity is not a factor in their value.

If an artist who is known for quality, innovation, technical brilliance or invention produces thousands of images, these are not depreciated due to the "availablity" but in fact such availablity can place the images into many more collections and thus the images become more sought after.

Originality is the key. Is the artwork original? Does it show creativity? Does it show new thought or artistic process? Does it show technical brilliance?

The truth is Picasso, one of the greats if not the greatest artist of the 20th century, produced thousands and thousands of artworks, yet no-one can say his prices are devalued because of this.

Maybach or Mazda is really of little comparison or relevance to the question of "value" in art.

These are motor vehicles, by definition mass produced but to differing luxury and engineering levels. It is the cost of the "ingredients" in one that makes it more expensive than the other... and clever marketing !

Whether the values of artworks by deceased artists are higher than those of living artists is debatable and would need a separate blog to discuss in depth, but one could name thousands of deceased artists whose works are valued less than living artists.

In regard to the artists you have mentioned, particularly Koons and Hirst, certainly they do produce editions, multiples of the same image.

The fact is that value is multi-faceted. If one talks exclusively about value being financial, then it is the creativity displayed by the artist that creates that value, not the idea of a limited number of works produced. As an example, if an artist produced 10 brilliant paintings in their lifetime and no-one knew about them, would they have value? If the same artist produced hundreds of images and people were aware of them, then they would have value.

Rarity is one thing. Talent, creativity, originality and technical ability are far more important in determining value... on all levels.

This article by Anthony Smith was originally published by Art Antiques Design


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