What is the value of an artwork?
Understanding the technical value of art
Value in art is one of the most misunderstood components of the artwork. It doesn’t help that there are several meanings when referring to the value of art, which makes it that much harder to make sense of this critical component of understanding and authenticating artwork. How to determine the value of an art piece is one of the most pressing issues that art collectors and galleries deal with, especially in today’s highly digital work, where forgeries abound and prices fluctuate daily.
An artist’s drawing and rendering skills can help one create a solid foundation when it comes to the tone of artwork, which is otherwise commonly referred to as the value of an art piece. In this technical case, the value of artwork refers to how light or dark the colors used within the piece are. For instance, if a painter captured a white and black photo of a painting that they had done, the various shades of grey would be the tones or values in the artwork.
Why is value important?
Value is important because it is utilized by artists to create a central focus within the painting or drawing. When the audience is looking at art, the human eye cannot help but become drawn to a light element that has been placed against a dark element, which is how artists manage to create a focal point of interest in their artworks.
Value is also what helps artists construct the illusion of depth, as well as shades of value. When used correctly, the light and dark elements help artists create a 3-dimensional illusion of form. In many instances, the value of an artwork is best understood when it is visualized on a scale or gradient running from dark to light colors.
The more tonal variants there are in a painting or photo, the lower the contrast that artwork is said to have. When an artist uses shades of similar value together, it allows the artist to create a low-contrast image. High-contrast images typically have few tonal values in between bolder, stronger colors like black and white. Value is what gives paintings the appearance of texture and light.
All the best artworks boast a full range of value
All the best artists use value to differentiate themselves from others while creating their style. Painters that exhibit a full range of value in their artworks are generally considered more successful than others. It doesn’t matter what genre of art one specializes in; as long as there are dark values that exist in harmony with light values, an artist can create an aesthetically pleasing piece of work as a result.
To make sure that they have used a full range of value in their artworks, most artists rely on a value scale. The value scale ranges from 1 to 9 and artists use the scale as they work, identifying particular values and adding them to the most appropriate areas of their painting or artwork.
Understanding the monetary/commercial value of art
Apart from the technical understanding of an artwork, the value of art is also frequently used to describe the monetary value of an artwork. In the art world, the value of artwork is used to calculate the worth of a piece of art in the primary or secondary art market. The commercial value of art or the price of the artwork is generally based on numerous principles.
For instance, what makes one sculpture, print, or painting more or less costly than the other is usually provenance. Provenance is one of the most important components of a certificate of authenticity and in the right circumstances, it can also prove useful in boosting the commercial price of a given artwork.
In art, provenance helps to trace the ownership history of a piece of art all the way back to the creator’s studio. When provenance is verified, it can help to prove the authenticity of an artwork, which works to automatically boost its value. Since people have been collecting art for millennia, determining provenance is generally a tricky process that often involves a lot of complex chronological study and documentation.
What else determines the commercial value of an artwork?
The name of the artist
Revered names translate to high price tags. Well-known painters such as Van Gogh tend to fetch more than less established contemporary artists. For many collectors, the primary objective is always to successfully identify the works of artists whose value will rise in the future. All in all, it is the art market that is responsible for establishing the commercial value of an artwork. For example, if the market likes a particular artist, the prices of that artist’s art pieces are likely to shoot up.
The state of the artwork
Another factor that may impact the commercial value of artwork is the condition it is in. If any changes affect the state of the artwork, such as restoration or modification, the value of an art piece is usually affected. Needless to say, art pieces that have been well maintained and are still in pristine condition are more desirable in primary and secondary art markets than artworks that have sustained some damage.
Understanding the material value of art
Throughout history, artists have always created their works using an array of valuable materials. Some of the most well-known materials through the ages include gemstones, ivory and gold. Indeed, in ancient times, medieval kings would adorn crowns made from rare stones collected from faraway lands. Renaissance artists would also frequently use rare materials such as Lapis Lazuli, a rare gemstone that has a bright blue color, to create pigments. Today, these rare materials are valued highly.
As you can see, value is one of the most important components in determining not only the authenticity of an artwork but also its monetary value. Value in the art should be a straightforward concept to understand, but the inclusion of color gradients can make the concept a little harder to grasp.
Furthermore, the value of art can also refer to its commercial value, which makes the entire issue that much more confusing. But not to worry. This article has everything that you need to make sense of one of the most important elements of art.