Why are some Artworks so expensive?

For outsiders, art world is an alien place where prices are illogically high and the artworks are fanatically sought-after items. However there are perfectly logical reasons to these so-called bizarre prices and the passion of the art collectors. Out of, the sea of reasons to ‘why art is expensive’ here are few factors that rule the evaluation process.

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Historical significance– Artists like Monet, Vincent van Gogh and Picasso were responsible for starting new revolutionary art movements. Their artworks created with radical techniques and style went on to change the face of the art world forever and laid down foundations for new art era’s. These masterpieces with historical baggage gain enormous value.

Le bassin aux nymphéas (Water lilies series) sold for $80 Million in 2008, made by Claude Monet, the founder of Impressionism.

The basic market equilibrium of demand and supply is applicable in the art world as well. Once a Master artist passes away, his artworks get limited, in other words supply gets restricted hence his paintings become rare articles and more in demand.

The fame of Vincent van Gogh began to spread during the last few year of his life and it reached its peak after his death, whereas during his lifetime, he apparently sold only one painting. One of world’s most popular and most expensive painting- Irises got sold for $53 million (adjusted price $111 million) in 1987.

Artworks created during the period marked as the turning point in an artist’s career are of great value. Each artist has a defining point in his life where his technique matures and gets marked as his signature style, which is generally his mid-career. Originality and inventiveness of these pioneer artworks is what adds value and esteem.

Picasso’s career after passing many phases like blue and rose period finally took a radical turn when he discovered Cubism. One of world’s most expensive painting- Les Femmes d’Alger (Women of Algiers) got sold for $179 million this year (2015) at Christie’s.

Artworks are also evaluated based on its Subject matter and Composition. Significance of what the artworks subject narrates, symbolizes and conveys are few of the key evaluators.

Composition significantly affects the visual impact and overall illustrative quality of the painting. Focal point of the painting, correlation between the lines and shapes, optical harmony, angels and arrangements are some of the layout techniques that distinguish a masterpiece from the rest.

Dance at le Moulin de la Galette  made by Pierre Renoir sold for $78 million (adjusted price $141 million) in 1990. The subject of the artwork illustrates the typical life style and celebratory nature of the Parisians. The artwork is skillfully broken in to numerous micro compositions, which adds perspective and movement.

Appreciation adds value, in principle this is the most significant and central reason for art pricing. Some artworks are just appealing without any explanation as to why. Lofty prices rule such masterpieces purely because of its aesthetic value and appeal.

Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers and Water Lily Pond are the finest examples of artworks that have universal appeal. The former was auctioned for $39 million (adjusted price $82 million) in 1987 and the latter was sold for $80 million (adjusted price $79 million) in 2008.

Cost, admiration and appeal also climbs if there is any fascinating or emotional story related to the artwork. A Glamorous muse, tragic romance, eccentric behavior of the artist, spirited effort are few such instances.

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer got sold for $135 Million (adjusted price $157 Million) in 2006, made by Gustav Klimt. Like Adele Bloch-Bauer, who was known for her scandals and bohemian lifestyle, her gold-embellished portrait is also surrounded with controversies. After Nazi’s confiscated the painting, Adele’s niece fought for over 9 years with Austrian government  for its procession.