The other day I was looking at the blog of one of my former art teachers and read the entry about selling his work (which can be read here: http://paintthepainting.wordpress.com/2011/03/02/lets-break-up/).  It made me kind of sad.  As someone who will (hopefully) be entering the art world more seriously in the next few years it made me sad to think that one day I may start to see beautiful works of art as just thinks to be bought and sold.  Maybe I’m too sensitive for the business side of the art world.  I like knowing a piece’s history and back story (and not just for provenance purposes).  It adds to its charm and gives it character.  I think it’s also nice to know that a piece is going to a good home.

            And really, how do you put a value on a work of art?  Obviously if it’s done by a well known artist the piece gets a higher price.  I don’t think that’s necessarily fair though.  I’m sure there are a lot of pieces by relatively unknown artists that deserve to sell their work for just as much as the famous artists.  Then there’s the fact that an artist’s work tends to sell for more after their death.  That also doesn’t seem very fair.  Artists put so much time, money and emotion into their work, they deserve to see something back from that while they’re alive and can enjoy it.  If it’s a piece from a limited edition the ones near the beginning and end of the series are worth more than the ones in the middle.  One of a kinds are worth more than multiples, etc.  A lot of it just seems so arbitrary. 

            As much as it pains me to do so, I have to agree with Heidegger and his view of the art industry.  Heidegger says in “The Origin of the Work of Art” that, “The whole art industry, even if carried to the extreme and exercised in every way for the sake of works themselves, extends only to the object-being of the works.”  This is a shame because there’s so much more to a work than its object-being.  A piece is its place and time of creation.  It’s the artist’s hard work, emotions and memories.  How do you put a price on emotions and memories?  But that’s what artists selling their work have to do all the time.  And art dealers have to tell other people what their hard work and efforts are worth.  Even for commissioned pieces the artist may not have much attachment to they still have to put a value on themselves and their time.

            I don’t own many original works of art other than my own yet.  But as I grow my collection I hope I always keep a piece’s past in mind and honor it in the future.  I’d want the artists to feel confident his or her work is going to someone who values and appreciates it.  I hope I never lose my appreciation for art and beauty.

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